Complete Road Trip Guide for South Island of New Zealand

By UnapologeticaLee | Apr 20, 2019
Oceania > New Zealand > South Island

Do you only have two weeks to explore the incredible South Island of New Zealand?

The South Island is absolutely stunning and it’s hard to know how to fit it all in! Never fear, here is a two-week itinerary that highlights the best of the South Island!

This itinerary intends for you to fly into Nelson and out of Christchurch. You will rent a car for two weeks (rental companies will allow you to pick up and drop off cars in different cities for no extra charge) and stay overnight in Nelson, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, Dunedin, Tekapo, and Christchurch.


Two week road trip route

Two week road trip route

Day 1 & 2: Overnight in Nelson

Center of New Zealand Walk, Visit Queen’s Botanical Gardens, view Christ Church Hilltop Cathedral, Walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track, Drive up to Golden Bay

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

Drive: Nelson to Hokitika
Time: 4 hours

Day 3: Overnight in Hokitika

Visit the Hokitika Gorge, Check out the Glow Worm Dell at night, Walk around the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge

Drive: Hokitika to Fox Glacier
Time: 2:15 hours

Day 4: Overnight in Fox Glacier

Hike both the Fox and Franz Josef Glacial Walks, Visit Lake Matheson (The Mirror Lake!)

Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson

Drive: Fox Glacier to Wanaka
Time: 3:30 hours

Day 5 & 6: Overnight in Wanaka

Swim or layak Lake Wanaka, Jumping into the Blue Pools, visit Puzzling World, Check out Rob Roy Glacier, Hike up Roy’s Peak at sunrise, see a film at Cinema Paradiso, photograph Wanaka’s famous underwater tree

Wanaka's famous tree

Wanaka's famous tree

Drive: Wanaka to Queenstown
Time: 1 hour

Day 7: Overnight in Queenstown

Hike the Queenstown Hill Time Walk, Relax in Queenstown Garden, Explore your adventure sports options (bungee, skydive, canyoning, etc.)

Queenstown Waterfront

Queenstown Waterfront

Drive: Queenstown to TeAnau
Time: 2 hours

Day 8 & 9: Overnight in Te Anau

Check out the Te Anau bird sanctuary, Hike to the Key Alpine Summit of the Routeburn Track, View the Mirror Lakes, Take a cruise in Milford Sound, Hike the Gertrude Saddle Track, Tour a Glow Worm Dell

Key Alpine Summit of the Routeburn Track

Key Alpine Summit of the Routeburn Track

Drive: Te Anau to Dunedin
Time: 3:25 hours

Day 10: Overnight in Dunedin

Photograph Nugget Point Light House, Take the Tunnel Beach Track, Visit Baldwin Street

Nugget Point Lighthouse

Nugget Point Lighthouse

Drive: Dunedin to Tekapo
Time: 3:30 hours

Day 11 & 12: Sleep in Tekapo

Hop on the Moeraki Boulders, Hike the Hooker Valley Track, Star Gaze at Mt John University Observatory, Relax at Lake Pukaki

Hooker Valley Track

Hooker Valley Track

Drive: Tekapo to Christchurch
Time: 4 hours

Day 13: Sleep in Christchurch

Take the Bridle Path Walk, Ride the Gondola, Go to the Farmer’s Market, Hang out in the Botanic Gardens, Visit the Brockworth Street Art Gallery

Day 14: That’s up to you!

I’ve left this last day free because the South Island of New Zealand is incredible...chances are you’ll find one little town on your travels that captures your heart and steals away your soul. With this flexible itinerary, you can indulge yourself and stay an extra night wherever you chose!

Have a killer holiday in the South Island!

Canterbury Oceania South Island Itinerary New Zealand Planning Road Trip Nelson Queenstown Christchurch

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Written by UnapologeticaLee
Hey! I'm Lee - a 23-year-old queer solo traveler. I make tons of mistakes and write about my adventures! I've got plenty of other tips for Traveling New Zealand on my personal travel, so go check it out!

There is 1 comment
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Jun 11, 2019 at 03:14

I couldn't refrain from commenting. Well written!

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