28 days in South Island Itinerary

28 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island visit planner

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Route & dates

28 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Sydney
Fly + Bus:  8​h 30​min
1
Hanmer Springs
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h
2
Kaikoura
— 2 nights
Bus:  3​h
3
Christchurch
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h
4
Invercargill
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
5
Dunedin
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 45​min
6
Mt. Cook Village
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 45​min
7
Wanaka
— 2 nights
Bus:  2​h 30​min
8
Queenstown
— 3 nights
Drive:  6​h
9
Hokitika
— 2 nights
Fly + Bus:  5​h
10
Lake Tekapo
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 30​min
11
Oamaru
— 3 nights
+2
Drive + Fly + Drive:  12​h 15​min
12
Stewart Island
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  13​h 15​min
End: Sydney

1
night
Hanmer Springs

Hanmer 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 30th (Thu), look for gifts at The Decadent Fudge Company, then take in the exciting artwork at Majuba Gallery, and then head outdoors with Hanmer Llamas.

For more things to do, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, read Hanmer Springs day trip planner .

Sydney, Australia to Hanmer Springs is an approximately 8.5-hour combination of flight and bus. The time zone changes from Australian Eastern Standard Time (New South Wales) (AEST) to New Zealand Standard Time (NZST), which is usually a 2 hour difference. Cap off your sightseeing on the 30th (Thu) early enough to go by car to Kaikoura.

Things to do in Hanmer Springs

Outdoors Shopping Museums
Find places to stay Jul 29 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Hanmer Llamas ©
Hanmer Llamas
Majuba Gallery ©
Majuba Gallery

2
nights
Kaikoura

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 31st (Fri): relax in the rural setting at The Point Sheep Shearing Show, then get engrossed in the history at Kaikoura Museum, then surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, and finally look for gifts at Kaikoura Cheese. On the 1st (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: hit the slopes at Mount Lyford Alpine Resort, then trek along Ohau Stream Walk, and then Head underground at Maori Leap Cave.

For more things to do, reviews, traveler tips, and tourist information, you can read our Kaikoura online route planner .

You can drive from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of bus and train. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Sat) to allow time to take a bus to Christchurch.

Things to do in Kaikoura

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trip

Mount Lyford Alpine Resort
Find places to stay Jul 30 — Aug 1:
Highlights from your plan
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Kaikoura Museum ©
Kaikoura Museum
Ohau Stream Walk ©
Ohau Stream Walk

2
nights
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Start off your visit on the 2nd (Sun): have fun at Newzengland Ltd - Clay Shooting & Archery Services, then don't miss a visit to Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, then have some family-friendly fun at Velocity Karts, and finally test your team's savvy at popular escape rooms. On the next day, take in the dramatic natural features at Port Hills, then relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, then contemplate the long history of Riccarton House & Bush, and finally see the world from above with a helicopter tour.

To find other places to visit, reviews, photos, and tourist information, use the Christchurch trip planner .

You can take a bus from Kaikoura to Christchurch in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or drive. In August, daily temperatures in Christchurch can reach 14°C, while at night they dip to 2°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Mon) early enough to travel to Invercargill.

Things to do in Christchurch

Fun & Games Historic Sites Parks
Find places to stay Aug 1 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Velocity Karts ©
Velocity Karts
Spas

2
nights
Invercargill

Invercargill ©
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. On the 4th (Tue), tour the pleasant surroundings at Oreti Beach, explore by horseback at Rakiura Rides, then delve into the distant past at Invercargill Brewery, and finally pause for some photo ops at Burt Munro Statue. Here are some ideas for day two: steep yourself in history at Demolition World, browse the fresh offerings at Southern Farmers Market, and then get interesting insight from Tours.

To find maps, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Invercargill road trip planning website .

You can fly from Christchurch to Invercargill in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 5th (Wed) early enough to drive to Dunedin.

Things to do in Invercargill

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Fishing Charters & Tours
Find places to stay Aug 3 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Rakiura Rides ©
Rakiura Rides
Demolition World ©
Demolition World
Fishing Charters & Tours

1
night
Dunedin

Dunedin ©
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.
Start off your visit on the 6th (Thu): get great views at Signal Hill, identify plant and animal life at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, then view the masterpieces at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and finally trek along Sandfly Bay Track.

To see photos, other places to visit, reviews, and tourist information, read Dunedin attractions planning app .

Getting from Invercargill to Dunedin by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Thu) to allow time to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Wildlife Outdoors
Find places to stay Aug 5 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Orokonui Ecosanctuary ©
Orokonui Ecosanctuary
Signal Hill ©
Signal Hill
Dunedin Public Art Gallery ©
Dunedin Public Art Gallery

1
night
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
On the 7th (Fri), trek along Governors Bush Walk, stroll through Mueller Hut Route, and then trek along Sealy Tarns Track.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, read Mt. Cook Village trip itinerary builder website .

Getting from Dunedin to Mt. Cook Village by car takes about 3.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Fri) to allow time to travel to Wanaka.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trip

Sealy Tarns Track
Find places to stay Aug 6 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Sealy Tarns Track ©
Sealy Tarns Track
Mueller Hut Route ©
Mueller Hut Route

2
nights
Wanaka

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 8th (Sat): relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, then head outdoors with Oxbow The Adventure Co., and then take in the pleasant sights at Beacon Point Walk. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 9th (Sun): hike along Isthmus Peak Track, examine the collection at The World of Deer Museum & Speciality Shop, and then trek along Rob Roy Track.

For traveler tips, reviews, where to stay, and more tourist information, use the Wanaka trip itinerary site .

The Route module can help you plan travel from Mt. Cook Village to Wanaka. Finish your sightseeing early on the 9th (Sun) to allow enough time to take a bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors Parks Trails
Find places to stay Aug 7 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Spas

3
nights
Queenstown

Queenstown ©
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 Break One and Queenstown Ice Arena. Get out of town with these interesting Queenstown side-trips: Glenorchy Animal Experience (in Glenorchy) and Real Country (in Kingston). There's much more to do: have some family-friendly fun at iFLY Queenstown, explore the activities along Arrow River, hike along Mt Crichton Loop Track, and do a tasting at Mt Rosa Wines.

To see photos, traveler tips, and tourist information, refer to the Queenstown itinerary builder tool .

You can take a bus from Wanaka to Queenstown in 2.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Hokitika.

Things to do in Queenstown

Fun & Games Parks Outdoors

Side Trips

Glenorchy Animal Experience, Real Country
Find places to stay Aug 9 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Break One ©
Break One
CaddyShack City Mini Golf ©
CaddyShack City Mini Golf
Queenstown Ice Arena ©
Queenstown Ice Arena

2
nights
Hokitika

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. Explore hidden gems such as Devils Punchbowl Walking Track and Arthur's Pass Walking Track. Explore Hokitika's surroundings by going to Greymouth (Point Elizabeth Walkway & Woods Creek Track), Otira Viaduct Lookout (in Arthur's Pass National Park) and Coal Creek Track (in Runanga). There's lots more to do: admire the sheer force of Dorothy Falls, trek along Tunnel Terrace Walk, view the masterpieces at Hokitika Craft Gallery, and admire the landmark architecture of Hokitika Town Clock.

To find traveler tips, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our Hokitika route planner.

Drive from Queenstown to Hokitika in 6 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 15th (Sat) to allow enough time to travel to Lake Tekapo.

Things to do in Hokitika

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Arthur's Pass National Park, Greymouth, Coal Creek Track
Find places to stay Aug 12 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Mahinapua ©
Lake Mahinapua
Otira Viaduct Lookout ©
Otira Viaduct Lookout
Bonz 'N Stonz ©
Bonz 'N Stonz

3
nights
Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo ©
Located in a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, Lake Tekapo offers evenings of stargazing and days of long walks.
Kick off your visit on the 16th (Sun): see Off-Road Tours, then stroll through Mount John Summit Circuit Track, then look for gifts at Aotea Gifts Tekapo, and finally take in the exciting artwork at Burkes Pass Gallery. On your second day here, identify plant and animal life at Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and then fly down the slopes at Roundhill Ski Area.

To see traveler tips, where to stay, maps, and other tourist information, use the Lake Tekapo trip planner .

You can do a combination of flight and bus from Hokitika to Lake Tekapo in 5 hours. Other options are to drive; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 18th (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Oamaru.

Things to do in Lake Tekapo

Parks Outdoors Winter Sports

Side Trip

Burkes Pass Gallery
Find places to stay Aug 15 — 18:
Highlights from your plan
Roundhill Ski Area ©
Roundhill Ski Area
Lake Alexandrina ©
Lake Alexandrina
Off-Road Tours

3
nights
Oamaru

Oamaru ©
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Real Dog Adventures NZ and Sanctum Grove Equine. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Oamaru: Kurow (Aviemore Dam & Waitaki Hydro Station Lookout), The Vanished World Centre (in Duntroon) and Silo Art (in Waimate).

For where to stay, maps, reviews, and other tourist information, read Oamaru trip planning tool .

Drive from Lake Tekapo to Oamaru in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Fri) so you can travel to Stewart Island.

Things to do in Oamaru

Outdoors Museums Parks

Side Trips

Kurow, Hampden Stores, The Vanished World Centre, Real Dog Adventures NZ, Silo Art
Find places to stay Aug 18 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Sanctum Grove Equine ©
Sanctum Grove Equine
Real Dog Adventures NZ ©
Real Dog Adventures NZ
Aviemore Dam ©
Aviemore Dam

2
nights
Stewart Island

Stewart Island ©
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Kayaking & Canoeing and Ulva Island.

For maps, other places to visit, more things to do, and tourist information, read Stewart Island day trip planning site .

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Oamaru to Stewart Island. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 24th (Mon) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Stewart Island

Outdoors Tours Parks
Find places to stay Aug 22 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Rakiura Track ©
Rakiura Track
Fishing Charters & Tours
Ulva Island ©
Ulva Island

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