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4 Week New Zealand South Island Itinerary

This 4-week itinerary will take you to the South Island of New Zealand‘s premier hiking destinations, famous wine regions, and charming historical towns.

For those arriving on the South Island via the Interislander ferry, this will be a perfect plan to follow. If you’re arriving in Christchurch or Queenstown, you can easily re-work this route based on your starting point.

We traveled through New Zeland with an NSC (non self-contained) campervan from mid-January to mid-April (Summer, Autumn). This itinerary is closely based on what we did, though we lingered in some places longer due to bad weather.

For each day, we’ve outlined our favorite things to do and see, including hikes, wineries and places to eat.

We’ve also included where to stay, whether you’re camping, backpacking, or staying in hotels.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary, Road Trip Itinerary, New Zealand South Island

4-Week New Zealand South Island Itinerary

  • Day 1: Marlborough Wine Region
  • Days 2-4: Nelson Lakes National Park
  • Day 5: Hanmer Springs
  • Day 6: Waipara Valley Wine Region
  • Days 7-9: Mount Cook National Park
  • Days 10-15: Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Day 16: Central Otago Wine Region
  • Days 17-19: Milford Sound & Fiordland
  • Days 20-23: Queenstown & Around
  • Days 24-26: Haast Pass & West Coast
  • Day 27: Arthur’s Pass & Castle Hill
  • Days 28-29: Banks Peninsula
  • Day 30: Christchurch

  • 1 Night in Marlborough Wine Region
  • 3 Nights in Nelson Lakes National Park
  • 1 Night in Hanmer Springs
  • 1 Night in Waipara Valley Wine Region
  • 3 Nights in Mount Cook National Park
  • 6 Nights in Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park
  • 1 Night in Central Otago Wine Region
  • 2 Nights in Milford Sound & Fiordland
  • 4 Nights in Queenstown & Around
  • 3 Nights in Haast Pass & West Coast
  • 1 Night in Arthur’s Pass & Castle Hill
  • 2 Nights in Banks Peninsula
  • 1 Night in Christchurch

How to Book this New Zealand South Island Travel Itinerary: 29 Nights / 30 Days


Book 1 Night in Marlborough Wine Region | Renwick Domain Carpark (camping), Spring Creek Holiday Park (budget), Falcon’s Rise Alpaca Farm (midrange), or Chateau Marlborough (luxury

Book 3 Nights in Nelson Lakes National Park | Teetotal Campsite (camping), Wairau Pass B&B (budget), Avarest Bed & Breakfast (midrange), or The Woodsman’s Den (luxury)

Book 1 Night in Hanmer Springs | Drifters Inn (budget),  8 on Oregon (midrange), or The St James Premium Accommodation (luxury)

Book 1 Night in Waipara Valley Wine Region | Waipara Sleepers Motor Camp (camping), Montreal St Stay (budget), Barbs Place (midrange), or Black Estate B & B (luxury)

Book 3 Nights in Mount Cook National Park | White Horse Hill Campground (camping), Haka House Aoraki Mt Cook (budget), Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge (midrange), or Aoraki Court Motel (luxury)

Book 6 Nights in Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park | The Camp – Lake Hawea (camping), YHA Wanaka (budget), or Edgewater (luxury)

Book 1 Night in Central Otago Wine Region | Hampshire Holiday Parks – Arrowtown (camping), 1220 Gibbston Lodge (budget-midrange), or Arrowtown Lodge (luxury)

Book 2 Nights in Milford Sound & Fiordland | Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park (camping), YHA Te Anau (budget), Bella Vista Motel Te Anau (midrange), or Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments (luxury)

Book 4 Nights in Queenstown & Around | Twelve Mile Delta Campsite (camping), Adventure Q2 Hostel (budget), Mi-pad Smart Hotel  (midrange), or The Dairy Private Hotel (luxury)

Book 3 Nights in Haast Pass & West Coast | Haka House Franz Josef (budget), Aspen Court Franz Josef (midrange), or Rainforest Retreat (luxury)

Book 1 Night in Arthur’s Pass & Castle Hill | Springfield Motel and Lodge (budget-midrange), or Porters Lodge (midrange)

Book 2 Nights in Banks Peninsula | Halfmoon Cottage (budget), Akaroa Village Inn (midrange), or French Bay House (luxury)

Book 1 Night in Christchurch | Coes Ford (camping), Hotel Give (budget), Distinction Christchurch Hotel (midrange), or The Observatory Hotel Christchurch (luxury)

Car Rental

We recommend using the car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in New Zealand. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.

Check car rental rates here.

Spy Valley Cellar Door, Wine Tasting in NZ, New Zealand South Island

Day 1: Marlborough Wine Region

Getting to Marlborough

Our New Zealand North Island itinerary begins in Marlborough. If you’re coming from the North Island, take the Picton Interislander ferry to the South Island. When you arrive at the ferry terminal, it’s a 25-minute drive to the middle of Marlborough wine country.

For those that are flying to the South Island, it’s a long journey (4:30 hours) up to Marlborough. From Christchurch (airport), we recommend driving the Kaikoura Coast up and then following this itinerary as is. Quick Summary:

From the Picton Interislander Terminal, it’s a 25-minute drive to Blenheim.

From Christchurch, it’s a 4-hour 40-minute drive to Blenheim via the Pacific coastal route (Kaikoura Coast). If you’re coming from Christchurch, you can take the coastal route up, and follow the itinerary as is.

Marlborough – New Zealand’s most celebrated Wine Region

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest and most well-known wine region. With an international reputation for sauvignon blanc, Marlborough delivers that and so much more.

Many winemakers are challenging the region’s reputation by producing interesting varietals that don’t reflect the somewhat aggressive standard.

We recommend seeking out small, family-owned wineries during your visit to Marlborough. They’ll offer insight into the making and philosophy behind their wines.

Most of the open cellar doors are concentrated in and between the towns of Renwick and Blenheim. Pop into the i-Site in Blenheim to grab a wine trail map.

Cellar doors are usually open between 10:30 a.m. (or 11:00 a.m.) and 4:30 p.m. (5:00 p.m.). Note: winter hours are generally shorter than summer hours.

Cellar Doors to Visit in Marlborough

Gibson Bridge Vineyard | Boutique family-owned vineyard located in Renwick. They’re passionate about what they do and it shows. Their wines will surprise your palate. They don’t add sugar or sulfites. 

Bladen Wines | A glass of their 2017 Gewürztraminer in Palmerston North led us to this family-owned winery. Established in 1989, they have the oldest Pinot Gris vines in the area. 

Spy Valley Wines | a Successful family-owned winery. Though they’re a larger producer, they still make excellent wines. We love their aromatics, especially their Pinot Gris. Excellent cellar door experience – thorough and educational.

If you have more time in Marlborough, or if you can drink more than us, here are a few other tasting rooms to visit: Te Whare Ra, Framingham, Forrest, Huia,  Whitehaven, Saint Clair, Wither Hills, Fromm, and Brancott Estate.  

Marlborough Wineries with Food

Rock Ferry Cellar Door & Cafe | Standout wines. We came here for lunch. The atmosphere is lovely. The food is good, but not great, though it strives to be. 

Wairau River Wines | Our tastebuds were useless by the time we hopped in here, so our opinion is useless. This is a popular winery for lunch. Make sure to make a reservation. 

Brancott Estate Cellar Door & Restaurant | Restaurant is open for lunch.

Giesen Wines | Grab a platter and a glass of wine and enjoy it in their sunny courtyard.

Hans Herzog Estate | Bistro and Gourmet restaurant.

Wither Hills | Restaurant open for lunch. They have platters and mains. Drink wine next to a fireplace.

Stay in Blenheim, or Renwick

Camping | Renwick Domain Carpark – There are only 10 free camping spots available at this site. Facilities are minimal, but it’s a good location. This is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.

Budget | Spring Creek Holiday Park (Blenheim) – If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on accommodation while in New Zealand, this is the place for you. You can expect clean rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and friendly staff.

Midrange | Falcon’s Rise Alpaca Farm (Renwick) – This farm guesthouse is located close to many wineries. Falcon’s Rise features a farm tour and free bicycles. A delicious breakfast is included in the room rate.

Luxury | Chateau Marlborough (Blenheim) – Located just 30-minutes from Pickton Ferry Terminal, this boutique-style hotel spoils guests with spacious rooms, great service (tours to the wine region available!), a wine bar, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center. Tasty breakfast and dinner are available.

Look for accommodation in Marlborough.

Nelson Lakes National Park Hiking Trail, New Zealand South Island

Days 2-4: Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is our favorite hiking destination in New Zealand.

You can hike around lakes, through beech forest, on mountain ridges, and to mountain huts. The landscape reminded us of both Norway and the Dolomites.

Hike Ridges in Nelson Lakes National Park

St. Arnaud Range Track (Day Hike) | The St. Arnaud Range Track was a bit difficult for us after wine tasting the day before, but worth every step. After two hours of hiking through dense beech forest, you’ll reach the bushline. The views of Lake Rotoiti are deeply satisfying, but once you reach the ridge, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful the other side is. You’ll see tarns and peaks in every direction. Trailhead: Eastern corner of Kerr Bay, on the edge of Lake Rotoiti in St Arnaud. 

Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut (Overnight Hike) | After hiking the appropriately named Pinchgut trail, you’ll follow a poled route along Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut. From the ridge, you’ll see a mountain hut perfectly situated by Lake Angelus. This is a fair-weather hike. We experienced both excellent and brutal (gale force winds) weather along the ridge. In high season, you should book this hut in advance. 

Where to Eat in Nelson Lakes

Alpine Lodge in St. Arnaud – This might be your only option, but it’s a good option. We ate dinner here twice. If you arrive before their kitchen opens (5:30 p.m.), you can grab a glass of wine or beer and lounge around.

Stay in St. Arnaud

Camping | Teetotal Campsite is a large campsite, suitable for NSC and SC vehicles. There’s only one dry toilet on site. For showers, head to West Bay Campsite on Lake Rotoiti. You can buy a shower token from the DOC Visitor Center.

Budget | Wairau Pass B&B is a quaint and hospitable bed and breakfast with a shared kitchen and living room with a fireplace, a garden, and a terrace. Dinner is available upon request.

Midrange | Avarest Bed & Breakfast is a welcoming B&B in Nelson Lakes National Park, a mere 2-minute walk from Lake Rotoiti. Guests have free use of the BBQ facilities, shared lounge area, terrace, and laundry room.

Luxury | The Woodsman’s Den is a 2-bedroom private guesthouse in Saint Arnaud. During your stay, you can wander around the 10-acre property, collect your own organic free-range eggs and seasonal vegetables, dip in the hot tub, and rest by the fireplace.

Look for accommodation in Saint Arnaud.

New Zealand Sheep, New Zealand South Island

Day 5: Hanmer Springs

Day 5 of your New Zealand South Island itinerary is all about relaxing and pampering yourself. Head to the resort town of Hanmer Springs for thermal pools, saunas, and massage.

To get here, you’ll drive along Maruia River on the Lewis Pass Highway. If your legs aren’t as tired as ours were, you could hike the Lewis Pass Tops Track (something we wanted to do), which climbs through the beech forest to the ridge crest.

The hike starts from an inconspicuous car park off the highway close to the Lewis Pass summit (not too far from the St. James Walkway car park).

Soak in Hot Springs

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools – There are a number of pools of varying sizes, temperatures, and mineral composition. For an additional amount, you can get a private sauna, or private pool for 30, or 60 minutes. There’s also an area that caters to children as well as an on-site cafe. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience here. 

Stay in Hanmer Springs

Camping | There are several campgrounds and holiday parks in Hanmer Springs, including Alpine Holiday Apartment & Campground, Hanmer Springs Top 10 Holiday Park, and Pines Holiday Park. We ended up driving to Culverden and stayed at the Culverden Domain Camping Ground.

Budget | Drifters Inn – This hotel offers nice rooms with access to a guest lounge. It is located just 80 meters away from the Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve.

Midrange | 8 on Oregon – This boutique-style lodge is just 10 minutes walk away from the town center of Hanmer Springs. You’ll love the location and the panoramic views. If you want peace, this is the place for you. Breakfast is included in the room rate!

Luxury | The St James Premium Accommodation – This fantastic luxury accommodation features rooms with a heated floor, a spa bath, very comfortable beds, lovely views, friendly staff, a DVD library, and the free use of towels for the thermal pools.

Look for accommodation in Hanmer Springs.

Black Estate, Waipara Wine Region, Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand South Island

Day 6: Waipara Valley Wine Region

Waipara is a fun wine region obsessed with making pinot noir. Though tiny in comparison to Marlborough, there’s plenty to taste here.

We had an amazing day twirling between cellar doors and learning about terroir wines.

Wine Tasting in Waipara

Black Estate Wines | Passionate winemakers. We’re sad we didn’t get to try out the adjoined restaurant, but the cellar door made up for it. They have several vineyards in the region. If you want to taste how soil composition impacts the expression of wine, come here.

Greystone Wines  | Incredible organic wines. 

Pegasus Bay | We did a wine tasting here followed by lunch. Excellent cuisine!

Other cellar doors to visit | Waipara Springs and Terrace Edge. 

Stay in Waipara, or Christchurch

Camping | Waipara Sleepers Motor Camp

Budget | Montreal St Stay – This budget homestay is located right in the heart of Christchurch. The room features a private bathroom, a flat-screen tv, and air conditioning.

Midrange | Barbs Place – The location of Barbs Place will make it easy to visit nearby wineries. Breakfast and dinner available on demand.

Luxury | If you want to stay in a winery, you can. Black Estate has a deluxe studio and Greystone offers a holiday home.

Look for accommodation in Waipara.

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand - Best Hikes in New Zealand

Days 7-9: Mount Cook National Park

The drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook is 4:30 hours. There are many opportunities to get out of your car and enjoy the scenery. Here’s what we suggest:

Scenic Drive to Mount Cook

Lunch in Geraldine | The cheese and pickle capital of New Zealand. We ate in the garden cafe Verde. It was good (not exceptional). Check out the Talbot Forest Cheese shop and Barker’s (preserves), before continuing your journey.

Lake Tekapo and Church of the Good Shepherd (1935)

Lake Pukaki | Stop at Peter’s lookout for an excellent view of Mount Cook. You’ll drive along this milky turquoise-colored lake on your way to Mount Cook. 

New Zealand Alpine Lavender | organic lavender farm. They sell lavender ice cream and other treats.

If you still have some extra time before dinner, you could hike to the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake or hike the Hooker Valley Track. If you hike the latter, there will be a lot of people on the trail.

Hike in Mount Cook National Park

There are lots of ways to enjoy Mount Cook National Park. This is one of the South Island’s most popular destinations, so we recommend booking accommodations in advance and waking up early to enjoy well-traveled trails such as Hooker Valley.

Here are three ways you can plan your trip to Mount Cook:

Hike to Mueller Hut and stay the night in the hut. Make sure to book the hut in advance. Hike down the next day and grab lunch at the Mountaineer’s Cafe (This is what we did). Note: The Mueller Hut track is considered intermediate-advanced tramping.

Hike the Hooker Valley track (3 hours return/round-trip) in the morning (before it gets too crowded). Eat lunch at the Mountaineer’s Cafe and check out the Tasman Glacier Lake (1-hour return) in the afternoon. The next day, you can hike to Sealy Tarns (or Mueller if you’re ambitious).

Hike to Sealy Tarns (halfway to Mueller Hut) in the morning (4 hours return). Eat lunch and head to Tasman Glacier Lake. Spend the night in Mount Cook NP.  Hike the Hooker Valley Track the next morning.

Learn more | Best Hikes in New Zealand

Stay in Mount Cook National Park

Camping | White Horse Hill Campground is located directly at the Hooker Valley trailhead. This campground is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.

Budget | Haka House Aoraki Mt Cook

Midrange | Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge is a comfortable and friendly accommodation in Mount Cook Village. Guests loved the mountain views, location, and the shared kitchen.

Midrange | Aoraki Court Motel is a modern, apartment-style accommodation in Mount Cook Village, ideal for couples and families. Each unit has a kitchenette.

Look for accommodation in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Roys Peak, Wanaka

Days 10-15: Wanaka & Around

Wanaka is a mellow, but cheerful lakeside town surrounded by mountains. Base yourself here for a few days, so that you can fully enjoy everything this town and the surrounding region has to offer.

We’ve allocated five days to Wanaka because we’re hoping you’ll head to West Matukituki Valley in Mount Aspiring National Park.

What to See & Do in Wanaka

Rippon Winery | From the middle of town, walk along the lake to that Wanaka Tree. After passing the tree, look for a sign to Rippon. The winery offers free tastings and arguably the best vineyard views in NZ. 

Cinema Paradiso | This wacky licensed movie theater offers food and drink before and during the movie. During intermission, you can pick up refreshments, or their famous freshly baked cookies. 

Hike Roy’s Peak | One of NZ’s most popular hiking trails. The views don’t disappoint. It’s a steep track, but not difficult.

Hike Isthmus Peak | Far less popular than Roys Peak (for no good reason), the Isthmus Peak traverses farmland with views of Lake Hāwea. When you get up on the ridge, you’ll have 360-degree views of both Hawea and Lake Wanaka. We hiked here in late March to the sound of rutting stags and the smell of mountain goats. 

Where to Eat & Drink in Wanaka

Francesca’s Italian Kitchen | pizza, pizza, divine pizza.

Cork Bar | small wine bar. 

Alchemy | spacious café serving excellent coffee and baked goods.

Kai Whakapai | scrumptious breakfast and lunch café. 

Hike in West Matukituki Valley, Mount Aspiring National Park

The trailhead for the West Matukituki Valley trails is Raspberry Creek car park, an hour drive from Wanaka. The drive to the car park is difficult to impossible depending on rainfall.

We had to park 3 km from the trailhead because the fords were too deep to cross. But, without rain, it’s no problem. Here are some hiking options:

Rob Roy Glacier Track | Day Hike (Intermediate Tramp)

Mount Aspiring Hut | Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Moderate Tramp)

Liverpool Hut | Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp)

French Ridge Hut | Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp) 

We wrote about these hikes in our New Zealand Hiking Guide.

Stay in Wanaka

Camping | The Camp – Lake Hawea has showers, laundry facilities, and an on-site bar and restaurant.

Budget | YHA Wanaka is a clean and comfortable backpackers’ hostel set in a great location, close to the lake. Guests love the staff, the well-stocked kitchen, communal lounge and dining area, and the rooms. Double rooms available.

Luxury | Edgewater is situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka. The hotel’s restaurant and café are open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to their seasonal menus, they bake 6 different scones daily and offer Sunday Roast and High Tea, by arrangement. The hotel facilities include a spa, two all-weather tennis courts, a 9 hole putting green, a children’s playground, and a Pétanque.

Look for accommodation in Wanaka.

Wild Earth, Central Otago Wine Region, NZ South Island Itinerary

Day 16: Central Otago and Gibbston Valley Wine Regions

After some epic hikes in and around Wanaka, it’s time to wine and dine. Your New Zealand South Island itinerary will take you to the wine region Central Otago.

Today, you’ll have a chance to taste the region’s specialty – pinot noir – as well as dine in one of New Zealand’s finest winery restaurants.

Wine Tasting in Central Otago

Mount Difficulty | The views are phenomenal, but the tasting room is busy. We didn’t get a lot of information about the wines. There’s an on-site restaurant. 

Wild Earth | Winery and Restaurant. Memorable culinary experience. Their signature food & wine pairing tray is excellent. Their food is steamed, baked, grilled, and smoked in retired French oak Pinot Noir wine barrels. And their wines were superb!

Brennan Wines | Thorough and interesting explanation of the wines. Casual and hip setting. You can lounge in some bean bags outside and play a game of petanque.

Chard Farm Vineyards | Free wine tasting. Many wines to choose from. Really welcoming atmosphere.

Wet Jacket | Warm intimate tasting room. 4 wines to taste. 

Stay in Arrowtown

Arrowtown is easily the most charming town in New Zealand. We recommend wrapping up your wine tasting day here with dinner at Slow Cuts, a movie at Dorothy Browns, or some live music at the Blue Door (Wednesdays).

Camping | Hampshire Holiday Parks – Arrowtown – The only camping option in Arrowtown. This was the best campground we stayed in. The shower facilities are excellent. There’s a communal kitchen as well. It’s within walking distance from the heart of the town. They also have cottages with private bathrooms and kitchens.

Budget-Midrange | 1220 Gibbston Lodge features a sun terrace, a BBQ, and beautiful gardens. Very helpful and friendly hosts!

Luxury | Arrowtown Lodge is a luxurious accommodation with charming cottages. Breakfast included!

Look for accommodation in Arrowtown.

Milford Sound Cruise, New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Days 17-19: Milford Sound and Fiordland

After enjoying a slow morning in Arrowtown, we recommend heading to Te Anau. We stopped for lunch in Queenstown before driving to Te Ananu. Note: Queenstown recommendations are in the next section.

Drive to Milford Sound

The drive to Milford Sound is as beautiful as Milford Sound itself. You’ll see a plethora of cascading waterfalls as you drive the mountainous road to the fjord.

Rainforest and evergreen beech forests dominate the surroundings. A few notable stops on the drive are Mirror Lakes, Chasm Creek, and Homer Tunnel. 

Cruise Milford Sound

We did the basic Milford Sound Scenic cruise (10:30 a.m.) and we couldn’t be more pleased. The boat wasn’t overcrowded and there was plenty of space to move around and take in the panoramic views. We also saw dolphins, seals, and many temporary rainbows, due to heavy rainfall the night before.

What cruise to choose? The time of day is more important than the cruise you choose. There are a lot of tour companies that operate one-day Milford Sound tours from Queenstown. That means that Milford Sound is especially busy in the early and mid-afternoon. You should try to snag an earlier cruise time (10:30, 11:15, 11:30).

Hike in Fiordland National Park

If you’ve opted for an early cruise, you’ll have plenty of time to do a hike in the afternoon. Just make sure to bring a packed lunch, since there are no reasonable places between Te Ananu and Milford Sound to eat.

Key Summit Track (3 hours round-trip)

Lake Marian Track (3 hours round-trip)

Stay in Te Anau

You could drive from Queenstown directly to Milford Sound, but it’s four hours. We recommend staying two nights in Te Anau, which is a two-hour drive to Milford Sound. If you do, you’ll have more time to enjoy the scenic drive as well as the region.

Camping | Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park

Budget | YHA Te Anau is a clean and cozy hostel in Te Anau, with a shared kitchen, outdoor terrace and garden, and lounge area.

Midrange | Bella Vista Motel Te Anau is a comfortable, smoke-free accommodation, offering studios, and one-bedroom units. Breakfast is available upon request.

Luxury | Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments is an aparthotel with outstanding views of Lake Te Anau. All apartments are spacious and have a kitchenette.

Look for accommodation in Te Anau.

Ben Lomond, New Zealand

Day 20-23: Queenstown & Around

Queenstown is an energetic town with more tourists than locals (at least it feels that way). Surrounded by jaw-dropping mountain ranges, you can’t blame the place for being a bit smug.

There are trails, restaurants, and bars and no shortage of activities to partake in.

Best Hikes in Queenstown

Ben Lomond (Day Hike) | One of our favorite peak hikes in NZ. When you get to the Ben Lomond Saddle, you won’t believe your eyes. 

Lake Alta in The Remarkables (Short Hike) | It’s a short hike to get to this gorgeous glacier lake. For some reason, it’s not a busy destination. Perhaps it’s because it’s a long drive up to the Ski Base (trailhead). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike the ridge of the Remarkables.

Where to Eat & Drink in Queenstown

Fergburger | This burger joint is easily NZ’s best place to grab a burger. There will be a wait, but it’s worth it, especially after a long hike.

Directly next to Fergburger is the tiny but mighty bakery Fergbaker. Oh, the pies! And the bread! And the muffins! Everything is delicious. Eat! Eat! Eat!

The Winery | This is a self-service wine tasting room. The concept is cool. You can go around reading about different regional wines and deciding whether you want a tasting size or a full glass. 

Side Trip to Glenorchy

Glenorchy is a small town located on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. There are a few cafés as well as a general store in the town. The point in coming here is the drive. If you have time, drive to the Routeburn Shelter.

The scenery crescendoes in beauty. The Routeburn shelter is the trailhead to the Routeburn Great Walk. While the walk itself is 2-4 days, you can also do a long day hike, or a small nature loop as well. We hiked to Harris Saddle and back in one day (20.2 km return).

Stay in Queenstown

Camping | Twelve Mile Delta Campsite is a 15-minute drive from “downtown” Queenstown. The views are wonderful, but the facilities are scant.

Budget | Adventure Q2 Hostel is a super clean and organized hostel in downtown Queenstown. The bathroom and kitchen facilities are all clean and well-stocked.

Midrange | Mi-pad Smart Hotel is a modern hotel that aims to give guests a personalized experience. By using the mi-pad hotel app, you can customize and control every aspect of your stay: including the lighting and room temperature as well as food delivery and ski rental delivery. Another highlight of staying here is the rooftop terrace (perfect for sunset), boasting unrivaled views of Queenstown and the Remarkables.

Luxury | The Dairy Private Hotel is a unique accommodation built around Queenstown’s original dairy shop, which dates back to the 1920s. The hotel is a short walk to the town center, Skyline Gondola, and Bespoke Kitchen. Rooms are elegantly decorated and feature air-conditioning and mini-fridges. You also have access to a guest lounge with a fireplace, a library, and an outdoor spa pool.

Look for accommodation in Queenstown.

Avalanche Peak, Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand

Days 24-26: Haast Pass & West Coast

From Queenstown take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka. You won’t drive through Gibbston Valley again unless you want to.

The drive to the West Coast via Haast Pass is full of scenic short walks and opportunities to get bombarded by sandflies.

There are a lot of glacier-themed activities to do around Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier. We drove the West Coast in one day because we wanted to hike Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass on a sunny day (the only sunny day in a week).

But, take it a bit slower than us, and check out the glaciers. You’ll find the most accommodation options around Franz Joseph.

Guided Tours

Fox Glacier Nature Tour

Heli Hike Fox Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

Small-Group Kayak Adventure from Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Nature Tour

Stay near Franz Josef Glacier

Budget | Haka House Franz Josef

Midrange | Aspen Court Franz Josef

Luxury | Rainforest Retreat

Look for accommodation near Franz Josef Glacier.

Castle Hill, New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Day 27: Arthur’s Pass & Castle Hill

Braided river valleys capture your imagination as you drive the mountainous road to Arthur’s Pass.

The scenery continues to unfold beautifully and shift as you make your way to Castle Hill.

Hike in Arthur’s Pass National Park

We came to Arthur’s Pass National Park with the sole intent of hiking to Avalanche Peak (1833 m).

The views are worth the strain, but it is a strenuous hike. We found the descent harder, because of loose rocks. Only hike here on a good day. Learn more about this hike in our New Zealand Hiking Guide.

Trailhead | Arthur’s Pass Visitor Center | Google Maps

Distance | 6.8 km out-and-back

Time Needed |  5-6 hours

Elevation Gain/Loss | 1071 m

Difficulty | Difficult

Minimum Elevation | 745 m

Maximum Elevation | 1833 m

Explore Castle Hill

Castle Hill, or treasure from a distant land in Maori, is an unusual landscape made up of scattered limestone formations. Walking through this natural rock garden is like walking through a sculpture park.

The organic smooth stones tower around you and it feels like you’re in a place of ceremony and ritual. It’s no wonder that this place is sacred to the Maori.

Stay near Castle Hill

Camping | Lake Lyndon Campsite – Located directly on the lake, it’s a great free option. There’s one dry toilet. 

Budget-Midrange | Springfield Motel and Lodge – Beautiful, modern, and clean facilities. Breakfast available. It’s a short drive from Arthur’s pass. 

Midrange | Porters Lodge

Look for accommodation in Castle Hill.

Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand South Island

Day 28-29: Banks Peninsula

Formed by volcanoes, Banks Peninsula is a circular peninsula that epitomizes country living at its best.

With too many bays to count and rolling green hills that gracefully descend into the ocean, this area south of Christchurch is not to be missed.

Akaroa made a lasting impression on us – perhaps because it was a sunny day and we were badly in need of a good meal and a seaside stroll.

Hop between charming towns

Akaroa is a small town located in the Banks Peninsula. As the country’s first French settlement, it endeavors to maintain its heritage with a profusion of French restaurants and bakeries, street names, and flowering gardens. We enjoyed our garden lunch at the Brasserie and espresso drinks at the General Store.

Lyttelton is a port town on the north shore of Lyttelton Harbour. London street has a number of shops and cafés to keep you amused. We ended up a Civil & Naval for beer, wine, and tapas, and we didn’t want to leave.

Little River is indeed little, but worth a roadside stop. The Little River Art Gallery and Cafe sells tasty sandwiches and baked goods.

Take a Walk

Packhorse Hut Trail | Hike through grazing farmland and pine forest. It’s not a must-do, but if you want to stretch your legs, it’s a good place to do it.

Stay near Akaroa

Camping | Little Akaloa Wilderness Campsite – Situated at the Little Akaloa Bay (a 40-minute drive from Akaroa), this quiet campground was peaceful, but a bit out of the way.

Budget | Halfmoon Cottage – If you’re looking for a peaceful place to stay, this is a perfect choice. The rooms are very cozy and you’ll have access to a beautiful garden.

Midrange | Akaroa Village Inn – This hotel in Akaroa offers great facilities, spacious rooms, and an excellent location. You can choose between booking a room, or an apartment. 

Luxury | French Bay House – Darling guesthouse full of character, charm, and light-filled rooms. Next time we’re in Akaroa, we’re staying here! Breakfast included in the room rate.

Look for accommodation in Akaroa.

The Tannery, Christchurch, Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand South Island

Day 30: Christchurch

As you unwind, enjoy the city’s breweries and cafés.


Cassels & Sons The Brewery (In the Tannery) | Come here for a flight of beer.

Addington Coffee Co-op | Hip coffee shop and store featuring organic coffee, world-conscious books and products, and collector spoons.

O.G.B. | Drink any alcoholic beverage you desire in this atmospheric bar.

Stay in Christchurch

Camping | Coes Ford – This is the closest, free campsite to Christchurch.

Budget | Hotel Give

Midrange | Distinction Christchurch Hotel – This new and central hotel offers elegant, air-conditioned hotel rooms. Bar and restaurant on site.   

Luxury | The Observatory Hotel Christchurch

Look for accommodation in Christchurch.

New Zealand Travel Guides


New Zealand South Island Itinerary - 4 Week Road Trip

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati