Touring the South Island of New Zealand

Here is a great 7 to 10 day touring loop around the South Island of New Zealand. Travel by campervan, car, bus, train, bike or any combination!

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island has good airline connections and is a great place to start your trip around the South Island.

From Christchurch head West across the Canterbury Plains over Arthurs Pass and across the Southern Alps to Greymouth, a total of 250 km. The road ( Highway 73 ) is windy in places, goes up to 924m ( 2 900 ft ) and offers some spectacular scenery. Just remember that competitors in the epic Coast to Coast multi sport race take this route!

If you fancy a train trip the Tranz Alpine Express is one not to be missed. It departs daily from Christchurch at 9 am, arriving in Greymouth at 1.25 pm. Cost is NZ$76 per person.

After a night in Greymouth travel down the west coast to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, 193 km along the wild ( and often wet ) West Coast. Take some time out to walk to the base of a glacier, guided trips are offered, or splash out and take a "heli-hike".

Head further South to the Haast Visitor Centre. Stop here and check out this classic piece of modern Kiwi architecture. The head back across the Alps over the Haast Pass to Wanaka and finally Queenstown, a total of 359 km from Greymouth. Spend a couple of nights here to charge the batteries or chose from a wide selection of leisure activties in a spectacular setting.

From Queenstown it is 177 km to Te Anau and a further 119km to Milford Sound, yes it really is worth the visit. Stay the night on board a boat or at the backpackers in Milford Sound or head back out to Te Anau for the evening.

From Milford Sound or Te Anau follow the Southern Scenic Route to Manapouri ( a day trip to Doubtful Sound from Manapouri is a good option ) then head on to the classic fishing village of Riverton for the evening. Te Anau to Riverton is 124 km. In Riverton stay at The Riverton Rock Guesthouse, Globe Hotel Backpackers or chose from a wide selection of seaside "cribs" - the local lingo for a small sea side holiday home.

Of course if you have a few days up your sleeve you could visit Stewart Island, home of New Zealand's national icon the Kiwi.

From Riverton head along the South Coast through the Catlins to Dunedin, 287 km. The Catlins is a part of NZ which is only just getting to be known. Many Kiwi's ( of the people variety!) will have trouble telling you where they are! There is wildlife in abundance along this coastline. NZ Hooker Sea Lions, Yellow Eyed Penguins, Hector Dolphins.... Spots to spend the night include Curio Bay, Papotawai or Nugget Point.

Once in Dunedin you can check out the Royal Albatross Colony and Yellow Eyed Penguin Resereve on Otago Peninsula, watch a game of rugby at the "House of Pain" - Carisbrook Stadium or take a tour of the Speights Brewery.

The last leg takes you up the East Coast, stop off at Moeraki Boulders to check out some real rocks, and back to Christchurch! From Dunedin to Christchurch is 364 km

There are a lot of compelling reasons to do the trip in reverse ...but that's another story.

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