10 Day Southern Traverse by Campervan
The accommodationDay 1 Christchurch
Christchurch is known as the 'Garden City' for its award-winning expanse of parks and gardens. Hire a bike or stroll through the botanic gardens through the north and south Hagley Parks for a lovely day out, take a leisurely punt ride down the picturesque Avon River, and head up to Summit Road for panoramic views over the city. While in the city, don't miss a visit to the International Antarctic Centre, showcasing the grandeur of the Antarctic through sound and light shows and interactive exhibits. With an eclectic assortment of cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city, unique shopping malls and fascinating museums, art spaces, and tram and gondola rides, there is plenty to see and do.
Explore the villages and towns that surround Christchurch. North of the city lies the country town of Rangiora, just 35 minutes drive, where you will taste some of the best lamb in the country. A 20 minute drive south of Christchurch is the historic port town of Lyttelton with their bohemian vibe and great selection of cafes. Continue further south, for approximately 1.5 hours, you will arrive at the seaside village of Akaroa, with its French heritage and colonial architecture, magnificent harbour and passion for food. Make time to explore this charming village by foot, and suggest you stop at the information centre to pick up a brochure to map out your route. Take a leisurely self-guided walk through the town; see the historic cottages, stop into the museum, dine on French-inspired cuisine at a local restaurant, and sample award-winning cheese and watch it being made through a gallery window at Barrys Bay Cheese.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.Day 2 Christchurch to Greymouth (244kms)
Travel west across the Canterbury Plains and watch as the scenery changes from mountain pass to rivers, lakes and unique geological features. See the ancient limestone rock formations of Kura Tawhiti at Castle Hill, just a short walk from the road, where you can follow the track that weaves through the giant stones. A further 45-minute drive west, you will reach the small village of Arthur's Pass nestled in alpine grandeur, a popular starting point for a range of hiking trails through the Southern Alps. Close by, you can see the historic Otira rail tunnel, an epic engineering marvel through 8.5 km of rock. As you travel further west towards the coast, the landscape becomes greener with lush rainforests and dramatic wilderness.
Located north of the West Coast, Greymouth is a town with a history of jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods. Visit Shantytown Heritage Park for a history lesson of gold mining in the area, and enjoy a local brew at the famous Monteith's brewery.
Stay 1 night in Greymouth.Day 3 Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier (173kms)
The stunning Franz Josef & Fox glaciers, located only a 25-minute drive apart, are a puzzle of huge valleys of ice that extend well below the snowline, almost to the sea, and are considered to be among the most convenient glaciers in the world to visit. You can view the glaciers on heli hikes, scenic flights, and spectacular walks in their lower valleys. The best way to see and experience the glaciers are on a heli hike combining a helicopter ride and a hike through the jaw-dropping scenery. Or join a glacier valley walk to see waterfalls and ancient temperate rainforests. End your day soaking in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, set in the lush native rainforest, for absolute relaxation.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef (or Fox Glacier).Day 4 Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown (353kms)
Depart Glacier Country winding through lush forests and eventually back to the coast at Haast where you will travel over one of the most spectacular passes, the Haast Pass.
Then make your way south to the boutique town of Wanaka, a slowed-down pace of its neighbour Queenstown. Stop off in the charming town of Arrowtown, where you can learn about the area's prospecting history and visit some of the many art galleries before carrying on to Queenstown.
Stay 2 nights in Queenstown.Day 5 Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand's most prosperous resort town with an array of summer and winter activities to do from heart-racing jaw-dropping action, to soft-adventure, pure relaxation and exploring hidden gems surrounding the town. A great introduction into Queenstown is to head up to Skyline Queenstown where you can enjoy the most spectacular views over the town, lake and mountains. Travel by gondola up 450m above the town to the Skyline complex, try your hand at the gravity-fuelled luge, or enjoy a meal at their onsite restaurant. Head down to the lake's edge for a picnic, or take a leisurely scenic cruise along Lake Wakatipu by a vintage steamship, TSS Earnslaw, and stop into Walter Peak High Country Farm for lunch. A must-do experience is to head to Fergburger,Queenstown's iconic institution serving delicious burgers
The adrenaline junkies will have a plethora of action-packed activities to choose from. Take a breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons with the award-winning Shotover Jet, or jump out of an aircraft into thin air, or bungy jump or catapult from a bridge. Or, if shopping till you drop sounds better than dropping from a ledge, try the many boutiques, like pre-loved fashion boutique, The Walk In Wardrobe, plus a weekly arts & crafts market. Finish your day soaking at the Onsen Hot Pools, open day or night.Day 6 Queenstown to Te Anau (171km)
Follow the road winding around Lake Wakatipu and enjoy the scenery from lakeside vistas to the mountain ranges as you make your way to Te Anau.
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.Day 7 Te Anau
Te Anau is the gateway to the stunning Fiordland National Park with the iconic and breathtaking Milford and Doubtful sounds, easily accessible. Te Anau is home to the majestic Lake Manapouri and the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, where you travel across the beautiful Lake Te Anau and head underground to view glittering glowworms in the cave systems.Day 8 Te Anau to Dunedin (290kms)
Dunedin, often referred to as the 'Edinburgh of the South' is rich in Scottish heritage and is one of the Southern Hemisphere's best preserved Victoria and Edwardian cities. Follow the Street Art Trail for a whimsical journey, or take a trip through history at one of the museums, such as Otago Museum, or Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Visit Speights Brewery for a guided historic tour through the working brewery which has been operating since 1879, or stop in for a meal and a cold brew. A must-see is Larnach Castle, built in 1871, a well-restored Victorian grandeur, where you can tour its beautiful rooms and gardens, and if time permits, book ahead for high tea.
Get out and explore the outskirts for the city. Take a picturesque journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway as it takes you through the Central Otago hinterland and into the deep and narrow Taieri Gorge, or visit the adjacent Otago Peninsula and see the albatross sanctuary inhabited by seals, sea lions, penguins and up to 20 other species of seabird.
Stay 1 night in Dunedin.Day 9 Dunedin to Lake Tekapo (288kms)
As you make your way north to Lake Tekapo you may like to stop at the white sand beaches of Waikouati or Karitane for a stroll, or see New Zealand's native birds and reptiles at the Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary. Pass through breathtaking beaches and fascinating geology. Stop off at Moeraki to see the giant round boulders that lie across the beach, and a little further down is the Katiki Point Lighthouse, where you can see the fur seals and penguins resting.
Arrive at Lake Tekapo; picturesque by day and dazzling by night. Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. The town is located on the shores of the turquoise waters of the beautiful Lake Tekapo and faces north across the dramatic mountains of the Southern Alps. Visit the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, situated on the shores of the lake, built in 1935 and a popular spot for photos looking out to the Southern Alps over the lake. If you are lucky, you will see the natural Southern Lights, best seen between April and September, with a symphony of colour coming to life.
You will find an array of activities, whether you are visiting in summer or winter. Take a dip in the hot pools, or relax and rejuvenate with a spa treatment all year round. In summer slide down the world's largest inflatable slide, or in winter, slide across the ice skating rink and try your hand at snow tubing.
Stay 1 night in Lake Tekapo.Day 10 Lake Tekapo to Christchurch (226km)
As you make your way towards Christchurch, take your time to explore the charming towns along the way.
Stop at Geraldine where you can shop for arts & crafts, or visit famous Barkers, a store offering delicious jams, chutneys and syrups.
A little further north is the farming town of Ashburton. Museum lovers will enjoy the vintage railway, aviation and car museums, and for garden lovers, a must-see is the beautiful Trotts Garden, selected as a garden of International Significance by The Royal Institute of Horticulture.
Return your campervan to Christchurch where your journey finishes.
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