• South Island 7-day itinerary

7 days in the South Island can be the trip of a lifetime

August 28, 2018

For the love of open roads and wide-open spaces, endless untamed beaches and majestic fiords, here’s an itinerary that we believe captures the best of the South Island in just seven days. From land, on water, or high up above, anyway you look at it, this natural wonderland (that we’re lucky to call our backyard!) offers an incredible mix of diverse landscapes and quintessential kiwi experiences.

 

Day 1 Nelson to Abel Tasman (1.5 hr drive)

Chances are you’ll start your day with clear blue skies since Nelson is officially NZ’s sunniest region. Stroll through the city to grab some edible supplies – with a wealth of artisan food producers around, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Or stop by at the iconic Boatshed Café for brunch with a view en route to Abel Tasman. Make the most of your day at Abel Tasman by booking in a cruise and walk tour or a range of other outdoor activities around the national park.

Overnight accommodation in Kaiteriteri.

Split Apple Rock, Nelson Tasman

Exploring the natural wonders Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 2 Abel Tasman to Franz Josef (7 hr drive)

You’ll trail blaze through a lot of spectacular scenery down the wild west coast with some key stops along the way. First stop is Buller Gorge – home to New Zealand’s longest swingbridge so you can enjoy a wander and breathtaking views. About half way to Franz Josef, take a break in Punakaiki to feast your eyes on the fascinating pancake rocks – some things you just have to see it to believe it.

Overnight accommodation in Franz Josef.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, West Coast

The awe-insipiring, natural beauty of Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, West Coast.

Day 3 Explore Franz Josef

Franz Josef is your gateway to Franz Josef Glacier – a strikingly beautiful natural phenomenon where ancient rainforests and dynamic glaciers meet. It’s also a world-heritage area with a wealth of attractions to explore. With another big day driving tomorrow, make sure you spend some time to unwind in the glacier hot pools, right in the heart of the rainforest. Bliss!

Overnight accommodation in Franz Josef.

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier – where rainforests and glaciers meet.

Day 4 Franz Josef to Te Anau (6.5 hr drive)

Navigate your way through epic mountain ranges, brilliant lakes, and fertile plains as you transition from the West Coast into the Otago region. Before you descend down towards Lake Wanaka, you can enjoy a short walk to The Blue Pools at Haast Pass – where the bluest blues and most gorgeous greens shimmer from these pristine waters. If it’s a hot day, you could always treat yourself to a refreshing, cool dip!

Overnight accommodation in Te Anau.

Haast Blue Pools

Brilliant waters of Haast Blue Pools.

Day 5 Explore Fiordland

Picturesque Te Anau is the perfect base for exploring Fiordland and surrounds – with an amazing network of walking tracks available, you’ll soon discover why it’s known as the walking capital of the world. Another incredible way to take in all the beauty of Fiordland is from the skies above on a scenic flight. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you simply have to take – an aerial journey that’s triple the fun as you journey from sea level to mountain tops across Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. With three scenic landings included, you’ll have time to take it all in – with a break to picnic and photograph the untouched wilderness before you. Wrap up the day with a sunset cruise along Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island, as you head towards a fascinating world of underground waterfalls at Te Anau’s must-visit glowworm caves.

Overnight accommodation in Te Anau.

Milford Sound, Fiordland

Scenic helicopter flight at Milford Sound, Fiordland

Day 6 Te Anau to Queenstown (2 hr drive)

Get an early morning start to enjoy another stunning day ahead. Leaving Lake Te Anau behind as you head towards Lake Wakatipu, you will cross stunning countryside and the epic mountain ranges known as The Remarkables. Make sure you stop at the lookout point at the top of Devil’s Staircase for some views that will have your planning your return visit. Take your pick from Queenstown array of adventure and leisure activities – visit world-renowned wineries, ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak, or enjoy a round of golf with magnificent views, it’s really up to you to pick your pace.

Overnight accommodation in Queenstown.

Scenic golf course, Queenstown

Scenic golf course with mountain and lakeside views in Queenstown.

Day 7 Explore Queenstown

Last day to indulge before your South Island tour ends and what better than to treat yourself to a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools for the ultimate unwind. There’s also a free shuttle service you can take from central Queenstown if you want to skip driving on your last day. You’ve covered over 1,200 kilometres at this point so you’ve definitely earned it!

Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown

Relax and unwind with breathtaking views at Onsen Hot Pools.


TOP