12 days in South Island Itinerary

12 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island travel route planner

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Route & dates

12 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: New Plymouth
Fly:  3​h
1
Nelson
— Few hours
Bus + Train:  4​h 45​min
2
Kaikoura
— 1 night
Bus:  3​h
3
Christchurch
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h 45​min
4
Franz Josef
— 1 night
Drive:  30​min
5
Fox Glacier
— 1 night
Bus:  4​h 45​min
6
Wanaka
— 1 night
Bus:  2​h 30​min
7
Queenstown
— 2 nights
Bus:  3​h 15​min
8
Te Anau
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h 15​min
9
Mt. Cook Village
— 1 night
Drive:  1​h
10
Lake Tekapo
— 1 night
Drive + Fly:  5​h
End: New Plymouth

few
hours
Nelson

Nelson ©
Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
Kick off your visit on the 4th (Tue): see the interesting displays at World of WearableArt & Classic Car Museum and then don't miss a visit to Centre of New Zealand.

For maps and other tourist information, go to the Nelson road trip tool .

New Plymouth to Nelson is an approximately 3-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or do a combination of car and ferry. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 4th (Tue) so you can travel to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Nelson

Museums
Find places to stay Feb 4 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Centre of New Zealand ©
Centre of New Zealand

1
night
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 5th (Wed): stroll through Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, stop by Kaikoura Cheese, then get up close to creatures of the deep with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and finally stroll through Ohau Stream Walk.

To see ratings, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Kaikoura tour itinerary planning website .

Traveling by combination of bus and train from Nelson to Kaikoura takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or drive. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Wed) so you can take a bus to Christchurch.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Outdoors Trails Parks
Find places to stay Feb 4 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway ©
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Ohau Stream Walk ©
Ohau Stream Walk

1
night
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Kick off your visit on the 6th (Thu): enjoy the views from TranzAlpine Train and then take in nature's colorful creations at Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

To see photos, other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, refer to the Christchurch vacation maker site .

Take a bus from Kaikoura to Christchurch in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or drive. In February, daily temperatures in Christchurch can reach 26°C, while at night they dip to 13°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Thu) so you can drive to Franz Josef.

Things to do in Christchurch

Tours Transportation Parks
Find places to stay Feb 5 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Christchurch Botanic Gardens ©
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
TranzAlpine Train ©
TranzAlpine Train

1
night
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.
Kick off your visit on the 7th (Fri): identify plant and animal life at West Coast Wildlife Centre, take in the dramatic natural features at Franz Josef Glacier, then see the world from above with a helicopter tour, and finally indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas.

For maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Franz Josef route planner .

Getting from Christchurch to Franz Josef by car takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of flight and bus; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 7th (Fri) so you can go by car to Fox Glacier.

Things to do in Franz Josef

Parks Tours Spas
Find places to stay Feb 6 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Helicopter Tours
West Coast Wildlife Centre ©
West Coast Wildlife Centre

1
night
Fox Glacier

A trip to Fox Glacier brings you close to one of New Zealand's most easily accessible natural wonders.
Kick off your visit on the 8th (Sat): explore the striking landscape of Fox Glacier and then see the world from above with a helicopter tour.

For traveler tips, where to stay, more things to do, and tourist information, refer to the Fox Glacier vacation planning website .

Fox Glacier is very close to Franz Josef. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Sat) so you can take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Fox Glacier

Tours
Find places to stay Feb 7 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Helicopter Tours

1
night
Wanaka

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.
On the 9th (Sun), tour the pleasant surroundings at Wanaka, have some family-friendly fun at Puzzling World, and then contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Wanaka.

To find more things to do, where to stay, reviews, and other tourist information, refer to the Wanaka trip itinerary planner.

Traveling by bus from Fox Glacier to Wanaka takes 5 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 9th (Sun) so you can catcht the bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Wanaka

Parks Nature Outdoors
Find places to stay Feb 8 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Wanaka ©
Lake Wanaka
Puzzling World ©
Puzzling World
Wanaka ©
Wanaka

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 10th (Mon): don't miss a visit to Fallen Soldiers Memorial, take a memorable tour with Tours, then indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas, and finally kick your exploration up a notch at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks. Here are some ideas for day two: get interesting insight from Tours, stop by Wilson Gallery, then have some family-friendly fun at Fear Factory Queenstown, and finally get your game on at Skyline Queenstown.

To see reviews, ratings, more things to do, and more tourist information, go to the Queenstown trip planner .

You can take a bus from Wanaka to Queenstown in 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 11th (Tue) early enough to take a bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Queenstown

Tours Outdoors Fun & Games
Find places to stay Feb 9 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Zipline

2
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.
Start off your visit on the 12th (Wed): hike along The Chasm Walk, then explore the activities along Milford Sound, and then hike along Lake Gunn. Keep things going the next day: explore the fascinating underground world of Te Anau Glowworm Caves and then look for all kinds of wild species at Doubtful Sound.

For ratings, where to stay, maps, and tourist information, read our Te Anau itinerary builder .

Traveling by bus from Queenstown to Te Anau takes 3.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trip

Lake Gunn
Find places to stay Feb 11 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Te Anau Glowworm Caves ©
Te Anau Glowworm Caves

1
night
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
Kick off your visit on the 14th (Fri): head outdoors with Aoraki/Mt. Cook, then trek along Hooker Valley Track, and then hike along Kea Point Track.

Plan my trip to Mt. Cook Village with suggested itineraries provided by Inspirock.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Te Anau to Mt. Cook Village. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 14th (Fri) early enough to drive to Lake Tekapo.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Outdoors Trails Parks

Side Trip

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
Find places to stay Feb 13 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Kea Point Track ©
Kea Point Track

1
night
Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo
Located in a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo offers evenings of stargazing and days of long walks.
Kick off your visit on the 15th (Sat): identify plant and animal life at Gem Alpaca Stud, then pause for some serene contemplation at The Church of the Good Shepherd, then take in the pleasant sights at Mount John University Observatory, and finally explore the activities along Lake Tekapo.

Ask Inspirock to suggest an itinerary and make planning a trip to Lake Tekapo fast, fun, and easy.

Getting from Mt. Cook Village to Lake Tekapo by car takes about an hour. Cap off your sightseeing on the 15th (Sat) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Lake Tekapo

Parks Historic Sites Nature

Side Trip

Gem Alpaca Stud
Find places to stay Feb 14 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo
The Church of the Good Shepherd ©
The Church of the Good Shepherd
Mount John University Observatory ©
Mount John University Observatory

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