17 days in South Island Itinerary

17 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island trip itinerary maker

Make it your trip
1
Christchurch
Drive
2
Nelson
— 1 night
Drive
3
Abel Tasman National Park
— 1 night
Drive
4
Punakaiki
— 1 night
Drive
5
Hokitika
Drive
6
Franz Josef
— 2 nights
Drive
7
Twizel
— 2 nights
Unknown
8
Wanaka
— 1 night
Drive
9
Te Anau
— 1 night
Bus
10
Queenstown
— 6 nights
Drive
11
Arrowtown
— 1 day
Fly
12
Christchurch
— 1 night

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Christchurch

Garden City

Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
On the 11th (Sat), appreciate the history behind Chalice Sculpture and then let the kids burn off some steam at Margaret Mahy Family Playground.

To see photos, ratings, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Christchurch online tour itinerary planner.

If you are flying in from Australia, the closest major aiport is Christchurch International Airport. In September in Christchurch, expect temperatures between 16°C during the day and 5°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 11th (Sat) to allow time for the flight to Nelson.

Things to do in Christchurch

Fun & Games · Parks

Nelson

— 1 night

Top of the South

Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
Start off your visit on the 12th (Sun): take an in-depth tour of Nelson Provincial Museum, pause for some serene contemplation at Christ Church Cathedral, then don't miss a visit to Centre of New Zealand, and finally take in nature's colorful creations at Queen's Gardens.

For where to stay, ratings, traveler tips, and more tourist information, go to the Nelson tour itinerary builder.

Getting from Christchurch to Nelson by flight takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: drive; or do a combination of shuttle and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Sun) early enough to travel to Abel Tasman National Park.

Things to do in Nelson

Historic Sites · Museums · Parks

Abel Tasman National Park

— 1 night
Pristine blue water, immaculate white sand, and a thick, temperate rainforest make Abel Tasman National Park a natural jewel on the northern coast of Tasmania's South Island.
To find more things to do, where to stay, ratings, and tourist information, read our Abel Tasman National Park day trip planning site.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park. You'll set off for Punakaiki on the 13th (Mon).

Things to do in Abel Tasman National Park

Outdoors · Tours · Parks · Adventure

Punakaiki

— 1 night
Punakaiki is a small community on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, between Westport and Greymouth. Start off your visit on the 13th (Mon): trek along Truman Track, tour the pleasant surroundings at Fox River Cave Walk, then explore the fascinating underground world of Punakaiki Cavern, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk, and finally hike along Pororari River Track.

For other places to visit and other tourist information, you can read our Punakaiki day trip planning site.

The Route module can help you plan travel from Abel Tasman National Park to Punakaiki. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Tue) so you can drive to Hokitika.

Things to do in Punakaiki

Parks · Trails · Outdoors · Nature

Hokitika

Hokitika is a township in the West Coast region of New Zealand's South Island, 40km south of Greymouth, and close to the mouth of the Hokitika River. To see traveler tips, reviews, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Hokitika trip itinerary builder.

Traveling by car from Punakaiki to Hokitika takes 1.5 hours. On the 14th (Tue), you'll travel to Franz Josef.

Things to do in Hokitika

Outdoors · Parks · Trails · Shopping

Franz Josef

— 2 nights
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.
Kick off your visit on the 14th (Tue): explore the striking landscape at Franz Josef Glacier, then trek along Terrace Walk, then see the world from above with a helicopter tour, and finally relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas. Here are some ideas for day two: stroll through West Coast Wildlife Centre, trek along Moraine Walk, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Fox Glacier South Side Walk, and finally take in the pleasant sights at Lake Matheson Walk.

To find maps, ratings, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Franz Josef trip builder website.

Traveling by car from Hokitika to Franz Josef takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. On the 16th (Thu), you're off to Twizel.

Things to do in Franz Josef

Parks · Trails · Outdoors · Nature

Side Trip

Twizel

— 2 nights
Start off your visit on the 16th (Thu): experience rural life at High Country Salmon and then experience rural life at New Zealand Alpine Lavender Farm.

To find reviews, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, you can read our Twizel sightseeing planner.

Traveling by car from Franz Josef to Twizel takes 5.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Sat) so you can take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Twizel

Spas · Nature · Parks · Shopping

Side Trips

Wanaka

— 1 night
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.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Sat): explore the activities along Lake Wanaka, see the world from above with Air Tours, and then explore the activities along Wanaka.

For maps, other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, read our Wanaka trip itinerary planning tool.

Getting from Twizel to Wanaka by bus takes about 3.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Sun) early enough to travel to Te Anau.

Things to do in Wanaka

Nature · Parks · Outdoors · Winter Sports

Te Anau

— 1 night
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.
Start off your visit on the 19th (Sun): contemplate the waterfront views at Doubtful Sound. On your second day here, relax and rejuvenate at Fiordland Massage Clinic and then explore the activities along Lake Te Anau.

To see photos, more things to do, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Te Anau trip itinerary planning website.

Explore your travel options from Wanaka to Te Anau with the Route module. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 20th (Mon) so you can catch the bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Te Anau

Nature · Parks · Wildlife · Spas

Queenstown

— 6 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.
Your day by day itinerary now includes NZ Skydive as well as AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand. On the 25th (Sat), dedicate a day to the elevated beauty of The Remarkables Ski Area. There's lots more to do: relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, get outside with Outdoor Activities, take an unforgettable tour with a helicopter tour, and admire the natural beauty at Queenstown Gardens.

For ratings, traveler tips, more things to do, and tourist information, go to the Queenstown journey builder website.

Take a bus from Te Anau to Queenstown in 4 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) so you can drive to Arrowtown.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors · Tours · Parks · Nature

Arrowtown

— 1 day
Kick off your visit on the 26th (Sun): get engrossed in the history at Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery, stop by Remarkable Sweet Shop - Arrowtown, and then head outdoors with Arrowtown Village.

To see other places to visit, ratings, and more tourist information, you can read our Arrowtown journey planner.

Arrowtown is just a stone's throw from Queenstown. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) so you can catch the flight to Christchurch.

Things to do in Arrowtown

Shopping · Outdoors · Museums

Christchurch

— 1 night

Garden City

Kick off your visit on the 27th (Mon): go from sight to sight with Christchurch Gondola and then walk around Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

To find more things to do, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, read our Christchurch tour itinerary tool.

Traveling by flight from Arrowtown to Christchurch takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Mon) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Christchurch

Parks · Transportation

South Island travel guide

4.5
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.

Fiordland National Park travel guide

4.4
World heritage site · Bodies of Water · Hiking Trails
Place of Greenstone
As the heart of World Heritage-listed Wahipounamu, Fiordland National Park makes a great base for those wanting an adventure holiday packed full of wildlife-spotting expeditions, alpine climbs, and chances to enjoy New Zealand's national pastime--hiking. Over 500 km (310 mi) of hiking trails lead you through the native forest, up to the snow-capped peaks of the mountains, and along verdant valleys. Sea kayaking also ranks among the top things to do in Fiordland National Park, letting you explore the waters and get close to some of the protected animals here, including penguins, bottlenose dolphins, and seals. Formed over a period of 100,000 years, the fiords offer fantastic viewpoints and photo opportunities.