11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

There are two main islands in New Zealand, the North Island and the South Island. The South Island is renowned for its stunning landscapes and natural attractions. If you are planning a road trip to the South Island, here are some recommendations from us.

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

View our “11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary” list on Google Map

 

 

Day 1: Christchurch to Kaikoura

Brilliant Rentals - 8 reasons why Kaikoura is a must include destination in your South Island Roundtrip

Kaikoura is famous for its breathtaking marine life along its scenic coastline, where you can encounter whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, and diverse aquatic bird species.

In Kaikoura, you’ll marvel at the sight of the majestic Southern Alps meeting the expansive Pacific Ocean shoreline. The vistas are truly spectacular, offering an abundance of sights and activities to enjoy. And for food enthusiasts, Kaikoura is a paradise for seafood lovers that promises an unforgettable culinary experience!

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance: ~181km

Time to allow: ~2hr30mins

Things to do: Dolphin Encounter, Whale Watch, Nin’s Bin, Fishing Tour, Kaikoura Peninsula Scenic Lookout

 

 
 

Day 2: Kaikoura to Hanmer Spring

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Hanmer Springs is renowned for its natural hot pools and magnificent landscapes, providing visitors with a revitalizing retreat amid the awe-inspiring natural scenery. Engage in adventurous activities that will immerse you in the wild beauty of Hanmer. Whether it’s forest hiking, mountain biking, horse trekking, bungy jumping, jet boating, or hitting the slopes for skiing in winter, there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance: ~130km

Time to allow: ~2hrs

Things to do: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, Hanmer Forest, Hanmer Springs Attractions, Quad Bikes

 

 
 

Day 3: Hanmer Spring to Hokitika

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Hokitika is a little cool town located on the West Coast, known for its rich cultural art scene and heritage history. Additionally, it boasts some of the most scenic gorges along the Hokitika River, offering picturesque walking and hiking trails for visitors to explore and enjoy.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance: ~253km

Time to allow: ~3hr15mins

Things to do: Hokitika Gorge, Hokitika Beach, Tree Top zipline, Lake Kaniere

 

 
 

Day 4: Hokitika to Fox Glacier

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Fox Glacier is famous for its heli-hiking experience. It descends 2,600 metres from the lofty heights of the Southern Alps, fueled by the snowfall from four alpine glaciers, which accumulate about 30 metres of snow each year. This snow is compressed into dense blue ice hundreds of meters deep at the glacier’s summit.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance: ~158km

Time to allow: ~2hr15mins

Things to do: Fox Glacier Heli Walk, Franz Josef Heli Hike, Lake Matheson

 

 
 

Day 5: Fox Glacier to Wanaka

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Wanaka serves as the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park in the Southern Alps, a pristine wilderness of glaciers, beech forests, and alpine lakes. Nearby, you will find the Treble Cone and Cardrona ski resorts. Just outside the town is Puzzling World, featuring an outdoor maze and sculpture gallery.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance: ~262km

Time to allow: ~3hr30mins

Things to do: Skydive Wanaka, Wildwire, Puzzling World, Skiing Cardrona, Treble Cone, and Soho Basin in wintertime

 

 
 

Day 6: Wanaka

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

It’s worth spending a day in Wanaka because there are plenty of activities in the area. You can go hiking or try something more exciting. Roys Peak is one of the famous spots for capturing scenic photos of Wanaka. Alternatively, if you’re seeking excitement, Crossfire offers opportunities for clay bird shooting, archery, and rifle shooting.

 

 
 

Day 7: Wanaka to Fiordland National Park

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Fiordland National Park is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encompassing 1.2 million hectares of mountains, lakes, and rainforest, Fiordland is home to unique flora and fauna. Fiordland offers unparalleled opportunities for exploration and discovery in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance:  ~226km

Time to allow: ~3hr

Things to do: Te Anau town,  Milford sound, Doubtful sound, The Great Walk

 

 
 

Day 8: Fiordland National Park to Queenstown

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Queenstown is renowned for its wide array of outdoor adventure activities, including jet boating, Hydro attack, bungy jumping, skydiving, white water rafting, kayaking, and luge. Additionally, it is nestled amidst majestic mountains and a serene lake. Therefore, during winter, you can marvel at the snow-capped peaks that surround you.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance:  ~171km

Time to allow: ~2hr15mins

Things to do: biking, hiking, skydiving, and bungy jumping

 

 
 

Day 9: Queenstown

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

There are many activities in Queenstown. Spending an extra day there would greatly enhance your journey. The Skyline Gondola offers an amazing opportunity to overlook the beauty of Queenstown. From the top, you can enjoy the downhill ride. Additionally, you can partake in bungy jumping, paragliding, and water adventures. In winter, skiing and snowboarding are also popular options.

 

 
 

Day 10: Queenstown to Mt Cook

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Mt Cook is one of the tallest mountains in New Zealand. It holds a unique cultural significance, particularly for Ngāi Tahu, the primary iwi (tribe) of New Zealand’s southern region. Aoraki is not merely a mountain but is revered as a sacred ancestor, embodying a spiritual connection that extends beyond the physical landscape.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance:  ~262km

Time to allow:  ~3hr15mins

Things to do: Hooker Vallery Track, Blue Lakes, Tasman Glacier View Walk and Kea Point, Scenic flight

 

 
 

Day 11: Mt Cook to Christchurch

Top 5 things to explore in Christchurch - The Terrace

On the way from Mt. Cook to Christchurch, you will pass through Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, and Fairlie. You can stop in front of those lakes to capture stunning photos from both sides. And when you are in Fairlie, you can try one of the most famous pies in the South Island. You will always find a long queue in front of the shop. Then you head back to Christchurch. There are many bars and restaurants around every corner in the city, offering a diverse range of cuisines and atmospheres to explore.

 

11Days / 10Nights South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Distance:  ~329km

Time to allow:  ~4hr5mins

Things to do: Lake Pukaki Viewpoint, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Tekapo Springs, Fairlie Bakehouse

 

Read more about Lake Pukaki

 
 

Photos credit to Brilliant Rentals, 100% Pure New Zealand, Queestownnz, Lolita Dickson, and Zon Dasein(Unsplash)

 

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