Queenstown to Queenstown in 5 Days (1,050 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 Dunedin
233 KM (3 hrs, 47 mins)Once you arrive in Queenstown, pick up your campervan from the organised location and you will then be ready to start your journey. Allow yourself to adjust to your new driving conditions by taking the first leg of your journey at a pleasant pace.
Leaving Queenstown and travelling in a south-easterly direction will take you through Cromwell, Alexandra, Conroy's Gully, Roxburgh, Raes Junction and Milton. While driving though Roxburgh, you will notice the Clutha River. Following the banks of the river will take you to Millers Plat, where you can learn about the miners' Lonely Graves. This historical site is home to an old bakehouse, a suspension bridge and the stone ruins of a Teviot Woolshed. Stopping here will allow you to gain an understanding of the regions past history as well and prepare you for what you can expect on the remainder of your journey.
In total, the drive to Dunedin from Queenstown is 283 kilometres long, so including stops, it may take you a good half-day. 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!
Don't Miss!Larnach Castle
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.
Other Attractions!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 2 - 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!
Don't Miss!Queens Park
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.
Other Attractions!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 3 - 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!
(www.teanauholidaypark.co.nz OR www.teanautop10.co.nz)
Don't Miss!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.
Other Attractions!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 4 - 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.
Don't Miss!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!
Other Attractions!Multi 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 5 - 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.
Don't Miss!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.
Other AttractionsWhite 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!