NEW ZEALAND SOUTH

New Zealand’s South Island is one of the most naturally spectacular places on Earth. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s my New Zealand South blog post and here below is your travel plan:

Luxury
1 ✈To Christchurch (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨The George (Book >) See all hotels >
Enjoy a relaxing day in Christchurch recovering from your long journey. Stroll in the Botanic Gardens, see the Victoria Clock Tower, admire the ingenuity of the Cardboard Cathedral and see the Antarctic artefacts in the Canterbury Museum. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚗Christchurch to Kaikoura (Hire car >)
🚗Kaikoura to Nelson
Dep: 09:30

Dep: 15:30

Arr: 12:00

Arr: 18:45

🏨Parautane Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Arrive in Kaikoura in time to get the 12:45 whale watching boat tour. Sperm whales are resident year-round and so you’re all but guaranteed to get a sighting. Take motion sickness tablets if needed – you’ll be on the sea
5 🚗Nelson to Kaiteriteri Dep: 09:00 Arr: 10:00 🏨Split Apple Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
A short drive to Kaiteriteri from where you can take a water taxi onto the perfect beaches of Abel Tasman. Spend the day hiking, or maybe hire a kayak for a few hours. There aren’t any shops in the national park so bring food and water.
6 🚗Kaiteriteri to Hokitika Dep: 09:00 Arr: 17:00 🏨Rimu Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Just over 5 hours of driving, broken up with a visit to Punakaiki where you can admire the pancake rocks and blowholes. Give yourself plenty of time to get between destinations – you’ll want to stop frequently for beautiful views.
7 🚗Hokitika to Franz Josef Dep: 12:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Franz Josef Oasis (Book >) See all hotels >
Start your day with a 30 min drive to Hokitika Gorge where you can walk 15 mins to a spectacular swing bridge. In Franz Josef you’ll arrive in time for the 14:15 glacier valley hike (or maybe splash out on a heli hike). Wear plenty of sunscreen – not only is there less ozone above NZ, the snow makes the sun extra strong.
8 🚗Franz Josef to Wanaka Dep: 14:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨Lime Tree Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Spend the first part of your day hiking up to the Fox Glacier. Then, on the drive to Wanaka, stop off at the many photogenic spots along the road. The Department of Conversation provides a wealth of info on hiking.
9 A day off from driving to enjoy the glorious hiking around Lake Wanaka. Keep an eye on the weather.
10 🚗Wanaka to Te Anau Dep: 07:00 Arr: 10:15 🏨Various trail huts (Book >)
Wake early to get to the start of the Milford or Kepler tracks. Book your place in the trek huts as far in advance as possible.
11-12 Congratulations, you’re on some of the most incredible hikes in the world! You’ll see immense snowy mountains, peaceful lakes and beautiful forests. Read more info here for the Milford Track and here for the Kepler. You can’t buy food on the treks, so think carefully about what to bring (this site gives a good idea).
13 🚗Te Anau to Manipouri Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Acheron Cottages (Book >) See all hotels >
See the immense Milford Sound on a fjord cruise (just under 2 hours from Te Anau, last departure is 3pm), then drive to nearby Manipori – just 20 mins from Te Anau. This is another opportunity to add a day to your trip if you want to take it easy post-trek.
14 🚗Manipouri to Invercargill Dep: 15:30 Arr: 17:30 🏨The Lodges (Book >) See all hotels >
Today you’ll go on an 8-hour (starting at 07:15) exploration of remote Doubtful Sound. Your tour will take you by boat over Lake Manipouri, over Wilmott Pass and then kayak along the sound itself. Invest in a dry bag in which to keep your camera (they’re inexpensive).
15 ⛴️Invercargill to Stewart Island (Book >) Dep: 08:45 Arr: 10:45 🏨Stewart Island Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
From Oban on Stewart Island you have a choice of tours, including to Ulva Island. Be sure to get a ticket that includes the bus to Bluff.
16 ⛴️Stewart Island  to Invercargill (Book >)
🚗Invercargill to Queenstown
Dep: 08:00
Dep: 10:30
Arr: 10:00
Arr: 13:00
🏨Queenstown Park Boutique (Book >) See all hotels >
 Queenstown is the adventure sports capital of New Zealand. There is a veritable smorgasbord of activities here. Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
17 A full day to indulge in any more of the activities here, including some amazing hikes. At night take your car out of town for some breathtaking star-gazing.
18 🚗Queenstown to Twizel Dep: 09:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Matuka Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve checked in head to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and walk beneath New Zealand’s highest mountain. Go to the National Park visitor’s centre for a great view from the picture window.
19-20 🚗Twizel to Chirstchurch
✈Christchurch to home (Book >)
Dep: 10:00
Dep: Evening
Arr: 13:45
Arr: Morning (next day)
What did you think of this New Zealand South itinerary? Leave your feedback below
Give yourself plenty of time to return the car to Christchurch.
Mid-range
1 ✈To Christchurch (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨Colombo In The City (Book >) See all hotels >
Enjoy a relaxing day in Christchurch recovering from your long journey. Stroll in the Botanic Gardens, see the Victoria Clock Tower, admire the ingenuity of the Cardboard Cathedral and see the Antarctic artefacts in the Canterbury Museum. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚗Christchurch to Kaikoura (Hire car >)
🚗Kaikoura to Nelson
Dep: 09:30

Dep: 15:30

Arr: 12:00

Arr: 18:45

🏨The Sails Nelson (Book >) See all hotels >
Arrive in Kaikoura in time to get the 12:45 whale watching boat tour. Sperm whales are resident year-round and so you’re all but guaranteed to get a sighting. Take motion sickness tablets if needed – you’ll be on the sea
5 🚗Nelson to Kaiteriteri Dep: 09:00 Arr: 10:00 🏨Kimi Ora Eco Resort(Book >) See all hotels >
A short drive to Kaiteriteri from where you can take a water taxi onto the perfect beaches of Abel Tasman. Spend the day hiking, or maybe hire a kayak for a few hours. There aren’t any shops in the national park so bring food and water.
6 🚗Kaiteriteri to Hokitika Dep: 09:00 Arr: 17:00 🏨Stopforths Hotel (Book >) See all hotels >
Just over 5 hours of driving, broken up with a visit to Punakaiki where you can admire the pancake rocks and blowholes. Give yourself plenty of time to get between destinations – you’ll want to stop frequently for beautiful views.
7 🚗Hokitika to Franz Josef Dep: 12:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Franz Josef Oasis (Book >) See all hotels >
Start your day with a 30 min drive to Hokitika Gorge where you can walk 15 mins to a spectacular swing bridge. In Franz Josef you’ll arrive in time for the 14:15 glacier valley hike (or maybe splash out on a heli hike). Wear plenty of sunscreen – not only is there less ozone above NZ, the snow makes the sun extra strong.
8 🚗Franz Josef to Wanaka Dep: 14:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨West Meadows Motel (Book >) See all hotels >
Spend the first part of your day hiking up to the Fox Glacier. Then, on the drive to Wanaka, stop off at the many photogenic spots along the road. The Department of Conversation provides a wealth of info on hiking.
9 A day off from driving to enjoy the glorious hiking around Lake Wanaka. Keep an eye on the weather.
10 🚗Wanaka to Te Anau Dep: 07:00 Arr: 10:15 🏨Various trail huts (Book >)
Wake early to get to the start of the Milford or Kepler tracks. Book your place in the trek huts as far in advance as possible.
11-12 Congratulations, you’re on some of the most incredible hikes in the world! You’ll see immense snowy mountains, peaceful lakes and beautiful forests. Read more info here for the Milford Track and here for the Kepler. You can’t buy food on the treks, so think carefully about what to bring (this site gives a good idea).
13 🚗Te Anau to Manipouri Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Acheron Cottages (Book >) See all hotels >
See the immense Milford Sound on a fjord cruise (just under 2 hours from Te Anau, last departure is 3pm), then drive to nearby Manipori – just 20 mins from Te Anau. This is another opportunity to add a day to your trip if you want to take it easy post-trek.
14 🚗Manipouri to Invercargill Dep: 15:30 Arr: 17:30 🏨Tower Lodge Motel (Book >) See all hotels >
Today you’ll go on an 8-hour (starting at 07:15) exploration of remote Doubtful Sound. Your tour will take you by boat over Lake Manipouri, over Wilmott Pass and then kayak along the sound itself. Invest in a dry bag in which to keep your camera (they’re inexpensive).
15 ⛴️Invercargill to Stewart Island (Book >) Dep: 08:45 Arr: 10:45 🏨Bay Motel (Book >) See all hotels >
From Oban on Stewart Island you have a choice of tours, including to Ulva Island. Be sure to get a ticket that includes the bus to Bluff.
16 ⛴️Stewart Island to Invercargill (Book >)
🚗Invercargill to Queenstown
Dep: 08:00
Dep: 10:30
Arr: 10:00
Arr: 13:00
🏨Queenstown Park Boutique (Book >) See all hotels >
Queenstown is the adventure sports capital of New Zealand. There is a veritable smorgasbord of activities here. Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
17 A full day to indulge in any more of the activities here, including some amazing hikes. At night take your car out of town for some breathtaking star-gazing.
18 🚗Queenstown to Aoraki/Mt Cook Dep: 09:00 Arr: 12:15 🏨Aoraki Court (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve checked in head out into Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and walk beneath New Zealand’s highest mountain. Go to the National Park visitor’s centre for a great view from the picture window.
19-20 🚗Aoraki/Mt Cook to Chirstchurch
✈Christchurch to home (Book >)
Dep: 09:15
Dep: Evening
Arr: 13:45
Arr: Morning (next day)
What did you think of this New Zealand South itinerary? Leave your feedback below
Give yourself plenty of time to return the car to Christchurch.
Budget
1 ✈To Christchurch (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨Dorset House Backpackers (Book >) See all hotels >
Enjoy a relaxing day in Christchurch recovering from your long journey. Stroll in the Botanic Gardens, see the Victoria Clock Tower, admire the ingenuity of the Cardboard Cathedral and see the Antarctic artefacts in the Canterbury Museum. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚌Christchurch to Kaikoura (Book >) Dep: 07:00 Arr: 09:50 🏨Albatross Backpackers Inn (Book >) See all hotels >
Arrive in Kaikoura in time to get the 10:00 or 12:45 whale watching boat tour. Sperm whales are resident year-round and so you’re all but guaranteed to get a sighting. Later in the afternoon hire a kayak or walk along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Take motion sickness tablets if needed – you’ll be on the sea
5 🚌Kaikoura Blenheim (Book >)
🚌Blenheim to Nelson (Book >)
Dep: 10:30
Dep: 13:30
Arr: 12:25
Arr: 15:15
🏨Bridge Backpackers (Book >) See all hotels >
Enjoy the quaint city of Nelson or walk to dramatic Harwoods Hole. This blog post has good advice on Nelson cheap eats.
6 Take the 07:30 bus to Marahau and enjoy several hours of hiking or kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. The bus returns at 16:10. There aren’t any shops in the national park so bring food and water.
7 🚌Nelson to Franz Josef (Book >) Dep: 07:15 Arr: 17:04 🏨Glow Worm Accommodation (Book >) See all hotels >
Relax on the coach and watch the wild West Coast scenery fly by. Remember to pack some lunch and snacks – the coach may stop at expensive rest stops.
8 You have a full day in which to enjoy the hikes around Franz Josef Glacier. Wear plenty of sunscreen – not only is there less ozone above NZ, the snow makes the sun extra strong.
9 🚌Franz Josef to Wanaka (Book >) Dep: 08:00 Arr: 14:46 🏨YHA Wanaka (Book >) See all hotels >
Enjoy a spectacular journey then take yourself out on one of the many hikes around Lake Wanaka. The Department of Conversation provides a wealth of info on hiking.
10 🚌Wanaka to Queenstown (Book >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:50 🏨Adventure Queenstown (Book >) See all hotels >
Work your way through the large list of adventure sports around Queenstown, including some amazing hikes. Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
11 🚌Queenstown to Te Anau (Book >) Dep: 06:45 Arr: 09:10 🏨Various trail huts (Book >)
Wake early to get to the start of the Milford or Kepler tracks. There are also coaches at 07:05 and 07:20. Book your place in the trek huts as far in advance as possible.
12-13 Congratulations, you’re on some of the most incredible hikes in the world! You’ll see immense snowy mountains, peaceful lakes and beautiful forests. Read more info here for the Milford Track and here for the Kepler. You can’t buy food on the treks, so think carefully about what to bring (this site gives a good idea).
14 🚶/🚌To Milford Sound (Book >)
🚌Milford Sound to Te Anau (Book >)
Dep: 10:00

Dep: 15:25

Arr: 13:10

Arr: 17:00

🏨YHA Te Anau (Book >) See all hotels >
If you’re on the Milford Track you’ll walk in to Milford Sound, if you’re on the Kepler then you’ll need to take the coach from Te Anau. See the immense Milford Sound on a fjord cruise. This is another opportunity to add a day to your trip if you want to take it easy post-trek.
15 🚌Te Anau to Queenstown (Book >) Dep: 17:20 Arr: 19:35 🏨Adventure Queenstown (Book >) See all hotels >
Today you’ll go on an 8-hour (starting at 07:15) exploration of remote Doubtful Sound. Your tour will take you by boat over Lake Manipouri, over Wilmott Pass and then kayak along the sound itself. Invest in a dry bag in which to keep your camera (they’re inexpensive).
16 A full day to indulge in more of the activities in Queenstown. The weather can effect which activities are running.
17 🚌Queenstown to Mt Cook (Book >) Dep: 07:30 Arr: 12:15 🏨YHA Mt Cook (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve checked in head out into Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and walk beneath New Zealand’s highest mountain. Go to the National Park visitor’s centre for a great view from the picture window.
18 🚌Mt Cook to Christchurch (Book >) Dep: 14:45 Arr: 19:20 🏨Dorset House Backpackers (Book >) See all hotels >
Get in your last hike in New Zealand before journeying back to Christchurch. Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
19-20 ✈Christchurch to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) What did you think of this New Zealand South itinerary? Leave your feedback below
The bus to the airport takes 30 minutes.
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