Described as the touring route to rule them all, and rated as one of the Top 10 drives in the world, it is not hard to find a reason to jump into a campervan and explore the Southern Scenic Route.
Check out this driving itinerary that includes all the major attractions and stops along the way. Don't limit yourself to one day in each place, each of the attractions should be given hours of attention to truly enjoy them. Follow your nose and take in the beauty this region has to offer at your own pace.
Queenstown to Queenstown
Best Time of the Year
October to March
- Te Anau
- Milford Sound
- Curio Bay
- Purakuanui Falls
- Nugget Point Lighthouse
- Tunnel Beach
Once you collect your campervan from our depot, spend the day exploring Queenstown, as New Zealand's adventure capital, the options for activities are endless. Throw yourself off a ledge with a Bungy, zip down a snowy mountain in some skies, cruise over Lake Wakatipu or dine out of one of the region's many cellar doors.
Queenstown truly does live up to the hype with a buzzing city centre set against a spectacular lakeside setting. With plenty of holiday parks and reserves near the town centre, it is a campervan haven!
Park up at the Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park for the evening and unwind in this incredible place!
Queenstown to Te Anau
Distance 180km - Driving Time 2 hours 15 minutes
After taking in the epic scenery one more time with a morning coffee and brekkie, jump straight on the road and have a go at one more of Queenstown's many activities before heading to Te Anau. This drive will take you past some of the best freshwater fishing rivers in the world. Seen as a nirvana by many fishermen, don't be shy to cast your line out and have a go at catching some dinner to break up your drive.
Head to Te Anau Top 10 Holiday Park for the evening. Family-run and family-friendly, this holiday park offers quiet spacious accommodation for all budgets in central Te Anau.
Miles Holden, Tourism New Zealand Image Gallery
Explore Te Anau
Te Anau is the gateway to one of the world's most stunning regions. Surrounded by Great Walks and a lakefront to relax beside, we don't blame you if you want to park up here for a couple of days! Visit the Glowworm caves to experience a mysterious underworld travelling past the rushing water of an underground stream before drifting into the darkness surrounded by the silence and luminosity of the hundreds of glowworms that call these caves home.
For lunch, try out Redcliff Café for a candlelit cosy dining experience with locally sourced food matched with local wines, amid nostalgic décor. If you're wanting something easy and, on the go, check out Bao Now, a food truck that serves up Kiwi-Asian fusion baos, rice burgers, and salads to hungry travellers.
Spend the afternoon floating atop the water with a Te Anau lake cruise. Discover the South Fiord whilst travelling to hidden corners of the second largest lake in New Zealand and go exploring on a gentle nature walk to the Hidden Lakes. If you are wanting something a little more adrenalin-packed, try out a Fiordland jet!
For a wildlife fix, visit the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary for some Takahe feeding and fill your heart whilst you admire the chicks that are part of a national breeding programme.
Head back to your accommodation for the evening for a campervan dinner and unwind before another day on the road.
If you plan on staying in Te Anau a while, head up to Milford Sound for a cruise along the lake before heading to the next stop.
Videocopter, Great South Image Gallery
Te Anau to Western Southland
Distance 200km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Enjoy the lazy drive to Western Southland, home of the Southern Scenic Route, and take in the incredible views as you travel along the coastline. Take some time to explore the eclectic main street of Riverton. Check out galleries, thrift stores, and environment shops whilst taking in the seaside air in this quaint town. Visit Te Hikoi Museum to learn about the rich Māori and European settler history of the region.
Head to Riverton Beachhouse Restaurant for a spot of lunch and a drink! Situated in one of Riverton's prime spots on the Riverton Rocks Highway, this restaurant boasts sweeping sea views no matter the season. Enjoy food from a menu focusing on local produce and fresh baking.
Spend the afternoon dipping your toes at some epic beaches. If you are wanting to surf, check out Colac Bay, or if you're after a relaxing laze, try Monkey Island.
Tuatuapere is known as the Sausage Capital of New Zealand. Head to Tui Base Camp for the night and be sure to try one of the tasty original recipe snags that are up for grabs! Try them at the base camp's restaurant or get some takeaway to cook up in the comfort of your campervan at the campsite.
Videocopter, Southland Image Gallery
Western Southland to Invercargill
Distance 157km - Driving Time 2 hours 15 minutes
You've nearly reached halfway! Start your visit by driving out to Bluff to see the infamous Bluff signpost. Be sure to stop at one of the local eateries to try some of the freshest seafood available.
Spend some time exploring Bill Richardson Transport World, an experience that will transport the whole family to a nostalgic walk back in time. With wearable art, vehicles, a theatre, and odes to many famous icons, it's hard not to get lost in this epic emporium!
After getting your fix of all things at Bill Richardson Transport World it's time for a nature fix. Spend your afternoon getting lost in Queens Park, the 81-hectare jewel in the centre of Invercargill. Recognised as one of the most important parks in New Zealand, this spot is any nature lover's playground!
To wrap up your day, head to the Invercargill Top 10 Holiday Park to unwind.
Sam Deuchrass, Southland Image Gallery
Invercargill to Clutha & The Caitlins
Distance 94km - Driving Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Begin your day by driving to Slope Point, the southernmost point of the South Island. Bring a coffee for the road and try to arrive in time to catch a sunrise and acknowledge how far you've come on this trip!
Next up head to Curio Bay, home to a 250-million-year-old Petrified Forest and Hoiho nesting ground on one side, and perfect swimming and sunning spot on the other side, you could easily spend hours here. Keep an eye out for a pod of friendly Hectors Dolphins interacting with surfers in the area. For lunch, try Curioscape and check out their interactive experience which demonstrates geological changes that have occurred over millions of years.
After a day at the beach, head to Curioscape's campground to unwind before another day of exploring!
Explore Clutha & The Caitlins
Distance 140km - Driving Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Depending on the time of year, look into visiting the Cathedral Caves – a highlight for all visitors to the Caitlins. Located in cliffs at the northern end of Waipati Beach, these caves measure 200 metres and up to 30 metres high and are a world-renowned geological formation.
Follow the roads through the Caitlins and weave between coastline and forest and take in all the incredible views. To stretch your legs, pull into Purakuanui Falls for a short walk to get you up close and personal to one of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand.
Head on to Nugget Point Lighthouse. This is a must-do stop and will treat you to close encounters with sea lions and seals lounging on rocks below and a spectacular lookout to the horizon. If you are wanting to get as close as possible to the nuggets over the horizon, book in a sunrise kayak tour for tomorrow morning.
Head to Purakuanui Bay Campsite for the evening and take in the striking views of cliff faces. There is a good surf beach south of the camp if you're after an evening surf!
Clutha & The Caitlins to Dunedin
Distance 151km - Driving Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Your day in Dunedin will fly by! With an abundance of incredible architecture to explore – make sure you visit Larnach Castle. Dating back to 1871, a guided tour through this castle will captivate you on a journey back in time.
Follow the Street Art Trail through the central city to get a feel for the culture and vibe of this special city. If it's a dry day, head to Tunnel Beach for some spectacular coastal views that will make you feel like you're on the edge of the world. Follow the 2km return walk through an excavated tunnel to a secluded beach.
Head to Dunedin Holiday Park for the last night of your trip and reflect on all the incredible places you have been to over the last 8 days.
Tourism New Zealand Image Gallery
Dunedin to Queenstown
Distance 275km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Begin the drive back to Queenstown to return your campervan at our depot and wrap up this epic road trip!