56 days in South Island Itinerary

56 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island route planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Nelson
— 3 nights
Drive
2
Picton
— 4 nights
Drive
3
Kaikoura
— 3 nights
Drive
4
Hanmer Springs
— 2 nights
Drive
5
Hokitika
— 3 nights
Bus
6
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Wanaka
— 7 nights
Drive
8
Oamaru
— 3 nights
Drive
9
Dunedin
— 6 nights
Drive
10
Te Anau
— 5 nights
Drive
11
Invercargill
— 3 nights
Drive
12
Queenstown
— 7 nights
Fly
13
Christchurch
— 7 nights
Fly

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Nelson

— 3 nights

Top of the South

Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
Visit Kaiteriteri Beach and Tahunanui Beach for some beach relaxation. Step out of the city life by going to Abel Tasman Coast Track and Boat Tours & Water Sports. When in Nelson, make a side trip to see Ngarua Caves in Motueka, approximately Motueka away. And it doesn't end there: don't miss a visit to Centre of New Zealand, get a taste of the local shopping with Kereru Gallery, take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour, and stroll around Founders Park.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Nelson itinerary planner.

Auckland to Nelson is an approximately 3-hour flight. You can also do a combination of car and ferry; or do a combination of train, ferry, and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Thu) early enough to drive to Picton.

Things to do in Nelson

Parks · Outdoors · Trails · Beaches

Side Trips

Find places to stay Jan 10 — 13:

Picton

— 4 nights

Gateway to the South Island

Take photo after stunning photo in Picton, the gateway to South Island.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Queen Charlotte Track and Queen Charlotte Sound. Escape the urban bustle at Marlborough Sounds and Picton Sound. And it doesn't end there: get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, stroll through Davies Bay Campsite, get engrossed in the history at Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, and take in the local highlights with Walking tours.

For photos, more things to do, and tourist information, read Picton trip planner.

Getting from Nelson to Picton by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: take a bus. In January in Picton, expect temperatures between 24°C during the day and 17°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Mon) so you can drive to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Picton

Parks · Outdoors · Nature · Tours

Side Trip

Find places to stay Jan 13 — 17:

Kaikoura

— 3 nights
Head to the small town of Kaikoura, a humble setting from which to witness some of nature's grandest designs.
Get in touch with nature at Peninsula Seal Colony and Gore Bay. Kids will appreciate attractions like Nature & Wildlife Tours and Kaikoura Cheese. Go for a jaunt from Kaikoura to Cheviot to see Cheviot Hills Reserve about 1h 5 min away. There's more to do: cast your line with a fishing tour and get engrossed in the history at Kaikoura Museum.

For ratings, maps, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Kaikoura day trip planner.

Traveling by car from Picton to Kaikoura takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a train. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 20th (Thu) so you can go by car to Hanmer Springs.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Wildlife · Parks · Outdoors · Tours

Side Trip

Find places to stay Jan 17 — 20:

Hanmer Springs

— 2 nights

Springs

Action and relaxation are the reasons that most people head to Hanmer Springs, where natural thermal pools bubble among dramatic alpine surroundings.
Start off your visit on the 21st (Fri): head outdoors with Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre and then take in the awesome beauty at Conical Hill. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: experience rural life at Hanmer Springs Animal Park, relax in the rural setting at Wai ariki Farm Park, Cafe & Gallery, and then delve into the lush surroundings at Hanmer Forest.

To see other places to visit, ratings, and other tourist information, refer to the Hanmer Springs itinerary planner.

Traveling by car from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or do a combination of train and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 22nd (Sat) to allow time to drive to Hokitika.

Things to do in Hanmer Springs

Parks · Nature · Outdoors · Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 20 — 22:

Hokitika

— 3 nights
Hokitika is a township in the West Coast region of New Zealand's South Island, 40km south of Greymouth, and close to the mouth of the Hokitika River. Kids will appreciate attractions like Hokitika Beach and Lake Kaniere. Get in touch with nature at Truman Track and West Coast Wilderness Trail. The adventure continues: view the masterpieces at Wilderness Gallery, appreciate the history behind Hokitika Town Clock, head outdoors with Glow Worm Dell, and look for gifts at Garth Wilson Jade.

For photos, traveler tips, maps, and other tourist information, read our Hokitika online trip itinerary builder.

Getting from Hanmer Springs to Hokitika by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Tue) to allow time to take a bus to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu).

Things to do in Hokitika

Outdoors · Parks · Shopping · Trails

Side Trips

Find places to stay Jan 22 — 25:

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)

— 2 nights
Kick off your visit on the 26th (Wed): get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports and then go for a walk through Lake Matheson Walk. On the 27th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: head outdoors with Aoraki/Mt. Cook and then trek along Hooker Valley Track.

To find more things to do, other places to visit, reviews, and more tourist information, use the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) online sightseeing planner.

You can take a bus from Hokitika to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) in 3 hours. Another option is to drive. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Thu) so you can travel to Wanaka.

Things to do in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)

Outdoors · Trails · Parks · Wildlife

Side Trips

Find places to stay Jan 25 — 27:

Wanaka

— 7 nights
Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka in the Otago region, Wanaka has become a popular ski and summer resort area, owing to its extensive views of the lake and its proximity to some of the best slopes in the country.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Roys Peak Track and Cardrona Alpine Resort. Step out of the city life by going to Mount Iron Track and Blue Pools Track. Change things up with these side-trips from Wanaka: Haast (Wharekai Te Kou & Ship Creek Walks). Spend the 1st (Tue) exploring nature at Mount Aspiring National Park. There's lots more to do: take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, experience rural life at Wanaka Lavender Farm, tour the pleasant surroundings at Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain walks, and see the world from above with a helicopter tour.

For traveler tips, ratings, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Wanaka trip maker website.

Explore your travel options from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) to Wanaka with the Route module. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Thu) early enough to travel to Oamaru.

Things to do in Wanaka

Parks · Outdoors · Trails · Tours

Side Trips

Find places to stay Jan 27 — Feb 3:

Oamaru

— 3 nights
Discover out-of-the-way places like Caroline Bay Beach and Steampunk HQ. Get in touch with nature at Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and Bushy Beach.

For traveler tips, other places to visit, and tourist information, go to the Oamaru route app.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Wanaka to Oamaru. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Sun) so you can drive to Dunedin.

Things to do in Oamaru

Parks · Outdoors · Trails · Beaches

Side Trip

Find places to stay Feb 3 — 6:

Dunedin

— 6 nights

Edinburgh of the South

With its history proudly stemming from the Scottish settlers who came here during the colonial era, Dunedin's streets are lined with well-preserved examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, while a new culture of nightlife and fine dining takes hold around them.
Family-friendly places like Penguin Place and Tunnel Beach Track will thrill your kids. Escape the urban bustle at Central Cycle Trail Co. and Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Dunedin: Nugget Point/Tokata Walks (in Balclutha) and Owaka Museum and Catlins Information Centre (in Owaka). And it doesn't end there: enjoy the sand and surf at Aramoana Beach, surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, see the interesting displays at The Dunedin Museum of Natural Mystery, and take in the local highlights with Walking tours.

To find where to stay, reviews, and other tourist information, use the Dunedin tour planner.

Traveling by car from Oamaru to Dunedin takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Sat) so you can travel to Te Anau.

Things to do in Dunedin

Outdoors · Tours · Parks · Wildlife

Side Trips

Find places to stay Feb 6 — 12:

Te Anau

— 5 nights
Set among the picturesque peaks and glacially carved fiords of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau offers those wishing to explore the park a great place to stay and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a small town in an enviable location.
Kids will enjoy Lake Te Anau and Hollyford Track. Explore hidden gems such as Routeburn Track and Kayaking & Canoeing. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Te Anau: Milford Sound (Milford sound Hwy & Homer Tunnel). On the 16th (Wed), hike the day away at Kepler Track. There's more to do: trek along The Chasm Walk.

For more things to do, other places to visit, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Te Anau online travel route builder.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Dunedin to Te Anau. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Thu) to allow time to travel to Invercargill.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks · Outdoors · Trails · Adventure

Side Trips

Find places to stay Feb 12 — 17:

Invercargill

— 3 nights
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. Bring the kids along to Southern Scenic Route and E Hayes and Sons - The World's Fastest Indian. You'll discover tucked-away gems like Shark Diving and Queens Park. Step out of Invercargill with an excursion to Otautau Gallery in Otautau--about 52 minutes away. There's still lots to do: see the interesting displays at Bill Richardson Transport World.

For reviews, traveler tips, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Invercargill online trip builder.

The Route module can help you plan travel from Te Anau to Invercargill. Finish your sightseeing early on the 20th (Sun) so you can drive to Queenstown.

Things to do in Invercargill

Outdoors · Scenic Drive · Museums · Wildlife

Side Trips

Find places to stay Feb 17 — 20:

Queenstown

— 7 nights

Shallow Bay

Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Lake Wakatipu and Arrow River. Get in touch with nature at Ben Lomond Track and Queenstown Trail. Explore Queenstown's surroundings by going to Tobins Track (in Arrowtown) and Cromwell (Cheeki Cherries & Highlands - Experience the Exceptional). Next up on the itinerary: scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, hike along Mt Crichton Loop Track, look for gifts at Outside Sports Queenstown, and see Off-Road Tours.

For other places to visit, reviews, maps, and other tourist information, use the Queenstown online vacation maker.

You can drive from Invercargill to Queenstown in 2.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 27th (Sun) early enough to catch the flight to Christchurch.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors · Parks · Tours · Trails

Side Trips

Find places to stay Feb 20 — 27:

Christchurch

— 7 nights

Garden City

Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Escape the urban bustle at Boat Tours & Water Sports and Taylors Mistake - Awaroa / Godley Head Walk. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Orana Wildlife Park and Velocity Karts. Get out of town with these interesting Christchurch side-trips: Geraldine Observatory (in Geraldine) and Fire & Ice - Gemstone Jewellery Specialists (in Akaroa). There's still lots to do: trot along with a tour on horseback, make a trip to New Regent Street, explore the activities along Avon River, and steep yourself in history at Riccarton House & Bush.

To see photos, ratings, traveler tips, and more tourist information, you can read our Christchurch tour itinerary site.

Traveling by flight from Queenstown to Christchurch takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In February, plan for daily highs up to 26°C, and evening lows to 13°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Sun) to allow time to fly back home.

Things to do in Christchurch

Parks · Outdoors · Museums · Nature

Side Trips

Find places to stay Feb 27 — Mar 6:

South Island travel guide

4.6
Bodies of Water · Entertainment Centers · Hiking Trails
Māui's Canoe
The wilder of New Zealand's two main islands, South Island offers a feast of nature in all its glory. Extensive, untouched plains connect alpine landscapes with rugged shorelines, creating a home for an abundance of animals and vegetation, on land and in the rich surrounding waters. Renowned as a window to the natural world before man (something that scores of film directors have tapped into over the years), South Island folds its cities and townships into the surrounding landscape, their populations adding something singular to the mix. On your trip to South Island, you'll witness the awe-inspiring cultural heritage of the Maori, whose art and architecture complements the developments of the colonial legacy. The result is a land of characterful buildings, rolling vineyards, and free-spirited adventure.