a 6 day road trip itinerary for new zealand's south island

We recently got back from spending Christmas week 2018 in New Zealand. We decided to spend 6 days road tripping and exploring the country's South Island, since we visited the North Island in March (don’t miss my post on Rotorua!) Known as the adventure capital of the world, we knew NZ was popular for adrenaline, beautiful scenery, and outdoorsy things to do, but we really had no reality of the beauty we were about to see.

new zealand 6 day road trip

ONSEN Hot Pools - Queenstown, NZ

I've never been anywhere more beautiful. There are no words or photos that can do this place the justice it deserves. It's a truly jaw-dropping beauty that you may see here or there in another country, but the ENTIRE country is this way. We spent 6 days driving all over the South Island and it was shocking how each drive (THE ENTIRE WAY EVERY TIME) was more stunning than the next. There wasn't a single spot that wasn't beautiful. How is this country such a gem?

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Roy's Peak Track - Wanaka, New Zealand

If you're looking to visit, I included our 6 day itinerary below, but I also offer my exact itinerary available for you to view right within your Google Maps app! It offers the exact route, as well as things to do & spots to eat or drink along the tours. Trust me - it’s so convenient to be able to pop up your map app when you’re hungry on a road trip & easily figure out what’s coming up! If you’re not a google map fan, you can always save the map as a pdf on your phone or print it to take with you! You can find my curated South Island, New Zealand Map here.

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I'd really recommend doing a round trip campervan, which you'll need a few extra days for. Since we both work full time, and have limited time off, we only had 6 days to allocate to this trip and did a one way route, flying into Christchurch and out of Queenstown. Because it was a one way trip, it was significantly cheaper to do a rental car + combination of Airbnb's & hotels. If you have more time, look into a campervan, which gives you a lot more flexibility on when you can stop and more creativity on places to sleep (some pretty damn scenic spots!!)


Here are the places we spent time in:


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We really liked Christchurch, although you don’t need much time there unless you have extra to spend. We got in late and only spent a night and a half day there, and it seemed to be enough. We were really surprised how much of a family oriented town it was - lots of little families roaming around. There’s some cool cafes, a cute cable car steeet (which reminded me of San Francisco!) and beautiful parks. I’d recommend spending a morning walking around there before the 4-5 hour drive to Franz Josef! You can also rent Lime scooters (pay by app) that are conveniently all over the city!


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