The South Island of New Zealand is a magnet for visitors. Below is a little itinerary of what you can do whilst you spend your time travelling around. I would suggest hiring a car to get the most out of travelling. The South Island doesn’t have many roads so this will only aid you in not getting lost. It will also allow you to pull over anytime to capture awe inspiring photo.
I would recommend flying into Christchurch and using this as a starting point as you circumnavigate the island. Christchurch is a city that has had to rebuild itself since the devastation of an Earthquake back in 2011. Don’t let this put you off though, every tourist dollar helps to rebuild the economy so take a couple of days off and check out the town. There are quirky shops, bars and restaurants popping up every day. Once you have picked up your rental car, take the road south and head towards Queenstown. Before you get there make sure you stop off at Lake Tekapo. This is located a few hours outside Christchurch and provides a marvelous view of the lakes and mountains of New Zealand. It will be your first taste of what is to come in this Middle Earth landscape. Stop off at the little church to grab a panoramic photo.
After continuing driving and weaving your way through the mountains, you will arrive at Queenstown. The adventure capital of the world boasts high adrenalin activities which will leave an everlasting impression and the start of the stories “This one time when I was in Queenstown…”. There was this one time in Queenstown where I took the courage and decided on my 21st birthday I would embrace the fear and throw myself out of a plane (attached to someone else of course. I chose Nzone as the company to entrust my life with. From up above the Lake of Queenstown, I could definitely see why the surrounding mountains are known as the Remarkables'. As I was plummeting to Earth, no one could wipe the smile off my face. Something everyone has to do at least once in their lifetime and Queenstown is one of the best destinations to do so.
Once you have thrown yourself out of a plane, it is now time to throw yourself off a bridge or suspended platform. AJ Hackett are the originals when it comes bungy jumping. If it wasn’t for these guys, bungy jumping wouldn’t be where it is at today. I personally don’t like the idea of bungy jumping, but thousands of people do it each year and achieve some kind of thrill.
If you prefer to get a little wet, head to Shot over canyon. Shot over jet provides a fast paced, high adrenalin ride that will have you heading towards the canyon sides before drastically turning at the last minute. This attraction is only 10 minutes outside the centre of Queenstown and is an opportunity to grab those thrills you are looking for.
Queenstown is not only a place where there are activities to do during the day, the nightlife has an equally adventurous reputation. Known as a bit of a party place, Queenstown has many different bars and food places to check out. If you want to know what it is like to drink vodka out of an ice cup, enter the Minus 5 Ice Bar. http://www.minus5icebar.com/ This bar inside is entirely of ice with ice sculptures, ice seats and an ice bar. After all your bar hopping, it’s time to head to the infamous Fergburger. For almost 20 years, they have been fuelling the drunken cravings of a midnight burger. A visit to Queenstown is not complete until you have had one of these delicious burgers.
Escape the development of Queenstown and drive the 4 hours 15 minutes down to the magical Milford Sound. The drive itself is a journey that will blow your mind away. The untouched landscape and fauna will be a memory that will last. If you don’t fancy the drive down there by yourself, you can jump on one of the tourist bus and take in all the views. Once you are there, you have a few options to explore Milford Sound and discover the natural beauty. There are overnight boat cruises, 2 hour boat cruises, kayak tours and the Milford Sound Discovery Centre. There is only the one road which heads in and out of Milford Sound, so afterwards it’s time to head back towards Queenstown.
This time, keep driving through Queenstown and continue on for an extra hour until you reach Wanaka. Set on Lake Wanaka, the town is a great base for hiking and biking, fishing, and during the winter months skiing. It is home to some quirky residents that make this town unique. Stroll through the centre and pop into the numerous art galleries that line the streets.
The next stop on the itinerary is Franz Josef. Now is the time for you to get up close and personal with an ever changing glacier. The town of Franz Josef provides an excellent base to explore the Franz Josef or Fox glacier. There are four ways to see the Glacier. The Ice explorer – An adventure trail which allows you to have up to 3 hours on the ice. The Glacier Heli Hike – Arrive on the glacier in style. The Glacier Valley Hike – No ice time with this little beauty, but you do get an informative guided walk through the valley. The last one being the Heli Ice climb – Get face to face with the ice and enjoy the helicopter ride too.
North of the Glaciers is a town called Greymouth. This town is the largest on the West coast and is home to mining, forestry and ecotourism. One of the unique activities to do here is black water caving. Dragons Cave Rafting offer a black water caving and glow worm tour. Wetsuit up and scurry your way down the cave. Let the guide tell you all about the stalagmites and stalactites before you end up deep down to the hidden cave river. Here you will turn off your head lamp and marvel at the Glow worms as they turn what would normally be black cave into a starry haven.
From Greymouth it is time to head across the island through Arthurs Pass. Located in the middle of the island, Arthur’s Pass is the gateway between Greymouth on the West Coast and Christchurch on the East Coast. During the winter months, the road can become impassable due to heavy snow fall. The area provides many hiking trails and a few good stores to stop off at. From here it is a few hours’ drive more to you reach your original destination of Christchurch.
Feel free to contact me for any information or any tips and I will be glad to respond. Don’t forget to become an Itchy Feet Escapade member on our home page for all the up to date information.