Our journey started from Christchurch because this is the destination of most of the airlines. Then travel around the island clockwise. If you’re to depart from North Island to reach Picton, or your flight is to arrive at Queenstown, you may also start your journey from there.
Christchurch👍 – Lake Tekapo👍 – Lake Pukaki👍 – Mount Cook👍 – Oamaru👍 – Dunedin👍 – Catlins – Invercargill & Bluff – Teanau👍 (Milford & Doubtful Sound) – Queenstown👍– Arrowtown – Wanaka👍 -Fox Glacier👍 – Franz Josef👍 – Hokitika – Punakaki – Abel Tasman – Kaikoura👍 – Akaroa👍 – Christchurch
PS: If your journey is about 14 days, you may just follow the path annotated with 👍.
Campermate, HERE maps, BBH Travel, YHA NZ Travel, NZ Greatwalks.
Jucy, Avis, Apex, Omega and etc. Remember to read the terms & conditions.
Jucy, Maui, Mighty, Britz, Apollo, Wilderness and etc. Remember to read the terms & conditions.
Can get to know more new friends if you stay in BBH, YHA / Airbnb / Motorhome /Motel / Motorlodge / Camping Tent. Spring and Summer are the peak season, so do reserve your accommodation in advance.
Go to Bookme to check the activities in New Zealand because plenty of cheap tickets are up for grab!
Weather in New Zealand☀
You may check the weather on MetService.
In the Summer and Spring, the days are long and the nights are short. It’s still bright as late as 10 pm. Conversely, in the Winter it’s another story. It gets dark at as early as 4 pm.
- Christchurch Botanical Garden – The Botanic Garden here is spacious and cozy. Having a picnic and watching the flowers here can make your day.
- Christchurch Museum – Free entrance. In here you can find out the history of the New Zealand as well as the Maori people. The other must-see in this museum is the Paua Shell, which was made by the old folks after the death of his/her spouse and used for decorations at home. The Paua Shell was then brought to display in the museum. The Air Force Museum New Zealand entrance is free either. Very worth going.
- Hagley Park – Nice place for some walk. In the Spring you get to see the full bloom of cherry blossom along the road.
- Christchurch Sunday Farmers Market & Riccarton Market – Two different market. Only open on Sunday. Riccarton Market is the go-to place while the Farmers Market has a very nice and comfortable environment.
Christchurch Sunday Farmers Market
- Restart at Christchurch – In 2011, there was an earthquake here so up until now we can still see the trace that was left by the adverse effect of the natural hazard. After the earthquake, there came a Japan designer who designed the Cardboard Cathedral here. There are 185 empty chairs here, which is an unofficial memorial for the 185 individuals who died in the earthquake. Other than that, that’s the Restart Mall, made of the Container, which lets you go in for shopping and dining. Hence, you can either go on foot or hop on a tram to visit this place. In fact, we all felt sad when visiting here.
- TranzAlpine Kiwiscenic Rail – TranzAlpine high mountain railway connects Arthur Pass to Grey Mouth. Imagine the view here in the winder, definitely one of the best railway in the world.
- Mount Sunday pathway
- Mount Hutt Ski Field
2) Lake Tekapo👍
- Fairlie – While on the way to Lake Tekapo, you will pass through a small town called Fairlie. Go try the delicious pie there!
- Lake Tekapo & Church of the Good Shepherd – Very breathtaking high mountain view. During spring or summer there’s the bloom of dull ice flower. In the afternoon you can go up to Mount John Observatory to enjoy some coffee and the lake view. You’re able to see the galaxy at night there and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of aurora as well. But take note that there’s a toll fee to pass through here. In addition, you can also go to the Round Hill Ski Field nearby to ski and for photo session during winter.
3) Lake Pukaki👍
It’s a 40 minutes journey from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki. It’s nice view everywhere on the way. You can easily spot the Dull Ice Flower everywhere during spring or summer.
I personally think that this lake is bluer and clearer than the Lake Tekapo. In here, you can grab some fresh Mount Cook Alpine Salmon as well. One in the lake Pukaki and one in the Lake Ruataniwha. You’ll see a fish farm there.
4) Mount Cook👍
The highest mountain in New Zealand. It only takes around 40 minutes of driving from Lake Pukaki. In the summer or spring, you will see the NZ Alpine Lavender on the way to Mount Cook. It’s scenic view everywhere along the road, especially in the winter.
- Hooker Valley Track – It takes around 3-4 hours for a return trip.
- Tasman Valley – watch Tasman Glacier (can hike to the hill or walk to the lake side for glacier view). Capturing photos of a person in the middle of the road is a good idea.
- Peter’s Lookout – While on the way, spot for the Peter’s Lookout, a good place for photo session.
- Omarama, Twizel, Lake Ruataniwha and Lindis Pass – Some people would go to Wanaka directly from Mount Cook. If you are to do so, you may pass by the Omarama, Twizel, Lake Ruataniwha and Lindis Pass (Photo). I absolutely fall in love with the view here. It’s very scenic everywhere all year long. You could easily catch a good view whenever you stop your car at a random road side.
- Mueller Hut
While on the way to Oamaru you will pass by the Moeraki Boulder, , a very unique naturally formed boulder that looks like a dinosaur egg. Oamaru is a very vintage town which really looks like Scotland.
- Oamaru Herritage Precinct – Feel free to go there for a walk. There’s an exhibition hall on the second floor. The whole hall is special because it was built with a ‘face’ design.
- Penguin Watching – At around 6 pm and 10 pm, you can go for penguin watching. In fact there are several spots that you can look see the penguins in Oamaru. Notice those spots surrounded by the gate, there are house specially built for the penguins. In other places you have to pay the entrance fee to get in but actually you can just stay outside of the gate and you’ll get a pleasant view to see the penguin. Sometimes if you’re lucky you may see the penguins around the Heritage Precinct because some penguins’ house were built just underneath the building.
- Oamaru Look Out Point – get the bird’s eye view of Oamaru Harbour
PS: You can catch the Aurora here if you’re very very lucky.
- First Church of Otago – The first church built in New Zealand. In fact there are many other churches with unique design around here.
- Baldwin Street – The steepest road in the world. Cadbury Jaffa Festival is held here every year. Feel free to drive your car here and test you driving skills.
- University of Otago – The oldest university in New Zealand. The buildings and architecture here are very vintage and the view is nice.
- Larnach Castle – The only and only castle in New Zealand. But I didn’t enter because the entrance ticket is not cheap. But I was told the scene and the buildings inside are very beautiful.
- Tunnel Beach – You will need to pass through a small tunnel in order to reach the beach. Unique.
- Other places – Cadbury Chocolate Museum, Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin Railway Station, Otago Peninsula (Penguin watching)
- Dunedin Farmers Market – A very large market to go.
PS: You can catch the Aurora in Dunedin here if you’re very very lucky.
Nugget Point Lighthouse, Purakaunui Waterfall, Mc Lean Fall, Niagara Falls (Extremely amazing waterfalls!). Many tourists stay at Nugget Point to gaze the galaxy, starry sky and the aurora at night.
8) Invercargill & Bluff
World Southern Starbucks – The southmost Starbucks in the world. It’s a signpost of the southmost spot in New Zealand. This place produces a lot of oysters. But I don’t recommend you to come if you’ve no enough time.
9) Teanau👍 (Milford Sound & Doubtful Sound)
A place worth going. I suggest you to drive yourself all the way to the port because the view along the road is scenic with the presence of hills and lakes. You can randomly stop your car beside the road. If you’re to take a tour bus, bus from Juicy company is recommended because their bus is smaller in size so the driver is more likely to stop the bus and let passengers to take photos. Both are so peaceful fjords that you will feel calm by just idling and watching at them. You may also try Kayaking here, but pay attention to the timing.
- Hiking trails – Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Kepler Track, Lake Marian Track. Worth going.
- Scenic View – Lake Wakatipu, Lake Hayes, Lake Moke, Glenorchy, Queenstown Skyline, Paradise, Queenstown Botanical Garden, Lake Marian, Ben Lomond
- Adventure – Skyline Gondola, AJ Hackett Bungy, Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Nevis Bungy, Nzone Skydive Queenstown, Nevis and Canyon Swing , Tandem Paraglide, Skyline Luge, white water rafting, jetboating (some activities may take more than half day so allocate the timing appropriately)
For more skydiving photos, please visit my photo album.
15,000 ft Skydive experience..Throwback video……^^
Posted by Chua Hong Wei on Tuesday, November 29, 2016
- Must-eat – Fregburger, Flame Pork Ribs (delicious and big portion), Patagonia Chocolate.
- Skiing in Winter – Coronet Peak, The Remarkable, Treble Cone (Largest in South Island), Cardrona (at Wanaka).
Normally people stay in Queenstown for two days or more.
From Dunedin to Queenstown, you can go by the Southern Scenic Route. Going by this highway may be a lil bit farther but it’s scenic view all the way. Provided if you have enough time. Another highway you can go is the Skippers Canyon Road. Only if you think you have very professional driving skills because this highway is kind of steep and dangerous.
The most scenic town in the Autumn. Everyone comes to Arrowtown in the Autumn because of the charming view of the delightful gold rush village and trees. A very nice place for photo session. In fact there’s Autumn Festival here in every Autumn.
If you’re to drive from Queenstown to Wanaka, you can go with the Cardrona Crown Range high mountain road that you can enjoy the perfect snow view there. On the way, you will also pass by the Bradrona Bra Fence. Another highway you can go with is the Cromwell where you will pass by a fruit town and the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the place of origin of Bungy. You can also visit the Mrs Jones Fruit Stall in Cromwell to try out the Real Fruit ice-cream. Homemade fruit wine, cherry wine, nectarine wine are up for grab there!
- Attraction – Lone Tree at Lake Wanaka (the most famous tree in New Zealand, Lake Hawea
- Place people rarely know – Undergo Sled Dog Tours (Winter only)
- Activities – Skydive Wanaka, Learn to Fly Wanaka (Drive a plane), Puzzling World, Transport and Toy Museum, Cardona Skii Field, Lavendar Farm
- Hiking trails – Mount Iron Track, Glendhu Bay Track, Roys Peak (Ultimate 360 paranomic view), Rob Roy, Isthmus Peak, Glacier and etc.
13) Fox Glacier👍 & Franz Josef👍
- Glacier – Both places are to watch the Glacier so you can come here all year long. You can also ride a helicopter and get the bird’s eye view of the whole glacier but you will need to book the ticket in advance. It rains very often here so you might need to depend on your luck. If the helicopter could not take off, you still could go on foot on the trail way and watch the glacier.
- Lake Matheson – the must go lake in Fox Glacier. You can enjoy the beauty of perfect lake reflection here, so, come here in the morning when it’s less crowded. It takes about 40 minutes of walk from the lake entrance to the look out point.
PS: Glacier Retreat has caused the glacier to drop at least 7 metres so if you don’t want to miss this out on in your life, act quick!
An extremely windy black sand beach. Amazing sunset view. At night you can go to the Glow Worm Dell nearby to watch the Glow Worm. Don’t forget the try the Fat Pipi Pizza.
On the way to Punakaiki, you will pass by the Greymouth, which is the next station of it if you take the high mountain train. In fact, There are not much attraction spot here in Greymouth so I would leave it here. But you must go to the Punakaiki and remember to fill your petrol to full and get some food along with you in the car because you can neither find a petrol station nor convenience store in Punakaiki.
- Punakaiki Pancake Rocks – It looks like the gradient stone of Pancake in the U.S., rocks formed by the nature. Can also wander around at the Paparoa National Park Inland Track and the Truman Track. The sunset is amazing.
- Abel Tasman National Park – The coast here has very nice view and the seawater is so clear and blue. You can play kayak, take Scenice Cruise or water taxi to go to the sea. Other than that, Skydive is another good activity here. You can also learn to operate a helicopter with U Fly Heli here. The Scenic Microlight Flying is special as well as the Tandem Hand Gliding.
- Others – Kahurangi National Park, Golden Bay, Pupu Spring, Lake Rotoiti, Mt Owen Tracks, Heaphy Track, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Rewaka Resurgence, etc
Visit 5D4N trip in Abel Tasman for more information.
Due the the effect of earthquake, I’m unsure the route to the Kaikoura from here. But you’re to drive from Blenheim to Kaikoura, you will see many seals resting on the road side on your left. Some sit on the rock on the beach.
In Kaikoura you can ride a boat or take a helicopter to watch the whale and dolphin, as well as catch the abalone. Kaikoura Penisula Walkway is a good place for some walk. Enjoy some seafood feast at the Kaikoura Seafood BBQ.
Akaroa is about one and a half hour driving distance away from Christchurch. Akaroa is also called The French Village. Of course, when you’re here you should go to the Shamarra Alpacas and meet up with the cute Alpaca and go to the Akaroa Light House. As well as the Dolphins watching in the sea.
From the west coast to the east coast, you normally will pass by three highways, which are the Lindis Pass (Wanaka）,Arthur Pass and Lewis Pass (Hanmer Spring). You can watch very scenic view while driving on these highway, especially in the winter. But sometimes the extreme weather in winter may cause the road to be closed.
- Lindis Pass – from Wanaka to Omarama ,Twizel. Can reach directly to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo.
- Arthur Pass – Hokitika; Kumara directly to Christchurch, will pass by the Arthur Pass National Park, Lake Pearson, Castle Hill (Narnia Movie scene）, Devil Punchbowl Waterfall, Avalanche Peak, Cave Stream. You can also ski in the Porters and Temple Basin.
- Lewis Pass – Greymouth all the way to Amberley. Also can go to the Kaikoura and Christchurch. You will pass by the Hanmer Spring as well so you wouldn’t miss the Thermal Pool and Spa. Skiing is available in Hanmer Spring.
There are few roads that are good route to go such as Tasman Valley Road, Crown Range Road, Mount Hutt Access road, The Remarkables, Treble Cone Access Road, Milford Road, Takaka Hill, Porters Pass, Glenorchy – Queenstown Road, Mount Cook Road, Haast Pass, Southern Scenic Road.
There are few good places for skiing such as Treble Cone, Cardona, Remarkable**, Coronet Peak**, Mt Hutt**.
**You can use the same Lift Pass to enter Coronet, Remarkables and Mt Hutt.
Actually the every corner in New Zealand is very wonderful and peaceful. Basically, road trip means stopping the car anywhere when you catch a nice scene. As a matter of fact, four season all year, 24 hours, you will find the beauty of New Zealand here. Plus most of the places here don’t need entrance ticket.