Suggested Campervan Itineraries in the South Island By Region

The South Island is perfect for a campervan holiday, but it can be difficult to work out what to see. Here is a quick guide to the exciting regions.

You cannot go wrong in New Zealand’s South Island when it comes to choosing a region to explore with a campervan. The postcard-worthy scenery and coastal roads are made for a campervan holiday, which is probably why it is a popular method of travel for tourists.

If you want to experience all there is in the South Island, it may be easier to break up your trip by region and focus on what you want to see in depth. From the rocky West Coast to the picturesque vineyards of Marlborough, you will find plenty of impressive sights.

WEST COAST

With plenty of holiday parks, campsites, and easily accessible attractions, New Zealand’s West Coast is perfect for a campervan holiday.

Suggested Touring Route:

Pick up a campervan rental in Greymouth and head down along the untamed west coast. Make sure you stop and experience all of the following attractions.

  • Explore Shantytown Heritage Park, a re-created gold rush town that gives you an insight into the history of New Zealand.
  • Follow the winding road to Hokitika Gorge, and cross the suspension bridge for stunning views of the brightly-coloured water and emerald forest.
  • Visit the Franz-Josef Glacier and take a tour of the incredible ice caves, or if you are feeling adventurous try your luck at tandem skydiving.
  • Follow up your trip to another famous New Zealand sight, the Fox Glacier, where you can participate in glacial walks.

OTAGO

With winding mountain passes and interesting small towns, a campervan can give you extra freedom in Otago to explore at your own pace. From the busy tourist hub of Queenstown to the alpine roads of Twizel Pass, there is plenty of incredible scenery to discover.

Suggested Touring Route:

Pick up your campervan in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Try out some of the adrenaline-fuelled adventure activities on offer in this scenic town.

  • Don’t leave Queenstown in a hurry, there is plenty to do. Just outside of the city you will find the scenic village of Arrowtown. This historic town has plenty of old-fashioned buildings, as well as lovely river walks.
  • Travel across Otago until you reach the coastal university town of Dunedin. While it probably is not a good idea to try and get your campervan up the world’s steepest street, you cannot miss exploring the stunning, rocky coastline.
  • On the way back across Otago, stop at some of the heritage villages along the way such as Ophir. The town’s suspension bridge makes for a great photo.
  • Make your last stop on the way back to Queenstown in Wanaka. On the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park and offering easy access to world-class alpine ski resorts.

CANTERBURY

Open highways and plenty of places to pull over and enjoy the view; the Canterbury countryside is easy to explore with a campervan.

Suggested Touring Route:

Pick up a campervan in Christchurch to start your Cantebury adventure. The region has plenty to offer, and even though there is a lot of ground to cover in Canterbury, there are a lot of sights worth going out of the way for.

  • Drive south from Christchurch to Timaru. Stop in and relax on the sands of Caroline Bay. The area is also home to a number of art galleries and local cafes.
  • Drive to Aoraki Mount Cook Village, via the beautiful Lake Pukaki. When you are in the national park, you can embark on a number of walks to see glaciers, stunning mountain ranges, New Zealand’s tallest peak and cross suspension bridges.
  • Enjoy the clear views of the skies when you arrive at Lake Tekapo, a dark sky reserve. The Mount John Observatory offers fantastic stargazing opportunities.
  • Head along Arthur’s Pass for a memorable scenic drive. With exciting hiking trails, waterfalls and winding roads it is a great drive.

MARLBOROUGH

A region popular for its dining, fine wines, and beautiful coastal scenery. The region is also a connection point for the InterIslander Ferry, so you can continue your New Zealand adventure on the North Island.

Suggested Touring Route:

Pick up a campervan from Picton and start exploring this scenic part of New Zealand.

  • Explore the Marlborough Sounds. There are a number of walking tracks that offer splendid views over the picturesque area.
  • Visit popular wineries and take a tour behind the scenes. Sauvignon blanc is one of the popular wines produced here, and you can try some for yourself. The Cloudy Bay vineyards are set in a scenic region and offer great wines.
  • Near Blenheim you will find the Omaka Avation Museum, which features exhibition of old aircraft models used in World War II.

SOUTHLAND

Set up at one of Fiordland’s stunning holiday parks and experience the outdoors. From mirror lakes to unique wildlife along the jagged coastline, you will find a lot of exciting things to see in Southland with a campervan.

Suggested Touring Route:

If you are looking to explore Fiordland National Park and Southland, you can pick up a campervan or motorhome from Queenstown Airport. From there, experience the wonders of this unique corner of New Zealand.

  • Fiordland National Park is a must-see destination for any visitor to New Zealand. From the iconic Milford Sound, to the quieter Doubtful Sound, there are a lot of fabulous things to discover. Stop in at a holiday park near lovely Lake Te Anau.
  • Head south to Invercargill, where you can sample some of the best beers, cheese and chocolate in New Zealand. This southern town is known for its friendly locals and ocean vistas.
  • While you are in the area, try some of the delicious seafood in Bluff.The area has an interesting history, and from here visitors can easily travel to Stewart Island.
  • Follow the road along the coast to Nugget’s Point, where you will get scenic views over the ocean from a lighthouse.

NELSON

The Nelson region is known for its artistic creativity and beautiful nature trails. Hire a campervan to explore this fascinating area in depth.

Suggested Touring Routes:

Pick up a campervan in Nelson to start your journey. While you are in the area you can visit popular local art galleries, and see the World of Wearable Art Museum.

  • You don;t have to travel too far from Nelson to find beautiful scenery. Head along the coastline until you reach Abel Tasman National Park where you can enjoy plenty of activities such as kayaking and hiking.
  • You can’t miss the stunning Golden Bay, where you can enjoy a horse-back ride along the sand with beautiful views of the rock formations just offshore.
  • Visit Nelson Lakes National Park if you are looking to an extended trip. While the park is a fair way south, it is well worth exploring.

 

For many people, touring New Zealand in a campervan is on their bucket list. Start planning your trip today by hiring a campervan and getting ready to hit the road. 

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