If you are planning your first trip to New Zealand, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the many highlights that the country has to offer. But where should you go if you only have 2 weeks to explore New Zealand?
If you’re keen to explore the South Island, fear no more; below is the ultimate road trip which covers 9 stops, promising a real adventure.
Rather than planning a round trip, I recommend starting from Christchurch and departing from Queenstown (or vice versa). This will allow you to spend more time exploring the island and to soak in the beauty of this natural paradise.
1. Christchurch (2 nights)
Start from Christchurch International Airport and rent your car or motor-home from the many different rental services at hand. To overcome the jet lag (depending from where you are flying), it is advisable to stay in Christchurch for 2 nights. Enjoy the wine region, go on a hike or walk along the sea: Christchurch has many different things to offer.
2. Lake Tekapo (1 night)
Drive to Lake Tekapo which offers stunning views of the turquoise blue lake. This stop is all about exploring nature: Take a helicopter ride, hike onto Mt. John summit, or go stargazing at the observatory. For things to do at Lake Tekapo, click here.
3. Mount Cook (2 nights)
Take a ride to Mt. Cook, which is located in a valley surrounded by the highest mountains in New Zealand. Enjoy spectacular views while hiking to Mt. Cook glacier (hot tip: Hooker-Valley Track).
4. Wanaka (2 nights)
In winter time a ski town, in summer the perfect place to hike, explore wineries, and do water sports. Wanaka is a place attracting young people who are looking for active vacation time.
6. Arrowtown (Day Trip)
Between Wanaka and Queenstown is a small village called Arrowtown. With its historical buildings, Arrowtown reminds of the times when settlers from all over the world came to New Zealand in the hope to hit another gold mine (hot tip: visit the famous candy shop for a world-class selection of the best candy).
7. Queenstown (4 nights)
Queenstown is the heart of the South Island with a full range of activities to choose from (2 of the best ski areas are located here). But not only adrenaline junkies will find something to do: Go sailing, hiking, explore the wine region or visit a local sheep farm in New Zealand. If you are travelling in the winter months, don’t forget to stop by the Onsen Hot Pools (you’ll need a reservation).
8. Te Anau (2 nights)
Stay in Te Anau to explore the National Park located in the Fiordlands. Most people stay here for a day trip to Milford Sound (Milford does not have any accommodations).
9. Milford Sound (Day Trip)
Explore the stunning Milford Sound on this day trip. A famous spectacle of nature, Milford Sound is best explored via boat.
10. Queenstown (1 night)
Arrive in Queenstown to return your car/ motorhome. Your flight heads off the next day.