Christchurch to Christchurch in 5 Days (866 kms)The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand. Although it has the greatest land mass, it is only home to one quarter of the total population of New Zealand, which gives it a quieter, more laid back and relaxed atmosphere.
The South Island is an ideal place for a campervan holiday. Having your own vehicle to travel around in here really makes the experience unforgettable and allows you to travel at your own pace and explore the things that you want to see!
The start of your holiday adventure of the more northern end of the South Island will begin in the beautiful city of Christchurch. This stylish and contemporary city is known as New Zealand's "Garden City" and encompasses a natural and architectural beauty. While visiting this area you can explore the cultural heritage of this amazing city simply by walking the streets of the cultural precinct of the city centre. The beauty and wonder is all around, with the looming mountains and extensive coastline offering a stunning background to the city centre highlights. With fantastic wine regions and colourful countryside, there will always be something new for you to see in Christchurch.
Day 1 - Christchurch to Kaikoura
181 KM (2 hrs, 36 mins)To begin your ultimate driving holiday of the South Island, pick up your campervan from the pre-arranged destination in Christchurch. Once you have adjusted to your new driving conditions, head north along S.H.1., which is also known as the 'Kaikoura Coast Line Drive'. While driving along this rugged coastline you will pass through the seaside villages of Woodend, Davaar, Cheviot, Fernihurst, Hundaless, Oara, Goose Bay and Kowhai. Break up the 181 kilometre drive by stopping for a short break in Cheviot. The Cheviot Tearooms are located just off the S.H.1., making it the perfect place to stop for a pleasant cup of tea.
Continuing your journey along the coastline will eventually bring you into the seaside town of Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a popular tourist destination all year round and is most famously known for its excellent whale watching opportunities. The town of Kaikoura is blessed with a stunning contrast of mountain and ocean views. The Seaward Kaikoura Mountains act as a pleasant background and the tips are snow capped for several months of the year. The town centre offers art, history, culture, fine wines and tasty cuisine and the abundance of marine life, with opportunities to swim with the seals and dolphins, is what really draws the tourists in.
Where to Stay!Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park
This extensively landscaped park is located on Beach Road and is close to all of the local food, shops and services and only a short walk from the town centre. The park is home to 100 pleasant, sheltered sites for your campervan, so all you have to do is choose which one suits you best!
Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park
The Kaikoura Beach Holiday Park is the only ocean front holiday park in Kaikoura. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this popular park is located just 5 minutes south of the town centre, which makes it the ideal place to park your campervan for the night. With spacious, level campervan sites starting at just $26 per night, there is something here to suit every budget!
Don't Miss!Whale watch Kaikoura
The daily operating tours that Whale Watch Kaikoura offer allow visitors to experience the unique wonder of these fascinating creatures. This unique experience permits you to engage in up-close encounters with the whales, while learning all there is to know about these majestic creatures. This is an once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should definitely not miss while visiting Kaikoura!
Seal Swim Kaikoura
Swim and snorkel with the fur seals in the shallow waters of the Kaikoura Peninsula. Discover how cute and friendly these creatures are while enjoying this unique experience with the guidance of trained professionals.
Other Attractions!Kaikoura Winery
The Kaikoura Winery is arguably the most scenic winery in all of New Zealand. While enjoying the spectacular ocean and mountain views you can sample the award winning wine that the locals pride themselves on. Take a guided tour of the vineyard and underground cellars and as the owners say, "touch the hills, see the views, hear the sea, smell the air and taste the wine!"
Maori Tours Kaikoura
This half-day tour allows you to explore the rich Maori history of the Kaikoura region. The guides will tell you fascinating stories of their ancestors, while you learn about the Maori customs and gain an insight into their way of life. This tour is regarded as one of the world's finest Indigenous tours and is definitely a must-do while visiting Kaikoura!
Day 2 - Kaikoura to Blenheim
129 KM (1 hr, 37 mins)On day 2 of your South Island campervanning adventure, journey the 129 kilometre drive along the east coast to Blenheim. This drive along the S.H.1. is simply stunning as it takes you along the rugged coastline of the eastern side of the island. Along the way you may choose to stop in the coastal towns of Kapuku, Mangamaunu, Rakautara, Clarence, Parekawa, Kekerengu and Wharanui.
The town of Blenheim is located in the Marlborough region and is home to the waterways of the Marlborough Sounds. Situated on the fertile Wairau Plains, the town of Blenheim is surrounded by the centre of New Zealand's wine industry. The relaxed atmosphere and lifestyle of this quaint town will welcome you with open arms and make you feel right at home. With a safe harbour to go sailing on, stylish cafes and art galleries, and sunny weather year round, Blenheim is the perfect place to base yourself for the second night of your campervanning adventure.
Where to Stay!Blenheim Bridge Top 10 Holiday Park
This stunning park is spread across 9 acres and located just 5 minutes from the heart of town. Choose from the 80 spacious, tree lined, powered sites that rest right on the banks of the lazy trout stream. With BBQ facilities, a play area, swimming pool and spa room just some of the features this park offers, where better place for you to park your campervan for the night!
Don't Miss!Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
This historical centre brings history to life with special presentations of static and flyable aircraft. Located on the Omaka Aerodrome, just 5 kilometres out of Blenheim, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is the perfect place for you to learn all there is to know about the history of New Zealand's aviation.
Other Attractions!Molesworth Tour Company
Get away from the crowds and breathe in the fresh mountain air of New Zealand's largest farm. The Molesworth Station is situated in the remote, high country regions of Marlborough and offers stunning countryside scenery for you to feast your eyes upon. Choose to do a self-drive tour or take a one-day tour of the region's vineyards. This experience will get you back in touch with nature and allow you to experience the untouched beauty of New Zealand's high country!
Day 3 - Blenheim to Picton
30KM (26 mins)Continue your journey along the S.H.1. for a further 30 kilometres and you will come to the picturesque town of Picton. Spending the night here will allow you to explore all the wonders that are on offer here and the short distance up the road from Blenheim means that you can take the Molesworth Tour at your own leisure.
The drive to Picton is truly a pleasant one and will take you through the interesting towns of Spring Creek, Koromiko and Elevation. Make a quick stop in Spring Creek and discover the strong coal mining history that abounds, while enjoying a picnic on the banks of the creek.
Picton is a small seaport at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound. The beautiful beaches and easy bushwalks provide a relaxed setting and the waterfront views are simply stunning. Picton is Marlborough's main commercial port and daily ferry services to Wellington operate daily from here.
Where to Stay!Picton Top 10 Holiday Park
The local Top 10 Holiday Park is located just 4 kilometres, or a 5 minute drive, east of the town centre of Picton. Overlooking Waikawa Bay, the park is close to a pleasant swimming beach and features a swimming pool, playground and BBQ facilities. You can choose from 50 powered sights, each boasting magnificent views of the bay. With prices starting at just $13 per night, where better then to rest your campervan for the night?
Picton Campervan Park
The Picton Campervan Park is the closest park to the town centre and the ferry port. The landscaped grounds offer excellent site facilities and the surrounding adventure activities abound!
Don't Miss!Swimming with the dolphins!
The town of Picton offers Dolphin Watch Ecotours for those seeking the experience of a lifetime. After discovering the whales and seals back in Kaikoura, it is time to see the talents of the clever dolphins. Choose to take a tour on a boat to view the dolphins from convenient platforms, or take a dip in the cool waters and interact with these amazing creatures.
Other Attractions!Sounds Wild Sea Kayaking!
The team at 'Sounds Wild Sea Kayaking' will take you on the kayaking adventure of your life! Kayaking around the Marlborough Sounds will allow you to paddle in the presence of fascinating native birds and outstanding marine life. With stunning views throughout and opportunities to stop in secluded bays, this experience is sure to be one that you will never forget!
Take a cruise aboard the M.V. Sovereign II and let your hair down, relax and unwind as you choose the places that you want to visit. With onboard bar facilities, a sound system and karaoke, you will be able to sit back and have a really good time!
Day 4 - Picton to Nelson
110 KM (1 hr, 33 mins)On day 4 of your campervanning adventure, journey west along S.H.6. for 111 kilometres, where you will come across the cultural heart of Nelson. Along the way you will be travelling on the very outskirts of Mt Richmond Forest Park where you can enjoy stunning native forest views from the comfort of your motorhome. Along the way, stop in the gold mining settlement of Canvastown and try your luck with some gold panning.
From here, the road heads to the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve, where you can stop and stretch your legs by taking a pleasant walk in the attractive reserve. Upon reaching Rai Valley, take a detour and you will find the old pioneer cottage at Carluka. Stop here to explore this historic establishment and learn more about New Zealand's history.
At the end of this leg of your driving journey you will come to the creative paradise of Nelson. This picturesque town enjoys a pleasant blend of lifestyle and stunning landscape. The town centre is home to an abundance of art galleries, theatres, cafes and restaurants and many of the streets are lined with historic buildings and the odd cathedral. With a waterfront setting and a port and marina lying on the shores of Tasman Bay offering a vastness of water sports, there is sure to be something to do in Nelson for all!
Where to Stay!Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp
Situated on the shores of Kaiteriteri Beach, this holiday park rests on the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. With 400 powered sites to choose from, this is the perfect place to base yourself for exploration of the Park and the surrounding beaches.
Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
The local Top 10 Holiday Park is situated on the safe, sandy, holiday beach of Golden Bay. The park offers a relaxed environment and features an abundance of facilities to suit your every need. With beachfront sites for your campervan starting at just $16 per night, there is sure to be something to suit every budget!
Don't Miss!Happy Valley Adventures Skywire - Cable Bay
Happy Valley Adventures in Nelson is home to the world's longest high-speed suspension wire ride. The ride is a combination of a flying fox and a chairlift and reaches speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour. Set high on the forest hills above the Tasman Sea and River Valley, this ride gives you the opportunity to soar above beautiful native forest and gain a whole new perspective on the sights of New Zealand.
Other Attractions!Touch the Sea Aquarium and Gift Shop
This specially created aquarium allows visitors to view the colourful range of New Zealand sea and shoreline life from the safety of the aquarium environment. The whole atmosphere of the attraction gives off a very natural vibe and makes the whole experience very life-like. This is definitely something that the whole family will enjoy.
Stonehouse Farm Horse Treks
Reawaken your keen sense of adventure and discover the sights of New Zealand on horseback at the Stonehouse Farm. The 1000-acre working farm is home to a certain rural tranquillity and stunning views of the countryside. Guided tours will take you and the horses through lush farmlands, flowing rivers, distinct wetlands and rolling hill country. This is a perfectly pleasant way to spend your afternoon and allows you to relax and unwind after your incredible Nelson experience!
Day 5 - Nelson to Christchurch
417 KM (5 hrs, 35 mins)Awake on the final day of your South Island adventure feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Be sure to fill up your petrol tank and get an early start as the journey back to Christchurch is 417 kilometres.
The majority of the journey back will take you through the Nelson Lakes National Park, Victoria Forest Park and Lake Summer Forest Park. Be sure to stop at least every two hours for a break or at least trade your driving duties with another driver. The beauty of this part of the drive is that you can frequently stop within the National and forest parks and take short bush walks throughout the native parklands. The fresh, crisp air will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue your driving quest.
Don't Miss!Brightwater Vineyards
As you are leaving Nelson you will pass through the quaint country town of Brightwater. The Brightwater Vineyards specialise in producing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Merlot. These world renowned wines are some of Nelson's finest produce and I highly recommend that you purchase some to take home with you!
Other Attractions!Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
Veering off the main road just after Lake Summer Forest Park will bring you into the popular tourist destination of Hanmer Springs. This is the natural place to unwind as it is home to outdoor rock pools, sulphur pools and private saunas and steam rooms. Relax in the thermal pools or splash around near the waterslide. Enjoy the clean, clear alpine air and feel the relaxation come over you as you prepare to return to reality!
End of Trip!
Upon arrival in Christchurch you will have reached the end of your campervanning adventure. It is now time to return your much loved motor home and start putting all those photos together in an album of New Zealand's South Island.