43 days in South Island Itinerary

43 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island route planner

Plan created by another user. Make it yours

Route & dates

1
Christchurch
— 4 nights
2
Akaroa
— 3 nights
3
Kaikoura
— 2 nights
4
Blenheim
— 3 nights
5
Franz Josef
— 4 nights
6
Queenstown
— 7 nights
7
Te Anau
— 7 nights
8
Wanaka
— 4 nights
9
Lake Tekapo
— 3 nights
10
Dunedin
— 5 nights

4
nights
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
On the 19th (Sat), spend the day riding on TranzAlpine Train. The adventure continues: stroll around Christchurch Botanic Gardens, get engrossed in the history at Canterbury Museum, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, and examine the collection at International Antarctic Centre.

To find where to stay, maps, reviews, and tourist information, you can read our Christchurch trip maker website.

Oamaru to Christchurch is an approximately 3.5-hour car ride. You can also take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Christchurch can reach °C, while at night they dip to °C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 22nd (Tue) to allow time to drive to Akaroa.

Things to do in Christchurch

Transportation Parks Tours

Side Trip

Ohinetahi Garden
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Christchurch Botanic Gardens ©
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
TranzAlpine Train ©
TranzAlpine Train
Christchurch Gondola ©
Christchurch Gondola

3
nights
Akaroa

The French heritage and colonial architecture of Akaroa has broad appeal to anthropologists, historians, architects--and just about anyone with an eye for beautiful, historical buildings and a palate for fine dining.
Explore Akaroa's surroundings by going to Little River (Little River Gallery & Manderley Farm). Next up on the itinerary: take a memorable tour with Tours, admire the natural beauty at Garden of Tane, learn about winemaking at French Peak Wines, and pause for some serene contemplation at Saint Peter's Anglican Church.

For more things to do, photos, maps, and tourist information, you can read our Akaroa trip itinerary builder.

Traveling by car from Christchurch to Akaroa takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Expect a daytime high around °C in December, and nighttime lows around °C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Akaroa

Parks Historic Sites Museums

Side Trip

Little River
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Dolphin & Whale Watching
The Giants House ©
The Giants House
Little River Gallery ©
Little River Gallery

2
nights
Kaikoura

Head to the small town of Kaikoura, a humble setting from which to witness some of nature's grandest designs.
Start off your visit on the 26th (Sat): hike along Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, make a trip to Ohau Point Seal Colony, and then get interesting insight from Tours. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: relax in the rural setting at The Point Sheep Shearing Show, look for all kinds of wild species at Peninsula Seal Colony, thenget engrossed in the history at Kaikoura Museum, and finally get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour.

For photos, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, read our Kaikoura tour itinerary planner.

You can drive from Akaroa to Kaikoura in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and train; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Sun) early enough to drive to Blenheim.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Parks Outdoors Trails
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway ©
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Ohau Point Seal Colony ©
Ohau Point Seal Colony

3
nights
Blenheim

Enjoy a heady holiday in Blenheim, the most populous town in the wine-growing region of Marlborough.
Dedicate the 28th (Mon) to wine at some of the top wineries in the area. Next up on the itinerary: learn about winemaking at Cloudy Bay, head outdoors with Marlborough Aero Club, and see the interesting displays at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

To see ratings, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, read Blenheim sightseeing planner.

You can drive from Kaikoura to Blenheim in 2 hours. Other options are to take a bus; or take a train. In December in Blenheim, expect temperatures between °C during the day and °C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Wed) so you can go by car to Franz Josef.

Things to do in Blenheim

Wineries Tours Outdoors

Side Trips

Renwick, Yealands Estate Winery
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Wine Tours & Tastings
Cloudy Bay ©
Cloudy Bay
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre ©
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

4
nights
Franz Josef

Franz Josef ©
Located in the World Heritage Site that is home to its eponymous glacier, the town of Franz Josef provides a comfortable and welcoming rest spot for adventurers after a long day out on the ice.
Get out of town with these interesting Franz Josef side-trips: Fox Glacier (Minnehaha Walk & Gillespies Beach) and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) (Kea Point Track, Sealy Tarns Track, &more). The adventure continues: take in the dramatic natural features at Franz Josef Glacier, take in the pleasant sights at Tatare Tunnels Walk, take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour, and hike along Sentinel Rock Walk.

For ratings, more things to do, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the Franz Josef trip itinerary builder website.

Drive from Blenheim to Franz Josef in 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Queenstown.

Things to do in Franz Josef

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Fox Glacier, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu), Hapuka Estuary Walk
Find places to stay Dec 30 — Jan 3:
Highlights from your plan
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Fox Glacier South Side Walk ©
Fox Glacier South Side Walk
Gillespies Beach ©
Gillespies Beach

7
nights
Queenstown

Queenstown ©
Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Queenstown is known for fun & games, adventure, and wildlife. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: get your game on at Skyline Queenstown, push the limits with an extreme tour, take in nature's colorful creations at Queenstown Gardens, and take a memorable tour with Tours.

To find ratings, maps, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our Queenstown day trip tool.

You can drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown in 4.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Sun) to allow enough time to take a bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Queenstown

Parks Outdoors Tours
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Zipline

7
nights
Te Anau

Te Anau ©
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.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Te Anau: Milford Sound (Boat Tours & Water Sports & Milford sound Hwy). On the 12th (Tue), hike the day away at Hollyford Track. Spend the 13th (Wed) exploring at Doubtful Sound. There's much more to do: contemplate the waterfront views at Milford Sound, trek along Routeburn Track, stroll through The Chasm Walk, and take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour.

For reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, read Te Anau travel route tool.

Traveling by bus from Queenstown to Te Anau takes 4 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Sun) to allow time to take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, Routeburn Track
Find places to stay Jan 10 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound
Hollyford Track ©
Hollyford Track
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound

4
nights
Wanaka

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.
Spend the 19th (Tue) exploring nature at Mount Aspiring National Park. There's still lots to do: scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour, hike along Blue Pools Track, explore the activities along Lake Wanaka, and learn about winemaking at Rippon Vineyard.

To see more things to do, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, you can read our Wanaka trip itinerary planner.

You can take a bus from Te Anau to Wanaka in 6.5 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Thu) so you can catch the bus to Lake Tekapo.

Things to do in Wanaka

Parks Nature Outdoors
Find places to stay Jan 17 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Canyoning & Rappelling Tours
Mount Aspiring National Park ©
Mount Aspiring National Park
Lake Wanaka ©
Lake Wanaka

3
nights
Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo
Located in a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo offers evenings of stargazing and days of long walks.
Get out of town with these interesting Lake Tekapo side-trips: Glencoe Walk (in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)) and Mt. Cook Village (Ski The Tasman, Aoraki/Mt. Cook, &more). There's more to do: explore the activities along Lake Tekapo and take in the architecture and atmosphere at The Church of the Good Shepherd.

For where to stay, traveler tips, maps, and tourist information, read Lake Tekapo trip itinerary planner.

Getting from Wanaka to Lake Tekapo by bus takes about 4.5 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 24th (Sun) so you can go by car to Dunedin.

Things to do in Lake Tekapo

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trip

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
Find places to stay Jan 21 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Mueller Hut Route ©
Mueller Hut Route

5
nights
Dunedin

Dunedin ©
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.
Dunedin is known for wildlife, historic sites, and museums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: see the interesting displays at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, tour in style with a train tour, relax in the rural setting at Natures Wonders Naturally, and explore the historical opulence of Larnach Castle & Gardens.

For reviews, more things to do, and tourist information, go to the Dunedin day trip website.

Traveling by car from Lake Tekapo to Dunedin takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car, bus, and train; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 29th (Fri) to allow time for the car ride back home.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Wildlife Historic Sites
Find places to stay Jan 24 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
The Royal Albatross Centre ©
The Royal Albatross Centre
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum ©
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
Larnach Castle & Gardens ©
Larnach Castle & Gardens

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