21 days in South Island Itinerary

21 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island travel route planner

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Route & dates

21 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Wellington
Fly:  2​h 15​min
1
Nelson
— 1 day
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Blenheim
— 1 night
train + Drive:  4​h
3
Hanmer Springs
— 1 night
Drive:  5​h
4
Franz Josef
— 1 night
Drive:  30​min
5
Fox Glacier
— 2 nights
bus:  4​h
6
Wanaka
— 1 night
bus:  2​h 30​min
7
Queenstown
— 3 nights
bus:  3​h 15​min
8
Te Anau
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
9
Bluff
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
10
Dunedin
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
11
Mt. Cook Village
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h
12
Lake Tekapo
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h
13
Christchurch
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h
End: Wellington

1
day
Nelson

Nelson ©
Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
On the 19th (Sun), get engrossed in the history at Nelson Provincial Museum, examine the collection at World of WearableArt & Classic Car Museum, and then stop by Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith.

To find where to stay, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, use the Nelson trip builder app .

Wellington to Nelson is an approximately 2.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or do a combination of ferry and car. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 19th (Sun) so you can go by car to Blenheim.

Things to do in Nelson

Museums Shopping
Find places to stay Apr 19 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Nelson Provincial Museum ©
Nelson Provincial Museum
Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith ©
Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith

1
night
Blenheim

Enjoy a heady holiday in Blenheim, the most populous town in the wine-growing region of Marlborough.
Start off your visit on the 20th (Mon): do a tasting at Cloudy Bay, then examine the collection at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, and then indulge your taste buds at Food & Drink.

For where to stay, traveler tips, maps, and tourist information, read our Blenheim travel route builder app .

Getting from Nelson to Blenheim by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: take a bus. Expect a daytime high around 20°C in April, and nighttime lows around 14°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Mon) early enough to travel to Hanmer Springs.

Things to do in Blenheim

Tours Wineries Museums
Find places to stay Apr 19 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Wine Tours & Tastings
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre ©
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

1
night
Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs ©
Action and relaxation are the reasons that most people head to Hanmer Springs, where natural thermal pools bubble among dramatic alpine surroundings.
Kick off your visit on the 21st (Tue): stop by The Decadent Fudge Company, view the masterpieces at Majuba Gallery, then head outdoors with Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre, and finally witness a stunning natural landmark at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.

Inspirock's itinerary builder makes planning a Hanmer Springs trip simple and quick.

Getting from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs by combination of train and car takes about 4 hours. Other options: drive. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Franz Josef.

Things to do in Hanmer Springs

Outdoors Spas Parks
Find places to stay Apr 20 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre ©
Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa ©
Majuba Gallery ©
Majuba Gallery

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.
Start off your visit on the 22nd (Wed): identify plant and animal life at West Coast Wildlife Centre, then take in the dramatic natural features at Franz Josef Glacier, then see the world from above with a helicopter tour, and finally relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas.

To find maps, more things to do, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read Franz Josef trip planner .

Drive from Hanmer Springs to Franz Josef in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 22nd (Wed) early enough to go by car to Fox Glacier.

Things to do in Franz Josef

Parks Spas Tours
Find places to stay Apr 21 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Helicopter Tours
Spas

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.
On the 23rd (Thu), take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour and then explore the striking landscape of Fox Glacier. Keep things going the next day: trek along Mount Fox Route and then enjoy the sand and surf at Gillespies Beach.

To find ratings, maps, traveler tips, and tourist information, read Fox Glacier travel route planning tool .

Fox Glacier is just a short distance from Franz Josef. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 24th (Fri) to allow time to take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Fox Glacier

Parks Outdoors Wildlife
Find places to stay Apr 22 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Fox Glacier ©
Fox Glacier
Helicopter Tours
Gillespies Beach ©
Gillespies Beach

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.
Kick off your visit on the 25th (Sat): explore the striking landscape of Mount Aspiring National Park and then contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Wanaka.

To see other places to visit, photos, maps, and other tourist information, read Wanaka route planner .

Getting from Fox Glacier to Wanaka by bus takes about 4 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Sat) to allow enough time to take a bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Wanaka

Parks Nature
Find places to stay Apr 24 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Wanaka ©
Lake Wanaka

3
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, wildlife, nature, and spas. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: have some family-friendly fun at Skyline Queenstown, push the limits with an extreme tour, contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Wakatipu, and admire the natural beauty at Queenstown Garden.

To find ratings, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Queenstown trip itinerary planner .

Getting from Wanaka to Queenstown by bus takes about 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 28th (Tue) early enough to take a bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Queenstown

Tours Parks Outdoors
Find places to stay Apr 25 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours
Speed Boats Tours

3
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.
Te Anau is known for nature, trails, nightlife, wildlife, and adventure. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: contemplate the waterfront views at Milford Sound, hike along Lake Gunn, tour the pleasant surroundings at The Chasm Walk, and identify plant and animal life at Te Anau Bird Sanctuary.

To see photos, where to stay, more things to do, and other tourist information, you can read our Te Anau trip maker app .

You can take a bus from Queenstown to Te Anau in 3.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 1st (Fri) so you can travel to Bluff.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Nature Trails

Side Trip

Lake Gunn
Find places to stay Apr 28 — May 1:
Highlights from your plan
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Kepler Track ©
Kepler Track

1
night
Bluff

Bluff ©
Bluff, previously known as Campbelltown, is a town and seaport in the Southland region, on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Start off your visit on the 2nd (Sat): head outdoors with Bluff Hill and then meet some fierce fish with a shark diving experience.

To find maps, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, refer to the Bluff tour itinerary maker .

The Route module can help you plan travel from Te Anau to Bluff. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Sat) early enough to travel to Dunedin.

Things to do in Bluff

Outdoors Tours Wildlife
Find places to stay May 1 — 2:
Highlights from your plan
Bluff Hill ©
Bluff Hill

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 3rd (Sun): contemplate the long history of Larnach Castle & Gardens, take in the exciting artwork at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, then contemplate the long history of Olveston Historic Home, then engage your brain at Otago Museum, and finally don't miss a visit to The World's Steepest Street. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: examine the collection at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, look for all kinds of wild species at The Royal Albatross Centre, and then admire the natural beauty at Dunedin Botanic Garden.

To find where to stay, photos, and tourist information, read Dunedin trip planner .

Traveling by car from Bluff to Dunedin takes 3 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 4th (Mon) early enough to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Dunedin

Museums Parks Historic Sites
Find places to stay May 2 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum ©
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
Larnach Castle & Gardens ©
Larnach Castle & Gardens
The Royal Albatross Centre ©
The Royal Albatross Centre

2
nights
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
On the 5th (Tue), head outdoors with Aoraki/Mt. Cook, then hike along Hooker Valley Track, and then stroll through Kea Point Track. On the 6th (Wed), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: tour the pleasant surroundings at Mueller Hut Route, stroll through Sealy Tarns Track, and then stroll through Glencoe Walk.

To find traveler tips, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, refer to the Mt. Cook Village online vacation planner .

Traveling by car from Dunedin to Mt. Cook Village takes 4 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Wed) 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 May 4 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Mueller Hut Route ©
Mueller Hut Route

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 7th (Thu): explore the activities along Lake Tekapo, take in the architecture and atmosphere at The Church of the Good Shepherd, then go for a walk through Mount John University Observatory, and finally take in the exciting artwork at Burkes Pass Gallery.

To find maps, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Lake Tekapo online route planner .

You can drive from Mt. Cook Village to Lake Tekapo in an hour. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Thu) early enough to drive to Christchurch.

Things to do in Lake Tekapo

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trip

Burkes Pass Gallery
Find places to stay May 6 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
The Church of the Good Shepherd ©
The Church of the Good Shepherd
Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo
Mount John University Observatory ©

2
nights
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Start off your visit on the 8th (Fri): take a memorable ride with TranzAlpine Train, see the interesting displays at International Antarctic Centre, and then pause for some photo ops at Chalice Sculpture. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: catch a ride on Christchurch Gondola, get engrossed in the history at Canterbury Museum, then admire the natural beauty at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and finally don't miss a visit to Cardboard Cathedral.

Before you visit Christchurch, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.

Traveling by car from Lake Tekapo to Christchurch takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. In May, daytime highs in Christchurch are 17°C, while nighttime lows are 5°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 9th (Sat) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Christchurch

Transportation Tours Museums
Find places to stay May 7 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Christchurch Botanic Gardens ©
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
TranzAlpine Train ©
TranzAlpine Train
Canterbury Museum ©
Canterbury Museum

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