My first visit to New Zealand was in the year 2011 sometime around December . I spent three days exploring the whole of North New Zealand before i flew to Sydney, Australia to spend time at my cousins place. Those three days in New Zealand was pure bliss. I have always heard that Kiwi Land is one of the most beautiful places in the wold and post my trip i too feel the same . After all seeing is believing right? The weather in New Zealand is just perfect during the summers ( December – January is summer season in NZ) and also the best time to try those adventure sports if you are an adrenaline junkie. I went with the idea of doing a bungee and was all prepared for it ( both mentally and financially) and whilst i was waiting in the queue to pay for my jump, my mum thought it was a bad idea for me to do a solo jump! So after all the drama, i had to back out and i told my mother someday i am surely coming back to NZ with my future husband and i will do a tandem jump! Now the big question is” Did it come true? ” Hell Yes! I dont believe in dreaming…i make things work! Two years later, after i found the mister and whilst the honeymoon talks were on i suggested we do NZ and he readily agreed. And he was of the opinion that we do a road trip down south as i have already been to the North! Can it seriously get any better guys! ? Now get ready to read on our itenary and treat yourselves with some pristine views of Kiwi Land!
Trip Duration – 9 days which includes 7 days by road, 1 day by train and 1 day for resting
Travelled in the month of – January ( Summer time in New Zealand)
Route- Bangalore to Christchurch by flight > Road trip of 1570 kilometers and then a train journey from Greymouth to Christchurch and then flew out to Bangalore.
New Zealand South Island itinerary –
Day1: Upon arriving at Christchurch, we rented a car from airport . There are several car rental agencies at the airport and you can hire a car that suits your preference from any of those service providers. However, if you want to save time, then we suggest you do the booking online . A website we suggest is Rentalcargroup. The 7 day rental costed us somewhere close to 450 NZ Dollars . Plus we shelled out some extra bucks for a GPS. After the documentations were done, we got our car and drove to YMCA which is about 10 kilometers away from the airport. Booking was done through ORBITZ and a nights stay costed us approximately 50 NZD. During our time there, we checked out the Christchurch Botanic Gardens , which is ranked #3 of 149 attractions to see in Christchurch. It is a beautiful park which is very well maintained and we got to see several varieties of flowers . After enjoying the stroll at the park, we made a quick visit to Christchurch Cathedral, a fabulous looking Neo Gothic church that has survived many earthquakes. If you make it to the top of the cathedral, you will treat yourself with splendid views of the entire city…Then we visited the Cathedral Square and Cashel Street- the latter being popular for shopping centers. And before we headed to our hotel for some lunch, we also caught a glimpse of the Bridge of Remembrance and the Victoria Street Clock Tower. Now did that sound a little too much for day 1?Hmm..we don think so.You can do all of these in a paced manner without really having to rush through the landmarks. We ended our night with some steaks and wine!
Day2: We started off at 7 AM and reached Tekapo by 10.30 AM. The total drive was around 225km from Christchurch. Upon arrival we checked in at a hotel and freshened up before heading out. Since Tekapo is a very beautiful place which attracts a lot of tourists, the prices of the stay are also on the higher side. Our one night stay was approx $150NZD. I dont quite remember the name of the hotel but the views we got were to die for. I honestly thought turqiouse waters are very dreamy and probably they exist only in postcards and movies , but boy i so wrong. Lake Tekapo is the place to be! The place is surreal. There is a tiny church right next to the lake and its called Church of the Good Shepherd and you must visit it even if you are not a catholic. The church is very popular for destination weddings and if you are lucky you may even spot a few brides posing for their wedding portraits! We didnt want to do anything else so we decided to chill at the lake with some food. But if you wish, you can drive to Mount John and if the sky is clear try star gazing for a profound experience at night.
Day 3 and Day 4: We spent the next two days in Queenstown! The drive from Tekapo was approximately 256 km and took us four hours . Now Queenstown is a very popular place for adventure junkies! People from all over the world come to Queenstown to try out Bungy, Nevis Swing etc. Its just crazy amount of people who travel from far off places just to do a jump which barely lasts a few seconds. I honestly thought the people were being silly but hey i was wrong. I was pushed into doing the Tandem Nevis Swing with my husband and i cannot tell you what a fabulous experience it was. I literally had my heart in my mouth. It was scary and the wildest thing i have ever done so far in my life. We paid approx 18, 000 INR for the jump and i would say it was worth every Penny. I should do a separate blog post on my experience doing the Nevis. So apart from Adventure sports, we also made a visit to Kiwi Birdlife Park where you will get to see the National bird of NZ and also feed them. And in the night we visited a popular ice bar called Minus 5 Ice Bar where you get to dress like an eskimo and explore ice furniture and some delish cocktails! The ice bar was a recommendation from a dear cousin and i cannot thank him enough for it. After we were done with all the activities, we left on day four to Te Anau which was a 171km drive and spent the night there
Day 5: – A 2 hour drive from Te Anau to reach Milford Sound. We did a short daytime cruise and loved the experience. I still remember it was a very windy day and i was freezing in my maroon shrug which failed to serve its purpose! There is an option to do a overnight cruise too but its slightly expensive and would cost around $300
Day6: A five hour journey from Milford Sound to our next destination Wanaka. we spent the rest of the evening in Wanaka. And the only place we visited was The Puzzling World
Day7: Drive to Franz Josef Glacier and go see the Ice Age which is very much alive here. Spend the night in village and get the train for the next day
Day 8 :Drive 173 km (3hours) and left the car at the car rental agency and then we took the TranzAlpine train from Greymouth station to Christchurch . This train journey is one of the world’s top rated train journeys for the scenic views! The tickets were slightly pricey but again not complaining for the experience we got.
Day 9 – Rest in Christchurch- Spent time buying some souvenirs and chocolates
Day 10– Fly out of Christchurch
Now that was the itenary we did for our trip. This above itenary was framed by my husband after a lot of research and i must say it was a very well executed travel plan.
If you are not on a budget , then we suggest
- Heli-Hike on a glacier in Franz Josef
What we loved and will recommend
- Adventure sports at Queenstown . Be it bungy jump, canyon swing or jet boat ride
- Day trip to Milford Sound
- TranzAlpine Train journey
- Visit a local Vineyard and taste some local wine . We visited the Wooing Tree Vineyard.
- Puzzling world in Wanaka .
What you MUST DO
- Take insurance for your car
- Pack clothes season appropriately
- Try the Hokey Pokey ice-cream
- Pick up a souvenir for memory sake
Go and feel Merino ! If you didnt know New Zealand is a land of 30 million sheep and high in the mountains of the South Island they grow the world’s finest wool.
So thats it guys. We hope this post on how to plan that New Zealand South Island road trip was helpful .
Catch you in our next post, untill then