Queenstown to Queenstown in 10 Days (1,406 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!
When starting your exploration of the southern end of the South Island, the best place to start is in Queenstown. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the banks of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is renowned for its beauty, adventure and relaxation. The city centre is compact, yet sophisticated and culturally rich. From wherever you are in the city, you will be blessed with 360 degrees of panoramic views of the magnificent landscapes that surround the city. The area prides itself on its abundance of adventure activities on offer, ranging from sky diving, bungee jumping, and jet boating to canyon swinging and white-water rafting. So whatever your taste, there is sure to be something in Queenstown to suit you.
Day 1 - Queenstown to Cromwell
60.9 KM (49 mins)
Begin your adventure by picking up your campervan from one of the convenient locations in Queenstown. To allow yourself to adjust to your new 'home' and to become familiar with your new driving conditions, the first night of your holiday can be spent just 60 kilometres out of Queenstown, in Cromwell.
When leaving Queenstown, simply follow State Highway 6 in a westerly direction. On the way be sure to make a stop at Lake Hayes, where you can enjoy a pleasant cup of tea right on the water's edge. Just before you reach Cromwell, you will pass through the Kawarau Gorge. Be sure to have your camera out and ready for the spectacular landscapes of this natural formation.
Upon arrival in Cromwell you will find a quaint, historical town that is oozing with charm and stories of days gone by. Cromwell is part of Central Otago and welcomes visitors with wide open arms. Located on the valley of the Upper Clutha, the landscapes of bare, barren hills and fertile valleys leave much to the imagination and offer a pleasant backdrop. Cromwell comes to life with each changing season, offering visitors pleasant contrasts of colour and vibrancy with each changing day!
Where to Stay!
Set on 12 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, this affordable holiday park is the perfect place for you to park your campervan for the night and rest before the next leg of your journey. The spacious sites enjoy pleasant sheltered surroundings which will make your stay a safe and secure one. Located just 400 metres from the lakefront in Cromwell, this is this is the perfect place to stretch your legs and venture out into nature!
Old Cromwell Town
See the town how it used to be before the construction of the Clyde Dam. The historic settlement is what remains of what Cromwell used to look like, making it a reminder of the days gone by. The settlement features the original and authentic buildings of the town. Today, it is home to local craftspeople and craft stores, which makes it the perfect place to take a stroll and explore the local masterpieces.
As Central Otago is the fastest growing region in New Zealand, it only seems appropriate that you pay a visit to some of the local wineries. Some of the best in the region include Carrick Winery and Restaurant, Central Otago Wine Company, Kawarau Estate Vineyard, Mount Difficulty Wines and Olssen's Garden Vineyard. Sample the local wines and see what makes this area so alluring.
This spectacular jet boat ride takes you up the mighty Kawarau River. This 40 minute ride takes you through the stunning Kawarau Gorge, where you can enjoy the stunning sandstone cliffs, native bush and clear blue skies. The boating experience includes an extensive commentary of the history of the area and the other points of interest. This is a truly unique and exhilarating experience that you are sure to never forget!
Day 2 - Cromwell to Wanaka
54.6 KM (44 mins)
After the first night of your South Island campervan adventure, it is time to venture further north and discover the alpine region of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park. Head north along State Highway 6 and you will pass through Lowburn, Pisa Moorings, Mt Pisa, Queensberry and Luggate. Be sure to stop in at the Pisa Mooring Vineyard on your way through, where you can sample some of the region's finest wines!
The township of Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, in west Otago. After Queenstown, Wanaka is the second most popular resort town of the Otago region. The lake here has crystal clear waters and is New Zealand's fourth largest. Wanaka is located right on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, which makes it the perfect base for exploration of this stunning, natural wonderland.
Wanaka combines the best of indoor and outdoor adventure and is the perfect place to spend a night of your holiday. The pristine wilderness alone will leave you amazed and eager to see what else is on offer in this amazing area.
Where to Stay!
Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park
The Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park is nestled in the hills of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park. The park is home to multiple powered and non-powered sites, each enjoying stunning views, plenty of space and fresh mountain air. Located just 3 kilometres from the town centre and with prices starting at just $30, this is the ideal place to base yourself for exploration of this amazing area.
Aspiring Campervan Park
This 5-star accommodation park boasts expansive park-like grounds and sites that take pleasure in spectacular mountain surrounds. The pretty gardens in the park give it a pleasant setting and the heated spas really set the mood. With a close location to all of the local attractions, this really is the perfect place to rest your campervan for the night.
Wanaka Transport and Toy Museum
This museum is home to a unique collection of rare and fascinating exhibitions. The display is one of the largest in the Southern hemisphere and features something for everyone. From tiny children's toys to unusual and unique motorcycles and rare cars, trucks, fire appliances and air craft, there is sure to be something to keep everyone entertained.
Eco Wanaka Adventure
While visiting the Wanaka region you simply must take one of the eco tours available. Choose from half-day or full-day tours that will take you on guided treks and walks though Mount Aspiring National Park and the Lake Wanaka region. Some of the most popular of these treks include the glacier trek or the cruises of the lakes. Experience the true beauty of the alpine region and get back in touch with nature with an eco Wanaka adventure!
Cardrona Adventure Park
This adventure paradise is home to monster trucks, quad bikes and buggy rides. Located in the Cardrona Valley, just a 20 minute drive from Wanaka, this is the perfect place to spend a day of adrenaline rising fun. With rides to suit beginners to intermediates and very reasonable prices, there is sure to be something to please the kids and those still young at heart.
Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World
Welcome to the wonderful world of wacky and weird! This unique attraction employs the theme of anything puzzling and features illusion rooms, a great maze, a puzzle centre, cafe and gift shop. Be entertained and amazed at the eccentric architecture and oddities and be sure to bring your camera to capture the wacky atmosphere!
Day 3 - Wanaka to Fairlie
244 KM (3 hrs)
Upon reaching the third day of your campervan adventure, you should be accustomed to your new driving conditions and feel ready to see what your vehicle can really do. The perfect way to do this is to take the 244 kilometre journey from Wanaka to Fairlie. Simply follow S.H.8. in a north-easterly direction towards the coast. On your journey you will double back through Luggate and then head though Tarras, Lindis Pass, Clearburn, Twizel and Lake Pukaki. Stop for a picnic on the shores of Lake Pukaki and soak up the fresh country air, while enjoying the calm blue waters of the stunning lake.
The town of Fairlie is located in the Mackenzie District in the Canterbury region. It is often called the gateway to the Mackenzie Basin as it introduces visitors to what is to come in this stunning region. Fairlie benefits from picturesque views and the town has a very rural 'feel'. A surreal contrast of rich, green rolling hills and pastures has given this area an agricultural status, with tourism largely becoming a major industry. A visit to this green, stunning upland is the perfect way to experience the rural side of New Zealand.
Where to Stay!
Fairlie Top 10 Holiday Park
The Fairlie Top 10 Holiday Park prides itself on recreation, relaxation and space! The park is home to tree-sheltered surroundings, with the paths of the park lined with pleasant trees and plants which add further shade for visitors. The park's central location in the Mackenzie country means that it is only a 5 minute stroll to Fairlie's town centre, restaurants and shopping area. With prices to suit any budget and excellent facilities, there really is no better place to park your campervan for the night!
Morelea Farm Experience
Spend the day at Morelea Farm, a 240 hectare pastoral farm that is home to sheep, cattle and mixed cropping. The farm is surrounded by picturesque mountains and enjoys the features of your typical New Zealand farm. Watch or take part in a sheep dog and sheep shearing demonstration and learn about the New Zealand farming life. This experience offers something different and unique that you are sure to never forget! (Phone: +64 36858132)
Discovery Tours - Twizel
On your journey to Fairlie from Wanaka, be sure to make a stop in Twizel and take part in one of their Discovery Tours. Discovery Tours take you on a guided adventure of the Mackenzie country and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The local guides are well informed of all there is to know in this region, which will allow you to see and learn things that are out of the ordinary. You will discover the sky piercing mountains and turquoise glacial lakes that make this area so beautiful and unique. This is the perfect way to escape the crowds and discover the true natural ambience of New Zealand.
Day 4 - Fairlie to Timaru, via Geraldine
81.8 KM (1 hr, 16 mins)
On your trip from Fairlie to Timaru, I suggest taking the route through Geraldine, as this will allow you to experience the beauty of New Zealand that one step further! Travel east along State Highway 79 and you will pass through Allendale, Cattle Valley, Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, Te Awa, Andrewville, Temuka, Washdyke and Puhuka. This route allows you to pass though some stunning valleys, which are guaranteed to leave you amazed and in awe of the natural beauty of this area.
Timaru is the major port city of the southern Canterbury region and is home to rolling hills, ocean views and distant alps. Timaru is often called the urban hub of the central South Island. The area is rich in history and heritage and thrives on a successful dairy industry. The striking piazza at Caroline Bay really is the focal point of the area and adds to the outdoor value of the region. This is the perfect place to stay for those seeking a unique contrast of city and beach living, with a hint of nature just a stroll away.
Where to Stay!
Timaru Top 10 Holiday Park
The local Top 10 Holiday Park enjoys a relaxed and friendly atmosphere which draws in the visitors without fail. This spacious parkland is set in the heart of Timaru and is close to all of the local shops and the popular tourist destination of Caroline Bay. The park is nestled just minutes from the beach which makes it ideal for those after-dinner strolls on the beach. The park features excellent facilities for your campervan and with over 100 roomy sites to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice!
South Canterbury Museum
Undoubtedly the best in the region, the South Canterbury Museum is a must-see when visiting Timaru. The museum is home to valuable collections of objects and information covering the human and natural history of South Canterbury. A visit here allows you to get a glimpse of the region's past and learn all there is to know of the days gone by. Featuring fossils, fashions, local geology, wildlife and facets of Maori history, there is guaranteed to be something here to please all!
On the route to Timaru from Fairlie, you would ordinarily pass through Pleasant Point, yet since you went through Geraldine and missed it, be sure to leave some time to explore this pleasant township. Pleasant Point truly lives up to its name! The small friendly township welcomes you with open arms and invites you to explore all that is on offer.
There is a heavy focus on the historic forms of transport in the town and you can best experience this by taking a ride on a restored steam train or Model T Ford Railcar. Make some time to visit the local vineyard or go rock climbing at Hanging Rock. If time permits, check out the 16th Century Maori Rock Art Site and learn the history of the area's Maori culture. Located just a 20 kilometre drive from the township of Timaru itself, this is the perfect place to visit if you are seeking adventures just a short driving distance out of town.
On your drive to Timaru, you will pass through the scenic town of Geraldine. Geraldine has a unique country village atmosphere and is home to many historic buildings and museums. While visiting take some time to stroll the rotara forests and walkways and explore the extensive rose gardens. If you have time, take the half hour walk along the Waihi River. Soak up the fresh country air, stretch your legs and enjoy the scenic sights that abound!
Day 5 - Timaru to Oamaru
84.7 KM (1 hr, 11 mins)
Come day 5, you have reached the halfway point of your driving holiday! It is time to leave the beauty and wonder of Timaru behind and head south towards Oamaru. Take the coastal route along State Highway 1 and you will pass through the seaside villages of St Andrews, Hook, Nukuroa, Uretane and Casa Nova. This journey is only 85 kilometres in length, which will allow you to pace yourself on the drive and take in the stunning coastal views.
The town of Oamaru is nestled on the coast of rural North Otago. Most famous for its superb limestone, heritage buildings, Oamaru is home to an abundance of coastal wildlife and walkways. Located right near the Waitaki River and Waitaki Valley Lakes, this is the perfect place for you to experience all that nature has to offer. The town enjoys a proud Victorian heritage and is famous for its blue penguin colony. It is surrounded by stunning scenery and has a major fruit and vegetable growing industry.
Where to Stay!
Oamaru Top 10 Holiday Park
This sheltered park adjoins the stunning public gardens of Oamaru and a children's playground. The park is home to 54 powered sites, which leaves you a choice in where you want to park your campervan for the night. The ideal location right in the heart of Oamaru means that you are close to all the local attractions and can enjoy the delightful settings that surround you.
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
A visit to the Oamaru Penguin Colony will put you back in touch with nature and allow you to experience a unique adventure. The blue penguins, also known as fairy penguins, are nested close to town under the cliffs along the historic harbour foreshore. The penguins are the smallest in the worlds and are blue with white chests. Take a daytime 'behind the scenes' tour and get an insight into the establishment of the colony. Alternatively, take an evening tour and learn about the night time habits of these fascinating creatures.
Harbour and Tyne Historic Precinct
This is the original area of Oamaru, dating back to as early as the 1870's. This is the most complete Victorian streetscape in all of New Zealand and offers a look into the stunning history of the area's past. Although the precinct is currently in the process of restoration, you should still take some time to explore the streets of limestone buildings, free of charge!
Day 6 - Oamaru to Dunedin
113 KM (1 hr, 34 mins)
Leaving Oamaru and travelling in a south along the coast will take you through Whitecraig, Moeraki, Katiki, Palmerston and Waikouaiti. In Palmerston you will find the Shag River, which is the perfect place to stop by and enjoy a picnic lunch. Driving through the historic town of Waikouaiti is like driving through the past. It is known as the oldest European settlement in Otago is and home to classic, heritage buildings that give the town a certain charm and appeal.
In total, the drive to Dunedin from Oamaru is 113 kilometres long. Once you arrive in Dunedin, you will find a city of natural, historical, sporting and culinary treasures. Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city and is the second largest on the South Island. The city is surrounded by dramatic hills and is nestled amongst a long natural harbour. The historical architecture makes Dunedin one of the most well-preserved cities of the Southern hemisphere, and the perfect place for you to base yourself for the first night of your South Island adventure!
Where to Stay!
Dunedin Holiday Park
The Dunedin Holiday Park is located just 4 minutes outside of the city centre and a convenient 2 minute walk from one of the area's most beautiful beaches. The park is home to 90, large powered sites, starting at just $22 per night. This park is the largest in the area, and its spaciousness makes it the ideal place for your campervan!
New Zealand's only castle is just a 30 minute drive from Dunedin. Larnach Castle was built in 1871 and remains a superbly crafted building that is visited by thousands each year. The castle is home to a unique collection of New Zealand antiques and this allows it to offer a vision of the past and present. This is the perfect place to spend a few hours and soak up the wondrous beauty and simplicity of this stunning area.
The Otago Peninsula
As Dunedin is the commercial centre of the Otago region, it seems only appropriate that you explore what else Otago has to offer. Spend a few hours driving along the Peninsula and you will discover a wealth of activities that will suit the whole family. Visit the Glenfalloch Woodland Garden, the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Aquarium or simply relax on Allans Beach.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
This is one of New Zealand's finest art galleries and prides itself on displaying the best local, national and international art around. Explore Dunedin's most sophisticated venue and gain a new appreciation of fine art!
Dunedin Botanic Garden
The local botanic gardens are a focal point of the city. They are home to an aviary of colourful birds from New Zealand and around the world and the plants are grouped in themes which give the gardens a structured, yet interesting feel. This is truly a beautiful place to visit and the perfect place for a packed picnic lunch!
Day 7 - Dunedin to Invercargill
205 KM (2 hrs, 50 mins)
The journey from Dunedin to Invercargill is only 205 kilometres long, which means you can spend the beginning of Day 2, exploring the Dunedin region more thoroughly. Once you have finished your exploration, venture south-westerly along the S.H.1 where you will double back through Milton. While passing through here again, be sure to check out some of the country's finest pottery on offer!
Reaching Balclutha will bring you to the halfway point of your journey. Balclutha is a scenic region of forest, wildlife and rugged coastline and is home to the Elutha River. Be sure to stop here and take some photographs to capture the spectacular scenes that abound.
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city of New Zealand and is the commercial centre of the southland region. The city is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, with the most noticeable being the Fiordland National Park. The warmth, friendliness and hospitality that this city offers will leave you feeling welcomed and eager to explore this amazing area.
Where to Stay!
Beach Road Holiday Park
The Beach Road Holiday Park is situated in the Sandy Point Domain of the scenic reserve. The park is home to 6 hectares of garden-like settings and offers spacious powered sites for your convenience. Located just 1 kilometre from Oreti Beach and with close easy access to the city, the Beach Road Holiday Park is the ideal place for you to base yourself for exploration of the Invercargill area.
Lorneville Holiday Park
For a unique farm-like experience, a stay at the Lorneville Holiday Park is just the place! Positioned 10 minutes north of Invercargill city, this park is home to spacious, manicured grounds and an abundance of powered sites for you to park your campervan for the night. The park also features a woolshed recreation room where you can enjoy a rural lamb or sheep experience. If you are travelling with the whole family and have young kids, this park is definitely the place to stay!
This beautiful park is located just north of the city centre is a must-see attraction on offer. The park features the local botanical gardens, a colourful aviary and a recreational sports ground. It is also the home to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.
Invercargill Heritage Trail
This is not a formal tour, but a suggestion of what there is to see in Invercargill if you take the time to have a closer look. Tour the heritage sites and diverse open spaces in the comfort of your vehicle and stop for a walk in the gardens, the native bush and the Invercargill city centre.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery
The museum of the southland is host to an abundance of marine displays, from the early sealing and whaling days onwards. The exhibits include remnants from the Endeavour and the SS Taurarua, which allows you to get a taste of the vast history and beginnings of Invercargill.
Day 8 - Invercargill to Te Anau/ Fiordland Region
158 KM (2 hrs, 8 mins)
When travelling to Fiordland, you will explore some of the most beautiful parts of the entire New Zealand region. I suggest leaving Invercargill bright and early in the morning because even though Fiordland is only 158 kilometres up the road, you are going to need the entire day to explore this amazing region.
The Fiordland region is a must-see for anyone travelling in New Zealand. The region has held world-heritage status for over 20 years now and is blessed with extraordinary scenic beauty.
Te Anau is the hub of activity in the Fiordland region and is a popular tourist destination all year round. Nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the township enjoys a stunning backdrop of Mount Luxmore and the Murchison mountains. Offering 7-day-a-week shopping and fine restaurants, you will never run out of things to do while visiting!
Where to Stay!
Fiordland Great Views Holiday Park
This park is known as a paradise on Lake Te Anau and is located just 1.2 kilometres outside of Te Anau. The park offers a country setting, with spectacular lake and mountain views and a quiet and tranquil atmosphere. With powered sites starting at reasonable and affordable prices, this is the perfect place to stay while exploring the Fiordland region.
Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park
Also located on the banks of Lake Te Anau, this park is in easy walking distance to the retail shops and is host to many modern facilities. The park features an active worm farm which makes it the ideal park for the kids to run wild!
(http://www.teanautop10.co.nz/ OR www.teanauholidaypark.co.nz)
Fiordland National Park
This is essentially the focal point of the Fiordland region and covers a vast expanse of the South Island. A massive 1.2 million hectares in size, the park earns its status as New Zealand's largest National Park. The park encompasses mountain, lake, fiord and rainforest environments and is home to a diverse range of native flora and fauna. The vastness of this natural wonderland affords an entire day of exploration, so make sure that you make time for this amazing wonder of the South Island.
Te Anau Glow worm Caves
This tour begins with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau to the western side of the lake. Guided tours allow you to explore these magnificent caves by boat and path, which allows you to discover the wonders of the caves in great depth and experience the magical sight of these glowing creatures from a whole new perspective.
Day 9 - Te Anau to Milford Sound
117 KM (1 hr, 26 mins)
After your exploration of the Te Anau area, it is time to venture further into the Fiordland National Park and explore the wonders of Milford Sound. Be sure to fill up your petrol tank in Te Anau as the drive in front of you may take you longer then you would think.
The 117 kilometre journey takes you along Lake Te Anau and eventually leads you onto Milton Road. Milton Road is a stunning alpine drive and will definitely be the highlight of your trip. You should allow plenty of time for this particular stretch of drive as there are numerous viewing points and short walking opportunities en route.
The route will eventually bring you into the picturesque area of Milford Sound. Milford Sound is the best known of the Fiords and is undoubtedly New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. It is located just 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by magnificent rock faces which act as a pleasant backdrop to this beautiful area!
Where to Stay!
Milford Sound Lodge
The Milford Sound Lodge is nestled beneath the peaks of the Darran Mountains, which offer a stunning background to this holiday park. Parking your campervan here for the final night of your adventure is ideal as it is a great place to base yourself for further exploration of the Fiordland National Park. With some of the campervan sites backing onto the Cleddau River with views of the valley, and others nestled in the trees of the rainforest, you are sure to find somewhere perfect for you! With prices starting at just $18 a night, there is no better place to stay then the Milford Sound Lodge.
Milford Deep Underwater Observatory
This underwater world is nestled in Harison's Cove, beneath Pembroke Glacier in the Fiordland National Park. A visit here will allow you to view the vibrant life of the underwater community and experience the sea as you have never done before!
Mitre Peak Cruises
These two-hour cruises traverse the deep waters of Milford Sound and allow you to gain a unique perspective on the vastness and beauty of this area. This is the only cruise in the region that will take you past St Anne's Lighthouse and out into the Tasman Sea. The entire cruise allows you to experience the scenic highlights of Bowen Falls, Sinbad Valley, Mount Pembroke and Mitre Peak. The specially designed boats also feature great viewing platforms, which allow you to watch the local fur seal colonies, the rare Fiordland crested penguins and the clever dolphins. This cruise truly captures the very essence of Milford Sound and is a must-do when visiting this area, but you are warned to book in advance!
Milford Sound is the most spectacular sea kayaking destination in New Zealand. Take a guided tour and paddle beneath the towering granite overhangs, waterfalls, the Pembroke Glacier and the Mile High Mitre Peak. This experience allows you to get in touch with nature and get a close-up look of the nature and beauty that surrounds.
Day 10 - Milford Sound to Queenstown
236 KM (3 hrs, 38 mins)
The final day of your Queenstown campervanning adventure has come! Driving back into the heart of Queenstown from Milford Sound will force you to double back through the Fiordland National Park to Te Anau. This will give you the chance to see all the sights of this scenic drive that you may have missed the first time round and will give you more fantastic photo opportunities.
Upon arrival in Te Anau, head west along the S.H.94, which will take you through the quaint towns of The Key and Mossburn. Stop in Mossburn for a light lunch at Bracken Hall where you can enjoy homemade delights and a relaxed atmosphere. Sit back and soak in the rich scenery of snow capped mountains, rich farmlands and crystal clear flowing rivers.
From Mossburn, venture north along S.H.6. which will take you through Garston and Fairlight. From here, your 286 kilometre journey concludes back at your starting point, Queenstown. Here you can take in the city sights and reminisce on all the wonder and beauty you have experienced.
Trout Fishing on the Mataura River
The town of Garston is situated directly across from the Mataura River. While passing through this quaint village, be sure to make a stop, take out your fishing rods and try your luck at catching some of the area's famous brown trout. The Eyre Mountains, Slate Range and the Hector Mountains provide a pleasant backdrop as you take in the peace and tranquillity of this untouched area.
White Hill Wind Farm
This Wind Farm was the first to be established on the South Island. Set amongst forestry land and nestled at the foot of spectacular, snow capped mountains; it is a stunning sight to see and definitely one to take the camera out for!
End of trip!
Unfortunately, your discovery of the south of New Zealand's South Island has drawn to a close. It is time to return your campervan and return back to reality, with the memory of these experiences lasting you a lifetime!