Lower south scenic discovery
Prepare for a trip to the south filled with mountain splendor and unique eco-adventures. Before exploring unique native species in Southland and Stewart Island, take a walk among Moeraki's strange spherical boulders and Dunedin's old buildings. After cruising Milford Sound and relaxing in Queenstown, finish your 9-day deep south adventure with Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo before returning to Christchurch.
Day 1: Christchurch to Oamaru
The road from Christchurch is straight and level, with the Southern Alps as a beautiful backdrop. Diverse towns strewn along the route provide plenty of diversions. Visit one of Ashburton's six museums, go salmon fishing in Rakaia, or explore high-quality pottery in Temuka – search for the factory shop if you want a useful souvenir. The intriguing Victorian neighborhood of Harbour-Tyne Street in Oamaru is made up of magnificent sandstone buildings. Visit the Steampunk Museum and browse the Victorian-themed stores. A colony of small blue penguins calls the harbour home. You may see them waddle ashore for the night in the evening.
OamaruOamaru, New Zealand
Day 2: Oamaru to Dunedin
Today's excursion is rich in both history and geology. Totara Estate Centennial Park is the first stop, including restored 1860s farm structures. Clark's Mill, a limestone flour mill erected in 1866, is close by. Make a point of stopping in Moeraki to see the odd spherical boulders strewn across the beach. Each boulder is made up of calcite concretions that date back 65 million years. Dunedin boasts a lot of opulent Victorian buildings from the nineteenth century. Historic public structures, massive cathedrals, magnificent residences, and ornate hotels can all be found today. There's even a castle on the premises. Visit the Otago Peninsula instead, where you can see penguins, albatross, and seals.
Moeraki Boulders BeachMoeraki Boulders Beach, Moeraki Boulders Road, Hampden 9482, New Zealand
Day 3: Dunedin to Invercargill via Balclutha
Just south of Balclutha, the Catlins begin. Seals and sea lions, Hector's dolphins, numerous types of penguin, and a petrified forest may all be seen along the twisting drive in Curio Bay. Along the journey, wild beaches, waterfalls, footpaths, lakes, and rivers give nonstop scenery. With fine historic department stores and spacious, easy-to-navigate streets, Invercargill is Southland's primary centre and the country's southernmost city. Bluff oysters and blue cod are two of the local delicacies. At the local museum, visit the tuatara house and an excellent exhibition about the Subantarctic Islands, or meander around Queens Park's gardens, aviary, and duck ponds.
BluffBluff, New Zealand
Day 4: Invercargill to Stewart Island
Invercargill and Stewart Island are connected by air and ferry services over Foveaux Strait. Over 85% of Stewart Island (Rakiura in Maori) is a lush native forest National Park. Visitors come to the island to experience nature at its most natural state. Highlights include spotting kiwis on Ocean Beach, wandering among the birds on Ulva Island, and exploring the main island's 280 kilometers of hiking trails. Oban, the only major town, has a wide range of lodging options, ranging from hotel rooms to lodge retreats. Visit the local museum for a brief history of Stewart Island.
Stewart Island / RakiuraStewart Island / Rakiura, Southland, New Zealand
Day 5: Stewart Island to Te Anau
To get to Te Anau, you have two options. The longer, more adventurous path passes through Riverton (one of New Zealand's oldest settlements) and on to Tuatapere and Clifden, where you may explore caverns and see the historic suspension bridge. The quickest route is to travel north to Lumsden, then west through Mossburn to Te Anau. You may learn about the region's illicit whisky-making history at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum. The township of Te Anau is located on the shores of Lake Te Anau. The wonders of Fiordland National Park are easily accessible from here. Explore the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, cruise the lake, and walk the footpaths.
Te AnauTe Anau, New Zealand
Day 6: Milford Sound day trip
The road to Milford Sound passes through gentle farmland, beech forest, and Fiordland National Park, and is one of New Zealand's most spectacular drives. Look for the Mirror Lakes and the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain. The Homer Tunnel leads you into the Sound, a spectacular 22-kilometer-long fiord overshadowed by Mitre Peak. In Fiordland, a tour on Milford Sound is a must-do, or go sea kayaking to see the waterfalls, vertical rock cliffs, and seals for yourself. Most tours include a visit to the underwater observatory.
Caution: If you prefer to self-drive, allow plenty of time because circumstances on this route can change drastically, especially in the winter.
Milford Sound / PiopiotahiMilford Sound / Piopiotahi, Southland 9679, New Zealand
Day 7: Te Anau to Queenstown
Queenstown is awe-inspiring, with mountains as far as the eye can see, glistening lakes, and crisp alpine air. Whether you seek adventure or prefer to sample exquisite wine and cuisine, the region offers the ideal balance of activity and leisure. There are numerous ways to explore this area, including via bike, kayak, horseback, 4WD Safari, or on foot along one of the many hiking paths in the area. Jet boating, bungy jumping, and rafting are all options for thrill seekers.
In the evening, explore Queenstown's thriving nightlife, which includes a diverse choice of bars, clubs, and restaurants serving delectable gourmet cuisine and great wine.
QueenstownQueenstown, New Zealand
Day 8: Queenstown to Aoraki Mount Cook Village
Today you'll visit Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, which is home to New Zealand's highest summit, Aoraki Mount Cook. You'll pass by some breathtaking sights along the route. In Omarama, the Northwest Arch is a prominent gliding thermal that may take glider pilots up to 10,000 meters. From Twizel, you'll be accompanied by the stunning Lake Pukaki. The tiny, glacier-ground rock particles suspended in the waters of this lake and others in the surrounding give it a stunning opaque turquoise color.
Mountain climbers, hikers, and scenery enthusiasts go to Aoraki Mount Cook. Heli-skiing, heli-hiking, and aerial sightseeing are popular activities here, but you may also explore the area on foot by hiking one of the many paths.
Hooker Valley trackHooker Valley Track, Mt Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand
Day 9: Mt Cook Village to Christchurch
Today, on your route back to Christchurch, make a pit break in Tekapo, a lakeside hamlet where you may partake in a variety of activities. Fishing, kayaking, biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities available. Great photo opportunities can be found at the Church of the Good Shepherd and the sheepdog statue. Christchurch, your final destination, is an exciting mix of refined living and cultural excitement. The Avon River meanders through the city and neighboring Hagley Park, ancient buildings contain a vibrant artists community, and restored trams make getting around easy. Enjoy the thriving restaurant scene while visiting heritage sites, museums, and galleries.