Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

New Zealand’s spectacular South Island is on the bucket list of many travellers all over the world. I’ve taken many trips over the pond to visit what is one of my favourite parts of the world and I want you to discover it for yourself too!

So I’ve put together this two week New Zealand South Island road trip itinerary that is perfect for a first timer to the region.

This road trip itinerary doesn’t cover everything New Zealand’s South Island has to offer, that would be impossible to fit into a two week vacation. But what it does offer, is an introduction to the absolute best the region has to offer.

From snow peaked mountains, rugged coastline, seemingly never-ending fjords and adventure to boot. Touring New Zealand’s South Island on a road trip is a must and is a destination for everyone no matter your travel tastes.

I hope this New Zealand South Island road trip itinerary helps get you excited about a trip to one of the worlds most utterly beautiful regions.

Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Map of New Zealand South Island Two Week Road Trip Itinerary
New Zealand South Island Map

Day 1 – Christchurch

Christchurch Botanic Gardens - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Start off your road trip of New Zealand’s South Island by arriving in Christchurch early in the morning, or better yet, the evening before to really maximise your time.

Christchurch has risen from the rubble of the devastating 2011 earthquakes and is one of the world’s most creative cities. There is still a lot of construction going on, even after 10 year, but ‘The Garden City’ is well and truly open for business with lots to offer visitors.

Christchurch viewed from the Port Hills - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Christchurch

  • Christchurch Botanic Gardens – This is the biggest green space in the city centre. See colourful flower beds, massive shady trees, duck ponds and green houses containing specialist plant species. Take a punt along the river Avon or a walk on the long winding gravel paths that meander through the park. More info.
  • Cathedral Square – Cathedral Square has been the heart of Christchurch since the mid 1900’s and continues to be just that despite the earthquake devastation. Visit the square to see what remains of the Christchurch Cathedral, learn more about the cathedrals history and future in the temporary viewing hut and pay your respects at a memorial made of hundreds of pebbles held inside a wire frame. Markets and festivals are also held here through the year.
  • Cardboard (Transitional) Cathedral – The new symbol of this developing creative city, the Cardboard, or Transitional Cathedral opened in 2013 as a temporary church in place of the badly damaged ChristChurch Cathedral. What makes this one of the most unusual churches in the world, is that it’s partly made of strong cardboard.

Cardboard Cathedral - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Christchurch Gondola – For the most spectacular views, check out the Christchurch Gondola. Soar above the mountains for views of snow capped peaks. At the top you can explore tunnels, take a hike and learn more about the history of the peak. (Book your ticket in advance to avoid the queues!)

Re:Start Mall - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Also check out this great range of suggested tours and day trips you can take in and around Christchurch.

Where to Stay in Christchurch

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Jailhouse Accommodation

Mid-Range – Ramada Suites by Wyndham Christchurch City

Luxury – The George

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Day 2 to 3 – Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook

Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Tekapo - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 3 hours from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Leave Christchurch early on day two and drive towards Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook.  Spend the rest of day 2 exploring the region and continue your sightseeing on day 3.

One of the most picture perfect regions of New Zealand, the Mackenzie Basin, home to Lake Tekapo (honestly, the prettiest lake in New Zealand South Island) and Mt Cook Village, lies roughly in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island between the sprawling plains of Canterbury and the towering mountains of the Southern Alps.

Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook

  • Lake Tekapo – One of New Zealand’s most photographed lakes because of its powdery blue colour on a blue sky day and of the perfectly positioned Church of the Good Shepherd that lies on the southern edge of the lake. This tiny church features an altar window that frames stunning views of the lake and mountains.
  • Lake Pukaki – Probably one of the most underrated of all the lakes on New Zealand’s South Island. As you drive over the rise on the road from Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki appears out of nowhere and stuns drivers to instantly slow. I found the colour of Lake Pukaki to be more intense than Lake Tekapo but it’s not just the colour that makes this lake so impressive, at the far north of the lake is New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mt Cook, in all its glory.

Walking near Mt Cook - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Aoraki Mt Cook Village – The drive out to see New Zealand’s highest peak is quite possibly one of the best experiences to be had in New Zealand. It offers uninterrupted views of Mt Cook as it winds along Lake Pukaki. The village itself is home to walks (more on them below) and The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre which offers a series of 2D, 3D and a Digital Dome Planetarium shows.
  • Walks – There are dozens of walks you can do in the region like the four-hour Hooker Track which crosses three swing bridges, offers great views from the Alpine memorial and ends at the glacier lake with amazing views of Aoraki Mt Cook, the Hooker Glacier and the Southern Alps. Or why not summit Mt John for spectacular 360 degree views of the region.
  • View the Night Sky – The Mackenzie Basin is one of the darkest places on earth, giving it the status of being a Dark Sky Reserve. This means that there is very little light pollution which allows for some incredible star-gazing. If you move away from the towns in the region on a clear night you will see more stars than you could ever imaged. But for real star gazers, you’ll want to head up to the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo to make the most of it. (This is a super popular attraction, don’t miss your chance an book here in advance!)

The road to Mt Cook - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

For more tours and day trips, check out options for Lake Tekapo here and options for Mt Cook here.

Where to Stay in Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Lakefront Lodges Backpackers

Mid-Range – Three Rivers Lodge

Luxury – Peppers Bluewater Resort

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Day 4 to 5 – Fiordland

Lake Te Anau at sunset - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 5 hours from Tekapo to Te Anau

Make and early start for the spectacular Fiordland region on day 4. There’s lots of stunning scenery along the way so allow plenty of time for photo stops. Spend the rest of the day in Te Anau. On day 5 I recommend day tripping or taking a tour to incredible Milford Sound.

Fiordland is one of the worlds greatest wilderness regions with stunning natural features that show the earth’s evolutionary history. Te Anau, on the edge of the region is a great base for exploring the most accessible of the fjords, Milford Sound.

Cruising Milford Sound - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Fiordland

  • Milford Sound – The two-hour journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound itself is worth the effort but the cruise is out of this world incredible. It takes you past and up close to towering peaks, plummeting waterfalls and interesting wildlife. To get there you can self drive but to really enjoy the experience and take in all the spectacular scenery, I recommend a small group guided tour like this.

Milford Sound - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Te Anau Glow Worm Caves – On the western shore of Lake Te Anau you’ll find a cave system home to millions of glowing worms. You can tour the cave with a guide from Te Anau which includes a cruise on the lake to get to the remote location. Inside the cave are gushing water flows and the opportunity to spend a few minutes in total darkness with these unusual creatures.
  • Lake Te Anau – The town of Te Anau is set perfectly on the lake of the same name. And while a walk around the lakes edge is a must, I also recommend if you have the time to take a short cruise to get up close with parts of the lake that are not accessible by car or foot. Check out this great 3-hour cruise on a yacht which also includes a short guided walk in a remote part of the lake.

The road to Milford Sound - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Where to Stay in Fiordland

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Tasman Holiday Parks Te Anau

Mid-Range – Bella Vista Motel Te Anau

Luxury – Fiordland Lodge

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.

Read More About Fiordland

Day 6 to 7 – Queenstown

The view from the Skyline Gondola - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 2 hours from Te Anau to Queenstown

Make an early start to give yourself plenty of time to start exploring Queenstown. On day 7 you’ll find lots to keep you busy in and around this big resort town.

A mecca for those who love being outdoors and adrenaline pumping activities, Queenstown is the countries biggest resort town with something fun going on all year round. It’s also set in a pretty stunning location on Lake Wakatipu, flanked  by The Remarkables, one of the country’s most spectacular mountain ranges.

The road to Glenorchy - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Queenstown

  • Adrenalin Pumping Action – As the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is home to dozens of heart pumping activities that will satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie. Try your hand at everything from bungy jumping, the canyon swing, jet boating, white water rafting, canyoning, paragliding, or sky diving. Check out some of these adrenalin pumping activities.
  • Drive to Glenorchy – Any dedicated LOTR fan will have heard of Glenorchy as one of the main filming locations for the movie. But even if you’re not a die-hard you can still enjoy this drive, said to be one of the most scenic in all of New Zealand. It takes about 40 minutes and follows Lake Wakatipu, twisting and turning around the lakes edge. (Or sit back and let someone else do the driving on a half day tour of Glenorchy and Paradise)

The Shotover Jetboat - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Visit Arrowtown – Just a short 25 minute drive from Queenstown is gorgeous little Arrowtown. This historic gold mining town has over 60 historic buildings still standing, some of which can be seen on a walk down the charming main street which is now lined with cafes and local artisan stores. Venture away from the main street towards the river to see the Historic Chinese Settlement, which was where the prospecting Chinese settled during the 1860’s gold rush.
  • Central Otago Wine Tasting – Unless you’ve decided to add extra time in Queenstown, a day trip to actually visit the wineries of the region may not be possible. But don’t worry, you can taste many of the regions best wines, right in the heart of Queenstown at The Winery. Grab a tasting card and a glass to help yourself to a taste of red, white, sparkling and spirits from Central Otago and beyond. (Have time for a wine tour? Check out this half day tour or this full day tour. or why not try the hop-on hop-off wine bus)
  • Skyline Gondola – For the best views from above in Queenstown, take a ride on the Skyline Gondola. The gondola glides up Bob’s Peak offering stunning views of the town, the Remarkables mountains and Lake Wakatipu. More Info.

Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

For more activities, tours and attractions in Queenstown, check out this selection.

Where to Stay in Queenstown

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Adventure Queenstown Hostel

Mid-Range – Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Luxury – Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.

Read More About Queenstown

Day 8 – Wanaka

Lake Wanaka - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: Just over one hour from Queenstown to Wanaka.

It’s only a short drive to Wanaka from Queenstown but I still recommend making an early start so you can make the most of your day exploring Wanaka.

One of the most beautiful towns and lakes in New Zealand, Wanaka and it’s lake of the same name, is a year round outdoor destination. In the warmer months enjoy some of the country’s best walks and during the winter, ski at some of the Southern Alps best resorts.

Lake Wanaka - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Wanaka

  • Mt Aspiring National Park – Enjoy a range of walks to suit all fitness levels from two hours to two weeks. One of the most popular is the Rob Roy Glacier Track, a spectacular 3-4 hour, 10 km walk that takes in alpine scenery, snow fields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.
  • Explore the Lake – There are a few different ways you can enjoy Lake Wanaka either on land or on the water. From the town there’s a walk/bike track that leads in both directions around to certain points of the lake. Or if you prefer to see it on the water, you can hire a kayak, take a guided boat tour or speed through it on a jet boat.

Lupins on Lake Wanaka - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Roy’s Peak – For the best view from above of Wanaka, a hike up Roy’s Peak is a must. It is a 5-6 hour return 16 km walk that takes you to the 1,578 m peak on a steep but relatively easy climb.
  • Fun in the Snow – During the cooler months you’ll find two of New Zealand’s finest ski fields within easy reach of Wanaka. Treble Cone and Cardrona Alpine Resort are just 20 minutes drive away, and offer ski and snowboarding facilities to all skill levels.

Sunset on Lake Wanaka - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Where to Stay in Wanaka

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Wanaka Backpackers Bothy

Mid-Range – Wanaka View Motel

Luxury – Lakeside Apartments

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Day 9 to 10 – Franz Josef

Franz Josef Glacier - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 3.5 hours from Wanaka to Franz Josef

The drive from Wanaka to Franz Josef is one of New Zealand South Island’s best drives so give yourself plenty of time to make stops at waterfalls, lookouts and the amazing Blue Pools. On day 10 you’ll have plenty of time to explore a lot of Glacier Country’s highlights.

Don’t miss out on visiting the glaciers of Glacier Country before they disappear! You see, the glaciers are melting at an increasingly fast rate so they won’t be around forever. Basing yourself in the thriving little resort town of Franz Josef gives you easy access to everything the region has to offer.

Lake Matheson - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Franz Josef

  • Explore the Glaciers – There are two ancient glaciers in the region for visitors to explore, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Anyone can take a flat, easy walk to get close to each of them in just over an hour. Or for something a bit more adventurous, why not climb aboard a helicopter to soar above them and even land and walk on them. Check out these glacier and helicopter tours for Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, which sell out well in advance!
  • Lake Matheson – This picture perfect lake offers views of Mt Cook and on a clear, calm day, the perfect reflection of it too. The walk around the lake takes about one and half hours with lots of places to stop and taking in the view along the way.
  • Glacier Hot Pools – After a day hiking on glaciers you’ll need a place to go and help your muscles to relax. The Glacier Hot Pools is just the place! Surrounded by rainforest, the pools are fed by the waters of Franz Josef Glacier, or Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Māori. The legend of Hgai Tahu (a local Māori tribe) says that these waters are the tears of aroha, meaning love, which were frozen by the gods creating the Franz Josef Glacier. More Info

Fox Glacier viewed from Glacier View Lookout - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Where to Stay in Franz Josef

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park

Mid-Range – The Terrance

Luxury – Westwood Lodge

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Day 11 to 12 – Nelson/Abel TasmanAbel Tasman National Park - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 6 hours from Franz Josef to Nelson along the West Coast

Day 11 is the longest drive day of the trip but don’t worry, it’s another spectacular one. Make sure you follow the wild west coast all the way up to Punakaiki for the best views. On day 12 head out to Abel Tasman National Park for a day of adventure.

Nelson is the perfect place to base yourself for exploring one of the South Island’s best kept secrets, Abel Tasman National Park. Home to pristine golden sand beaches and excellent walks, this part of the country should be on everyone’s to-see list.

Abel Tasman National Park - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted TravellerWhat to See & Do 

  • Day Trip to Abel Tasman National Park – With no road access to the park, your only options for exploring Abel Tasman are on foot, cruise or kayak. There are a bunch of tours available that combine these things for a full day exploring this stunning national park. Check out these tours that include both on and off the water experiences.

Where to Stay in Nelson

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – YHA Nelson by Accents

Mid-Range – Harbourside Lodge

Luxury – The Sails Nelson

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Day 13 to 14 – Kaikoura

Kaikoura from Peninsula Lookout - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Drive Time: 3 hours from Nelson to Kaikoura

Day 13 is another easy drive day with lots to see and experience along the way. Stop by the Marlborough Wine region and enjoy the spectacular drive south along the Kaikoura coast.

The seaside town of Kaikoura sits on a big wide open bay that is home to countless species of marine life and flanked with towering snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills. Sounds like paradise to me!

Delicious Crayfish in Kaikoura - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

What to See & Do in Kaikoura

  • Peninsula Lookout – The first place you should head when arriving in town, this lookout provides the best views of the bay and mountains. I guarantee the view will take your breath away.
  • Point Kean Seal Colony – One of the top things to do in Kaikoura is to head to Point Kean, just a few minutes drive from town, where you’ll find a colony of seals that you can get up close (but not too close!) to in their natural environment. As soon as you step out of the car you’ll see the seals lazing on the rocks, soaking up the sun. On my visit we saw a few dozen including some young ones playing in a natural rock pool.

Seals at Point Kean - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Ohau Stream – From May until October, head just 15 minutes north of Kaikoura to visit the Ohau Stream to see seal pups playing in the stream and under the waterfall. These playful and shy little creatures are left here by their mothers for a few months to play with the other pups while they grow.
  • Whale & Dolphin Cruises – The bay is home to an array of marine life all year round. Your best chance at seeing them up close is on a cruise and there are cruises that run daily all year round. Sperm Whales (check out this tour) live in the bay year round and Kaikoura is one of only three places in the world where you can see them up close. A tour will also give you the chance to swim with the resident Dusky Dolphins, like on this tour or this kayaking tour to get up close out of the water.

Seal Pups playing at Ohau Stream - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Where to Stay in Kaikoura

Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.

Budget – Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park

Mid-Range – Quality Suites Kaikoura

Luxury – The Hamptons

Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.


Finish off your two weeks in New Zealand’s South Island back in Christchurch where you’ll find the biggest range of International flight departures on the South Island.


Car Hire

If you follow this trip to a tee you’ll be driving over 2,000 km, so you’ll want a vehicle that is comfortable for both driver and passengers, plus one that has plenty of space for your luggage.

New Zealand’s terrain is very mountainous so hiring a vehicle with a bit of power will make the driving experience easier too.

For all my car hire bookings I use and recommend Hertz. I’ve found they offer the most comparable prices, let you search and compare multiple vehicle types and they have a great customer service team who can help if you come into any unexpected troubles.


Got More Than Two Weeks?

Marlborough Sound - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

There is so much more to New Zealand’s South Island than the places mentioned in the above itinerary. If you have more than two weeks to explore this incredible part of the world, here are a few extra stops I think you should consider:

  • Dunedin – Home to some of New Zealand’s best architecture and a great place to base yourself for exploring the stunning coast just north of the city.
  • The Catlins – Love the outdoors? Then you’ll love The Catlins! The region offers walks for all abilities, stunning coastal and rural scenery and quaint little villages.

Dunedin - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Stewart Island – Stunning seascapes, lots of wildlife and a slower pace of life are just a few of the draw cards for visiting this island located off the south coast of the South Island.

Nugget Point in the Catlins - Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

  • Punakaiki – This itinerary actually takes you through Punakaiki but I think that if you have time, it is a place well worth some extra time. It is home to some of the best coastal walks and natural features you’ll find in New Zealand.

And don’t forget that you can also spend extra time in any of the places mentioned in this itinerary. All of them have lots to offer.


PIN THIS FOR LATER!

Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller
Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links throughout this post. When you click on them, and make a purchase, you are supporting me and The Trusted Traveller at no extra cost to you.


Over to you!

Which part of this New Zealand South Island two week itinerary are you most excited about?

Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

44 thoughts on “Two Week New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary”

    • Thanks Abbi. Probably the drive out from Tekapo to Mt Cook Village. But really everything I have seen of New Zealand I have loved.

      Reply
      • Hi Jen. May I know which route you took from Tekapo to Mt Cook Village? Is it direct route (1h 34min as showed in google map) or the one through Lake Pukaki?

        Reply
        • Yes Sathyendra, I travelled there direct from Tekapo and the drive as about 1.5 hours so that sounds right to me.

          Reply
  1. hi your travel planning was cool and nice i am planning for new zealand it is a wonderful place thanks for sharing to nice experiences…keep posting

    Reply
  2. Have been to NZ more than once previously …. Two active seniors want an expert to recommend route, accom. etc.,etc. Last 2 times we rented a camper van….but not this time !! We do not want to start a dialogue via social media. We don’t do it for anyone including g’kids. We’re thinking 23+-days in NZ. currently we envision arriving Feb. 1, and departing the 24,2019.
    We did a 23 day NI spring(yours) self-directed garden tour in 2017 that I planned. Mostly east side of island from Auk. to Wel.and back. Leisurely 36 to 40 gardens. So I wish a break from getting totally engrossed finding accom., etc., etc.,…. Jim

    Reply
  3. Hi Jen,

    Looking to take my future wife over for our honeymoon and we will both be first timers, planning on hiring a motor home and doing a 7/8 day travel from Christchurch to Queenstown.

    My question is what areas would you recommend for half the time, should i go north or south from Christchurch??

    Reply
    • Hi Stephen,
      It depends on what you guys are into. There are some great hikes south and wineries and food north. If I personally had to pick, it would be south. Milford Sound the Catlins are both stunning. The coastline south of Christchurch is beautiful too, almost as good as the west coast.
      Hope you have a lovely honeymoon.
      Cheers
      Jen

      Reply
  4. Hi Jen. Thanks for this incredibly useful article. One question though … we only have 13 nights – and we are not really into hiking or the adrenalin rush stuff. Could we do the same itinerary and miss out staying in Queenstown?
    Looking forward to hearing your advice
    Catherine

    Reply
    • Hi Catherine,
      Sure you can take out a night from Queenstown, but check it out on your way through, it is a beautiful place and not just for those who like adrenalin sports.
      Cheer
      Jen

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for your fantastic free guide. My husband and I had 18 days so we stretched the time out to suit us. It was such an adventure through this amazing island. There are surprises around nearly every bend. We visited Mt Lyford on our way back to Christchurch and it was worth it. Only place we missed was Dunedin but Mt Cook was worth it. We have done this trip in a country that has bearable temperatures in summer as opposed to sweltering in Oz at this time of the year. Thanks again.

    Reply
  6. Hi Jen!
    Thanks for the elaborate information!
    I have just 8 nights and as such I am confused which places to include and which ones to leave. Can you please help me with that

    Reply
    • Hi Rajeev,
      That would depend entirely on what your interests are. If you like extreme sports don’t miss Queenstown. If you like hikes don’t miss the west coast. I’d need to know more about what you like to do on holiday to make some more firm suggestions.
      Cheers
      Jen

      Reply
  7. Hi Jen, Wonderful Itinery. I have a question. Which part of the year you travelled? I am thinking of doing this in late April to May. Would the drive be easy or would it be snowing? I am traveling with my wife and two kids.

    Reply
    • Hi Ketan,
      I have travelled around the south island at all times of the year. The roads in the snowy season are well maintained and you shouldn’t have a problem getting around. Unlikely you will encounter much snow at that time of the year anyway. Maybe a few early season falls.
      Cheers
      Jen

      Reply
  8. You briefly mentioned the Punakaiki Rocks. This is a great attraction on the West Coast with a nice easy walk (about an hour in total from start to finish) that shouldn’t be missed. Three of us recently did a super-quick one week tour of the South Island following basically the same route you suggested but in reverse and starting and finishing at Picton. Because of time restraints we had to miss Nelson and Milford Sound / Fiordland but went to Wanaka and Queenstown.

    The Punakaiki Rocks are a natural wonder (geologists are still unsure exactly how they were formed) and well worth viewing. As well, to do it justice and if time allows, I suggest spending a minimum of at least two or three days on the West Coast – the scenery is amazing especially when you take the time to go off the main road to signposted attractions such as waterfalls, lakes, and beaches.

    Reply
  9. Hi Jen

    Thanks for your well planned itinerary, I do pick up few good idea for my trip for this Nov. I hv 2 child to go along for this trip and wonder any other area would also good for family with kids. Appreciated for your advise.

    Jean

    Reply
  10. Hi Jen,
    Your itinerary looks lovely! My husband and I (from Singapore) are planning to drive out in July. We’ve only got 12 full days though, looking at either kaikoura or nelson, but not both. What would you recommend?

    Reply
  11. Hi Jen,

    We are planning a self-drive 10 days trip to the South Island (NZ).

    From your ‘Two weeks Road trip’ itinerary schedule, all those places recommended were perfect.

    For a 10 days trip (Christchurch roundtrip), what would you suggest the places to visit ? Thanks.

    Regards,
    KL

    Reply
  12. Hi Jen, We would like to add in Dunedin. Which would be the best way to go and do you think 3 nights in each place is ok.

    Bye Kim

    Reply
  13. Hi Jen, looks like a great itinerary, thanks for sharing! Would you recommend the same with two young kids? 4 and 1.5y, is there much to do for such young ones? Thanks, Reka 🙂

    Reply
  14. Hi Jen! This is super helpful! I am going in April for 2 weeks for my 40th birthday. The Marlborough wine country is high on my list-any suggestion to edit this itinerary to include that? Thank you!! -Deanna (San Diego, CA)

    Reply
  15. Hi,
    I am basing my South Island trip next month (13-26/10), very much on your suggested itinerary (renting a self contained campervan). Thank you.
    I have been going through various websites to check out ticket prices for various attractions – Milford Sound cruise, Queenstown Jet Boat, etc – there seems to be some differences in prices and packages (comparing Get Your Guide, Southern Discoveries, Everything Queenstown, Viator), but I also noted that you used GYG for a number of references to tours. Is GYG the better place to book, in terms of price, reliability, etc? Any other websites you would recommend?

    Many thanks

    Reply
  16. Great articel. Do you recommend doing same trip with m parents who are around 60year old ? or would you suggest knocking off some places and do some north island for holistic expericne of newzeland?

    Reply
  17. Hi Jen,

    Thank you for such an informative post! We are visiting Franz Josef Glacier in December. Is it worth taking a scenic flight to see the glaciers or will the valley walk take us close enough to see the glaciers?

    Reply
  18. Hi Jen,

    I intend to hire a car and travel alone in the South Island. Is it easy and safe? Also, are parking to locations you suggested available?

    Many thanks!

    Reply
  19. Hi – Great guide that I’m planning to follow for our trip to NZ in March, but I was wondering if we would miss anything from doing this route in reverse?

    An activity I want to do is fully booked but would be OK if we went backwards?

    Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  20. Hi Jen, how easy is it to do this trip in a motor home with ur Itenary. Are there free camper spots available like they have in north island

    Reply
    • We did the southern half of this route in February. The full route suggested is quite long for a two week trip. That sort of mileage might be more comfortable in a car. But the roads and countryside are perfect for a Motor Home. We cut across from west to east just north of Franz Josef which neatly shortened the route. Rough camping is allowed in most places if you have a rough camping permit (ie sewage on board). Most RVs that you would rent have this. We generally opted for the Department of Conservancy (DOC) sites which were cheap, environmentally friendly and support the upkeep of the country. You can check them out at: https://www.doc.govt.nz/campsites.

      Reply
  21. Hi Jen, we are planning to set a New Zealand South Island family tour (10 pax) this coming June. Kindly recommend the best guided tour we can have.
    Kind regards,
    Armando

    Reply
  22. Thank Jen. We used this as our starting point to plan a 15 day RV trip around South Island. In the end we did not cover all the ground that you suggested – we quickly decided against miles and box-ticking, opting for a slower and more laid back holiday. Hence it took us 11 days to get as far as Frans Josef. So not far north of there we cut east along the 73 and Arthur’s pass back to Christchurch. For those taking that route the caves at Castle Hill were an unexpected and spectacular treat. Thanks for your efforts. Made our planning so much easier. Keep safe. Craig

    Reply
  23. This looks great, we live in the North Island and haven’t done an epic South Island road trip since having kids, have been planning on a three week mission this summer and this is a great starting point for us, you’ve taken lots of the hard work out of planning and travel times for me. Thanks

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.