15 days in South Island Itinerary

15 days in South Island Itinerary

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15 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Christchurch
Fly:  3​h
1
Queenstown
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 30​min
2
Invercargill
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
3
Dunedin
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h
4
Mt. Cook Village
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
5
Wanaka
— 2 nights
bus:  4​h
6
Fox Glacier
— 2 nights
Drive:  7​h
7
Kaikoura
— 1 night
bus:  3​h
8
Christchurch
— 4 nights
End: Christchurch

1
night
Queenstown

Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Sun): look for all kinds of wild species at Kiwi Birdlife Park, then pause for some photo ops at William Gilbert Rees Statue, then skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour, and finally take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports. Here are some ideas for day two: whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, explore the landscape on two wheels at Queenstown Trail, then grab your bike and head to Lake Hayes Walkway, and finally do a tasting at Amisfield Winery.

To see other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, refer to the Queenstown trip builder .

Christchurch to Queenstown is an approximately 3-hour flight. You can also drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) so you can drive to Invercargill.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trip

Lake Hayes Walkway
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Fishing Charters & Tours
Lake Hayes Walkway ©
Lake Hayes Walkway
Zipline

1
night
Invercargill

Invercargill ©
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. Start off your visit on the 24th (Tue): enjoy the sand and surf at Oreti Beach, tour the pleasant surroundings at Rakiura Rides, then contemplate the long history of Demolition World, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at Curio Bay Natural Heritage Centre.

To see traveler tips, maps, other places to visit, and other tourist information, use the Invercargill trip planning website .

Drive from Queenstown to Invercargill in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) to allow enough time to travel to Dunedin.

Things to do in Invercargill

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trip

Curio Bay Natural Heritage Centre
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Rakiura Rides ©
Rakiura Rides
Demolition World ©
Demolition World

2
nights
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.
Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, tour the pleasant surroundings at Aramoana Beach, then identify plant and animal life at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and finally identify plant and animal life at Shag Point Nature Reserve. On the 26th (Thu), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: kick back and relax at St Clair Beach, see the interesting displays at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, then take in the architecture and atmosphere at First Church of Otago, then look for gifts at Happy Hens, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at The Royal Albatross Centre.

To see more things to do, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Dunedin trip itinerary planner .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Invercargill to Dunedin. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) early enough to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Wildlife Outdoors

Side Trip

Shag Point Nature Reserve
Find places to stay Dec 24 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Orokonui Ecosanctuary ©
Orokonui Ecosanctuary
Aramoana Beach ©
Aramoana Beach

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 27th (Fri): get outside with Aoraki/Mt. Cook, hike along Hooker Valley Track, stroll through Red Tarns Track, then look and learn at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, and finally hike along Glencoe Walk.

For photos, more things to do, traveler tips, and other tourist information, go to the Mt. Cook Village travel planning site .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Dunedin to Mt. Cook Village. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 27th (Fri) so you can travel to Wanaka.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trip

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre ©
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

2
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.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Sat): tour the pleasant surroundings at Isthmus Peak Track, then see the interesting displays at The World of Deer Museum & Speciality Shop, then get outside with Oxbow The Adventure Co., and finally cast your line with a fishing tour. On your second day here, hike along Roys Peak Track, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Rob Roy Track, and then identify plant and animal life at Roys Bay Recreational Reserve.

To see where to stay, traveler tips, photos, and more tourist information, read Wanaka road trip site .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Mt. Cook Village to Wanaka. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Sun) early enough to take a bus to Fox Glacier.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors Parks Trails
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Fishing Charters & Tours
Roys Peak Track ©
Roys Peak Track

2
nights
Fox Glacier

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 30th (Mon): take in the awesome beauty at Fox Glacier, trek along Fox Glacier Te Moeka o Tuawe Valley Walk, trek along Minnehaha Walk, then explore the striking landscape at Franz Josef Glacier, and finally look for all kinds of wild species at West Coast Wildlife Centre. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 31st (Tue): go for a walk through Callery Gorge Walk, then trek along Peters Pool Walk, then hike along Sentinel Rock Walk, and finally stroll through Roberts Point Track.

To see other places to visit, traveler tips, maps, and more tourist information, use the Fox Glacier trip planner.

Getting from Wanaka to Fox Glacier by bus takes about 4 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) so you can go by car to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Fox Glacier

Parks Trails Outdoors

Side Trip

Franz Josef
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Fox Glacier ©
Fox Glacier
West Coast Wildlife Centre ©
West Coast Wildlife Centre

1
night
Kaikoura

Head to the small town of Kaikoura, a humble setting from which to witness some of nature's grandest designs.
Kick off your visit on the 1st (Wed): get interesting insight from Tours, get engrossed in the history at Kaikoura Museum, trek along Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, then see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and finally look for gifts at Kaikoura Cheese.

To see reviews, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the Kaikoura travel itinerary planner .

You can drive from Fox Glacier to Kaikoura in 7 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus, flight, and train; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) early enough to take a bus to Christchurch.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Outdoors Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 1:
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway ©
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

4
nights
Christchurch

Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Port Hills and Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities. Get in touch with nature at River Rafting & Tubing and Kayaking & Canoeing. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Christchurch: Akaroa (Hinewai Reserve & Dolphin & Whale Watching). And it doesn't end there: stroll through Sumner Beach (Cave Rock), appreciate the history behind Chalice Sculpture, contemplate the long history of Taylors Mistake - Awaroa / Godley Head Walk, and identify plant and animal life at Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area.

To find other places to visit, where to stay, reviews, and more tourist information, you can read our Christchurch trip planner .

You can take a bus from Kaikoura to Christchurch in 3 hours. Other options are to take a train; or drive. Expect a daytime high around 26°C in January, and nighttime lows around 13°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 5th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Christchurch

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trips

Akaroa, Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Kayaking & Canoeing
River Rafting & Tubing
Dolphin & Whale Watching

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