55 days in South Island Itinerary

55 days in South Island Itinerary

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Route & dates

55 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Auckland
Bus + Fly:  4 h 15 min
1
Queenstown
— 8 nights
Bus:  3 h 15 min
2
Te Anau
— 8 nights
Bus:  5 h 15 min
3
Dunedin
— 5 nights
Drive:  3 h 45 min
4
Lake Tekapo
— 4 nights
Bus:  3 h 45 min
5
Wanaka
— 6 nights
Bus:  5 h 30 min
6
Franz Josef
— 5 nights
Drive:  4 h 45 min
7
Christchurch
— 6 nights
Bus:  3 h
8
Kaikoura
— 3 nights
Drive:  1 h 45 min
9
Blenheim
— 4 nights
Bus + Taxi:  1 h 45 min
10
Nelson
— 5 nights
Fly:  4 h 30 min
End: Auckland

8
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, and wildlife. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: have some family-friendly fun at Skyline Queenstown, take in nature's colorful creations at Queenstown Gardens, cruise along Glenorchy-Queenstown Road, and get interesting insight from Tours.

To see ratings, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, read Queenstown day trip planning app.

Auckland to Queenstown is an approximately 4.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or do a combination of ferry, car, and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 13th (Fri) early enough to catch the bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trip

Otago Central Rail Trail
Find places to stay Mar 5 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Boat Tours & Water Sports
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours

8
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.
Step out of Te Anau with an excursion to Boat Tours & Water Sports in Milford Sound--about 1 hour away. On the 16th (Mon), hike the day away at Hollyford Track. On the 20th (Fri), hike the day away at Dusky Track. The adventure continues: contemplate the waterfront views at Milford Sound, Head underground at Te Anau Glowworm Caves, hike along Routeburn Track, and tour the pleasant surroundings at The Chasm Walk.

To see other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, refer to the Te Anau online attractions planner.

Getting from Queenstown to Te Anau by bus takes about 3.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Sat) to allow enough time to take a bus to Dunedin.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Fiordland National Park, Boat Tours & Water Sports, Routeburn Track
Find places to stay Mar 13 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Hollyford Track ©
Hollyford Track

5
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.
Get out of town with these interesting Dunedin side-trips: Kaka Point Beach (in Kaka Point), The Lost Gypsy Gallery (in Papatowai) and Nugget Point/Tokata Walks (in Balclutha). And it doesn't end there: see the interesting displays at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, tour the old-fashioned way with a train tour, don't miss a visit to The World's Steepest Street, and explore the historical opulence of Larnach Castle & Gardens.

To find reviews, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, use the Dunedin tour planning tool.

Take a bus from Te Anau to Dunedin in 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) so you can go by car to Lake Tekapo.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Museums Wildlife

Side Trips

Nugget Point/Tokata Walks, Moeraki Boulders Beach, The Lost Gypsy Gallery, Matanaka Farm Building, Kaka Point Beach
Find places to stay Mar 21 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
The Royal Albatross Centre ©
The Royal Albatross Centre
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum ©
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
Larnach Castle & Gardens ©
Larnach Castle & Gardens

4
nights
Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo ©
Located in a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo offers evenings of stargazing and days of long walks.
Get out of town with these interesting Lake Tekapo side-trips: Glencoe Walk (in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)), Geraldine Observatory (in Geraldine) and Mt. Cook Village (Aoraki/Mt. Cook, Red Tarns Track, &more). The adventure continues: explore the activities along Lake Tekapo, take in the exciting artwork at Burkes Pass Gallery, and take in the architecture and atmosphere at The Church of the Good Shepherd.

To find photos, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, read Lake Tekapo holiday planner.

Traveling by car from Dunedin to Lake Tekapo takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train, bus, and car; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 30th (Mon) so you can take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Lake Tekapo

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu), Lake Pukaki, Burkes Pass Gallery, Geraldine Observatory
Find places to stay Mar 26 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Geraldine Observatory ©
Geraldine Observatory
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo

6
nights
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.
Wanaka is known for nature, trails, and fun & games. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: explore the activities along Lake Wanaka, take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour, get some thrills on the water with a speed boat tour, and hike along Roys Peak Track.

To find ratings, photos, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read Wanaka day trip planner.

Getting from Lake Tekapo to Wanaka by bus takes about 4 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Sun) so you can take a bus to Franz Josef.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors Parks Tours
Find places to stay Mar 30 — Apr 5:
Highlights from your plan
Roys Peak Track ©
Roys Peak Track
Lake Wanaka ©
Lake Wanaka
Mount Aspiring National Park ©
Mount Aspiring National Park

5
nights
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.
Explore Franz Josef's surroundings by going to Fox Glacier (Mount Fox Route, Minnehaha Walk, &more) and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) (Kea Point Track, Hooker Valley Track, &more). Next up on the itinerary: explore the striking landscape at Franz Josef Glacier, contemplate the long history of Church of St. James, tour the pleasant surroundings at Terrace Walk, and hike along Sentinel Rock Walk.

To find where to stay and other tourist information, read Franz Josef trip planner.

Traveling by bus from Wanaka to Franz Josef takes 5.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Fri) to allow time to drive to Christchurch.

Things to do in Franz Josef

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trips

Fox Glacier, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
Find places to stay Apr 5 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Franz Josef Glacier ©
Franz Josef Glacier
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Fox Glacier South Side Walk ©
Fox Glacier South Side Walk

6
nights
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Christchurch: Akaroa (The Giants House & Dolphin & Whale Watching) and Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa (in Hanmer Springs). Next up on the itinerary: take in nature's colorful creations at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, get to know the resident critters at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, examine the collection at Quake City, and go for a walk through Banks Peninsula.

To find ratings, reviews, other places to visit, and tourist information, read our Christchurch online trip itinerary maker.

Getting from Franz Josef to Christchurch by car takes about 5 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. In April, daily temperatures in Christchurch can reach 20°C, while at night they dip to 8°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 16th (Thu) so you can catch the bus to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Christchurch

Parks Museums Transportation

Side Trips

Akaroa, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, Ohinetahi Garden
Find places to stay Apr 10 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Christchurch Botanic Gardens ©
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
TranzAlpine Train ©
TranzAlpine Train
Canterbury Museum ©
Canterbury Museum

3
nights
Kaikoura

Head to the small town of Kaikoura, a humble setting from which to witness some of nature's grandest designs.
Kaikoura is known for wildlife, trails, and adventure. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour, look for gifts at Kaikoura Cheese, take in the exciting artwork at Art & Design Gallery, and hike along Ohau Stream Walk.

To see ratings, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the Kaikoura trip itinerary planning tool.

You can take a bus from Christchurch to Kaikoura in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or drive. Finish your sightseeing early on the 19th (Sun) to allow enough time to drive to Blenheim.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Outdoors Parks Wildlife
Find places to stay Apr 16 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway ©
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Ohau Point Seal Colony ©
Ohau Point Seal Colony

4
nights
Blenheim

Enjoy a heady holiday in Blenheim, the most populous town in the wine-growing region of Marlborough.
Change things up with these side-trips from Blenheim: Queen Charlotte Sound (in Picton) and Boat Tours & Water Sports (in Havelock). There's much more to do: awaken your taste buds at some of the top wineries in the area, do a tasting at Hunter's Wines Cellar Door & Wine Shop, steep yourself in history at Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, and walk around Pollard Park.

To find other places to visit, photos, maps, and other tourist information, read our Blenheim trip itinerary site.

You can drive from Kaikoura to Blenheim in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a bus. In April, daily temperatures in Blenheim can reach 20°C, while at night they dip to 14°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Thu) to allow time to drive to Nelson.

Things to do in Blenheim

Tours Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Picton, Boat Tours & Water Sports, Framingham Wines, Yealands Estate Winery
Find places to stay Apr 19 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Wine Tours & Tastings
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre ©
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Cloudy Bay ©
Cloudy Bay

5
nights
Nelson

Nelson ©
Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Nelson: Picton (Queen Charlotte Track & Marlborough Sounds), u-fly extreme (in Motueka) and Abel Tasman National Park (Abel Tasman Coast Track & Walking tours). The adventure continues: kick back and relax at Kaiteriteri Beach, do a tasting at Riwaka River Estate, make a trip to Centre of New Zealand, and see the interesting displays at World of WearableArt & Classic Car Museum.

For more things to do, other places to visit, reviews, and more tourist information, read Nelson trip itinerary app.

Traveling by car from Blenheim to Nelson takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 28th (Tue) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Nelson

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Abel Tasman National Park, Picton, Neudorf Vineyards, Riwaka River Estate, u-fly extreme
Find places to stay Apr 23 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Marlborough Sounds ©
Marlborough Sounds
Abel Tasman Coast Track ©
Abel Tasman Coast Track
Queen Charlotte Track ©
Queen Charlotte Track

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