Top to Tip Adventure  – 31 days

New Zealand map

This itinerary takes you from our hub in Christchurch, up to the top of the North Island, and down to the tip of the South. Along the way, over 28 days, you will experience a comprehensive sampling of New Zealand scenery, culture, wildlife, cuisine, wine, weather and more. Read on to enjoy all about your holiday

Day 1

Christchurch to Kaikoura (3h)

Begin in Christchurch and drive north through Canterbury and its newest wine region, Waipara. There are numerous vineyards where you can stop and stretch your legs, taste some local vino, and have a long lunch. Enjoy the views along the coastline and take a moment to pull over for scenery and a few photo opportunities. Kaikoura translates into English as a good place to eat kai (crayfish) koura  and indeed it is! Don’t miss the chance to sample some of the freshest shellfish and crustaceans around.

Venture onto the coastal walkway and you may see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, fur seals and albatross play in the waters off shore. Alternatively, join them in their own environment and take one of the many oceanic tours on offer.  Kaikoura experienced major earthquakes in 2016, which disrupted their roads and some attractions. Check http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/regions/11 for live updates to be sure your road trip will be a safe and enjoyable one.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Peketa Beach Holiday Park
665 Main South Rd/SH1, Kaikoura
www.kaikourapeketabeach.co.nz
Cribb Creek
Inland Kaikoura Rd, Kaikoura
www.kaikoura.govt.nz
NZMCA Park
Kaikoura Trotting Club
South Bay Pde,
Kaikoura
People having fun on the side of coast

Day 2

Kaikoura  to Hanmer Springs (2h)

Hanmer Springs has been a destination for visitors wanting to soak in her hot springs since the early days of Maori settlement, and in Victorian times, hotels and a sanitorium were established. These days, Hanmer Springs is an even more popular destination. Thermal springs heat many of the pools in the extensive pool complex and the recently opened spa welcomes visitors for luxurious treatments.

There are biking and walking trails for all abilities, golf courses, skiing, a town full of shopping and restaurants and a general air of peace and tranquility about the place. This is a lovely place to park your home on wheels and soak up the atmosphere as well as the healing waters.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Alpine Adventure Holiday Park
200 Jacks Pass Rd, Hanmer Springs
www.hanmerspringsaccommodation.co.nz
Rotherham Reserve
Cnr of Heaton & East Sts, Rotherham
www.hurunui.govt.nz
Hamner River Bridge NZMCA Park
SH7A/Hamner Springs Road
Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs

Day 3

Hanmer Springs to Picton (5h)

After your visit in Hanmer, follow the road north, through Maruia, which is also a thermal spring hot spot, Murchison, and the alpine village of St Anaud before heading into Blenheim for meals and supplies and on to Picton and the Interisland Ferry.

Picton’s Marlborough Sounds are home to one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Queen Charlotte Walkway, and there are dozens of other hiking opportunities in the area. It’s worth stopping a while to take in the sights of one of the loveliest parts of New Zealand – full of history, inlets, bays, and spectacular views of the Sounds and surrounding hills.

In Picton, drive onto a ferry to the North Island, via the Cook Strait, into the capital city of Wellington.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Parklands Marina Holiday Park
10 Beach Rd, Waikawa Marina, Picton
www.parktostay.co.nz
Collins Memorial Reserve
Cnr of SH1 & Freeths Rd, Koromiko
www.marlborough.govt.nz
POP
Crow Tavern
15 Nelson Square
Picton
water flowing through forest

Day 4

Ferry to Wellington (4h)

New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington is a great walking city, full of character, charm, history and of course, politicians. It is home to Victoria University, and the presence of the students lends a hip, young, artistic air to the place. Its hills are legendary and will keep you on your toes, but the relaxing and foot friendly harbour area is never far away.

Wellington has shopping, restaurants, nightlife, street art and theatre, beautiful parks and a gorgeous waterfront. Of particular note are Te Papa, the National Museum, and for fans of the Lord of the Rings movies, Weta
Cave Workshops, where visitors can experience the art and science behind the creation of these award winning films. Wellington hosts sport, music, theatre, dance and cultural performances year-round, and is proud home of WOW, NZ’s World of Wearable Arts extravaganza, held in early spring each year.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Camp Elsdon
18 Raiha St, Elsdon, Porirua
www.campelsdon.co.nz
Camp Elsdon
18 Raiha St, Elsdon, Porirua
www.campelsdon.co.nz
Plimmerton NZMCA Park
7 Ulric St, Plimmerton,Porirua
ship moving through the water to wellington

Day 5

Wellington to Palmerston North (2h) and Napier (plus 3h)

Heading north from Wellington through the rural towns of the area, visitors will notice a real change in the scenery from the South Island. In Palmerston North, stop for lunch amidst picturesque 1920s and 1930s boutique buildings, and admire the public gardens.

Your journey will continue north to Shannon, home to a native owl sanctuary. Up this stretch of the Kapiti Coast, offshore from Waikanae, is Kapiti Island, a nature reserve where visitors can visit on escorted tours.  A car museum and gourmet cheese factory are other attractions in this area.

In Napier you can walk the streets to see beautiful 1930s Art Deco buildings, built in response to the devastating earthquake in 1931 which levelled the whole town. This city is proudly known as the world’s Art Deco capital.  Other attractions are the gannet colony, aquarium and world class golf course at Cape Kidnappers. Multiple vineyards and farms dot the area, making Hawkes Bay a mecca for serious foodies. Stop into nearby Hastings for its famous weekend Farmers Market and stock up for the next leg of your trip.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Kennedy Park Resort
11 Storkey St, Napier
www.kennedypark.co.nz
Puketapu Reserve
Dartmoor Rd, Puketapu, Napier
www.kennedypark.co.nz
Erikson Road NZMCA Park
165 Eriksen Rd,Napier
napier new-zealands art deco capital

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Day 6

Napier to Gisborne (3.5h)

As you leave Napier, and drive north  Gisborne, Waipatiki Beach and Lake Tutira are nice stopping places along the way. There are two ways to approach the trip to Gisborne. The coastal route provides access to Morere Hot Springs and the fabulous beaches of the Mahia Peninsula. The peninsula is worth stopping at to walk its sandy, secluded and unspoiled beaches and take in the view of uninterrupted Pacific Ocean.

Gisborne is the first place the sun shines on New Zealand each day and its vineyards have soaked up those extra rays to their advantage. The area is best known for its chardonnay and many lovely vineyard cafes that serve it. Gisborne is also known for its surf beaches.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Waikanae Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
280 Grey St, Awapuni, Gisborne
www.waikanaebeachtop10.co.nz
Opoutama Beach Reserve
Upoko Tataramoa Dr, Mahia
www.wairoadc.govt.nz
POP
Kahutia Bowling Club
Cobden St, Gisborne,
Gisborne
sunrise at wainui-beach

Day 7

Gisborne to Whakatane (2h)

The first leg of your journey passes through the foothills of the Urewera Ranges – this is a land of native bush and historic Maori settlement. Next, stop in Opotiki to stretch your legs and have a look around. The beaches and forest environment provide lots to do – horse trekking, kayaking, river rafting, and dolphin swimming are just some of the options.

On your way into Whakatane, stop to admire one of the best views in the Bay of Plenty, overlooking Ohope Beach, and then head into this bustling town for some lunch by the bay, a game of golf, or a visit to the local museum. Take a tour out to White Island, one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes, or take a fishing boat out to catch some dinner to cook on the beach. Swimming with dolphins and eco-tours are available here, too, and some of the best fish and chips, mussels, and berries (in season) you’ll find anywhere.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
All Seasons Holiday Park
50-58 Lee Rd, Hannahs Bay, Rotorua
www.allseasonsrotorua.co.nz
Maraetotara Reserve
Maraetotara Rd,Ohope
www.whakatane.govt.nz
Opotiki NZMCA Park
130 ST John Street
Opotiki
symbol of kiwi

Day 8

Whakatane to Tauranga (1.5h)

There are two roads north toward Tauranga, one of which passes through Te Puke, a town that has turned its kiwifruit industry into visitor entertainment. Enroute is Okere Falls Scenic Reserve, where you can walk to see the hydroelectric power station. Back on the coast is Papamoa, a long stretch of sun-drenched white sand beach leading all the way to Tauranga, a large port city, with an attractive harbour and plenty of shops and restaurants to replenish supplies.

Further along the coast is Mt Maunganui, a beautiful beach to visit at any time of year. There is a beckoning mount to climb for the view, and a wealth of varied and popular cafes and shops along its boardwalk. Watch the surfers and try to spot the seals that visit the area. This is a great place to spend a night and enjoy the beauty of the Bay.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Te Puna Holiday Park
4 Minden Rd, Te Puna, Tauranga
www.accomodationtepuna.co.nz
Harrisons Cut
Harrisons Cut Carpark, off Papamoa Beach Rd, Papamoa
Tauriko NZMCA Park
Gargen Road,
Tauriko
Tauranga
Beach - maunganui

Day 9

Tauranga to Whitianga (3h)

Once you experience the Coromandel Peninsula, you may never want to leave; it is one of the prettiest areas in New Zealand. The road from Tauranga will take you past historic Waihi, another gold mining town. Stop for photo opportunities at the Athenree Gorge, and for coffee in Katikati, where you can take a stroll and admire the town’s famous murals.

The road is curvy and you may want to have several breaks to visit each little town along the way. Whangamata is one of the country’s most attractive surf towns, with white sand beaches fringed with pohutakawa, New Zealand’s native Christmas tree (it blooms red flowers at Christmastime). Enjoy the beach, cafes, and bush walks. Tours for fishing and diving are available here. You can also hire bikes, windsurfers. and kayaks. Several charter companies run day trips to Mayor Island, the summit of a volcano rising from the sea floor.

The road north gives you the opportunity to visit Hot Water Beach, where geothermally heated water bubbles up through the sand. For generations, New Zealanders have been digging out their own hot spas on the beach here at low tide.  Another highlight of this journey is the walk to spectacular Cathedral Cove, which begins at Hahei. Boat tours are available here, too.  If you have time, indulge in a round of golf at Pauanui or enjoy fish and chips in Tairua.

The beach town of Whitianga is a great place to just stop, relax, and enjoy the holiday atmosphere.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Harbourside Holiday Park
135 Albert St, Whitianga
www.harboursideholidaypark.co.nz
Buffalo Beach
Buffalo Beach Rd,Whitianga
Whitianga NZMCA Park
101 John Gaskell Dr
Whitianga
beach

Day 10

Whitianga to Coromandel Town (1h) and to Auckland (3h)

The very curvy inland road to Coromandel is an option, as is the northern route, which clings to the edge of the coast. You’ll enjoy amazing sub-tropical views and beach after beautiful beach, edged with pohutukawa trees, on the second option.

Coromandel was settled by gold miners and later, foresters. It is now an artsy seaside village full of craftspeople and environmentalists. The town itself is historic and pleasant to walk around and there is an interesting museum.

The road to Auckland hugs the coast of the Firth of Thames and affords views out to sea for the duration. Stop a while in Thames, a beautiful and historic mining town, and then Pokeno to take a break, have a meal, and explore these areas.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with over 1 million people spread across multiple centres. It is situated between two harbours, Waitemata (Auckland) and Manukau, and sits amongst dozens of volcanic cones. Auckland is a great place to visit museums, art galleries, war memorials, historic Maori sites, parks and gardens, and climb small volcanic hills. It hosts concerts, the ballet and opera, numerous theatre productions, and offers unlimited eating and drinking options, as well as vineyards.

Its Sky Tower holds a casino and sky walk, where visitors can view the expanse of the city. Take a ferry over to the Victorian charm of Devonport, or out to Waiheke Island, full of vineyards and craft shops, or venture further to Rangitoto, the volcano that watches over the harbour. St Heliers and Kohimarama are beach areas not far from the city along beautiful Tamaki Drive, and the newly developed Viaduct Harbour area and Wynyard Quarter is a pleasure to wander around or stop for a meal and a bit of people watching. There is so much to do in Auckland that it is worth a return trip.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Remuera Motor Lodge
16 Minto Rd, Remuera, Auckland
Waikato River
Riverbank Rd, Mercer
www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz
NZMCA Park
Harvard Ln, Ardmore,
Auckland
night view of Auckland buildings

Day 11

Auckland to Kaitaia (4.5h)

It’s another long and winding road to Kaitaia, but with lots of attractions along the way. The Whangaparaoa Peninsula offers inspiring views and beckoning beaches, worth a detour for. Near Warkworth, head east to the town of Matakana, which has seen a sort of reinvention in recent years. It has a boutique cinema, excellent craft shops and restaurants, a famous Farmers Market and toward Snells beach, wineries which include cafes and a fabulous outdoor sculpture park.

Whangarei is a large town where you can re-equip yourself, or head from here out to Tutukaka and Matapouri for some of the best beaches New Zealand has to offer. Farther north lies Kaitaia, the hub for activities in the Far North.  From here you can catch a bus tour along Ninety Mile Beach, or visit the very tiptop of the North Island, Cape Reinga. Some roads may only be accessible to official Tour vehicles.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Norfolk Motel and Campervan Park
29 SH10
Awanui
Kaitaia
Ramp Road
149-155 Ramp Rd
Tokerau Beach
POP
The Warehouse
11 Matthews Ave
Kaitaia
light house

Day 12

Kaitaia to Kerikeri to Paihia (1.5h)

You’ll transverse the Far North as you head east to Kerikeri from Kaitaia. Enjoy the subtropical feel of the place and anticipate lots to do on the other side. At Kerikeri, you’ll find lots of fresh produce to buy from road side stalls year-round, and plenty of local chocolates, crafts and cafes to enjoy. Take time to visit the Stone Store, New Zealand’s oldest stone structure, and the Mission House. There are many walks in the area, plenty to fill an afternoon.

There are waterfalls throughout the area, such as Rainbow and Haruru Falls. Paihia caters well to tourists and you can fill a day in the area. Ferry over to Russell, New Zealand’s first capital, or visit the Treaty House at Waitangi, where New Zealand first became a bicultural nation. Enjoy the restaurants, cafes, and crafts here and stock up for the next day.

Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Catch a cruise to the outer islands, enjoy a dolphin spotting safari, or take a ferry to the charming township of Russell. The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Beachside Holiday Park
1290 Paihia Road
Paihia
Ocean Beach
Ranui Road
Ocean Beach
Whangarei Heads
Manganese Point NZMCA Park
232 Manganese Point Road
Whangarei
Hut shaped home in park with Tress all around

Day 13

Paihia to Whangarei to Auckland (3.5h)

Head south toward Whangarei, but be sure to have a pitstop at the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa, an unlikely but worthwhile tourist attraction that showcases the art and flair of Frederick Hundertwasser in the public restrooms. After some more lovely small towns you’ll find Whangarei, which acts as the capital of the north. Despite its size and population, it is still a peaceful and inviting place with its beautiful harbour, museums, art galleries, shops, and natural attractions.

A drive through the Dome Forest leads you into Warkworth, and on to Waiwera, famous for its hot springs spas and pools. And now, meander back to Auckland to enjoy the places you didn’t have time for on your way north.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Remuera Motor Lodge
16 Minto Rd, Remuera, Auckland
www.remueramotorlodge.co.nz
Waikato River
Riverbank Rd, Mercer
www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz
NZMCA Park
Harvard Ln, Ardmore,
Auckland
sunset view of the city from higher altitude

Day 14

Auckland to Rotorua (3.25h)

Your journey south will take you through the fertile dairy farming region of the Waikato, accompanied much of the way by the mighty Waikato River. Take a detour at Matamata if you’d like to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, where some of the early Lord of the Rings movies were filmed.

Enjoy driving through plantation pine forest before you encounter the unusual volcanic terrain of the Mamaku district.On approaching Rotorua, visitors will be greeted by beautiful Lake Rotoehu, followed by Lake Rotoma – home to a hybrid ‘Tiger’ trout, and Lake Rotoiti, a fisherman’s paradise.

Rotorua sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic and geothermal activity are part of the city’s environment and visitors will notice an underlying sulphuric smell upon entering the region. Hot springs abound in the area, some found out in native bush, some easier to access at purpose built spas around town, like the Polynesian Pools. Rotorua is an excellent place to experience Maori culture, history, art, food, and performances.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
All Seasons Holiday Park
50-58 Lee Rd, Hannahs Bay, Rotorua
www.allseasonsrotorua.co.nz
Lakefront Parking
Mataiawhea St, Ohinemutu, Rotorua
www.rotoruanz.com
Ngongotaha NZMCA
61 Ngongotaha Road
Rotorua
Pohutu Geyser Volcanic eruption of hot water

Day 15

Rotorua to Taupo (1.5h)

The road from Rotorua to Taupo will take you right through the heart of the North Island. This is forestry land and the road is easy and interesting. Take a side road to a geothermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces, and craters of boiling mud. The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, a result of a sizeable but long-ago volcano.

The lake is a haven for boaties and fishermen as the lake is stocked with sizeable trout. In New Zealand, it is not legal for restaurants to serve or sell trout, but with the right license, you are welcome to take your own.  Be sure to make a trip out to the impressive Huka Falls for a refreshing walk and scenery. For something more leisurely, take a boat trip out to the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Taupo DeBreetts Spa Resort
76 Napier-Taupo Rd, SH5, Taupo
Taupo Marina
75 Redoubt St, Taupo
Taupo Airport NZMCA Park
Anzac Memorial Dr,
Taupo
a huge sculpture on the wall

Day 16

Taupo to Turangi (1h) to National Park (plus 1h)

The drive to Turangi hugs the eastern edge of Lake Taupo, allowing for a scenic drive and lots of choices for a picnic lunch.

The town of Turangi is the trout fishing capital of New Zealand. The nearby hot springs of Tokaanu are another attraction, or you can try rafting the Tongariro River.

National Park Village is well positioned for those who want to explore the Tongariro National Park. The volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro can be seen from here, occasionally acting volcanic, and there are many different walks. The Tongariro Crossing is regarded as one of the best one-day walks in the world.

Spend some time appreciating one of the most spectacular areas of New Zealand. Take a drive or perhaps have lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the village or high tea at the elegant Chateau, built during the roaring twenties and as charming as ever.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Turangi Holiday Park
13 Te Reiti Tamara Gr, Turangi
Ruatiti Domain
Ruatiti Rd Turnoff, SH4, Ruatiti
Owhango Lodge
SH4 Main Road
South Owhango
Man holding fish in his hands

Day 17

National Park to Whanganui (2.5h) to  Wellington (2.5h)

From National Park, head south and make tracks to Whanganui/Wanganui. This historic riverside town has a lot to offer for a midday stop. Head down to the riverside markets or take a ride or a steamship, once the main form of transport in these parts when the river trade was king. Visit one of many museums and galleries or go for a stroll in lovely Victoria Park.

Your journey south first takes you through Foxton, Levin and Otaki. Offshore from Paraparaumu is Kapiti Island, a nature reserve for close encounters with rare birds. The Kapiti Coast is known for its gourmet delights and lovely beaches; take some time to explore before making your way back to Wellington.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Camp Elsdon
18 Raiha St, Elsdon, Porirua
www.campelsdon.co.nz
Evans Bay Marina Carpark
Cnr Evans Bay Pde & Cobham Dr, Kilbirnie, Wellington
Plimmerton NZMCA Park
7 Ulric St, Plimmerton,Porirua
Museum New Zealand

Day 18

Spend the day in Wellington

Spend some more time in Wellington catching upon the things you may have missed on your last trip through.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Camp Elsdon
18 Raiha St, Elsdon, Porirua
www.campelsdon.co.nz
Evans Bay Marina Carpark
Cnr Evans Bay Pde & Cobham Dr, Kilbirnie, Wellington
Plimmerton NZMCA Park
7 Ulric St, Plimmerton,Porirua
Te Papa wellington building

Day 19

Wellington to Picton (4h) to Nelson (1.5h)

The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout, and the beautiful coves of the sounds. Consider taking some time for a short walk into some of the beautiful bush around Picton before heading on to Nelson

The drive to Nelson first takes you to the town of Havelock, which is known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. At Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve you can enjoy a bush walk or a swim, depending on the time of the year.

The city of Nelson is home to an artsy, interesting community, great galleries and crafts, lovely beaches, and an almost tropical feel when compared to the rest of the South Island. Indulge in the coffee, wine, top notch restaurants, and historic architecture.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park
230 Vanguard St, Nelson
www.nelsonholidaypark.co.nz
Collins Memorial Reserve
Cnr of SH1 & Freeths Rd, Koromiko
www.marlborough.govt.nz
POP
The Honest Lawyer Country Pub and Hotel
1 Point Road
Monaco Nelson
Ferris Wheel Nelson South Island New Zealand

Day 20

Nelson to Nelson Lakes National Park (1.5h)

The shortest route to the Nelson Lakes National Park begins on State Highway 6.  This is a pleasant drive through hill country, forest, and farms.

The alpine village of St Arnaud sits on the edge of the lake against a stunning backdrop of mountains. It’s the perfect base for exploring the Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand’s second-largest national park. There are magnificent hiking trails – short and long. Local adventure operators offer you a choice of kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, horse trekking, and 4WD motorbiking.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Riverside Holiday Park
19 Riverview Rd, Murchison
www.riversidemurchison.co.nz
Riverside Holiday Park
19 Riverview Rd, Murchison
POP
Armageddon Paintball & Redstone Golf Park
334 Waiiti Valley Road
Wakefield
river rafting- Nelson Lake

Day 21

Nelson Lakes National Park to Hanmer Springs (3.5h)

From St Arnaud, follow the Buller River west. Just after Murchison, turn onto State Highway 65. This beautiful section of road leads through the enchanting Maruia Forest, which has New Zealand’s largest natural population of Kakariki (a native parakeet). At Maruia Springs, enjoy a hot soak before Lewis Pass takes you through red and silver beech forest to Hanmer.

Hanmer Springs is a destination for relaxation and indulgence. Soak in the hot springs or treat yourself to a range of spa therapies. Outdoor activities include forest walks, bike tracks, horse trekking, trout fishing, jet boating, bungy jumping, and golf.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Alpine Adventure Holiday Park
200 Jacks Pass Rd, Hanmer Springs
www.hanmerspringsaccommodation.co.nz
Rotherham Reserve
Cnr of Heaton & East Sts, Rotherham
www.hurunui.govt.nz
Hanmer River Bridge NZMCA Park
SH7A/Hanmer Springs Rd, Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs

Day 22

Hanmer Springs to Christchurch (2h)

The relaxed and easy drive Christchurch initially follows the beautiful Waiau River, through the Balmoral Forest and across the Hurunui River. Next is the Waipara region, which is fast becoming known for its food and wine, with many vineyards to stop along the way. The last leg of your journey takes you past the surf beaches of Amberley, Leithfield, Waikuku, and Woodend. These long, white sand, peaceful beaches are worth stopping at for a picnic lunch or a night on the beach.

Christchurch is traditionally New Zealand’s most English city – imagined, laid out, planned and even settled by decree over in England. It was built around its Christ Church Cathedral and Four Avenues, furnished with the University of Canterbury and Christ’s College, peopled by the first four ships, and fitted out with Neo Gothic architecture and glorious English gardens; a bit of old England in the South Pacific. Of course, now, it is as Kiwi as anywhere in New Zealand, and a vibrant, international place with its own flair and style. So, plan to spend the day enjoying this everchanging locale.

Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, known for its beautiful public gardens, old world charm and architecture, and its quaint and very walkable city centre. Much of this changed in the 2011 earthquakes when so much of the city was lost. However, the city is rising to the challenges, quite literally, and it is now home to funky and unique pop up malls, dozens of new buildings, high street, designer and boutique shops, a world class art gallery and museum, and restaurants galore.

Many of its heritage buildings have been restored, the beautiful Botanic Gardens remain, and the trams have returned to its streets. Take a punt down the Avon, check out the new civic areas along the river, enjoy the unique facades of New Regent Street, or go for a run at Hagley Park. Make sure you check out the transitional cardboard cathedral in the city centre and the Margaret Mahy playground, designed with the help of the children of New Zealand to be the biggest and best play space in the country.

Outside of the city, Orana Wildlife Park hosts New Zealand’s only gorilla encounter, and you may find a kiwi or two of the feathered kind both here and at Willowbank Nature reserve, where you can also take in a Maori Cultural performance. For a bit of history, head out to Ferrymead, a purpose built 19th century village, where you can experience what colonial life was like for early inhabitants. Once there, spend some time at the shore at Sumner and Redcliffs and enjoy some fish and chips on the beach.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
North South
530 Sawyers Arms Rd, Christchurch Holiday Park
www.northsouth.co.nz
Waimakariri River West
Harrs Rd,
Kaiapoi
NZMCA Weedons Park
286 Jones Road,
Weedons
Christchurch South
boat sailing in lake - christchurch

Day 23

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo (3.45h) to Aoraki/Mt Cook Village (1.45h)

We recommend beginning your tour in Rangiora, an historic town 30 minutes out of Christchurch city, which has fully embraced its rebuild after the 2011 earthquakes. Stock up for your trip at one of three supermarkets or enjoy a meal at one of more than a dozen interesting and varied cafes and restaurants. From here, travel west through the small towns, large farms, and endless skies of the Canterbury Plains. Stop for a picnic and explore the old coal mining settlement of Glentunnel, before travelling through Staveley, with its lime kilns,  Mt Somers, and the town of Geraldine.

Geraldine is a stopover for many travellers and accommodates caravans easily while providing all a traveller needs for a lunch and a cup of tea, provisions, or just a place to stretch one’s legs while meandering through its gift and chocolate shops. After Fairlie, you’ll ascend to the region known as the Mackenzie Country, named after the legendary Scottish sheep rustler who settled this land. Here, the scenery changes dramatically. Plan a few photo stops.

Make a stop in Lake Tekapo, the township which lies at the end of this stunning lake. There are shops and restaurants, lovely lakeside areas for short strolls, and photo opportunities at the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. Visitors also enjoy bike riding, more strenuous walks, kayaking, horse trekking, and in the right season, skiing, where the fields are especially good for families and those new to the sport. For our winter travellers who prefer not to ski, enjoy ice skating at the outdoor rink or warming up at Tekapo’s own hot springs spa. It’s worth staying a night in the area if time allows, to experience one of the world’s clearest night skies from the Mt John Observatory, which gives a variety of tours and is part of the Southern Hemisphere’s only (and one of the world’s eight) International Dark Sky Reserve. Then, turn off the lights, open up your sky light, and enjoy your very own view of our sky from the comfort of your caravan.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Glentanner Park Centre
SH80, Aoraki, Mount Cook
www.glentanner.co.nz
Lake Pukaki,
Pukaki
Lake Tekapo NZMCA Park
Lilybank Rd,
Tekapo
Mountains - hooker valley

Day 24

Aoraki/Mt Cook to Queenstown (3.45h)

Aoraki/Mt Cook is the main attraction in this town and mountainous activities abound, from heli skiing, to heli sightseeing, to more down to earth attractions ranging from short walks to world class tramps. The mountain, when you can catch sight of her, is one of New Zealand’s most photographed icons.

Twizel is an outdoors-person’s dream, where you can do it yourself, or hire a tour guide, for everything from fly fishing to motorcycling and from kayaking to skiing. On the right weekend, you can catch sight of New Zealand’s best young rowers as secondary school teams from around the country battle on the waters of Lake Ruataniwha for the national titles. For the more quirkily inclined, Twizel is a great base for Lord of the Rings location tours.

The next stop is Omarama. Its giant sheep statue gives a clue to the importance of sheep products to the area’s history and economy. The locale is also known for unique wind patterns, which make it a mecca for glider enthusiasts. If gliding is not what you are here for, spread your picnic rug and spend some time watching the more adventurous take to the skies.

Your trip to Queenstown begins on the beautiful Lindis Pass. Pull over and have a cup of tea for no other reason than to enjoy this stunning scenery. Continue on to Cromwell, a restored 19th century village with plenty of modern fare to indulge in. The area is also full of award winning vineyards, each which will have its own café.  New Zealand’s wine industry has developed in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades and our wines are regularly winning overseas awards. In response, our vineyards have opened their cellar doors to visitors and provide wine tastings and meals. You’ll find many of these throughout your tour.

Central Otago is also famous for its development during the early gold rush period of New Zealand’s history, and Bannockburn is a good reference point for this. Before coming in to Queenstown, you’ll find the Kawarau Bridge, home to the earliest bungy jumpers. Now, on into Queenstown, the South Island’s hottest tourist spot.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
4 Cemetery Rd, Queenstown
www.holidaypark.net.nz
Shotover River
Shotover Delta Rd,
Queenstown
POP
Glenorchy Hotel and Backpackers Ltd
42 Mull St
Glenorchy
Spectacular view of Queenstown - Snowy mountains

Day 25

Spend the day in Queenstown

The alpine resort of Queenstown is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand, as its tourist numbers in high seasons will attest. However, in your luxury accommodation on wheels, the town is yours to explore without the bother of advance bookings.  Tourists young and old flock to Queenstown to soak in its atmosphere, literally soak in luxury spas, partake of its many award-winning restaurants and cafes, and shop at upmarket boutiques.

It’s also the place to be if adventure tourism is your thing: bungy jumping, jet boating, river rafting, river surfing, horse trekking, skiing, snowboarding, sky diving…all are available here, and all are provided to the highest standards. Some quieter adventures also await, from high tea at the end of Lake Wakatipu after a leisurely ride on the SS Earnslaw, to world class golf, to wine tastings – Queenstown has got you covered.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
4 Cemetery Rd, Queenstown
www.holidaypark.net.nz
Shotover River
Shotover Delta Rd,
Queenstown
POP
Glenorchy Hotel and Backpackers Ltd
42 Mull St
Glenorchy
Bungy Jumping in Queenstown

Day 26

Queenstown to Milford Sound (4h)

Visitors will find that they have to take quite a roundabout route to get from Queenstown to Milford Sound. This route will take you through Te Anau and Matapouri, two beautiful spots to experience some of the most wondrous scenery, day hikes, walks, and views in New Zealand. Te Anau township sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest national part, can be accessed here, including the start of the Milford Track.

This far-flung part of the country offers views of the High Country, where settlers conquore the rugged scenery in the early days. Rivers full of trout meander through the countryside and you will be spoiled for choice of picnic spots.

The road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic and it is worth coming this far south just to be a part of it. Stop for photos and try to spot the “Disappearing Mountain”, near the Mirror Lakes. You’ll see Mitre Peak on a clear day after venturing through the Homer Tunnel.

From here, it’s worth taking the time for a cruise on the Milford Sounds; a once in a lifetime experience. There are day cruises, but you won’t regret taking the time for an overnight jaunt amongst the fjords and waterfalls.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Gunn’s Camp
801 Lower Hollyford Rd, Fiordland National Park, Te Anau
www.gunnscamp.org.nz
Hillside Manapouri Road Bridge
Hillside Manapouri Rd,
Manapouri
No closer option than
NZMCA Alpine Park
15 Alpine Dr,
Te Anau
Ship sailing through water

Day 27

Milford Sound to Invercargill (4h)

Backtrack to head toward Invercargill, New Zealand’s main centre in this southernmost area.  Stop in the historic town Riverton, and visit its settlers’ museum after a meal and cup of tea.

In Invercargill, try the local seafood, especially its Bluff Oysters in season, and consider a trip out to the rugged shores of New Zealand’s third island, Stewart Island. This is the best place in New Zealand to get away from it all, literally and figuratively. Stewart Island has a fascinating history and an important future as a conservation area.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Otatara Beach Road Motor Camp
375 Dunns Rd, Invercargill
www.beachroadholidaypark.co.nz
Seaward Downs Scenic Reserve
Tramway Rd West,
Seaward Downs
POP
Whitehouse Hotel
39 Wallacetown – Lorneville Hwy
Invercargill
sunrise - stewart island

Day 28

Invercargill to Dunedin (2.45h)

Visitors can skirt the southeast coast of New Zealand to head to Dunedin, or head into the Catlins, and take a day hike to see this beautiful forest, majestic waterfalls, and rugged coastline.

Dunedin is a university town, and full of interesting restaurants, pubs, and a laid back feel amongst the grandeur of beautiful buildings. It is famous for being an early gold mining town and its historic riches are still evident in the wealth of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The town founders filled their streets with impressive civic and commercial buildings, which still take pride of place today alongside more modern museums, galleries, and entertainment venues. The Otago Peninsula is a wonder, and worth heading out to, to visit its albatross colony and its excellent visitors’ centre, as well as refuges for penguins, and its fur seal colonies.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Dunedin Holiday Park Puddle Alley,
Mosgiel
Woodhaugh Park
7 Woodhaugh St, Woodhaugh,
Dunedin
surfer at clairs beach dunedin

Day 29

Spend the day in Dunedin

More to do in Dunedin: Dunedin has a rich and proud Scottish heritage, and the name itself comes from the Scottish Gaelic for Edinburgh. Its founders’ love of the old country is evident in  the architecture, the Robbie Burns statue in the main square,  even a bit of the accent you can catch in the city’s old timers. One of its early wealthier citizens built a Scottish sort of home for his family, Larnach Castle, which is well worth a visit.

For those interested in older homes, visit the historic homestead of Olveston. The city also has a great collection of boutique fashion stores, along with excellent cafes and restaurants. Take a boat tour around the harbour, or just park buy one of the beaches to watch the surfers take on the waves.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Dunedin Holiday Park
41 Victoria Rd, Dunedin
www.dunedinholidaypark.co.nz
Puddle Alley,
Mosgiel
Woodhaugh Park
7 Woodhaugh St, Woodhaugh,
Dunedin
castle - dunedin

Day 30

Dunedin to Oamaru (1.45h)

The time to Oamaru is short, but this is a road to meander on, and plan for many short breaks. The Moeraki Boulders, on the beach by Moeraki, are one of New Zealand’s natural wonders; it looks as though giants once used giant rocks as playthings and left them strewn around the beach. There are also seal and penguin colonies along the way, especially at Moeraki Lighthouse, and many more pristine beaches to stop at along the way.

Oamaru boasts some of New Zealand’s best 19th century limestone architecture including the Opera House, Forrester Gallery, and Victorian Precinct. Riverstone Kitchen and Whitestone Cheese Factory are just two places to stop for a bite, and there are wine tours to join and a whiskey factory as well. More recently, Oamaru has become something of a Steampunk headquarters and these futuristic fans of Victoriana can often be seen wandering about town. There are many bike tracks and bike rentals in town in full costume, and more penguins at the Blue Penguin Colony, one of the best eco-tourism attractions around.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
Oamaru Harbour Tourist Park
5 Esplanade, Oamaru
www.oamaruharbour.co.nz
Kakanui River
Gemmells Crossing Rd,Oamaru
Awamoko Domain
1796 Georgetown-Pukeuri Road
Awamoko
Penguin

Day 31

Oamaru to Christchurch  (3.5h)

The road north toward Christchurch cuts though Timaru. Stop here for a break, for an excellent lunch, and to replenish your wine supplies. For some local culture, visit the Te Ana Rock Art Centre, to see local Maori tribe Ngai Tahu’s rock art. Ashburton offers visitors an aviation museum, beautiful public parks and gardens, a vintage railway, and plenty of restaurants and cafes.

Christchurch is traditionally New Zealand’s most English city – imagined, laid out, planned and even settled by decree over in England. It was built around its Christ Church Cathedral and Four Avenues, furnished with the University of Canterbury and Christ’s College, peopled by the first four ships, and fitted out with Neo Gothic architecture and glorious English gardens; a bit of old England in the South Pacific.  Of course, now, it is as Kiwi as anywhere in New Zealand, and a vibrant, international place with its own flair and style. So, plan to spend the day enjoying this everchanging locale.

Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, known for its beautiful public gardens, old world charm and architecture, and its quaint and very walkable city centre. Much of this changed in the 2011 earthquakes when so much of the city was lost. However, the city is rising to the challenges, quite literally, and it is now home to funky and unique pop up malls, dozens of new buildings, high street, designer and boutique shops, a world class art gallery and museum, and restaurants galore.

Many of its heritage buildings have been restored, the beautiful Botanic Gardens remain, and the trams have returned to its streets. Take a punt down the Avon, check out the new civic areas along the river, enjoy the unique facades of New Regent Street, or go for a run at Hagley Park. Make sure you check out the transitional cardboard cathedral in the city centre and the Margaret Mahy playground, designed with the help of the children of New Zealand to be the biggest and best play space in the country.

Outside of the city, Orana Wildlife Park hosts New Zealand’s only gorilla encounter, and you may find a kiwi or two of the feathered kind both here and at Willowbank Nature reserve, where you can also take in a Maori Cultural performance. For a bit of history, head out to Ferrymead, a purpose built 19th century village, where you can experience what colonial life was like for early inhabitants. Once there, spend some time at the shore at Sumner and Redcliffs and enjoy some fish and chips on the beach.

Recommended accommodation options include:

Campground Option
Free Parking Option
NZMCA Option
North South
530 Sawyers Arms Rd,Christchurch Holiday Park
www.northsouth.co.nz
Waimakariri River West
Harrs Rd,
Kaiapoi
NZMCA Weedons Park
286 Jones Road,
Weedons
Christchurch South
road with trees on both sides