Annie, an Australian photographer and 5 friends who share a love for travel and adventure embarked on an 8-day road trip around the South Island of New Zealand. New Zealand had been very high on the group's bucket list and this was the first time any of them would be experiencing all the South has to offer. The group consisted of seasoned travellers, photographers and people from different parts of the globe. They had an incredible trip of hiking, skiing, swimming in freezing cold freshwater lakes and immersing themselves in all kinds of terrain and weather conditions.
Christchurch to Queenstown
Best Time of the Year
- Arthur's Pass
- Fox Glacier
- Mount Cook
- Lake Tekapo
- Coronet Peak
Christchurch to Arthur's Path
Distance 150km - Driving Time 2 hours
Our group flew into Christchurch the evening before picking up our motorhome.
We all met up before for breakfast and made our way together to collect our home for the week (Frontier 6 berth) from the Britz Christchurch branch. After loading our gear and stocking up with groceries we decided to head north for the first few days of our trip. The first stop of our trip was Arthur’s Pass. The drive between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass was truly magical, vast green fields as far as the eye could see, stunning mountain terrains and to top it off the beautiful weather.
We watched the sunset over the mountains from the viewpoint at Arthur’s Pass, and made our way back down the trail during blue hour. It was freezing cold and the earth was covered in snow, so to treat ourselves from a long afternoon of driving and adventuring we turned on the gas and had a lovely cup of tea to warm up.
Arthur's Path to Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Distance 180km - Driving Time 2 hours 20 mins
The second day involved a lot of driving, we agreed as a group to make the most of our 8 days and see as much of the South Island as possible. We made our way inland and along the West Coast to hike Fox Glacier.
Unfortunately, we overestimated our hiking abilities and the terrain so we were not able to make it the whole way to the Fox Glacier. However, we greeted by a beautiful rainbow and rain shower two hours into the hike which made up for it. There was a viewpoint for the Glacier halfway through the hike so we were still able to see the Glacier from afar.
We fell in love with the Northern parts of the Island. There were beautiful ferns, greenery, the sounds of nature and fresh crisp air. We were all very exhausted so we decided to spend the night at a local caravan park and treated ourselves to hot showers, an epic feed, beers from the local pub, and a cozy night's sleep.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park to Mount Aspiring National Park
Distance 160km - Driving Time 2 hours
We cooked a huge breakfast to start our day, after a massive day yesterday we decided to take things a little slower today. We eased into our morning, gave our Britz campervan and good clean and refill.
The drive was magical - winding roads, the beautiful flora that seemed to never end and reminded me of rainforest but parts were covered in snow. On the way to Mount Aspiring National Park which was where we were heading to wake up and hike for sunrise, we decided to fit in a hike to see Franz Josef Glacier.
The track to view the glacier was well kept making the walk to the viewpoint very pleasant and easy. We were greeted by a beautiful sunset on our drive through Haast.
Mount Aspiring National Park to Queenstown
Distance 130km - Driving Time 2 hours
We woke up for sunrise and made our way to the Blue Pools of Mount Aspiring National Park. The walk took us about two hours round trip to complete.
The weather was slightly raining and grey, but that didn’t stop some of the group from going for a swim in the stunning body of water. The water is absolutely gorgeous, the colour and tranquility this area possesses is mesmerising. We had lunch at a cosy cafe, sat by the fire, enjoyed wifi at the cafe and charged up our devices. We made our way to Queenstown where we would be spending the following day skiing.
Our day of skiing was definitely a highlight for our group. We lucked out with a bluebird day which had us all itching to get onto the slopes. We were like kids in a candy store, so stoked to have been able to fit this into our itinerary. Highly recommend skiing at Coronet’s Peak if you are travelling through the South Island in the winter!
Queenstown to Lake Pukaki
Distance 221km - Driving Time 3 hours
After a slow start to the morning, we made our way to Lake Pukaki.
We decided to go for a swim in Lake Pukaki - let's just say the colour of the water was as breathtaking as seeing the lake for the first time. We had never experienced cold water like this, we were only able to spend a total of less than a minute in the water as it was so bitterly cold! We would definitely love to do this again whenever we go back, something you won’t forget and makes you feel alive. After our swim and lunch we drove into Mount Cook, as we began to drive through the National Park we were greeted with a snowstorm. We had to pull over and put our snow chains on, there were a lot of other vehicles that were unable to move as they were having problems with their snow chains or their vehicle was unable to drive due to the conditions. Once we had secured our chains, we turned around at the first safe place and made our way back to Lake Pukaki.
Lake Pukaki to Queenstown
Distance 221km - Driving Time 3 hours
Our second last day involved a lot of driving, the weather was stormy and grey so this made being in the campervan for the day a lot more bearable. We listened to music, shared stories and ate a tonne of road trip snacks. The drive was beautiful nonetheless and once we arrived at Queenstown we treated ourselves to take out. We made our way to the holiday park and had a fun night drinking wine and laughing about all of our adventures and favourite parts of the trip.
Our final day was very relaxed, we had a sleep-in, cooked a big breakfast, did our laundry and sorted ourselves out ready for our departure. We returned the motorhome back to the Queenstown branch and all parted ways.
Inspired to go on a campervan adventure from Christchurch to Queenstown and to discover all the wonderful sights Annie and her friends suggested? To get started on this journey, book a Britz campervan today. Or check out our latest deals and specials here.