Help w/ 2 Weeks to South Island NZ by Campervan

Dec 30th, 2017, 12:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 4
Help w/ 2 Weeks to South Island NZ by Campervan

My wife and I are making a 2 week campervan road trip through the South Island of New Zealand in the last 2 weeks of February of 2018. We’re renting a fully Self Contained – toilet/shower – van for the entire trip. We’re avid hikers, in decent shape and look to make the most of any experience. Don’t want to rush but do want to make it as comprehensive as we can – that way we’ll know more for our next trip (woah – getting ahead of myself here). Anyways – looking for any advice/suggestions on our initial itinerary. Let me know what you think. Thanks a million

Day 0 – We lose a day flying from the states across the international date line

Day 1 - Arrive from the US into Auckland 10PM - hotel for the night near the airport (aside from losing a day going across the date line and sitting on a plane – we traveled during normal waking hours for us – so hopefully not too jetlagged – hold for laughs)

Day 2 - Fly to Christchurch in the AM - pick up Campervan – get some basic groceries - drive to lake Tekapu (DOC campsite). We would arrive after dark - first time driving opposite side of the road - would you find this unwise?

Day 3 - Morning at Tekapu and Drive to Mt. Cook (Aoraki Village) Day Hike and then back to Pukaki for the night – star gazing (DOC campsite)

Day 4 - Drive to Queenstown through Lindis pass (arrive into town and spend a day in town, maybe a local hike – Bob’s Cove?, Maybe do some concrete luge? (DOC campsite)

Day 5 - Day in Queenstown - adventure to be decided and/or a local hike – such as Ben Lomon or Queenstown Hill. (Holiday Park for the night for refilling)

Day 6 - Head for TeAneu to Milford (stop along the way for a day hike – Kepler? Key Summit?) - arrive at Milford Sound Lodge for campervan spot for the night

Day 7 - Kayak tour on Milford Sound / Evening trout fishing (Milford Sound Lodge campervan spot another night)

Day 8 - Hike somewhere in Fiordland area – maybe around Lake Marian? (Milford Sound Lodge campervan spot)

Day 9 - Head back to Queenstown - do a day of winery touring and a night in town (Lake Moke DOC for the night)

Day 10 - Head for Wanaka - day of hiking nearby / night in town (DOC campsite)

Day 11 - Head to do Rob Roy Track/Peak in Mt. Aspiring NP (DOC campsite)

Day 12 - Make the long drive all the way to Abel Tasman NP/Nelson Area (we're skipping the glaciers, Arthur's pass) make quick stops at Blue Pools Walk and Hokitika and Punakaiki (if the drive gets too long maybe stay a night along this route)

Day 13 - Make for Abel Tasman - take a tour to hike along one of the tracks - all day (DOC campsite)

Day 14 - Find a beach nearby and have a lazy day (Holiday Park – clean out van/refill)

Day 15 – Drive back to Christchurch – either through (Kaikouri down the east coast) or doubling back towards (Greymouth to drive through Arthur’s Pass) to catch at 6PM flight back to Auckland and then back to the US from Auckland at 12PM (tears will be shed) – fly back to US and work the next day (as we’ll fly back across the international date night (that day is going to suck)

*All in all it looks likes total distance at a minimum of about 1500miles / 2400 km and about 32 hours of driving
jluvaz is offline  
Dec 30th, 2017, 03:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,772

You have no idea.


Unwise is an understatement. Just don't. Not only is it dangerous for you and others, but you'll miss the scenery, and what is the point in going to NZ if you're going to drive at night and miss the main attraction...the scenery?

Is there a late night flight to Christchurch? This would make more sense than a night in Auckland. You could take a shuttle to a nearby airport hotel, get some much needed sleep, pick up your campervan the next morning and then set out fresh for your drive to Tekapo.


The drive from Queenstown to Milford is four hours, probably longer in a campervan. Long days will be in your favor, but you'll still want to plan well.


No, no, no! This is a 9.5 hour drive without stops! This is nuts. Definitely spend a night somewhere en route.

No tour needed for Abel Tasman. Take a water taxi in, walk a section of the track, water taxi out. Or is that what you meant by tour?


Not a good idea at all. The drive from the Abel Tasman area to Christchurch via Kaikoura is six hours - on a good day and without stops. It's taken me nine hours to make this drive.

It makes even less sense to double back via the West Coast.

I highly recommend you stay much closer to Christchurch on your day of departure. Kaikoura would make a good option.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2017, 03:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,747
Is there a DOC campsite at Lake Tekapo? Freedom camping is not allowed there. There is a holiday park at Lake Tekapo:

Do you have this brochure?

I'm sure you're aware you'll be here during Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holidays, when NZ receives its greatest number of Chinese tourists and every place will be busier. Please don't rush.
Diamantina is offline  
Jan 10th, 2018, 12:27 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 67
Day 2 - It's not dark till 8.30ish (It's 9.20pm as I type and still light). Unless you spend an age grocery shopping or plan lots of stops you should be driving the daylight surely? Or have i misunderstood?

Days 12-15 - Yikes! That's an 8 day holiday in 3 days! Can you one way hire and leave the camper in Nelson and fly back to AKL from there?

Spelling places names correctly may help with googling...TekapO, Te AnAu, KaikourA.

Be really careful with leaving your camper unattended while you go for walks. Some people are jerks and they get broken into. Take the important stuff with you.
Thelittlestkiwi is offline  
Jan 16th, 2018, 07:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 4
Op response

Thank you all so much for your help/assistance/advice. We’re very thankful to have some opinions. We’ve thought about what you have posted and modified our trip to exclude the north part of the south island (Abel Tasman/Kaikoura). We’re going to go up the west coast a little bit, but cut through Arthur’s Pass instead on our way back to Christchurch. We’re spending more time in/around Wanaka and making the west coast drive take a few days.

Day 1 – Fly into Auckland - spend the night in hotel near airport

Day 2 – Fly into Christchurch - pick up van – Drive to Lake Tekapo

Day 3 – Pukaki / Mt. Count – Hiking in/around Aoraki Village

Day 4 – Morning in Mackenzie Basin and drive to Queenstown

Day 5 – Day in Queenstown - Hiking

Day 6 – Day in Queenstown – Wine Tour

Day 7 – Drive to Milford (stopping to smell the roses / hike)

Day 8 – Kayak Tour on Milford – Drive back and spend night in Te Anau

Day 9 – Drive to Wanaka – Day in town

Day 10 – Wanaka Wildwire (adventure)

Day 11 – Mt. Aspiring NP – Day hike

Day 12 – Drive to Glaciers – stop to hike Blue Pools and then hike around Glaciers (no formal guided hike or heli-hike)

Day 13 – Drive to Hokitika – hike the gorge

Day 14 – Drive to Arthur’s Pass – camp somewhere near the Punchbowl Waterfall

Day 15 – Drive to Christchurch – clean out van and depart back to Auckland to fly home
jluvaz is offline  

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