New Zealand South Island: 7-Day Campervan Itinerary

Adventures in the Wild through the South

There’s so much to see here, and truth be told, you won't fit it all in 7 days. Well, not even in 14 days. Aotearoa (the Maori name for NZ) is a traveller’s paradise, especially if you like the outdoors. But we wanted to show you a great way to spend seven memorable days in NZ’s south island, starting and ending in Christchurch because it has an international airport and plenty of campervan hire services.

HOT TIPS: Bring plenty of warm clothing, including a waterproof jacket, as it can rain anytime. Bug repellent is a must for your trip to Milford. And while you’re deciding when to take your NZ holiday, scope out the weather.

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.

Yellow Lupins at Lake Wakatipu between Queenstown and Glenorchy, Otago, South Island, New Zealand

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Day 1: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo (3 hours)

Early morning sun falls on the lupins near the Church of the Good Shepherd near Lake Tekapo, on New Zealand's South Island

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.

Dark Sky Project 1 Motuariki Lane, Lake Tekapo

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

Day 2: Lake Tekapo to Queenstown (3.5 hours)

The Remarkables Mountain, Queenstown, New Zealand

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

Take your campervan to Queenstown on Day 2. 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.

Kiwi Park Brecon St, Queenstown

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

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

Just 15 minutes from Queenstown, the track takes you all around the lake. One of the best easy hikes in Queenstown (though it is 8 km).

Day 3: Queenstown to Milford Sound (4 hours)

Famous Mitre Peak rising from the Milford Sound fiord. Fiordland national park, New Zealand

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 a favourite with sandflies too! Parking close to the terminal will cost $10/hour, but further away, it’s free.

Milford Foreshore Walk Milford Sound

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

Milford Sound Lookout Track

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

Day 4: Milford Sound to Wanaka (4.5 hours)

Wanaka Lavender Farm, New Zealand

Wanaka Lavender Farm 36 Morris Road, 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!

Rhyme X Reason Brewery 17 Gordon Road, Wanaka

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

Day 5: Wanaka to Fox Glacier (3.5 hours)

Reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, New Zealand

IMPORTANT: Before leaving Wanaka, check whether Arthur’s Pass is open, as rain or snow can close the pass for extended periods. If it’s closed, you’ll need to return to Christchurch the same way you came and catch the sites and experiences you missed the first time.

Just north of Haast (midway between Wanaka and the Fox Glacier) is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake where a 40-minute walk gets you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach.

Minnehaha Walk State Highway 6, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Fox Glacier

See the glow worms in the forest after dark. HINT: take a torch to find your way but cover its light or you might miss the glow worms (and ruin it for others too). Day or night, it’s an easy 1.2 km walking loop track that follows a small stream through the rainforest and loops back to the starting point.

Fox Glacier View Point Cook Flat Road, Fox Glacier Village

Just 9km off the main highway, you’ll get a stunning view of the Fox Glacier and the Southern Alps with bench seats & picnic tables. It’s near the Clearwater Creek Bridge.

Day 6: Fox Glacier to Hokitika 2.5 hours

Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand.

Bonz N Stonz 16 Hamilton St, Hokitika

Traditional Jade 2 Tancred St, Hokitika

Carve your own jade/greenstone at either of the places listed above. They provide the stones and teach you how to carve them.

Hokitika Glass Studio 9 Weld St, Hokitika

Watch glass blowing in this family business—beautifully handcrafted glassware.

West Coast Treetop Walkway 1128 Woodstock-Rimu Road, Hokitika

If you’re okay with heights and love a good walk in a rainforest, then check this out. Four hundred fifty metres long and 20 meters above the forest of mature rimu trees. Spectacular!

National Kiwi Centre 66 Tancred St, Hokitika

If you missed seeing the kiwis in Queenstown, here’s your chance again. Also, this is home to tuatara (they look like lizards, but they’re not), giant eels, whitebait, fish, turtles, frogs, crayfish & more.

Day 7: Back to Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass 3.5 hours

Castle Hill at Arthur's Pass National Park

At 900 metres, Arthur’s Pass is the highest pass over the Southern Alps. On the return leg to Christchurch, look out for the Otira Viaduct Lookout, approximately 6.3km (3.9 miles) north of Arthur’s Pass Village.

Sheffield Pie Shop 51 Main West Road, Sheffield

About an hour before you get to Christchurch, and you’re peckish—say hello to this little pie shop.

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

Right near the airport and great if you’re very early for your plane. 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!

Christchurch Gondola 10 Bridle Path Road, 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.

New Zealand South Island: 7-Day Campervan Itinerary

Campervan Itineraries