30 days in South Island Itinerary

30 days in South Island Itinerary

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Route & dates

30 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Perth
Fly:  9 h 30 min
1
Christchurch
— 4 nights
Drive:  2 h 15 min
2
Timaru
— 2 nights
Drive:  2 h 30 min
3
Dunedin
— 2 nights
Drive:  1 h 15 min
4
Balclutha
— 1 night
Drive:  1 h 45 min
5
Invercargill
— 2 nights
Drive:  2 h 15 min
6
Queenstown
— 3 nights
Bus:  2 h 30 min
7
Wanaka
— 3 nights
Drive:  2 h 30 min
8
Mt. Cook Village
— 3 nights
Drive:  3 h 15 min
9
Hokitika
— 2 nights
Drive:  5 h 45 min
10
Collingwood
— 1 night
Drive:  2 h 15 min
11
Nelson
— 3 nights
Drive:  2 h
12
Picton
— Few hours
Drive:  3 h 45 min
13
Pohara
— 2 nights
Drive:  7 h 15 min
End: Wellington

4
nights
Christchurch

Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Popular historic sites such as Port Hills and Taylors Mistake - Awaroa / Godley Head Walk are in your itinerary. You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Sumner Beach (Cave Rock) and International Antarctic Centre. Explore Christchurch's surroundings by going to Akaroa (Saint Peter's Anglican Church, Dolphin & Whale Watching, & more). Next up on the itinerary: relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, steep yourself in history at Riccarton House & Bush, take in nature's colorful creations at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, and take an in-depth tour of Canterbury Museum.

To see more things to do, reviews, traveler tips, and more tourist information, go to the Christchurch trip itinerary builder website .

Perth, Australia to Christchurch is an approximately 9.5-hour flight. The time zone difference when traveling from Perth to Christchurch is 4 hours. Prepare for little chillier weather when traveling from Perth in December: high temperatures in Christchurch hover around 24°C and lows are around 12°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 21st (Sat) early enough to travel to Timaru.

Things to do in Christchurch

Parks Outdoors Tours

Side Trip

Akaroa
Find places to stay Dec 17 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Hinewai Reserve ©
Hinewai Reserve
Port Hills ©
Port Hills

2
nights
Timaru

Timaru ©
Timaru is a port city in the southern Canterbury region of New Zealand, located 157 kilometres southwest of Christchurch and about 196 kilometres northeast of Dunedin on the eastern Pacific coast of the South Island. Start off your visit on the 21st (Sat): kick back and relax at Caroline Bay Beach, then take in the exciting artwork at York Street Gallery of Fine Art, then examine the collection at South Canterbury Museum, and finally examine the collection at Pleasant Point Museum and Railway. On the 22nd (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in the exciting artwork at Te Ana Maori Rock Art, see the sky in a new way at Kiwi Observatory, then identify plant and animal life at Otipua Wetland, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at Sacred Heart Basilica.

To see more things to do, other places to visit, reviews, and tourist information, read our Timaru trip planner .

Traveling by car from Christchurch to Timaru takes 2.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Dunedin.

Things to do in Timaru

Museums Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Pleasant Point Museum and Railway
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Caroline Bay Beach ©
Caroline Bay Beach
Pleasant Point Museum and Railway ©
Pleasant Point Museum and Railway
South Canterbury Museum ©
South Canterbury Museum

2
nights
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 23rd (Mon): pause for some serene contemplation at St. Paul's Cathedral, pause for some photo ops at Robert Burns Statue, then look for all kinds of wild species at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, then see the interesting displays at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, and finally pause for some serene contemplation at First Church of Otago. On the 24th (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: kick back and relax at St Clair Beach, see the interesting displays at Whakamana Cannabis Museum, and then look for all kinds of wild species at Shag Point Nature Reserve.

To see photos, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Dunedin online tour planner .

You can drive from Timaru to Dunedin in 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) early enough to drive to Balclutha.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Wildlife Museums

Side Trip

Shag Point Nature Reserve
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Orokonui Ecosanctuary ©
Orokonui Ecosanctuary
First Church of Otago ©
First Church of Otago
St. Paul's Cathedral ©
St. Paul's Cathedral

1
night
Balclutha

Balclutha ©
Balclutha is a town in Otago, lying towards the end of the Clutha River, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. You've now added Nugget Point Lighthouse to your itinerary. Start off your visit on the 25th (Wed): visit a coastal fixture at Nugget Point Lighthouse, see the interesting displays at South Otago Museum, examine the collection at Sod Cottage, examine the collection at Dollyworld, then enjoy the sea views from Nugget Point/Tokata Walks, and finally kick back and relax at Kaka Point Beach.

For photos, other places to visit, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Balclutha online day trip planner .

Traveling by car from Dunedin to Balclutha takes 1.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) to allow time to drive to Invercargill.

Things to do in Balclutha

Museums Historic Sites Parks

Side Trips

Sod Cottage, Nugget Point Lighthouse, Kaka Point Beach
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Nugget Point Lighthouse ©
Nugget Point Lighthouse
Sod Cottage ©
Sod Cottage
South Otago Museum ©
South Otago Museum

2
nights
Invercargill

Invercargill ©
Invercargill is the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the southernmost cities in the world. Kick off your visit on the 26th (Thu): look for all kinds of wild species at Curio Bay Natural Heritage Centre, steep yourself in history at Demolition World, then get engrossed in the history at E Hayes and Sons - The World's Fastest Indian, and finally take in the architecture and atmosphere at St. Mary's Basilica. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: tour the pleasant surroundings at Oreti Beach, then see the interesting displays at Bill Richardson Transport World, and then delve into the distant past at Invercargill Brewery.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, photos, and more tourist information, read our Invercargill online trip planner .

Traveling by car from Balclutha to Invercargill takes 2 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 28th (Sat) so you can go by car to Queenstown.

Things to do in Invercargill

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Curio Bay Natural Heritage Centre
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Bill Richardson Transport World ©
Bill Richardson Transport World
Demolition World ©
Demolition World

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.
Arrowtown Chinese Settlement and Vesta Design Boutique will appeal to history buffs. Explore hidden gems such as Fishing Charters & Tours and Fallen Soldiers Memorial. The adventure continues: whizz through the canopy at some of the top local zipline courses and adventure parks, identify plant and animal life at Kiwi Birdlife Park, stroll around Village Green, and get the adrenaline pumping with an extreme tour.

To see traveler tips and other tourist information, use the Queenstown travel planning tool .

Drive from Invercargill to Queenstown in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) to allow enough time to take a bus to Wanaka.

Things to do in Queenstown

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Arrowtown
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Lake Hayes Walkway ©
Lake Hayes Walkway
Fishing Charters & Tours
Arrowtown Chinese Settlement ©
Arrowtown Chinese Settlement

3
nights
Wanaka

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.
Step off the beaten path and head to Oxbow The Adventure Co. and Bendigo Historic Reserve. Get a sense of the local culture at Rippon Vineyard and The Picture Lounge. Next up on the itinerary: trek along Roys Peak Track, tour the pleasant surroundings at Rob Roy Track, and see the interesting displays at The World of Deer Museum & Speciality Shop.

To find maps, where to stay, reviews, and more tourist information, read our Wanaka online route planner .

You can take a bus from Queenstown to Wanaka in 2.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Wanaka

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trip

Bendigo Historic Reserve
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 3:
Highlights from your plan
Oxbow The Adventure Co. ©
Oxbow The Adventure Co.
Roys Peak Track ©
Roys Peak Track

3
nights
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
Get outdoors at Aoraki/Mt. Cook and Mueller Hut Route. Get some cultural insight at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and The Church of the Good Shepherd. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Mt. Cook Village: New Zealand Alpine Lavender Farm (in Pukaki) and New Zealand Alpine Lavender (in Twizel). Next up on the itinerary: trek along Sealy Tarns Track and tour the pleasant surroundings at Hooker Valley Track.

To see more things to do, other places to visit, ratings, and other tourist information, use the Mt. Cook Village road trip planner .

Explore your travel options from Wanaka to Mt. Cook Village with the Route module. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Mon) early enough to travel to Hokitika.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trips

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu), New Zealand Alpine Lavender Farm, New Zealand Alpine Lavender, The Church of the Good Shepherd
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre ©
Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

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. Museum-lovers will get to explore Wilderness Gallery and Bonz 'N Stonz. Attractions like Hokitika Beach and National Kiwi Centre make great kid-friendly stops. There's lots more to do: get outside with Glow Worm Dell, identify plant and animal life at Hokitika Gorge Walk, view the masterpieces at Hokitika Craft Gallery, and admire the sheer force of Dorothy Falls.

For photos, maps, reviews, and tourist information, read Hokitika trip itinerary planner .

You can drive from Mt. Cook Village to Hokitika in 6.5 hours. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Wed) so you can travel to Collingwood.

Things to do in Hokitika

Parks Outdoors Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Hokitika Beach ©
Hokitika Beach
Lake Kaniere ©
Lake Kaniere
Wilderness Gallery ©
Wilderness Gallery

1
night
Collingwood

Collingwood
Collingwood is a town in the north-west corner of the South Island of New Zealand along Golden Bay. For photos, more things to do, other places to visit, and tourist information, go to the Collingwood trip builder app .

You can drive from Hokitika to Collingwood in 6 hours. You'll set off for Nelson on the 9th (Thu).

Things to do in Collingwood

Outdoors Parks Tours
Find places to stay Jan 8 — 9:

3
nights
Nelson

Nelson ©
Put on your shades to enjoy the sights of Nelson, one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand.
Step off the beaten path and head to Kaiteriteri Beach and Railway Reserve. Take a break from the city and head to Mount Robert Circuit and u-fly extreme. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Nelson: Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park (in Kaiteriteri) and Michael Macmillan Sculptor and Country Homeware (in Upper Moutere). There's more to do: look for all kinds of wild species at Brook Waimarama Sanctuary and take a memorable tour with Tours.

For other places to visit, ratings, more things to do, and more tourist information, read Nelson travel planner.

Traveling by car from Collingwood to Nelson takes 2.5 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Sun) early enough to drive to Picton.

Things to do in Nelson

Outdoors Parks Trails

Side Trips

Kaiteriteri, u-fly extreme, Michael Macmillan Sculptor and Country Homeware, Mount Robert Circuit
Find places to stay Jan 8 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park ©
Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park
Mount Robert Circuit ©
Mount Robert Circuit
Brook Waimarama Sanctuary ©
Brook Waimarama Sanctuary

few
hours
Picton

Picton ©
Take photo after stunning photo in Picton, the gateway to South Island.
On the 12th (Sun), browse the exhibits of Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, get up close and personal with brilliant marine life at EcoWorld Aquarium and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and then see the interesting displays at The National Whale Centre.

For reviews, ratings, where to stay, and more tourist information, use the Picton road trip planner.

Getting from Nelson to Picton by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: take a bus. In January, daytime highs in Picton are 24°C, while nighttime lows are 17°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 12th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel to Pohara.

Things to do in Picton

Museums Zoos & Aquariums Parks
Find places to stay Jan 12 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Edwin Fox Maritime Museum ©
Edwin Fox Maritime Museum

2
nights
Pohara

Pohara ©
On the 13th (Mon), admire the sheer force of Wainui Falls Track, Head underground at Rawhiti Cave Track, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Tata Beach, then take in the exciting artwork at Lollokiki Sculpture 705, and finally hike along Harwoods Hole Track.

To find other places to visit, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, go to the Pohara holiday planner .

You can drive from Picton to Pohara in 4 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 14th (Tue) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Pohara

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Takaka, Harwoods Hole Track, Wainui Falls Track, The Grove Scenic Reserve
Find places to stay Jan 12 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Wainui Falls Track ©
Wainui Falls Track
The Grove Scenic Reserve ©
The Grove Scenic Reserve
Harwoods Hole Track ©
Harwoods Hole Track

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