New Zealand South Island: 14-Day Campervan Itinerary

Exploring the Natural Wonders of New Zealand's South Island

The South Island of New Zealand offers the outdoor-loving tourist snow-topped mountain peaks, enormous glaciers, deep fjords, golden beaches, lush rainforests and turquoise lakes, sperm whales, yellow-eyed penguins — and memories to last a lifetime.

It's an incredibly beautiful trip. Nature, mountains, and wildlife are spectacular. No wonder campervanning in New Zealand is so popular. Here a 'campervan' could be anything from a small converted mini-van for two holidaymakers to a family-sized motorhome with all the amenities.

HOT TIPS: Bring plenty of warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket, as it can rain anytime. Bug repellent is a must for Milford. And while you’re deciding when to take your NZ holiday, scope out the weather – some roads here are closed in winter. If it’s winter, carry snow chains (and learn how to use them).

DRIVING TIPS: If you're in a bigger motorhome and you're driving below the speed limit, the law (and common sense) says you must pull over if more than four vehicles are stuck behind you. Most roads have passing lanes or slow vehicle bays.

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Day 1: Christchurch

Adrenalin Forest Christchurch 105 Heyders Rd, Brooklands, Christchurch

Something different! If you want to kick off your kiwi holiday with a challenge, here are seven different forest courses involving tree climbing, flying foxes, rope swinging, & bridge crossing.

Washpen Falls 590 Washpen Rd, Darfield

A breathtaking waterfall on a sheep/cattle/deer farm. Plus abseiling, a giant swing and a volcanic canyon. All just an hour outside the city of Christchurch. Oh yes, also bird life in a lush forest.

Day 2: Christchurch to Tekapo (4 hours)

Church of the Good Shepherd Pioneer Drive, Lake Tekapo

This old stone building, with its peaceful environment and far-reaching views, is a popular venue for weddings.

Tekapo Springs Thermal Baths 6 Lakeside Drive, Lake Tekapo

Take your pick from three hot pools, two cooler pools, steam and sauna rooms, and a cold plunge pool. Plus, there is ice skating in the winter.

Day 3: Tekapo

Dark Sky Project 1 Motuariki Lane, Lake Tekapo

See galaxies at this mountain-top observatory as you’ve never seen them before.

Day 4: Mount Cook/Aoraki (1 hour)

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park Visitor Centre 1 Larch Grove, Aoraki/Mt Cook

The visitor centre is world-class. Few lakes are as gorgeous as Lake Pukaki, which is part of the Mount Cook National Park. Its waters come from glacier melt (including the Hooker, Mueller, and Tasman Glaciers), which explains its blue colour because the glacier melt contains what's called rock flour. Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in NZ.

Day 5: Tekapo to Wanaka (2.5 hours)

General Adventure Company 3 Matakanui Lane, Wanaka

Here you’ll be combining self-guided electric bike adventures with the region’s best wine, beer, and food at your pace—a bit of fresh air and fun to add to your trip!

Rhyme X Reason Brewery 17 Gordon Rd, Wanaka

Sample their craft beers on a comfy lounge amongst the tanks of this working brewery.

Day 6: Wanaka

Wanaka Lavender Farm 36 Morris Rd, Wanaka

You’ll find 20 acres of gorgeous lavender fields and display gardens only a few minutes from Wanaka. And a bunch of friendly farm animals. Lavender gifts galore, and best of all—lavender ice cream!

Day 7: Wanaka to Queenstown (1 hour)

Drive on to Queenstown, a highlight for every South Island motorhome trip.

Queenstown Gardens 19 Park St, Queenstown

As well as the waterfront trail and impressive alpine views, you can also go ice skating or hit the skate ramps. Parking is free.

Coronet Peak Coronet Peak Ski Area, Queenstown

If you hope to go skiing, please check with your campervan hire company, as some companies do NOT allow you to drive their vehicles on ski field access roads (and on most unsealed roads). Doing so will void your insurance. So instead, get a bus to the ski field - and relax.

Kiwi Park Brecon St, Queenstown

Guaranteed live kiwi viewing here, among 5 acres of native bush and wildlife refuge.

Day 8: Queenstown

Walter Peak High Country Farm Tours RealNZ Visitor Centre, Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach St, Queenstown

Cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw & disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm where you can help feed the animals, see sheep dogs in action, and watch a farm demonstration.

Lake Hayes Loop Track Lakes Hayes Reserve, north end of Lake Hayes, Arrowtown

Only 15 minutes from Queenstown, the 8 km track takes you all around the lake. One of the best easy hikes in Queenstown.

Day 9: Glenorchy (1.5 hours)

Paradise is just 20 km from Glenorchy. Yes, according to Gandalf actor Sir Ian McKellen, speaking of Paradise, "This is the Middle earth™ I had always pictured." As well as hiking and horse trekking, you can get out on the water with jet boating and kayaking.

Paradise Ziplines Pickup point: Glenorchy Cafe, 25 Mull St, Glenorchy

Eight ziplines, 1000 metres, adrenaline, magnificent forests and a river below you. Are you up for it? Bookings recommended. Closed in the winter.

Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway 160 Glenorchy-Paradise Rd, Glenorchy

These wetland boardwalks are great places to see some of NZ’s many wading birds. A leisurely stroll with beautiful mountain views, as well as birdlife.

Day 10: Queenstown to Te Anau (2 hours)

Te Anau Glowworm Caves 85 Lakefront Drive, Te Anau

These caves are only 12,000 years young, so they’re still being formed by the river as it first swirls and roars, then meanders quietly - which is where you see a carpet of glittering glowworms above you.

Garston Hunny Shop 5 State Highway 6, Gaston

Manuka honey, anyone? Famous for its healing powers. Also, clover honey, thyme honey and a range of natural cosmetics.

Day 11: Milford Sound (3 hours)

Dubbed by Rudyard Kipling as the 8th Wonder of the World, Milford Sound is the only NZ fjord you can access by car – 5 hours from Queenstown and 2 hours from Te Anau.

WORTH KNOWING: There is no internet reception in Milford Sound. And wherever you go in Milford Sound, remember to carry insect repellent. The place is much-loved by sandflies too! Parking close to the terminal will cost $10/hour, but further away, it’s free.

Milford Foreshore Walk

It’s short, just 400 meters. No wonder it’s so popular. This flat trail starts at the parking area in Milford Sound.

Milford Sound Lookout Track

It starts at the car park behind the café at Milford Sound. This reasonably easy walk offers some beautiful views, including the iconic Mitre Peak.

Day 12: Te Anau to Queenstown (2 hours)

Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre Lakefront Drive, Te Anau

Te Anau is the gateway to magnificent Fiordland National Park (great tramping, hunting, fishing, spectacular scenery, endangered takahe and kakapo) and Milford Sound (or Piopiotahi, to use its Maori name). The National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Fun fact: NZ spells fiord with an i, not a j.

Day 13: Cromwell to Moeraki (2.5 hours)

Goldfields Mining Centre 803 Kawarau Gorge Rd, Kawarau Gorge

Just 6 km from Cromwell to see historic gold mining machinery, awesome Kawarau River views and try your hand at gold panning.

Katiki Point Lighthouse Lighthouse Rd, Katiki Point, Moeraki

Here’s the largest yellow-eyed penguin colony on the South Island. And if you’re lucky, you’ll also see NZ fur seals.

Moeraki Boulders Moeraki Boulders Rd, 3 km south of Hampden

You’ve heard of the Rolling Stones? Well, these stones don't rock, and they don't roll. But they are famous. About 50 huge sphere-shaped rocks on Koekohe Beach. Who’s up for a beach walk?

Day 14: Moeraki to Christchurch (3.5 hours)

International Antarctic Centre Corner Roy Place and, Orchard Rd, Christchurch Airport

Feel the chill in the exclusive Antarctic storm room—tour with an ATV (all terrain vehicle). Say hello to the huskies and penguins, and you’ll never forget this place. Ideal if you’re very early for your plane.

Christchurch Gondola 10 Bridle Path Rd, Heathcote Valley, Christchurch

Say goodbye to Christchurch in style, with a gondola ride from their summit station at the very top of the Port Hills. Memorable 360-degree views to take back home.

Campervan Itineraries