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New Zealand’s South Island is bursting at the seams with otherworldly scenery, adventure opportunities and unique experiences, and one of the best ways to experience this awe-inspiring land is by picking up a campervan hire in Christchurch. Centrally located halfway down the east coast of the South Island, starting your campervan rental journey in Christchurch puts you within easy driving distance of some of the world’s most spectacular sights. Travelling in a campervan will allow you the freedom to explore the island however you desire, with the added bonus of never having to pack up all your things before you move on to the next amazing destination.
To ensure that the array of options afforded to you by a campervan hire in New Zealand is empowering and not overwhelming, we’ve outlined a handful of possible Christchurch roundtrip routes for you to consider. Of course, you can stray from the path whenever you like and craft your own vacation, but hopefully these three road trip suggestions will spark your traveller’s creativity and get you thinking about what you’d do with a Christchurch campervan hire.
Christchurch to Invercargill
This route will have you heading down the centre of the island through tiny isolated towns, the world’s adventure capital and New Zealand’s southernmost city before exploring the seaside charms of the South Island’s east coast.
Tekapo will treat you to some of the most spectacularly starry skies you’ve ever seen and have you in awe of its picture perfect, power blue lake in the shadow of snowy mountains. You’ll explore the relics of New Zealand’s gold rush in Cromwell, perhaps even trying your hand at a bit of gold panning yourself. Queenstown can thrill you with both dramatically scenic views and adrenaline pumping adventure activities. Some might even choose to pick up their campervan hire in Queenstown and take their time exploring this gorgeous area. Continuing on from Queenstown, you can take in the old world charm of Invercargill before heading out along the coast to discover the dolphins, penguins and primeval rainforest of the Catlins. Driving north, you’ll come across Dunedin, a university city with a strong Scottish heritage and New Zealand’s only castle. Perhaps you’ll even take a leap of faith and decide to try skydiving in Ashburton.
This isn’t a short journey by any means but there’s no doubt that this is one of the best ways to experience many of the South Island’s top attractions.
Christchurch to Nelson
Exploring the northern half of the South Island, a Christchurch to Nelson roundtrip will send you driving into sunny wine country, before discovering why the South Island’s west coast is world famous and rising through a majestic mountain pass on your way back.
Travelling north from Christchurch along the coast you’ll come across Kaikoura - there is no better place on earth to get up close and personal with the world’s most social marine mammals. Marlborough produces some of the finest sauvignon blanc wines in existence, and there’s far more than just sav here too. Nelson boasts its own superb vineyards and a climate perfectly suited to lounging in the shade with nibbles and a glass of wine to hand. Murchison gives you the chance to shoot down river canyons in a jetboat or swing out over open space for stomach-dropping thrills while Westport on the coast could see you delving into incredible cave systems. Keep an eye out for seals as you head down the wild west coast, before you turn inland once more and rise into the Southern Alps through the magnificent Arthur’s Pass.
Driving north from Christchurch will treat you to warmer weather, and there’s no denying that those who are fans of a drop of vino would find this trip a road to paradise.
Christchurch to Queenstown
Driving high into the Southern Alps, walking atop a glacier, discovering unique wildlife in a UNESCO World Heritage area, embracing heart-racing adventure and seeing the night sky as you never have before is all possible on this route.
Heading west across the island you’ll soon rise into the clouds and get a close up view of the rugged Southern Alps before descending again to reach the coast. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers will be waiting for you to the south - take a helicopter ride high above a giant river of ice or walk on the frozen surface and explore eerie blue ice caves; the choice is yours. Stop in Wanaka for a bite to eat on the shores of the intensely beautiful Lake Wakatipu before continuing on your way to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Once you’ve had your fill of thrills, spills and picture perfect views, drive on through Otago wine country. Turning north to Twizel you can stand on the same fields which hosted the armies of Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings films before heading on the observatory near Tekapo which will grant a view of the heavens that is almost entirely free of light pollution.
This route provides a more condensed look at New Zealand’s southern delights while treating you to some west coast wonders like the glaciers and the UNESCO endorsed Gates of Haast.
The options are almost limitless when you book a campervan hire in NZ - this small country with hundreds of hidden scenic and cultural gems is perfectly suited to road trips, so don’t hesitate to start planning your New Zealand holiday today.