Two Weeks In New Zealand | South Island Itinerary

Length: 16 Days

Location: South Island: Christchurch, Tekapo, Mt Cook, Dunedin, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Wanaka, Fox Glacier, Punakaiki.

Best Months for this Tour: November, February or April

Suggested For: Families, Couples and Groups of Friends

Natural Attractions: Grass Plains, Glacial Fed Lakes, Rugged Beaches, Glaciers, Rocky Outcrops, Wildlife.

Day 1 - Christchurch

Arrive in the beautiful garden city and gateway to the South Island. When you fly in, if there are clear skies, be sure to look out your window and you will see the breath taking Southern Alps marking the spine of the South Island. Closer to Christchurch you will witness the Canterbury Plains with its unmistakable irrigation circles.

Collect Transport: Whether you've chosen a self-drive or privately guided tour, a Cloud Travel representative will always be waiting in Christchurch, our home town, to welcome you like an old friend.

Suggested Activities:

  • Check in to your accommodation and put your feet up; you just flew a long way, it's time to recover.


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:


For the Love of Food:

Day 2 – Christchurch – Akaroa – Christchurch (Drive Time – 3 Hours Return)

Road Trip Highlights: Birdlings Flat, Little River, Hilltop Tavern

Akaroa is a beautiful French Settlement located on Banks Peninsula. After going past Birdlings Flat and searching through the pebbles for gemstones of all different colours, you can head to Little River and enjoy a mid-morning coffee. Then back into your chariot and head over the volcano wall of Banks Peninsula into the beautiful seaside settlements. Take a stop at Barrys Bay Cheese to purchase some locally made blocks of cheese for the rest of your journey. You will then follow the road around the bays until you arrive in quaint Akaroa. Check out the Giants House, walk along the waterfront, browse for handcrafted goods in the local stores, or pop over to the lighthouse for some amazing photos.

Suggested Activities:


Suggested Walks:

  • Onawe Peninsula: Sacred Maori Site – 1 hr (please respect Maori Culture and do not eat on the site, also avoid High Tide)


Accommodation – Customer Favourites: Make it an overnight stay.


For the Love of Food:

Day 3 – Tekapo (3.5 Hours Drive)

Road Trip Highlights: Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is based in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island and is infamous in the New Zealand history books. James Mckenzie was a shepherd, and he was very good at it to. With the help of his trusty sheep dog named Friday, he managed to steal 1,000 sheep from a station in Canterbury, from there he made a run for Otago, all the while discovering the most effective route through the centre of the South Island and taking part in a Hollywood…New Zealand style chase. After initially getting caught around Lake Tekapo, Mckenzie managed to escape his captors' multiple times this led to him becoming a local folk hero and he was finally set free. Tekapo is now known for its pristine blue lake and amazing star gazing – a tip, on a clear starry night find somewhere dark and watch one spot in the sky for at least 5 minutes and you'll be almost guaranteed to see a shooting star!

Suggested Activities:

  • Air Safaris: Take to the sky and traverse the Southern Alps of New Zealand, taking pictures of the eye candy this stunning mountain range has on display all year round. Snow Capped Mountains…always.
  • Star Gazing Tour: Take a more professional approach to looking at the stars and head to the mountains.


Suggested Walks:


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:


For the Love of Food:

Day 4 – Tekapo – Mount Cook – Tekapo (2.5 Hours Return)

Road Trip Highlights: Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier or Tasman Glacier

Mount Cook National Park holds a special place in the heart of all locals, to the Maori people it goes by the name of 'Aoraki', the tallest of the three brothers that are the sons of the Earth Mother and Sky Father that created this world. In English, it is named after James Cook, who is considered to be the founder of the European colonies that settled this majestic land. Apart from being steeped in history, it's natural beauty is truly supernatural, with glaciers on either side that make for unforgettable walks and Lake Pukaki resting at its feet, this sacred site will leave you speechless.

Note: Fill with gas on this day.

Suggested Activities:

  • Glacier Explorer: Leaving from the Hermitage Resort at the foot of Mount Cook, you will spend around an hour scooting along the ice white lank at the foot of the Tasman Glacier.
  • Tasman Glacier Heli Hike: Don't just view the glacier from below, fly up there in a helicopter and spend 2 hours exploring the blue ice caves and the ever changing glacier landscape.
  • Helicopter Ride with Snow Landing: Glentanner or Mount Cook Airport - Take the ride of a life and land at the top of the glacier in the snow, enjoy panoramic views from the middle of the Southern Alps and maybe even throw a snowball or two.


Suggested Walks:


Accommodation – Customer Favourites: Make it an overnight stay.


For the Love of Food:

Day 5 – Tekapo – Dunedin (4.5 Hours Drive)

Road Trip Highlights: Salmon Farm, Oamaru Art Street, Moeraki Boulders, University of Otago

Made rich by the Otago Gold Rush, Dunedin is the largest city in the Otago region. Home to New Zealand's first University, some outstanding Scottish architecture and great food all around, Dunedin is a diverse city to spend a couple of nights in. On top of that, it boasts the impressive and everchanging scenery of the Otago Peninsula, home to some of the world's rarest species. These, not always little, creatures scatter the beaches during dusk and dawn.

Suggested Activities:

  • Probably best to rest and check out the city, plus try out one of the restaurants we have listed below.


Suggested Walks:


Accommodation – Customer favourites:


For the Love of Food:

Day 6 – Dunedin


Suggested Activities:


Suggested Walks:

  • Sandfly Bay Track: The world's rarest Sea Lions and Penguins meet on desert like sand dunes and rough coastline. Hold onto your hat! Please Note: do not feed these guys, or touch them. They are wild and we like them that way.
  • Tunnel Beach Track: A tunnel carved in a cliff by a loving father for a daughter that wanted her own beach.
  • St Clair Beach: For the best sunrise in NZ followed by some outstanding breakfast options.


For the Love of Food:

Day 7 – Dunedin – Queenstown (3.5 Hours Drive)

Road Trip Highlights: Roxburgh, Cromwell, Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables

The Crown Jewel of New Zealand tourism, Queenstown holds this title for a reason, driving in you will pass internationally renowned wineries on one side and on the other international standard golf courses, surrounded by the soaring indigo heights of the Remarkables and framed with the ever-curious coves of Lake Wakatipu.

Explore your crazy side and jump from a plane, or a bridge. Otherwise, be prepared for absolute relaxation and enjoy the cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene that graces this year-round hotspot. For the more private soul, find a lake side bench and enjoy the light show at both dawn and dusk, or escape from the hustle and bustle completely and explore the Glenorchy wilderness, home to 'Lord of the Rings'.

Suggested Activities:

  • Off Road Adventures: Take a spin in a 4WD on one of the many routes, or drive yourself around a private station on a Quad bike/Motorbike.
  • Hydro Attack: Become a shark for 15 minutes and prowl Lake Wakatipu, this is a one of a kind activity.
  • Skyline Queenstown Gondola, Restaurant & Luge: Enjoy awe-inspiring views of Queenstown and an abundance of entertainment and adventure for the whole family.


Suggested Walks:

  • Queenstown Town Centre: Take a walk around the centre of town and enjoy a bit of shopping.
  • Queenstown Gardens: Situated on a small peninsula.
  • Queenstown Hill: 3 hours return for a 360-degree view of Queenstown and surroundings, jaw dropping, you can literally see everything.
  • Tiki Trail: 2 hours return up to the Queenstown Gondola and back, enjoy city views and a full-frontal view of The Remarkables.


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:

  • Lakeside Holiday Home: Only 10 minutes' walk from town this newly built 6-bedroom (all ensuite) house has all the facilities to spend a week in Queenstown with friends or family. Plus, the view…. wow. (Enquire below for more info)
  • Novotel Lakeside: Great location, International Hotel Standards.
  • Blue Peak Apartments: A great mix between a motel and hotel.


For the Love of Food:

  • Aimsfield: A highly rated and well worth it degustation experience mixed with world renowned wine matches.
  • Blue Kanu: Fresh and Exotic Asia cuisine with a Pacific Island influence. The abalone dish is great!
  • Botswana Butchery: Put a collared shirt on and get some amazing service with a great steak. Bookings recommended.
  • Flame: South African style food presented in a no fuss manner. Roll up your sleeves and enjoy the pork ribs, great value for money.

Day 8 – Queenstown – Arrowtown – Queenstown (45 Mins Return)

Road Trip Highlights: Arrowtown

A Gold Rush paradise steeped in local legend. Great food scatters this one street town and history is all around. Take a stroll through the Chinese Village and see some remnants of how settlers' conditions used to be.

Suggested Activities:

  • Shotover Jet: Take a spin on New Zealand's most iconic Jet Boat, even the British Royals had this on their list.


Suggested Walks:

  • Stroll along the meandering Arrow River until you have had enough, then turn around and walk back. Keep your eyes open for some gold…


For the Love of Food:

Day 9 – Queenstown

Spend the day exploring the centre of Queenstown, eating to your heart's content or just relaxing by the lake with a picnic and some drinks, or take a walk on one of the many surrounding trails to work up the appetite for a big dinner. If you are a quieter soul and want to escape the centre, there is always some amazing day trip experiences to take part in. You could also try some golf courses that are scattered around, which are an experience in themselves.

Suggested Activities:

Day 10 – Queenstown – Wanaka (1.5 Hours)

Road Trip Highlights: Crown Range, Cardrona

A small town with a big attitude, often overshadowed by its neighbour Queenstown, Wanaka has a big heart. Being much quieter and having more locals than tourists living here, it is a real treat to visit. An amazing lake view that is directed at the Mt Aspiring National Park, meaning amazing walks in the region and a lot quieter than its counter parts with this kind of beauty.

Suggested Activities:

  • U-Fly: Feel like a career change? Take to the skies and fly a plane all by yourself, amazing feeling for young and old.
  • Eco Wanaka Adventures: Leaders in New Zealand's Eco Tourism Scene and a great half day out. Take a boat ride to the hidden Mou Waho Island, meet some of the locals that only live on this conservation reserve.
  • Skydive Wanaka: It's a bucket list making opportunity to take advantage of, can you conquer this and strap yourself to a beautiful stranger?


Suggested Walks:

  • Waterfall Creek Track: Allow 2.5 hours return of easy walking, visit the most photogenic tree in the country, "Wanaka Tree" on your way to the most picturesque vineyard in the country, "Rippon", enjoy a wine tasting and wander back. Also a great bike ride.
  • Mount Iron: Allow 1.5 hours for 360 degree panoramic views of Wanaka and surroundings.


Accommodation – Customer favourites:

  • Edgewater: Lakeside location located around 20 mins walk from town.
  • Lakeside Apartments: Beautiful apartments, spacious and right in the centre of town.


For the Love of Food:

  • Cardrona Hotel: Established in 1863, this hotel/bar/pub has a history worth of good food and service, a photo outside is a must have, followed by a drink in the beer garden out back and then a sit-down meal by the hearth inside. It's your only option for lunch today.
  • Francesca's Kitchen Restaurant: Italian Restaurant tucked off the main street. Amazing fresh pizza and stella pasta dishes. Unfortunately, it feels a bit too fancy to lick the plate.

Day 11 – Wanaka


Suggested Activities:

  • Wildwire Wanaka: Scale rock faces and conquer fears…climb a damn waterfall while you are at it. I'm excited just typing this. It helps that I'm watching the super inspirational video while I do it right here.


Suggested Walks:

  • Roys Peak Track: Allow 5 – 6 hours return, medium fitness required as it is a mountain.


For the Love of Food:

  • Kai Whakapai: If you are looking for where all the cool kids hang in Wanaka, it's this place. They serve a breakfast for champions. Perfect to start a big day of adventure and in our opinion the best coffee in town.
  • The Bakery Wanaka: Decided on doing a day walk? Little time to pack lunch? Make your way to this award-winning bakery for some very filling sandwiches and super-duper pies.

Day 12 – Wanaka – Fox Glacier (4 Hours)

Road Trip Highlights: Lake Hawea, Blue Pools, Thunder Creek Falls, Ship Creek, Bruce Bay

After an action-packed drive over the Haast Pass, you will arrive at the 300-person town of Fox Glacier. The actual glacier is the longest on the West Coast at a dominating 13km over its neighbour Franz Josef Glacier. Fox Glacier town holds a unique feeling, it's like being in the movie Jurassic Park, with prehistoric forest surrounding it and ice age glaciers in the near distance, the rugged western beach is only a 15-minute drive away as well.

Suggested Walks:

  • Blue Pools: Allow 1 hour return.
  • Thunder Creek Falls: Allow 10 mins' return.
  • Ships Creek: Two options here, a Dune Lake Walk or a Swamp Forest Walk requiring low fitness and around 30 mins of your time for each one.
  • Bruce Bay: Rugged Southern Beach, with beautiful snow white stones, bring a vivid and leave a wish/message like the travellers before you and always be remembered.


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:

  • Top 10 Fox Glacier Holiday Park: If you have kids that feel the need to burn off energy, they have tons of space to run themselves into the dust here.
  • Mount Cook View Motel: As the name suggests, this place offers a stunning view on a clear day and also a clean and reasonably priced room with kitchen facilities.
  • Sunset Motel: Modern and Clean Apartments.


For the Love of Food:

Day 13 – Fox Glacier

Suggested Activities:

  • Fox Heli Hike: Gear up and get ready for an adventure. Take to the skies in a helicopter and land on the back of the ever-changing Fox Glacier, spend 2 hours learning about the formation of the glacier and the massive effects they have in shaping the environment around us. You will explore blue ice caves and carve a path around on this unforgettable journey. This type of activity is the only way to get onto a glacier in New Zealand so it's a MUST DO.


Suggested Walks:

  • Sunrise at Lake Matheson: Make sure to check the sunrise time the night before and arrive around half an hour before to start the walk. If it is not raining, you will be met with some of the best eye candy available in New Zealand. Take out your Phone, take a few snaps, and tell your friends a professional photographer took the photo. They will believe you. If you have a real camera…welcome to heaven. Allow 1.5 hours to walk the whole loop, turn back if tired to shorten the walk.


For the Love of Food:

  • Lake Matheson Café: After your sunrise walk around the lake, you should have walked up a hunger. This modern café boasts an array of tasty breakfast options and a backdrop so good you will need to tuck in your napkin, sit back and hope that your food finds your mouth.

Day 14 – Fox Glacier – Punakaiki

Road Trip Highlights: Franz Josef Glacier, Okarito Lagoon, Hokitika Gorge

Punakaiki is a small village situated on the West Coast of New Zealand that is home to one of our most famous natural wonders, the "Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes", now the walk is a tourist destination but it is for a reason, a limestone formation that has formed over 30 million years, you can watch the blowholes spray seawater in the air or if you look carefully hector dolphins playing in the waves off the coast. At night when the buses go home, fall asleep to the sounds of waves lapping the beach and watch one of the best sunsets in the country.

Suggested Activities:


Suggested Walks:


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:

  • Hydrangea Cottages: Clean and cosy self-contained studios.
  • Punakaiki Resort: A beach side resort that offers amazing views and a wide range of accommodation. Make sure to book this well in advance though.


For the Love of Food

Day 15 – Punakaiki – Christchurch

Road Trip Highlights: Arthurs Pass, Castle Rock

Suggested Activities:

  • OPTION: TranzAlpine Train Journey: Say goodbye to your rental car after lunch and jump on one of the world's most scenic train journeys through Arthurs Pass back to Christchurch. If you choose this option, a Cloud Travel team member will be waiting for you at the station to escort you back to your hotel and then again to take you to the airport the next morning.


Suggested Walks:

  • Castle Hill: Named a spiritual centre of the universe by the Dalai Lama in 2002. Castle Hill was also the filming ground for, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". Take a walk around and explore the unique limestone formations.


Accommodation – Customer Favourites:


For the Love of Food:

Day 16 – Christchurch – Fly Home

Want to make some changes to suit your tastes? At Cloud Travel we go nuts over making New Zealand Itineraries perfect for you. Chat with us below, or leave us a message here with your thoughts on how to make it perfect for you, we will make it a reality.

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