Are you ready to start planning your South Island New Zealand itinerary?!
After spending 2 weeks on the North Island, I headed to South Island New Zealand for 14 days and have put together this travel guide to help you plan the perfect trip.
From exploring the breathtaking valleys in Mount Cook National Park to soaking in hot pools in Queenstown, this 2 week South Island New Zealand road trip itinerary is the only guide you need.
There are so many awesome things to do in South Island New Zealand, so read on to discover everything that this beautiful country has to offer.
QUICK ANSWERS: SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY
Before diving into this 2 week New Zealand South Island itinerary, here are some quick answers to the most frequently asked questions.
HOW TO GET AROUND ON MY 2 WEEK SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY?
For the ultimate New Zealand experience, traveling by campervan is the way to go! Campervans offer unlimited freedom and flexibility.
You have the ability to pick your own travel route and sleep inside the van each night which is a cost-effective way to do a South Island New Zealand road trip.
Even better, there are so many scenic spots where you can pull up for a picnic or spend the night by the seaside at your favorite beach.
Alternatively, you can rent a car in New Zealand and stay in hotels in each location which I have outlined in this post.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND?
The best time to visit New Zealand is from December to April when the days are long and often sunny.
The peak summer months (December to February) are ideal for sightseeing, outdoor activities, hiking, and swimming at the beach.
The winter is also a nice alternative for going skiing or mountaineering, but bear in mind that it’s not as convenient to drive around as you may experience some road closures.
Winter in New Zealand is from June to August, however, the cold temperatures, especially in the south island, can still be felt in October.
HOW MANY DAYS IN NEW ZEALAND?
For the best holiday in New Zealand, it’s best to plan a trip for at least one month.
A 1-month itinerary for New Zealand gives you enough time to explore the diverse beauty of both the North and South islands.
However, a two-week itinerary focused on either the North Island or South Island is indeed possible and you’ll still get to experience a lot.
Three weeks in New Zealand can give you a taste of both islands and you can squeeze in many fantastic activities.
NORTH ISLAND VS SOUTH ISLAND – WHICH IS BETTER?
The North Island is known for its subtropical temperatures, sandy beaches, and pristine lakes. It’s also home to an impressive array of geothermal activity.
On the other hand, the South Island is larger than the North Island and overall very beautiful, arguably more beautiful than the North.
It has a gorgeous coastline and offers more variety of landscapes and alpine regions.
If you’re traveling to both islands on a tight schedule, I would recommend spending fewer days on the North Island and more days on the South Island.
But to answer the question, either one is better than the other as they are so vastly unique in their own way. It just depends on what your interests are and what type of New Zealand experience you would like to have.
WHERE CAN I RENT A CAMPERVAN FOR A SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP?
I personally rented my campervan with RatPack Travel who specializes in finding you the absolute cheapest rate for campervan and RV rental in Aussie and NZ.
They compare the full online market and get back to you with the best-rated and most affordable options for your South Island New Zealand road trip.
The campervan I rented features a seating area and table that transforms into a double bed, a fully-equipped kitchen, comfortable bedding, a heater for the winter, USB power outlets, 240V power when hooked up to electricity, lots of storage, and much more.
SOUTH ISLAND ITINERARY NEW ZEALAND – OVERVIEW
To help you plan your 2-week South Island New Zealand itinerary, this is the South Island New Zealand road trip route I took in a clockwise direction, starting and ending in Christchurch.
I highly recommend this route if you want to see the best of what South Island New Zealand has to offer.
Please note that I traveled around the south island in a campervan (more on that below) and stayed mostly at campervan parks and the occasional freedom camping sites.
However, you can still follow this exact itinerary if you plan to rent a car and stay at hotels along the way. I have outlined the best hotels to stay in each location.
Here is a quick glance at how to spend 2 weeks in New Zealand South Island.
CHRISTCHURCH TO CHRISTCHURCH
- Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch & pick up campervan / rental car
- Day 2: Drive to Mount Cook National Park
- Day 3: Mount Cook National Park
- Day 4: Mount Cook National Park
- Day 5: Drive to Wanaka
- Day 6: Wanaka
- Day 7: Drive to Queenstown
- Day 8: Queenstown
- Day 9: Queenstown
- Day 10: Drive to Milford Sound
- Day 11: Milford Sound
- Day 12: Drive to Nugget Point
- Day 13: Dunedin
- Day 14: Depart from Christchurch
SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY ROUTE MAP
ALTERNATIVE ROUTE – 2 WEEK SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP
PICTON TO CHRISTCHURCH
If you already have a campervan/rental car on the North Island and continuing your travels down to the South Island, then this route may be more suitable.
You’ll take the ferry from Wellington (bottom of the North Island) to Picton (top of the South Island) and can begin your south island New Zealand road trip from here.
The Interislander Ferry is a 3-hour cruise across the Cook Strait, departing from Wellington Ferry Terminal and arriving at Picton Ferry Terminal.
- Day 1: Picton and Marlborough Sounds
- Day 2: Abel Tasman National Park
- Day 3: Pancake Rocks & Hokitika Gorge
- Day 4: Franz Joseph & Fox Glacier
- Day 5: Drive to Lake Wanaka
- Day 6: Wanaka and surrounds
- Day 7: Drive to Queenstown
- Day 8: Queenstown
- Day 9: Queenstown
- Day 10: Drive to Milford Sound
- Day 11: Milford Sound
- Day 12: Drive to Nugget Point
- Day 13: Dunedin
- Day 14: Depart from Christchurch
Ditch Your Backpack, Get a Suitcase!
2-WEEK NEW ZEALAND SOUTH ISLAND ITINERARY
This 2-week New Zealand South Island itinerary is here to provide you with all the info you need for the ultimate getaway to this amazing country.
From exploring Christchurch City to hiking to Roys Peak in Wanaka, this two weeks south island itinerary New Zealand has it all!
If you’re ready to be awestruck by breathtaking views and experience an adventure of a lifetime – read on!
DAY 1: FLY INTO CHRISTCHURCH
Christchurch is the gateway to South Island New Zealand, and thus a great place to kick off your two-week holiday!
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Christchurch, so you’ll want to make the most of your first day in the south island’s largest city.
THINGS TO DO IN CHRISTCHURCH
Christchurch is a must-visit destination, boasting stunning gardens, lush parks, and interesting historic buildings all around!
During your day here, I recommend visiting Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, taking in the beauty of Sumner Beach and Promenade, or exploring the Botanic Gardens.
Also, if there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss out on is the Christchurch Gondola and the incredible views from the top!
You can either buy individual tickets for the Gondola or get a complete tour of Christchurch with punting on the Avon River – and I definitely recommend the latter!
On top of that, make sure to check out the Canterbury Museum, which was recently renovated and is surely going to impress you with its large collection and cultural exhibitions.
Needless to say, there are more things to do in Christchurch, but these are by far the best you can enjoy on a day here before making your way to Mount Cook National Park!
HOW TO GET FROM CHRISTCHURCH AIRPORT TO CHRISTCHURCH CITY
If you have pre-booked a campervan or rental car for your South Island New Zealand itinerary, it’s likely the pick-up location is at or nearby Christchurch Aiport, and from here you can make your way into the city.
Alternatively, there are other transportation options to the city if you wish to pick up your campervan or car rental on day 2 of your itinerary.
Transport from Christchurch Airport to Christchurch City:
The cheapest way to get from the airport to Christchurch City is by taking a bus, which is both reliable and cost-effective.
You can take the following lines:
- Bus line 3 – Airport to Sumner, via Avonhead and City Centre
- Bus line 29 – Airport to City via Fendalton
- Bus line 125 – Redwood to Westlake via Christchurch Airport
Buses run every 30 minutes and cost NZ$4.50 per person.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the airport to the city and that’ll cost you NZ$40 (USD$25) on average.
The last option is to hire a car at the airport, which gives you more freedom to roam around and discover Christchurch at your own pace.
Car Rental – Search, Compare & Save!
CAMPERVAN PARKS NEAR CHRISTCHURCH
See below for recommended campervan parks near Christchurch City:
- South Brighton Holiday Park – Powered and non-powered sites, bathroom amenities, a shared lounge, and BBQ facilities
- Spencer Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park – Powered and non-powered sites, bathroom amenities, a shared kitchen, and BBQ facilities
- Tasman Holiday Parks – Christchurch – Powered and non-powered sites, bathroom amenities, spa and wellness center, and BBQ facilities
BEST HOTELS IN CHRISTCHURCH
Christchurch has hundreds of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: THE MAYFAIR
MID-RANGE: CARNMORE HOTEL CHRISTCHURCH
BUDGET: HOTEL GIVE
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN CHRISTCHURCH, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
DAY 2: MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
The incredible Mount Cook National Park is part of Te Wahipounamu, a unique UNESCO World Heritage Area!
This stunning national park is renowned for its majestic peaks, picturesque valleys, alpine lakes, and glaciers.
If you already have your campervan or rental car, you can head directly from Christchurch City to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
However, if you are picking up a set of wheels on day 2 of this itinerary, you’ll first have to get your vehicle from the respective pick-up location in Christchurch.
Mount Cook NP is located 330km from Christchurch, about 4 hours by car or campervan.
It’s a great destination to kick off your South Island New Zealand road trip, offering a wide variety of thrilling short walks, such as the Tasman River Viewpoint and the Hooker Valley Track.
I recommend spending at least 2-3 nights in Mount Cook National Park as there’s so much to see and do, and I guarantee it’ll be one of the highlights of your New Zealand South Island road trip.
THE ROAD TO MOUNT COOK
The road to the National Park is just as gorgeous as the park itself, and I highly recommend stopping along the way to capture a few photos at the below locations:
- Lake Tekapo
- Peter’s Lookout at Lake Pukaki
- Famous Mount Cook Road photo
The BEST Affordable Camera For Travel
If you’re on the hunt for a professional camera for traveling, check out the Canon G7 X Mark II.
This tiny camera fits in your pocket, captures high-quality photos and videos, and has Wi-Fi so you can instantly transfer to your phone!
On the way to the park, stop at Lake Tekapo, an absolute must-visit destination on your New Zealand South Island itinerary!
Its glacial lake is surrounded by majestic mountains, which are simply breathtaking.
At Lake Tekapo, you can visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, take a photo of the lupins, and stargaze at the Mount John Observatory.
While here, if you haven’t done so in Christchurch, I recommend stocking up for 3 days’ worth of food and drink supplies at the Four Square at Lake Tekapo before heading to Mount Cook National Park.
This is because you won’t find any supermarkets or convenience stores inside Mount Cook NP and it’s a good 1-hour drive to the nearest shop.
Peter’s Lookout is a popular scenic spot located on the southern shore of Lake Pukaki as you enter the national park.
From this lookout, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the turquoise blue waters of the lake and catch your first glimpse of Aoraki/Mount Cook in the distance.
The lookout is named after Peter, a local farmer who donated the land to the Department of Conservation to create this viewpoint.
It’s a must-visit spot for photographers and nature lovers visiting the area.
FAMOUS MOUNT COOK ROAD PHOTO
If you want to capture a Mount Cook Road photo for your Instagram, there are many photo opportunities along State Highway 80, which runs alongside Lake Pukaki.
However, there is one spot in particular that has become a famous Mount Cook road photo spot and the location is approximately 10 kilometers before you reach Mount Cook Village.
You can park your vehicle at the side of the road and capture your own breathtaking photo of Aoraki / Mount Cook standing tall in the distance.
Be super careful with traffic coming in both directions. Even though it’s a long stretch of road with plenty of time to see vehicles approaching, taking photos at this location can be dangerous and at your own risk.
THINGS TO DO IN MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK WHEN YOU ARRIVE
Mount Cook National Park is an incredible landscape of ice and rock, boasting 19 peaks over 3,000 meters – including the highest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook!
When you arrive at Mount Cook National Park, there’s no shortage of amazing spots to explore.
Start with a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center. Not only is it a tribute to one of New Zealand’s most celebrated adventurers, but it’s also an incredible interactive museum.
You’ll get to experience what it’s like to be on top of the world with 3D movies and exhibits, all while taking in the stunning views of the mountains.
Plus, there’s a cozy café on-site serving up some of the best coffee in the area – Sir Edmund Hillary Cafe & Bar – make sure to come for some Insta-worthy shots!
Afterward, head to the Mount Cook National Park Visitor Center and the staff will provide you with up-to-date weather reports and hiking trail information.
If you have more time available, why not trek up to Mueller Hut, where you can take in the majestic sights of some of the tallest peaks in NZ? It’s a 360-degree view that will take your breath away!
The hike to Mueller Hut requires advanced hiking and climbing skills, but is well worth it! It’s only $45 NZD per person per night to stay here, which is a good option if you don’t want to camp.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
There are only two campervan parks to choose from in Mount Cook National Park:
- White Horse Hill Campground – Located inside the national park, unpowered sites, toilet facilities
- Glentanner Park Centre – Located outside the national park, fully-equipped campground, powered and non-powered sites
At the visitor center, you can book and pay for a non-powered site at White Horse Hill Campground for the three nights that you will be spending here.
The price per adult is NZD $15 per person per night, and for children under 17, the price is NZD $7.50 per person, per night.
Alternatively, you can book online in advance, which I advise because camping sites are limited, especially in the high season.
Glentanner Park Center is another great option with incredible views of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Cook National Park.
They offer powered and non-powered campsites, as well as cabins for families and groups of friends for up to 5 people and single beds in dorms for an affordable price.
Plus, with shared kitchen, bathroom, and lounge facilities, it’s easy to feel at home here.
HOTELS & LODGES IN MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
Mount Cook has a few hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: AORAKI ALPINE CHALET
MID-RANGE: AORAKI COURT MOTEL
BUDGET: YHA MT COOK
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
DAY 3: MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
Today is your first full day to explore the incredible Mount Cook National Park.
My suggested itinerary is to check out the Tasman Lake Viewpoint for sunrise or mid-morning, and the Hooker Valley Track in the afternoon – you don’t want to miss out on these!
The BEST reusable water bottle for travel!
The GRAYL GeoPress is a top-rated reusable water bottle perfect for backpacking, hiking, and traveling.
It allows you to purify water from anywhere and keeps you safe from all waterborne diseases.
Get a GeoPress today and never buy single-use plastic bottles again. Mama Earth will thank you for it!
TASMAN LAKE & TASMAN GLACIER VIEWPOINT
Tasman Lake is the first stop of the day, and is an absolute must-visit for any nature lover – you’ll quickly understand why!
The blue hues of the lake will take your breath away, and you’ll feel a sense of tranquility and peace as you soak in the stunning scenery.
It’s a short 15-minute drive from Mount Cook Village to the Tasman Glacier Car Park where you can safely park your vehicle. There are also toilet amenities here.
From the car park, the trail to Tasman Lake is mostly flat and takes just 20 minutes each way from the trailhead.
The trail to the Tasman Glacier viewpoint has a steeper incline and also takes around 20 minutes each way.
Make sure you bring your camera along, as this is a photo opportunity you won’t want to miss.
HOOKER VALLEY TRACK
The next stop on your list is the Hooker Valley Track. This incredible trail takes you on a 3-hour round trip through some of the most stunning natural scenery you can imagine.
As you make your way along the trail, you’ll see breathtaking views of the Southern Alps, glacial lakes, and even the chance to spot some incredible wildlife.
Needless to say, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a chance to stretch your legs and take in the views, it’s definitely worth adding to your South Island New Zealand itinerary.
STAY AT AORAKI MOUNT COOK ALPINE LODGE
Why not treat yourself and spend the night at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge
Not only will you sleep comfortably for the night but the views from the terrace are out of this world!
DAY 4: MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
If you thought you already saw the best of the national park, on day 4, you still have some cool things to do.
If you’re feeling up for a hike, the Tasman Glacier Hike comes highly recommended.
For those who would rather get airborne, scenic flights are the perfect way to take in the stunning scenery from above.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss the opportunity to do the scenic drive around Lake Pukaki!
Here’s everything you should know below.
MOUNT COOK HELICOPTER RIDE
The first thing in the morning that I recommend is to get on a helicopter flight and explore the incredible peaks from above – trust me, there’s no better way to see the landscape!
You have 3 options available:
- 20 minutes helicopter flight – $195
- 40 minutes helicopter flight – $340
- 50 minutes helicopter flight – $452
While the 20 minutes is a good option, I recommend going for the 40-minute or 50-minute flights as they’ll give you more value for money.
Plus, the landscape is massive, and you’ll want to stay high up as long as possible!
TASMAN GLACIER HIKE
While the helicopter ride is a must-do, combining it with a hiking trip to Tasman Glacier is a great idea!
The journey starts with a breathtaking flight aboard a ski plane, taking you to 2,200 meters above sea level.
Once you arrive, you’ll be able to explore the glacier by walking, hiking, and snowshoeing. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of an iceberg in the glacier lake.
If you’ve never tried snowshoeing before, don’t worry, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
With all the necessary equipment provided for you, including adjustable walking poles, harnesses, and of course, snowshoes, you’ll be able to confidently make your way across the snowy terrain!
LAKE PUKAKI SCENIC DRIVE
After experiencing some of the best hikes you’ve ever been on, give your legs a rest and go on a scenic drive along Lake Pukaki, which is equally stunning as Aoraki itself.
You’ll wind your way around the shimmering blue waters of the lake and the views against the backdrop of the Southern Alps are breathtaking.
It’s a great way to get a taste of New Zealand’s natural beauty, and you simply can’t come to the area and skip the lake!
Have you got travel insurance for your trip?!
We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo Insurance will save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
Heymondo offers low-cost Travel Insurance to keep you covered on all your adventures.
DAY 5: LAKE WANAKA & SURROUNDS
Lake Wanaka and its stunning surroundings are the perfect continuations after three days of adventure at Mount Cook.
Driving from Mt Cook to Wanaka takes approximately 2 hours and the distance is 200km.
Located in the Central South Island of New Zealand, this beautiful alpine lake is surrounded by majestic mountains and is home to the gorgeous Mount Aspiring and Lake Hawea.
With plenty of day hikes and outdoor activities available, this is the perfect place to explore during your new zealand south island itinerary 14 days.
In winter, you can go skiing and snowboarding, while summertime offers opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, and paddleboarding.
THINGS TO DO IN WANAKA WHEN YOU ARRIVE
Wanaka is an incredible destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and there’s plenty to do when you arrive.
Here are all the things you can do in Wanaka and around.
SCENIC HELICOPTER FLIGHT WITH ASPIRING HELICOPTERS
You might think, “Another helicopter ride?!” Well yes, and this tour is just as astonishing as the one at Mount Cook.
Take in the stunning views of the ice-blue glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks, and lush green valleys from above.
With Aspiring Helicopters, you can explore some of the most remote areas in the South Island, including Mt Aspiring and Milford Sound.
Dare to add a glacier or snow landing to your scenic flight experience and feel the rush of adrenaline as you touch down in an isolated, otherworldly environment.
Every flight is personalized and tailored to your interests and preferences, making your experience unforgettable.
Aspiring Helicopters offer several packages:
- Lake Wanaka Scenic -20 minutes for $225
- Snow Landing – 25 minutes for $325
- Glacier Experience – 35 minutes for $450
- Mt Aspiring & Glaciers – 1 hour for $595
- Milford Sound – 2 hours for $1,125
- Mighty Milford Sound – 3 hours for $1,495
TAKE A PHOTO OF THE FAMOUS WANAKA TREE
Another must-do activity in New Zealand is to take a photo of the famous Wanaka Tree, located on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
This iconic tree has become a symbol of New Zealand and is a favorite spot for photographers from all over the world.
While it might seem like a normal tree at first, the photos you can take of the tree with its mountainous backdrop are some of the most unique I’ve seen!
Check Out This Must-Have Travel Accessory!
VISIT THE BLUE POOLS
Finally, you should make time to visit the Blue Pools, a series of crystal-clear pools located in Mount Aspiring National Park.
The Blue Pools offer a relaxing experience, surrounded by the natural beauty of New Zealand.
The trailhead starts along the Haast Highway, about a 45-minute drive from Wanaka.
Trek along the 1.5 km trail parallel to the Makarora River to get to the Blue Pools where you can go for a swim, skim some rocks, and take photos of this beautiful attraction.
The Blue Pools is an excellent place to visit for families, photography enthusiasts, and nature lovers of all ages, so make sure to stop by!
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN WANAKA
See below for recommended campervan parks in Wanaka:
BEST HOTELS IN WANAKA
Wanaka has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: MINARET STATION ALPINE LODGE
MID-RANGE: FAIRWAY MOTEL & APARTMENTS
BUDGET: ZULA LODGE
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN WANAKA, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
DAY 6: ROYS PEAK TRACK & WANAKA TOWN
Make sure to add Roys Peak Track and Wanaka Town to your New Zealand South Island road trip itinerary!
Roys Peak Track is an exhilarating 2-3 hours hike to reach the summit of Roys Peak, and I highly suggest you do it for sunrise.
Once you come back to the base, head over to Wanaka Town and explore around – this is a well-deserved break after hiking and driving for days!
Pssst! Check out this EPIC Hiking Backpack!
Perfect for shorter day hikes, the Osprey Stratos 24L is a tough pack made from sustainable materials.
With great internal organization, this is all you need for your next adventure, no matter the weather!
ROYS PEAK TRACK
Up for a challenge? Then the Roys Peak Track will surely not disappoint. While the hike may be somewhat strenuous, the stunning views from the top at dawn are well worth it.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mount Aspiring and panoramic views of Lake Wanaka. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks, and don’t forget your camera.
It’s worth noting that the hike will take you about 6 hours return (including a couple of photo stops), which is quite an effort, but I loved it and guarantee you will too!
EXPLORE WANAKA TOWN
After a cool hike at Roys Peak, you’ll want to stretch your legs and roam around Wanaka Town, which has several nice things to do.
Among the best activities, here are those I recommend:
- Visit Puzzling World
- Watch a movie at Cinema Paradiso
- Check out the Wanaka Lavender Farm
- Go kayaking or paddleboarding on the lake
- Have a wine-tasting session on a Lake Wanaka Cruise
- Join the Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk Tour from Wanaka
For starters, why not try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the lake? It’s a great way to soak up the stunning scenery and get a workout at the same time.
Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the Wanaka Jet Boat Tour for a thrilling ride through the water.
For a more laid-back experience, check out Puzzling World, an attraction that offers an optical illusion gallery and a giant maze – How cool!
Afterward, head to the quirky Cinema Paradiso for a unique movie-going experience, complete with cozy couches and delicious homemade treats.
Sure, Wanaka is indeed a small place, but who said you’d get bored during your visit?!
DAY 7: QUEENSTOWN
Now that you’ve checked the stunning mountains around New Zealand’s South Island, it’s time to make your way to Queenstown, where you’ll be in for an unforgettable experience.
Located only 70km from Wanaka, or around 1 hour by car or campervan, you will be stunned by all the amazing landscapes on the way.
With the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu right at your doorstep, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a postcard here.
Queenstown is also well-known for its nightlife, so make sure to check out some of the local bars and clubs.
And if you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed – the dining options in Queenstown are top-notch.
Let me tell you the best things to do in town!
THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN WHEN YOU ARRIVE
On your first day in Queenstown, here are some of the best things to see and do to keep you entertained.
PIG OUT AT FERGBURGER
Fergburger is an iconic burger joint located in the heart of Queenstown. It’s famous for its delicious and juicy burgers, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.
You can choose from various mouthwatering burgers, including the classic Fergburger, the Southern Swine, and the Chief Wiggum, all from beef, pork, lamb, and more.
PLAY FRISBEE GOLF IN QUEENSTOWN GARDENS
Queenstown Gardens is a beautiful public park located in the heart of Queenstown.
It’s home to a nine-hole frisbee golf course, which is a fun and unique way to explore the park while enjoying a game of frisbee.
The course is designed with challenging obstacles and beautiful scenery, making it an enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.
RIDE THE GONDOLA TO BOB’S PEAK
Another must-do in Queenstown is the gondola, taking riders up to Bob’s Peak, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains.
The round-trip takes about 2.5 hours, and you’ll have a chance to take incredible photos on the way.
At the top, you can explore the Skyline complex which includes a variety of activities, such as a luge track, stargazing, and dining options.
The Queenstown Luge is a thrilling activity that’s perfect for visitors of all ages. It’s a gravity-based ride that takes you down a winding track, with views of Lake Wakatipu in the background.
There are multiple tracks to choose from, including scenic routes and more challenging tracks for adrenaline junkies.
TAKE AN E-BIKE TOUR
If Queenstown Luge is not your cup of tea but you still want an active day, this eBike tour around the top of Grants Peak will have you zooming up the mountain in no time.
Once you reach the peak, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of Queenstown’s stunning natural landscape, including the Remarkables and Coronet Peak.
The adventure doesn’t stop there – you’ll also share fascinating insights about High Country farming and the Māori myths and legends that add to Queenstown’s unique heritage.
All in all, these are probably the best three hours you’ll spend in Queenstown! That being said, the tour sells out super fast, so make sure to book in advance.
ONSEN HOT POOLS
The Onsen Hot Pools is a luxurious and relaxing experience, and this is your best chance to soak in private hot pools while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
The pools are located on a hillside above the Shotover River, and each pool has its own retractable roof, allowing you to take in the views while staying warm and comfortable.
Simply put, it’s the perfect activity for a peaceful and rejuvenating experience!
Note that you should book 5 to 6 weeks in advance as they’re usually booked out for the month, so keep that in mind.
HOP-ON HOP-OFF BEER TOUR
Every Thursday to Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm, you can explore the best local brews at your own pace on this Hop-on Hop-off Beer Tour.
Get on the van and hop off at your preferred stops – there’s no better way to sample the best of Queenstown’s beer scene!
With four 1-hour stops, you’ll have plenty of time to indulge in as many brews as you like! Plus, enjoy special discounts and explore unique locations outside the city center.
Grab this chance to meet fellow beer lovers and create unforgettable memories! All this for only $44 per person, what a bargain!
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN QUEENSTOWN
See below for recommended campervan parks in Queenstown:
BEST HOTELS IN QUEENSTOWN
Queenstown has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
LUXURY: LE CARLIN BOUTIQUE HOTEL
MID-RANGE: GARDEN COURT SUITES & APARTMENTS
BUDGET: PINEWOOD LODGE & APARTMENTS
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN QUEENSTOWN, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
DAY 8: QUEENSTOWN
Day 8 of this New Zealand South Island itinerary is going to be a tasty one!
We spent the day with Appellation Wine Tours, indulging in a Full-Day Gourmet Food and Wine Tour – and you should join it too!
I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their day sipping on some of New Zealand’s finest wines and indulging in delicious gourmet food?
The tour lasts 6.5 hours and costs $279 per person, and this will be some of the best-spent money on this itinerary.
From visiting charming vineyards to tasting world-class Pinot Noirs, this tour left our taste buds fully satisfied.
And the best part? The stunning natural scenery that surrounded us throughout the entire day.
Apart from complimentary hotel pick-up and wine tasting at 4 premium locations, you’ll visit the towns of Gibbston, Bannockburn, and Cromwell, and have a 5-dish gourmet lunch.
You’ll also get a tour of the Gibbston Valley underground wine cave, as well as a short visit to historic Arrowtown and Old Cromwell.
It’s safe to say that this experience on your 2 week New Zealand South Island itinerary will definitely be one for the books!
DAY 9: QUEENSTOWN
Day 9 of your New Zealand south island itinerary is all about adventure! And let me tell you – if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’re in for a real treat.
Start off your day with the iconic Shotover Jet Boat ride and feel the rush of adrenaline as you whip through narrow canyons and spin around in this purpose-built jet boat.
This is by far one of the best activities on the itinerary, so make sure to book online to reserve your spot!
Next on the list, is bungee jumping! There are few places in the world where bungee jumping feels more appropriate than in New Zealand, and Queenstown is no exception.
For a more relaxed adventure, take the segway tour around Queenstown, which lasts 2 hours and it’s a great thing to do for everyone, from adults to teens.
It’s eco-friendly, super cool, and you’ll pass some of the best photo spots in town, the full package!
Finish off your day with a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, taking in the serene beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
There’s no better way to end an adventure-packed day in South Island New Zealand!
DAY 10: MILFORD SOUND
Oh Milford Sound, what a wonderful place to visit! It’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in New Zealand, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s about 290km from Queenstown with the journey taking around 3 hours and 45 minutes.
With its stunning scenery, incredible wildlife, and exciting Fiordland National Park, it’s a must-see on any New Zealand South Island road trip.
There’s plenty to do in Milford Sound, from joining a cruise to walking the Milford Foreshore, kayaking, snorkeling, and taking a scenic flight.
Keep Yo’ Sh*t Organized!
Packing cubes are a traveler’s best friend, perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, underwear, and more!
Shacke Pak Cubes make packing easier and leaves extra space in your bag to fit more essentials.
THINGS TO DO IN MILFORD SOUND WHEN YOU ARRIVE
This incredible fjord in Fiordland National Park is renowned for its majestic peaks, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.
Here’s what to do in Milford Sound when you arrive.
LAKE MARIAN HIKE
The Lake Marian Hike is a stunning trek near Milford Sound that you can’t miss on your itinerary.
It’s a relatively challenging hike that takes you through the forest and up to the peaceful lake.
Be prepared to hike from the base to Lake Marian for about 3 hours, where you can stop at various spots for photos and bird watching.
The trail is well-maintained but can be steep, uneven, and slippery in places, so make sure to bring proper hiking gear.
MILFORD SOUND LOOKOUT & MILFORD SOUND SWING
The next spot to check out is the Milford Sound Lookout and the famous Milford Sound Swing, and you’ll get here through Ngati Mamoe Walkway.
At the lookout, you’ll have panoramic views of Milford Sound, hence why it’s such a popular spot in the region and easily accessible.
The swing is just steps away from the lookout, and it’s a great angle for a photo with a cool background to add to your Instagram grid!
You can stroll along the wooden boardwalk and check out the famous Milford Sound swing, and then go and watch the sunset from Milford Sound Lookout – how’s that for a plan?
Both are a short walk from the Milford Sound car park, so you can stop here with your campervan and continue on foot.
WHERE TO STAY IN MILFORD SOUND
There are only two accommodation providers in Milford Sound:
- Milford Sound Lodge – Fully-equipped campground and accommodations, powered and non-powered sites, and an on-site cafe.
- Mitre Peak Lodge – Friendly service, clean and modern rooms, and on-site restaurant, but you have to call them to book as they do not accept online bookings.
DAY 11: MILFORD SOUND
MILFORD SOUND CRUISE
On your second day in Milford Sound, there’s something you shouldn’t skip which is a Milford Sound Cruise.
This boutique boat offers an intimate experience with a limited number of passengers, which is great for an intimate excursion.
Settle into the upper cabin’s lounge-style seating and sip on complimentary hot drinks and enjoy the snacks provided while listening to the stories and anecdotes by the guide.
Other than endless photo opportunities, you’ll also see dolphins, fur seals, and Fiorland-crested penguins. Could this boat cruise be any more unique?!
KAYAKING IN MILFORD SOUND
The cruise in Milford Sound is awesome, but to get even more value for your money and a more comprehensive experience, consider this Sightseeing Cruise with Kayaking Tour!
Cruise along the entire length of the sound and out to the Tasman Sea, with a different focus and exploration on each trip, so make sure to pick the one that suits you best!
The cruise is the same as above with dolphins and penguins, tea, coffee, and lunch.
After the cruise, you’ll go to the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory, where you’ll discover the history, geology, and wildlife of Milford Sound.
But the adventure doesn’t stop there! Go to the kayaking pontoon for up to 90 minutes of blissful kayaking through Harrison Cove’s glacier-fed waters.
With only 8 kayaks per tour, you’re sure to get an intimate experience close to the fjords and wildlife.
MILFORD SOUND SCENIC HELICOPTER FLIGHT
There’s no better way to take in the breathtaking beauty of Milford Sound than by taking a scenic flight with Milford Sound Helicopters.
Their “Glacier Galore” flight takes you on an unforgettable journey through the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, past cascading waterfalls and rugged valleys, before landing on a glacier where you can experience the awe-inspiring ice formations up close.
Along the way, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Milford Sound and its iconic landmarks, including Mitre Peak, Bowen Falls, and Stirling Falls.
With expert pilots and modern helicopters, Milford Sound Helicopters offers a truly unforgettable flight that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
DAY 12: NUGGET POINT
Day 12 is all about traveling from Milford Sound to the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island – the distance is 350km with a journey time of around 4.5 hours without stops.
Needless to say, this is going to be a drive full of awesome spots to stop and take pictures. For instance, Te Anau Lions Lookout Point or the Anduin River Viewpoint.
As you approach Nugget Point, you’ll quickly be greeted by the iconic lighthouse perched atop the rugged cliff face.
But the real show stoppers are the yellow-eyed penguins that call this place home.
These little guys can be tricky to spot, but if you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of them along the beach!
While the drive from Milford Sound to Nugget Point may take a little while, the views along the way make it more than worth it.
Lastly, don’t forget to stop by The Point Cafe & Bar for lunch or dinner, this will be another memorable moment!
CAMPERVAN PARKS NEAR NUGGET POINT
There are two main campervan parks near Nugget Point, and these are:
- Kaka Point Camping Ground – Kaka Point has all the essentials, including powered and un-powered sites, laundry, and a TV lounge.
- Hillview Camping Stay – Powered and un-powered sites, a shared kitchen area, showers, lovely owner, and amazing views!
HOTELS NEAR NUGGET POINT
The nearest town to Nugget Point for accommodations is Kaka Point, with several properties available.
Below you’ll find options suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: THE YELLOW HOUSE
MID-RANGE: KAKA POINT SPA ACCOMMODATION
BUDGET: BATE’S BEACH
DAY 13: DUNEDIN
Dunedin is truly one of a kind, with its incredible Scottish and Maori heritage, and stunning Victorian and Edwardian architecture, and is situated near some incredible wildlife reserves.
During your time here, make sure to visit the Otago Peninsula, the Royal Albatross Centre, and its penguins.
In addition, don’t skip the stunning Orokonui Ecosanctuary to experience the amazing local wildlife – you might even spot some kiwi!
An amazing day in Dunedin could start with a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre, followed by a trip to Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
After that, you should have lunch at Ombrellos Kitchen & Bar, one of the best restaurants in town, you’ll love their Ombrellos Burger!
Last but not least, Tunnel Beach, Baldwin Street (the steepest street in the world), and the Botanic Gardens in Dunedin are well worth a visit!
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN DUNEDIN
Among all the campervan parks in Dunedin, these are the ones I recommend:
- Dunedin Holiday Park – Powered and non-powered site, shared bathroom facilities, laundry room, and it’s close to the main town.
- Leith Valley Holiday Park – Great option with powered and non-powered sites, near restaurants, shared bathroom facilities, and a guest lounge.
BEST HOTELS IN DUNEDIN
Dunedin has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
MID-RANGE: DUNEDIN PALMS MOTEL
BUDGET: UPTOWN BACKPACKERS
FOR MORE OPTIONS IN DUNEDIN, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
DAY 14: DEPARTURE FROM CHRISTCHURCH
After a jam-packed two weeks exploring the stunning South Island of New Zealand, it’s time to say goodbye to this incredible corner of the world.
But wait, before leaving, there are still a few activities you can do on your last day.
If you have time before your flight, head to Lyttelton and soak up the seaside vibes while enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee.
Back in Christchurch, here are other great things to do:
- Join a comprehensive tour of Christchurch
- Take the Gondola to the Port Hills crater rim
- Enjoy the Christchurch Hop-On Hop-Off Tram
TRAVEL TIPS: NEW ZEALAND SOUTH ISLAND ROAD TRIP
Here are some handy travel tips and things to know before you begin your 14 day New Zealand itinerary South Island.
BEST APPS FOR A SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY
When planning your New Zealand north island road trip, several apps can make your journey even more pleasant and convenient.
From having an accurate weather forecast to finding the best camping locations and even hiking trails, these apps will come in handy.
Among the best apps for a New Zealand road trip are:
- MetService (Weather)
- Maps.me (GPS)
- Google Maps (GPS)
- Spotify (Music)
- Great Rides (Biking trails)
- Great Hikes (Hiking trails)
- Rankers Camping NZ (Camping Locations)
- CamperMate (Camping spots, details, and more)
FREEDOM CAMPING IN NEW ZEALAND
Freedom camping in New Zealand is a fantastic way to save money on accommodation.
There are many sites and apps available to help you find freedom camping locations all across the country, but I recommend Freedom Camping and CamperMate, which list dozens of locations around New Zealand.
CamperMate is one of the most popular apps for finding both free and paid campgrounds in New Zealand. It includes information on sites such as facilities, activities, and even nearby attractions.
When going off-grid, be sure to buy enough water, food, and snacks for the road, especially if you plan to sleep in your campervan for a few days!
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Firstly, WiFi isn’t available everywhere, and for this reason, you will want to get a local sim card when you arrive at Christchurch Airport or purchase an eSIM.
Secondly, I suggest you buy groceries at PAK ‘n’ SAVE, which is much cheaper than other stores around the country.
Also, most tours and entrance tickets sell out super fast so I suggest booking online on Viator in advance and being guaranteed the best rates.
More New Zealand Travel Guides
Click the button below to view all articles related to New Zealand!
WHAT TO PACK FOR NEW ZEALAND
When visiting New Zealand, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
Must-Have Travel Essentials
Hidden Money Wallet
Keep your cash and other valuables safe with this anti-theft hidden money wallet!
Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best reusable bottle that allows you to purify water from anywhere!
The Nomatic Travel Backpack has 20+ innovative features, perfect for everyday use!
Quick-Dry Travel Towel
The most compact, lightweight, and quick-dry towel for traveling!
Keep your phone, laptop, and accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker PowerBank!
FINAL THOUGHTS – ITINERARY NEW ZEALAND SOUTH ISLAND
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and if you have any questions, please drop me a comment below this post, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
Search and book accommodation worldwide.
Compare and book cheap flights to anywhere.
Find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world.
Book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance.
Search all rental cars in your next destination.
Need travel insurance for your next trip?
THANKS FOR READING
Hey friend, thanks for reading this guide!
Please know this post may contain affiliate links. When making a purchase through one of my links, I earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running. Rest assured, I only promote products and services that I personally use and recommend.