Alpine Lakes Itinerary

4-5 DAYS

611 km


  • Aoraki/Mt Cook our highest peak
  • Wanaka our ultimate outdoor utopia
  • Queenstown our adventure capital


Walk beneath New Zealand’s highest mountain, climb to towering waterfalls and take a thrilling jet boat ride through narrow river canyons. An Alpine Lakes Journey in the South Island is packed with adventures you won’t find anywhere else.

Day 1: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Discover the world's largest Dark Sky Reserve
New Zealand
Night sky from Mt John observatory., New Zealand

By Tourism NZ

Christchurch - Canterbury


Blue lakes, highest peak & night sky wonder


  • By car: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
  • By car: 3 h | 227 km

Recommended experiences in Canterbury

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Start your journey in the vibrant city of Christchurch. Discover the ever-growing street art culture before heading out to Lake Tekapo. Marvel at the brilliant turquoise waters and discover the world's largest Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best places in New Zealand to view the Southern Lights.

Day 2: Lake Tekapo to Aoraki/Mount Cook

Discover New Zealand's Highest Mountain
Christchurch - Canterbury
Mt Cook - Aoraki, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury


Home of the highest mountains & longest glaciers


  • By car: Lake Tekapo to Aoraki/Mount Cook
  • By car: 1 h 10 min | 106 km

Recommended experiences in Canterbury

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From Lake Tekapo head to Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. Explore the area on an easy day walk, longer climb or guided ascent. Or view the spectacular Southern Alps from above on a scenic flight.

Before you leave, get up close to the ever-changing ice environment of the Tasman Glacier.

Day 3: Aoraki/Mount Cook to Wanaka

An outdoor Playground for all kinds of fun
Mt Burke, Wanaka

By Jay French



Lakeside town surrounded by epic outdoor adventures


  • By car: Aoraki/Mount Cook to Wanaka
  • By car: 2 h 20 min | 207 km

Recommended experiences in Wanaka

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Travel past turquoise lakes and rivers to the lakeside resort town of Wanaka. Set alongside the renown Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is the ultimate outdoor utopia.

Hiking, biking both on and off road, water activities, airborne adventures; there's something for all, no matter your flavour of fun.

Day 4: Wanaka to Queenstown

Experience a thrilling jet boat ride
Queenstown's Shotover Jetboat, Queenstown

By First Light Travel



The adventure capital of New Zealand


  • By car: Wanaka to Queenstown
  • By car: 1 h | 71 km

Recommended experiences in Queenstown

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From Wanaka head across to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Thrill yourself with a huge choice of adrenaline activities including jetboating, bungy jumping, white water rafting and skydiving – all guaranteed to get your blood pumping!

Explore other South Island itineraries

Nature and Heritage Itinerary →

TranzAlpine Itinerary →

Top of the South Itinerary →

Southern Scenic Itinerary →