My husband and I strive to take one “big” trip a year. The two of us, for two weeks, taking on the world. We recently decided to focus our upcoming travels around more adventurous destinations – while we’re still relatively young and unencumbered. After batting around a few ideas, we settled on New Zealand, and specifically, the South Island, for this year’s journey. To make it even more interesting, we traveled around the country by campervan, staying at various “holiday parks” along the way.
In planning our itinerary, we knew we wanted to take advantage of the country’s magnificent outdoors with some extended hiking and day trips. With only two weeks, we also wanted to use our time wisely – see as much as possible but be able to enjoy the places we visited instead of running from town to town.
We developed a rather compact itinerary that allowed us to hit-up most of the island’s “must-see’s/do’s” at a fairly leisurely pace. Traveling from Christchurch, we went west and then down the coast through the glacier towns, before heading over to Lake Wanaka and wine country in route to Queenstown. From Queenstown, we headed north through the central region to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, returning to Christchurch.
Our final itinerary was as follows:
- Day 1 – Arrive in Christchurch
- Day 2 – Drive to Franz Josef
- Day 3 – Hike Fox Glacier
- Day 4 – Drive to Lake Wanaka
- Day 5 – Lake Wanaka
- Day 6 – Lunch in wine country / Drive to Queenstown
- Day 7 – Depart from Queenstown for Routeburn Track
- Day 8 – Routeburn Track
- Day 9 – Routeburn Track
- Day 10 – Routeburn Track / Milford Sound Cruise / Return to Queenstown
- Day 11 – Queenstown
- Day 12 – Drive to Mt. Cook
- Day 13 – Drive to Lake Tekapo
- Day 14 – Depart Lake Tekapo / Fly out from Christchurch
Our longest day of driving was five hours, and we made frequent stops and saw beautiful scenery along the way. We traveled in late March/early April, which was early autumn in New Zealand. While we missed the lupins, the weather was warmer than we expected and we had very little rain.
Of course, we would have loved to stay longer and see more, but by maximizing our stay in areas catering to our interests, we were able to get the most out of our trip.
How do you plan your travels when time is limited? If you have visited the South Island, how was your trip different from/similar to ours?