Embark on the adventure of a lifetime with our ultimate South Island road trip itinerary. Discover the rugged, breathtaking landscapes of the region, a true gem for travellers.

With campervan hire from the South Island, courtesy of Kia Ora Campers, you’re all set for an unforgettable journey through majestic landscapes, charming towns, and thrilling activities. Hop into your trusty camper and get ready to explore the wonders of the South Island on an epic road trip.

Set Off in Christchurch

Kick things off in Christchurch, a city that beautifully blends history and modernity. Wander through the vibrant street art scene, where you’ll find murals and installations that showcase the city’s creative spirit. Stroll through the lush Botanic Gardens, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, and admire the heritage architecture juxtaposed with the innovative rebuilding projects after the devastating earthquakes. With its mix of old and new, this lively city will set the tone for your South Island adventure.

Experience Sea-Side Delights in Akaroa

Just a short 1.5-hour drive from Christchurch, you’ll find the charming French-inspired town of Akaroa. Stroll along the picturesque harbour, lined with colourful buildings and cafes, and indulge in fresh seafood delicacies. If you’re feeling adventurous, join a cruise to spot the Hector’s dolphin, the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin species. These playful creatures are a delight to observe in their natural habitat.

Get Starry-Eyed at Lake Tekapo

Next up, head to the stunning Lake Tekapo, where the turquoise waters reflect the majestic Southern Alps in the distance. Be sure to visit the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, a stone church built in 1935 that offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. As the sun sets, prepare to be dazzled by the incredible starry skies. Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places in the world for stargazing.

Explore the Outdoor Playground of Wanaka

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the vibrant town of Wanaka. Take a photo at the famous Wanaka Tree, a lone willow standing in the lake, a popular Instagram spot. For a more challenging adventure, hike up Roy’s Peak, a strenuous but rewarding trail that offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, simply spend time by the lake, soaking in the serene atmosphere and enjoying the stunning natural beauty.

Pump Your Adrenaline in Queenstown

No South Island road trip would be complete without a stop in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. From bungee jumping and jet boating to skydiving, the options for adrenaline-pumping activities are endless. For a more relaxed experience, hop on the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak and enjoy the breathtaking views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. You can also take a scenic cruise on the lake, admiring the majestic mountains surrounding this town.

South Island road trip - A campervan driving down a road between two mountains

Embrace the Natural Wonders of Fiordland

Prepare to be in awe as you drive to Fiordland National Park, home to the magnificent Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Embark on a cruise and marvel at the towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, including seals, penguins, and dolphins. If you’re a keen hiker, the Milford Track offers an unforgettable multi-day journey through some of the most pristine and untouched landscapes in New Zealand.

Take in the Coastal Delights of the Catlins

Venture along the southeastern coast to the Catlins, where rugged beauty and wildlife abound. Don’t miss the iconic Nugget Point lighthouse, perched atop a dramatic headland with stunning views. Further south, explore Curio Bay, a protected marine reserve that features a fascinating petrified forest and is home to the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.

Get Amongst the History and Culture of Dunedin

Your next stop, Dunedin, is known for its strong Scottish heritage and bustling student population. Explore the striking Larnach Castle, a 19th-century mansion with a fascinating history. Stroll through the charming Octagon, the heart of the city, and discover the stunning Otago Peninsula, home to albatross colonies, rare yellow-eyed penguins, and dramatic coastal scenery.

Discover a Hiker’s Paradise at Mt. Cook

As you make your way back towards Christchurch, stop at the breathtaking Mt. Cook Village, nestled at the base of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Hike the Hooker Valley Track, a relatively easy but incredibly scenic trail that offers stunning views of the mountain’s glaciers and alpine lakes.

Reflect on Your Trip Back in Christchurch

Conclude your epic South Island road trip back in Christchurch, where you can reflect on the incredible memories and experiences you’ve had. The landscapes and adventures of the South Island will stay with you long after you’ve returned, leaving you with a deep appreciation for this remarkable region’s natural beauty and spirit.

The South Island is Waiting!

This South Island road trip itinerary gives you a taste of the region’s splendour, balancing nature, adventure, and relaxation. With your trusty Kia Ora Camper, the freedom to explore is yours; every road leads to discovery, and every stop is a chance to create lasting memories. Whether you want to pick up your motorhome hire in Queenstown or Christchurch, Kia Ora Campers can help you set off on your next adventure.