Reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier New Zealand.

In this comprehensive South Island Itinerary, we’ll guide you through a journey that covers the must-see destinations and experiences this breathtaking island has to offer.

New Zealand’s South Island is a land of unparalleled beauty, a place where rugged landscapes, pristine lakes, and snow-capped mountains collide to create an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the South Island has something for everyone.

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch

  • Arrive in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island.
  • Explore the vibrant arts scene at the Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery.
  • Stroll through the serene Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
  • Dine in the cozy restaurants and cafes along the Avon River.
Christchurch Art Gallery
Christchurch Art Gallery

Day 2: Akaroa

  • Drive to the nearby Akaroa, a charming French-inspired town.
  • Take a harbor cruise to spot Hector’s dolphins.
  • Enjoy French cuisine at a local bistro.
  • Return to Christchurch in the evening.

Day 3: Kaikoura

  • Drive north to Kaikoura, famous for its marine wildlife.
  • Embark on a whale-watching tour, where you might spot sperm whales and dolphins.
  • Sample fresh seafood at a local eatery.
Sperm whales and dolphins on Kaikoura
Sperm whales and dolphins on Kaikoura

Day 4: Explore Kaikoura

  • Explore the coastal Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway.
  • Visit the Seal Colony to observe fur seals basking in the sun.
  • Try a Maori cultural experience to learn about the indigenous culture of New Zealand.

Day 5: Nelson

  • Drive to Nelson, a vibrant city known for its arts and crafts.
  • Visit the World of Wearable Art & Classic Cars Museum.
  • Enjoy a leisurely stroll along Tahunanui Beach.
Tahunanui Beach
Tahunanui Beach

Day 6: Beaches and hiking trails

  • Head to Abel Tasman National Park, famous for its golden beaches and coastal hiking trails.
  • Take a water taxi to Anchorage Bay and hike back via the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches or go kayaking.

Day 7: Punakaiki

  • Drive to Punakaiki, known for its stunning Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.
  • Explore the Pancake Rocks and walk the Truman Track.
  • Continue to Hokitika, famous for its greenstone (pounamu) carving.
Pancake Rocks and Blowholes - Punakaiki
Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Punakaiki

Day 8: Hokitika Gorge

  • Visit the Hokitika Gorge to witness its mesmerizing turquoise waters.
  • Learn about the art of greenstone carving at a local studio.
  • Enjoy a sunset walk along Hokitika Beach.

Day 9: Franz Josef

  • Drive to Franz Josef and check into your accommodation.
  • Take a guided glacier hike or a helicopter tour over Franz Josef Glacier.
  • Relax in the Glacier Hot Pools after a day of adventure.
Glacier Hot Pools
Glacier Hot Pools

Day 10: Fox Glacier

  • Explore the Fox Glacier, just a short drive away.
  • Consider a heli-hike for a unique glacier experience.
  • Drive to Lake Matheson for the iconic reflection views of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Lake Matheson with the iconic reflection views of Aoraki/Mount Cook
Lake Matheson with the iconic reflection views of Aoraki/Mount Cook

Day 11: Wanaka

  • Drive to Wanaka, a picturesque town nestled by Lake Wanaka.
  • Take a leisurely walk along the lakefront and enjoy water sports.
  • Visit Puzzling World for a quirky and fun experience.

Day 12: Scenic drive

  • Hike to the famous Roys Peak Track for breathtaking views.
  • Explore the nearby Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track.
  • Enjoy a scenic drive to the nearby Cardrona Valley.

Day 13: Queenstown

  • Drive to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.
  • Experience the thrill of bungee jumping or skydiving.
  • Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu.
Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu

Day 14: Panoramic views

  • Explore the charming streets of Queenstown.
  • Ride the Skyline Gondola for panoramic views.
  • Dine in the renowned Queenstown restaurants.


New Zealand’s South Island is a haven for travelers seeking natural beauty and adventure. This comprehensive itinerary offers a taste of the island’s diverse landscapes, from coastal towns to alpine glaciers. Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or simply soaking in the breathtaking scenery, this journey through the South Island promises to be an unforgettable experience, leaving you with memories to last a lifetime. Be sure to customize this plan to your preferences and interests, as there is always more to discover in this enchanting part of the world.