Driving Route South Island new ZealandRoute South Island New Zealand
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2-week self-drive road tour around New Zealand's South Island for mountain and photo enthusiasts
They' ve made the final choice and are going to New Zealand! When you' re traveling around New Zealand for a few short days, this South Island coverage and loveable schedule should become your best guidebook for accommodation, activity, walks and places to take pictures!
I' ve been living in New Zealand for a year and my work as a Queenstown based bookings agency has really given me an insight into the best businesses and properties and what kind of activity offers you the best value for you. I had enough spare hours to discover the best walks around the South Island, and as an enthusiastic amateur I became an authority on what to take pictures of in this astonishing part of the world.
The route is intended for those of you who like nature and scenery in New Zealand. All my favorite photospots and walks on the South Island are included. If you only have two week's time, stay on the South Island.
The attempt to see both isles in two week while it is feasible is quite challenging. Although New Zealand is not a big nation and the stretches may seem small, the streets here are winding, hilly and the speeds are often very limited. In New Zealand, the route you would normally have to take 2 hrs on a motorway can be twice as long without the many photostops you will make, because around every nook and cranny there is a scenery that is well deserved to be stopped.
There are three ways for self-drivers to explore the South Island. This is a New Zealand Motorhome Republic website that lists all motorhome rentals in New Zealand. Remember that although New Zealand is permitted from a technical point of view, it is not really advisable to camp indoors. When renting an independent motorhome (i.e. with toilet), you can leave it free of cost at marked places, according to the area.
In New Zealand there is a lot to do in summers! The route begins in Christchurch - the largest town on the South Island. Afterwards we will cross some of the most popular seas of the island: the teapo and the ice-blue pukaki. After that we head to Mount Cook National Park, Wanaka, Milford Sound, Queenstown and Glenorchy.
It' surfing on the west coast and visiting some of New Zealand' largest ice caps - Fox and Franz Josef. The last stop is Arthur's Pass National Park before flying back to Christchurch. While Christchurch is the largest and most important town on the South Island, towns are not the reasons you came to New Zealand.
Remark: You can also take a flight to Queenstown, this route is a bend and can also take off and end in Queenstown. Their first stop is Tekapo. From Christchurch to Tekapo, the 3-hour (230km) ride is a nice way to get to know the New Zealand countryside. Fastest and closest route is via Hwy 1, Hwy 79 and then Hwy 8 to the south tip of the lake near Tekapo.
Looking at stars in New Zealand is generally unbelievable as long as you are in a black area away from the town' s light, but as Lake Tekapo is the first truly global Southern Hemisphere Black Sky Reserve, it is quite a spectacle, especially here. Or you can reserve a star-watching trip from the top of Mount John Observatory near the town of Tekapo.
Only a few minutes walk from the city center is the Church of the Good Shepherd, a very picturesque little church near the Lakes. Tekapo's cult site has become very popular with astrophotographers, probably because it has some of the best stars in the underworld.
However, be cautioned, it is very much loved, one of the most beloved photo locations on the South Island. From the city, a 15-minute uphill ride along State Highway 8 will take you to Mount John Observatory (on the right). From up there, the view of Lake Tekapo is stunning, but the winding street leading to the summit is not for the faint-hearted.
From a technical point of view, lupine blossoms are only herbs that have become a threat to indigenous plant life and have become a sickness. You can find them all along the shores of Lake Tekapo, along the road to Mount Cook and around the outcrops. Mount Cook National Park, which takes its name from the highest peak in the land, is just an hour's car ride from Tekapo and will quickly become your favorite destination on your New Zealand trip.
One of the most enchanting scenery on the shores of Lake Pukaki is certainly one of the most spectacular and Mount Cook National Parks is one of the best walking areas on the South Island. All the way starting at the Mount Cook National Parks Visitor Centre or White Horse Hill parking lot is about 6-8 hrs long and certainly not simple.
Reservations in the middle of November to April are required if you are planning an accommodation in the mountain lodge and can be made on-line at the DOC or the Mt. Cook Visitors Centre. The relatively shallow 5km walk offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.
The route leads from the White Horse Hill car park through Hooker Valley and ends at Hooker Valley Glacial Lake. This is a nice scenery and one of the best walks on New Zealand's South Island. Return the highway towards civilisation away from Mount Cook Village about 2 km and turn lefthand onto Tasman Valley Rd. (Highway 80).
You can start your 1-hour trip back after a brief ride to the parking lot. Like Hooker Valley Glacial Lake, ice-bergs can be seen here in this area in spring and it freezes over in spring and autumn. The Mount Cook National Park is one of the places for a sightseeing trip.
Mt. Cook's best businesses are Air Safaris and Helicopter Line. TIP: Accommodation in Mount Cook is really tight, so make sure you make your reservations as far as possible! Heading south from Mount Cook and after the 2. After 5 hrs from some of the best streets in the land, up to the Lindis Pass, you will finally reach Wanaka.
Queenstown sibling is becoming more fashionable, but for various reason. Though it is said to have some of the best skiing areas in New Zealand, it is not really renowned for adventures, it is much softer than Queenstown. There are still some of the most unbelievable landscapes, as it is situated in the centre of the south of the mountains near Mount Aspiring National Park.
Trekking to Roys Peak is a unique and probably one of the best known scenery in all of New Zealand (apart from That Wanaka Tree, but I'll get there soon). This 16 km route begins in a small parking lot 6 km from Wanaka on the Mount Aspiring Road.
Rocky Mountain Trail provides stunning view over Lake Wanaka, unlike the view from the top of Roys peak. It also circles Diamond Lake and is only 7 km (2-3 hours) away. The top of the Ishmus mountain provides a view of Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka as well as the jagged countryside in the vicinity.
From Wanaka, the top of the hike is half an hour's ride down LH road and this modest route is definitely it. The Isthmus Peak and Roy's Peak are both among the best walking routes on New Zealand's South Island. From the city center, just follow the lakeshore towards Mount Roy.
You can also leave your vehicle at the Stoney Creek parking garage. It is a brief stroll with magnificent vistas over the Wanaka Town Hall and the plains of Albertown and the Upper Clutha River. We continue via Te Anau to Milford Sound. Don't be worried, we're not gonna miss Queenstown passing her on the way to Milford Sound, we're just canceling the trip.
There is more point in going to Milford Sound first and then back to Queenstown before heading to Glacier Country, which is on the route to Queenstown. You can also spend the night in Queenstown and take a plane or coach trip to Milford Sound and let someone else take you there!
I' ve discussed this for Milford Sound in a seperate comment. From Wanaka to Milford Sound, via Queenstown via the more picturesque Crown Range Rd. After passing Queenstown, head towards Te Anau on a magnificent street known as the Devil's Stairway along the Remarkables Mountain Range.
In the evenings you can take a walk around the pond and refuel before the big morning out! Do you know that Milford Sounds is the most popular place in Oceania? It' not a noise either, it's a fjord. Te Anau is 100 km from Milford Sounds.
But you can rely on me to get around the busses and have all the seats on the way to Milford Sound to yourself. The best bus and tram stations are Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lake, Hollyford Pass and Chasm. Few cruise operators offer two major directions: Real Journeys and Southern Discoveries, which offer a similar level of services at a similar rate.
The Fiordland National Park is the most rainy part of New Zealand. The Milford Sound is undoubtedly one of the best places for sightseeing flights, so if you've already done it, now's your time! Returning to Te Anau, you will stop either at Gertrude Saddle or Lake Marian, the latter being one of my favorite walks in New Zealand.
The 3-hours walk takes you up to a wonderful hill pond with steep rock faces. That'?s what I call New Zealand at its best! IMPORTANT: The Te Anau to Milford Sound Strait is closed in snow. TIP: Milford Sound Lodge is the only accommodation for independents in Milford Sound.
When you are on the road with a motorhome or your own camp gear, there are few DOC campsites on the way from Te Anau to Milford Sound. Where do I begin with Queenstown? After the first weeks of your journey you will hopefully still have some spare cash, because whether bungy jumping, parachuting, a comfortable Lake Wakatipu ferry on TSS Earnslaw, you will do things here.
However, keep in mind that walking is always free and Queenstown has some of the best walks in all of New Zealand. You are strongly advised to book one of your holidays for a trip to Glenorchy. Sail from Bennet's Bluff lookout and old Glenorchy quay for some stunning outlooks. Or you can take the Paradise Road (yes, there is a place in Glenorchy named Paradise) or climb Mount Alfred and view it from a summits.
I' ve lived and worked in Queenstown for a whole of 7 month and have written articles about the best photo locations, acitivities and walks in Queenstown. It'?s too bad the day has come for you to get out of Queenstown. From Queenstown to the glacier goes back through Wanaka, so if you've gone down via Cromwell, you can go up the Crown Range and up.
The journey from Queenstown to Franz Josef over the wonderful Haast Pass takes about 4 hrs, whereby the journey is interrupted by a stop at the pool. It is a brief stroll in Mount Aspiring National Park, about an hr to Wanaka. As soon as you are in Glacierland, you'll find it very calm in comparison to Queenstown, but that's not a silly thing that only gives you a chance to unwind, chill out and spend a whole days without much adrenalin from bungy jumping or parachuting, is not pumping into your bloodstream.
Eistrekking is still one of the most cool things I've ever done, so if you have some cash to save on New Zealand glaciers. A lot of firms do it, but once again it is the same Mt Cook firm that attracts attention among the others (unfortunately they don't pay me to say that).
It is another prestigious New Zealand tour operator offering picturesque trips around the island. Maybe if you haven't flown to Queenstown yet, you should consider checking it here from your pail lists. The two are 20-minute journey from each other. Prospects are still fucking fantastic. Only a few mins from Fox Glacier is Lake Matheson.
Rise at dawn and walk counter-clockwise to Reflexion Island, where you can reflect Mount Cook to perfection in the sea. The Mount Cook is actually viewable from here, but in a completely different corner. The Mapourika lake is 20 min. away and if you go to Okarito you will cross it on the way.
When you have left Franz Josef, drive north on Highway 6 and take the 73 motorway to the interior of the country towards the north of the Suthlands. The Hokitika Gorge is a good place to extend your feet and enjoy the view. There is a better view, but not to the end, where it ends under a mystery and provides a magnificent view of the nearby hills and the Waimakariri River.
It begins 14 km south of the town of Arthurs Pass at the end of Gloudesley Rd. From the top, the view is so good that this is the most favourite hike on the Arthurs Pass. After about 10 mins on the way you have a breathtaking view of the southerly base of the Buttercup and the Devils Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand's highest cascade (except for some Milford Sound falls, which are not constant, so don't count).
It is only a brief ride from the center of the town and is located on the 73rd street. Nieuzealand welcomes many tourists in high seasons and the last thing you want to do is emphasize where you will be sleeping in your holiday of a life!
When traveling in the late June - early September seasons, make sure your Queenstown and Wanaka accommodations are upfront. In order to monitor the condition of streets and footpaths, especially during the winters, visit the website of the New Zealand Ministry of Nature Conservation. Use the CamperMate Traveller Application to find the lowest priced camp sites on the island.
Well, I trust you'll be as much in New Zealand as I am.