15 days in South Island Itinerary

15 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island route maker

Make it your trip
Ferry
1
Picton
— 1 night
Drive
2
Kaikoura
— 1 night
Drive
3
Hanmer Springs
— 1 night
Drive
4
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)
— 2 nights
Drive
5
Wanaka
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Te Anau
— 3 nights
Bus
7
Queenstown
— 3 nights
Drive
8
Dunedin
— 1 night
Fly

S M T W T F S
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30

Picton

— 1 night

Gateway to the South Island

Take photo after stunning photo in Picton, the gateway to South Island.
Start off your visit on the 11th (Mon): tour the pleasant surroundings at Queen Charlotte Track. Here are some ideas for day two: take in the waterfront activity at Picton Sound, then take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then see the interesting displays at The National Whale Centre, and finally explore the activities along Queen Charlotte Sound.

To find reviews, photos, and more tourist information, go to the Picton day trip planner.

Wellington to Picton is an approximately 4-hour ferry ride. In October in Picton, expect temperatures between 19°C during the day and 11°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Tue) to allow time to drive to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Picton

Parks · Outdoors · Trails · Nature

Kaikoura

— 1 night
Head to the small town of Kaikoura, a humble setting from which to witness some of nature's grandest designs.
Kick off your visit on the 13th (Wed): look for gifts at Kaikoura Cheese, identify plant and animal life at Wildlife Areas, then see majestic marine mammals with a dolphin and whale watching tour, and finally tour the pleasant surroundings at Peninsula Seal Colony.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, use the Kaikoura day trip planning website.

Traveling by car from Picton to Kaikoura takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a train. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Wed) so you can drive to Hanmer Springs.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Wildlife · Outdoors · Tours · Parks

Hanmer Springs

— 1 night

Springs

Action and relaxation are the reasons that most people head to Hanmer Springs, where natural thermal pools bubble among dramatic alpine surroundings.
On the 14th (Thu), take a peaceful walk through Hanmer Forest, then explore and take pictures at Hanmer Springs Animal Park, and then take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Conical Hill.

To find reviews, maps, where to stay, and other tourist information, read our Hanmer Springs trip builder app.

Traveling by car from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and shuttle; or do a combination of train and bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 14th (Thu) early enough to travel to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu).

Things to do in Hanmer Springs

Parks · Nature · Wildlife
Highlights from your trip

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)

— 2 nights
On the 15th (Fri), hike along Kea Point Track, get outside with Aoraki/Mt. Cook, and then stroll through Hooker Valley Track. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 16th (Sat): explore the striking landscape at Franz Josef Glacier, then go for a walk through Lake Matheson Walk, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Fox Glacier Hiking Trails.

For other places to visit, more things to do, photos, and other tourist information, use the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) road trip planner.

The Route module can help you plan travel from Hanmer Springs to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu). Finish your sightseeing early on the 16th (Sat) so you can travel to Wanaka.

Things to do in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu)

Outdoors · Trails · Parks · Nature

Side Trips

Wanaka

— 2 nights
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.
On the 17th (Sun), stroll through Blue Pools Track, then take a pleasant ride with a tour on horseback, and then stroll through Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain walks. On the next day, examine the collection at National Transport and Toy Museum, trek along Mount Iron Track, and then take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

To find out how to plan a trip to Wanaka, use our trip itinerary maker.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu) to Wanaka. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 18th (Mon) early enough to travel to Te Anau.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors · Trails · Parks · Tours

Te Anau

— 3 nights
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.
Explore hidden gems such as The Chasm Walk and Boat Tours & Water Sports. Visiting Milford Sound and Lake Gunn will get you outdoors. Spend the 20th (Wed) exploring at Doubtful Sound. Next up on the itinerary: explore the activities along Ivan Wilson Park and explore the fascinating underground world of Te Anau Glowworm Caves.

For traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Te Anau trip site.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Wanaka to Te Anau. Cap off your sightseeing on the 21st (Thu) early enough to catch the bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks · Nature · Wildlife · Outdoors

Side Trip

Queenstown

— 3 nights

Shallow Bay

Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Ben Lomond Track and Off-Road Tours. Escape the urban bustle at Fishing Charters & Tours and Lake Wakatipu. There's still lots to do: stroll through Lake Hayes Walkway, learn about winemaking at Chard Farm Winery, contemplate the waterfront views at Arrow River, and get the adrenaline pumping with an extreme tour.

To see maps, traveler tips, reviews, and other tourist information, use the Queenstown trip itinerary planning website.

Traveling by bus from Te Anau to Queenstown takes 4 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Sun) so you can drive to Dunedin.

Things to do in Queenstown

Parks · Outdoors · Nature · Tours

Side Trip

Dunedin

— 1 night

Edinburgh of the South

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 25th (Mon): tour the pleasant surroundings at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, tour the pleasant surroundings at Penguin Place, then take in the exciting artwork at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and finally trek along Tunnel Beach Track.

For more things to do, where to stay, photos, and more tourist information, you can read our Dunedin trip builder website.

You can drive from Queenstown to Dunedin in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 25th (Mon) early enough to catch the flight back home.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks · Wildlife · Trails · Outdoors

South Island travel guide

4.6
Bodies of Water · Entertainment Centers · Hiking Trails
Māui's Canoe
The wilder of New Zealand's two main islands, South Island offers a feast of nature in all its glory. Extensive, untouched plains connect alpine landscapes with rugged shorelines, creating a home for an abundance of animals and vegetation, on land and in the rich surrounding waters. Renowned as a window to the natural world before man (something that scores of film directors have tapped into over the years), South Island folds its cities and townships into the surrounding landscape, their populations adding something singular to the mix. On your trip to South Island, you'll witness the awe-inspiring cultural heritage of the Maori, whose art and architecture complements the developments of the colonial legacy. The result is a land of characterful buildings, rolling vineyards, and free-spirited adventure.