Alpine Lakes Itinerary


600 km


  • New Zealand's highest peak
  • An ultimate outdoor utopia
  • The 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: Spend the day in Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Church of the Good Shepherd, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Sergio Del Rosso


  • Stargazing in the Dark Sky Reserve
  • Soak in natural hot pools
  • Cycling around Lake Tekapo


  • By car: 3 h | 228 km via SH1 & SH79
  • By car: 3 h 30 min | to Tekapo by Intercity
  • By : Christchurch iSITE for local activities


Discover some of the world's best stargazing experiences

Find out more

Start your journey in the vibrant city of Christchurch, the largest centre in the South Island, where old English gardens contrast with pop-up bars and fascinating street art.

Christchurch offers an amazing array of activities, try punting down the Avon River, biking in the surrounding Port Hills, or take an early morning ride in a hot air balloon.

The city is also home to several fascinating museums and galleries, including the International Antarctic Centre.

For something a little further afield, visit the historic port town of Lyttelton or enjoy French culture in Akaroa.

Day 3: Lake Tekapo - Aoraki/Mount Cook

Christchurch - Canterbury
Mt Cook - Aoraki, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury


Alpine landscapes, glaciers and lakes.


  • Aoraki New Zealand's tallest mountain
  • Tasman Glacier
  • Hooker Valley Track


  • By car: 1 h 15 min | 105 km via SH8 & SH80
  • By bus: 1 h 35 min | by GreatSights

From Lake Tekapo head to Mount Cook Village, at the foot of the country's highest peak.

This region is a mountaineer's dream, offering some of the best climbing experiences in Australasia. For the less adventurous, choose from the array of shorter walks and take in the stunning alpine landscapes of herb fields, morraines, glaciers and cheeky kea. 

Mount Cook National Park is also the home of New Zealand's longest glacier. Get up close with a Tasman Glacier boat trip, or for something a little different take a scenic flight and view the glacier from above aboard a ski-plane or helicopter.


Day 4: Aoraki/Mount Cook - Wanaka

Mt Burke, Wanaka

By Jay French



Tranquil lakeside town and epic outdoor adventures.


  • Hiking and mountain biking trails
  • Wineries and a whiskey distillery
  • Skiing and snowboarding in winter


  • By car: 2 h 30 min | 210 km via SH8
  • By bus: 3 h 20 min | by Intercity
  • By : Visit the Wanaka iSITE for local activities.

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 and climbing there is something for all, no matter your flavour of fun.

Day 5: Wanaka - Queenstown

Queenstown's Shotover Jetboat, Queenstown

By First Light Travel



The adventure capital of New Zealand


  • Jet boats, bungy and skydiving
  • Stunning hiking and cycling trails
  • World-class food and wine


  • By car: 1 hr 10 min | 74 km via SH6A
  • By bus: 1 hr 50 min | by Intercity
  • By : Visit the local iSITE for tours & activities

From Wanaka it is a short journey 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!

For those looking to relax, Queenstown is also a great destination for luxury and indulgence with gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and world-class golf courses.

Explore other South Island itineraries

Southern Scenic Itinerary →

TranzAlpine Itinerary →

Nature and Heritage Itinerary →