38 Day Driving Itinerary for South Island, New Zealand

Fly into Christchurch on the South Island. It is easier to buy a vehicle here rather than in Auckland because many people start their New Zealand adventure on the North Island and head South.

For a list of where we stayed each night, go HERE.

Days 1 and 2 (Explore Christchurch):DSC00054

  1. Re-START Container Mall
  2. Canterbury Museum
  3. Cathedral Square
  4. C1 Espresso
  5. Free walking tour of Christchurch
  6. Hagley Park
  7. 185 Empty White Chairs
  8. Transitional Cathedral

*For more detailed information go HERE.

Day 3:

Akaroa Harbor – get out on the water and try to find some Hectors dolphins


Akaroa Harbour, New Zealand

Day 4:

Drive towards Lake Tekapo

  1. Find the longest bridge in New Zealand
  2. Stop in Ashburton. There is a nice park and a neat clock tower.

Day 5:

  1. Spend time admiring Lake Tekapo. If you are brave, take a dip!
  2. Walk around Lake MacGregor.


    Lake Tekapo

Day 6:

  1. Lake Pukaki
  2. Mt. Cook lookout
  3. Hooker Valley Track


    Hooker Valley Track, New Zealand

Day 7:


Lake Ohau

Day 8:

  1. Lake Benmore
  2. Benmore Peninsula Trackdsc00222

Day 9:

  1. Maori Takiroa Rock Art
  2. Duntroon
  3. Oamaru (St. Patrick’s Basilica, admire the architecture downtown, Steampunk HQ, cool playground near the waterfront)dsc00255

Day 10:

  1. Moeraki Boulders
  2. Palmerston
  3. Great white sands beach at Waikouaiti (great place to swim)
  4. Great lookout at Puketeiakidsc00260

Day 11:

Dunedin (Botanic Gardens, steepest street in the world-Baldwin street, Dunedin Railway Station, Otago museum, Octagon, St. Paul’s cathedral, University of Otago, First Church)


Dunedin Railway Station, New Zealand

Day 12:

Otago Peninsula (Taiaroa Head, Glen Falloch Gardens)dsc00331

Day 13: 

  1. Catlins River Walk
  2. Nugget Point (lighthouse, fur seals)
  3. Tunnel Hill Historic Res.
  4. Jack’s Blowhole


    Nugget Point

Day 14:

  1. Purakaunui Falls
  2. Florence Hill Lookout
  3. McLean Falls
  4. Cathedral Caves (199 meters in length, one of the 30 longest known sea caves in the world)
  5. Curio bay (petrified forest, saw yellow-eyed penguins)


    McLean Falls

Day 15:

  1. Waipapa Pt. (lighthouse, fur seals, shipwreck)
  2. Invercargilldsc00390

Day 16:

  1. Orepuki Beach
  2. Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

Day 17:

  1. Lake Mistletoe
  2. Eglinton Valley
  3. Mirror Lakes
  4. Lake Gunn Nature walk
  5. waterfall near Lake Marian
  6. Humboldt Falls


    Humboldt Falls

Day 18:

  1. Milford Sound (take a cruise!)
  2. Te Anau
  3. Lake Wakatipu
  4. Queenstown


    Milford Sound, New Zealand

Day 19 and 20:

  1. Queenstown (Queenstown gardens, Tiki trail, Lake Wakatipu, Bob’s Cove)
  2. Arrowtown (small mining town, replicas of Chinese housing, very cute town center and historic homes)



Day 21 and 22:

Wanaka (Lake Wanaka, Bremner Bay, That Wanaka Tree, Puzzling World)dsc00530

Day 23:

  1. Lake Hawea
  2. Blue Pools
  3. Mt. Aspiring National Park
  4. Fantail Falls
  5. Thunder Creek Falls


    Lake Hawea

Day 24:

  1. Roaring Bill waterfalls
  2. Haast Visitor center
  3. Knights Point Lookout
  4. Lake Paringa
  5. Fox Glacier
  6. Gillespies Beach dsc00570

Day 25:

  1. Franz Josef glacier
  2. Lake Ianthe Matahi
  3. Lake Mahinapua

Day 26:

  1. Hokitika
  2. Lake Kaniere4

Day 27:

  1. Dorothy Falls
  2. Kowhitirangi incident memorial
  3. Hokitika Gorge
  4. Rimu Lookout and heritage walk
  5. tunnel terrace loopwalk (goldmining tailrace tunnels)



Day 28:

  1. Greymouth
  2. Pancake Rocks and blowhole
  3. Truman trackdsc00638

Day 29:

  1. Tauranga Bay
  2. Cape Foulwind
  3. Westport
  4. Reefton

Day 30:

  1. Lewis Pass
  2. Hanmer Springs

Day 31:

  1. Cathedral Cliffs
  2. Gore Bay
  3. Kaikoura (peninsula walkway)


    Kaikoura – peninsula walkway

Day 32:

  1. Ohau Point (seals)
  2. Blenheim (Seymour Square, Pollard Park)

Day 33:

  1. St. Arnaud
  2. Nelson Lakes N.P.
  3. Lake Rotoiti
  4. Peninsula Nature walkdsc00744

Day 34:

  1. Kaiteriteri Beach
  2. Abel Tasman National Park
  3. Hawke’s lookoutdsc00751

Day 35:

  1. Te Waikoropupu Springs
  2. Golden Bay lookout
  3. Collingwood
  4. Wharariki Beach
  5. Cape Farewell
  6. Farewell Spit Nature Reserve


    Wharariki Beach

Day 36:

  1. Takaka (museum)
  2. Nelson (Christchurch Cathedral, Queens Gardens)

Day 37:

Nelson (centre of NZ, Miyazu Japanese Garden, mural walk)

Day 38: 

  1. Havelock (marina, museum,overlook)
  2. Queen Charlotte Drive
  3. drive through Marlborough Sound to Portage
  4. Picton (Bob’s Beach)


    overlooking Havelock

One comment

  1. Anonymous

    Erica, this is an amazing itinerary for this land…kudos to you for such great work informing others!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s