Christchurch to Queenstown via Lake Tekapo

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Explore Canterbury and Central Otago on the way to Queenstown

8 Days 600 km

Highlights

  • Lake Tekapo stargazing
  • Alpine adventure at Aoraki Mount Cook
  • Queenstown

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Discover the many sides of the South Island on this 8-day campervan itinerary from Christchurch to Queenstown. Explore vibrant Christchurch and experience the wonder of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve in Lake Tekapo.

Marvel at the glaciers and majestic alpine scenery of Aoraki Mount Cook, get a taste for the food and wine of Central Otago and then finish with spectacular scenery and adrenalin-fuelled adventure in Queenstown.

Day 1: Christchurch

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Sights, shopping and wildlife in vibrant Christchurch

Highlights

  • Punting on the Avon
  • Christchurch Gondola
  • Ko Tāne Māori experience

Top 10 things to do in Christchurch - Canterbury

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Inner city Christchurch has plenty to offer, whether you walk, hire a bike(opens in new window) or jump on the Christchurch Tram(opens in new window) for a fun way to get around. Browse the central city shops(opens in new window) and The Arts Centre(opens in new window) then head to Riverside Market(opens in new window) for an indoor array of local food producers, with design and homewares, eateries and bars alongside. Go Punting on the Avon(opens in new window) and explore the nearby Christchurch Botanic Gardens(opens in new window). Just outside town is the International Antarctic Centre(opens in new window) where you can travel in a Hägglund snow mobile and feel the chill of an Antarctic storm, or head to the Christchurch Gondola(opens in new window) to ride high into the Port Hills for panoramic views. Hand-feed giraffes and travel through a lion habitat at Orana Wildlife Park(opens in new window) and finish the day with Ko Tāne(opens in new window), an interactive Māori cultural experience at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve(opens in new window). Stay centrally at Amber Kiwi Holiday Park(opens in new window), or Tasman Holiday Parks(opens in new window) just outside town.

Day 2: Christchurch to Geraldine

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Adventure, aviation and tasty treats in South Canterbury

Highlights

  • Fly fishing
  • Farm tours
  • Canyoning

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Head south from Christchurch across the Rakaia River and stop for morning tea in Ashburton(opens in new window). This farming town sits between two rivers so keen fly fishers might want to plan ahead and book a trip with a local guide(opens in new window). Ashburton’s museums(opens in new window) offer a glimpse into the region’s pioneering past, while garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss a tour of internationally acclaimed Trotts Garden(opens in new window). In nearby Geraldine(opens in new window), browse the many art, crafts and giftware stores and be sure to stop at the famous café and shop(opens in new window) of local foodie business Barkers of Geraldine. Local distillery Humdinger Gin(opens in new window) also has tours and tastings. For outdoor adventure there’s Peel Forest Horse Treks(opens in new window) and Geraldine Farm Tours(opens in new window) and in summer Big Rock Adventures(opens in new window) offers canyoning. Aviation buffs will love the unique collections of aircraft and memorabilia at Rangitata Island Aerodrome(opens in new window). Stay centrally at Geraldine Top 10 Holiday Park(opens in new window).

Day 3: Geraldine to Lake Tekapo

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Out-of-this-world stargazing in Lake Tekapo

Highlights

  • UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve
  • Church of the Good Shepherd
  • 4WD adventures

Find out more about Lake Tekapo

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From Geraldine it’s just an hour to the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo(opens in new window) in the Mackenzie Basin. Be sure to visit the Church of the Good Shepherd – this beautiful stone building overlooks the lake and is one of the most photographed spots in the area. Get out on the water tokayak or paddle board(opens in new window) or join a 4WD tour with Tekapo Adventures(opens in new window). Experience high country farming on two historic stations with Lake Tekapo Farm Tours(opens in new window) and then relax at Tekapo Springs Hot Pools(opens in new window). Enjoy dinner at Blue Lake Eatery(opens in new window) in town, home of award-winning craft brewery Burke’s Brewing Co(opens in new window). Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve and offers exceptional stargazing. Take a tour with Ngāi Tahu’s Dark Sky Project(opens in new window) for outdoor astronomy or an indoor family-friendly educational experience. Book a spot for the night at Lake Tekapo Motels and Holiday Park(opens in new window) on the lakefront.

Day 4: Lake Tekapo to Aoraki Mount Cook

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Alpine adventures at New Zealand’s highest mountain

Highlights

  • Aoraki Mt Cook
  • Glaciers and iceburgs
  • Alpine walks

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New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook(opens in new window), is an hour from Lake Tekapo in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park(opens in new window). The road in will take you alongside beautiful Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook Alpine Village, where many of the region’s activities are based. The Visitor Centre(opens in new window) is the place to find out about hiking trails and to book scenic flights and other trips in the area, like the unforgettable Glacier Explorers(opens in new window) boat trip (Sept-June), which gets you close enough to touch these huge icebergs. Learn about the region at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre(opens in new window), then explore the park on the popular Hooker Valley Track(opens in new window), a three hour-return walk with swing bridge crossings, views of glaciers and icebergs and alpine landscapes. There are plenty of day or multi-day alpine walks too, if you want to stay longer. The best campervan accommodation is at White Horse Hill campground within the park or Glentanner Holiday Park(opens in new window) on the shores of Lake Pukaki.

Day 5: Aoraki Mount Cook to Omarama

christchurch-canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Spectacular scenery in Omarama

Highlights

  • Salmon fishing
  • Clay Cliffs
  • Sheep shearing

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Get the camera ready on the way back from Aoraki Mt Cook as there are fantastic views of Ben Ohau as you reach the southern end of Lake Pukaki. The next stop is Twizel(opens in new window), which transforms into a busy ski town over winter as it’s just a short drive to the snow fields(opens in new window) at Ohau(opens in new window). Try fishing at High Country Salmon(opens in new window) where you can catch one of their farmed salmon and have it cleaned and packed to take with you. A short drive on is scenic Omarama(opens in new window). It is hugely popular with gliders and you can get an introduction with Kahu Soaring(opens in new window). The sheep shearing show at Wrinkly Rams(opens in new window) is a fun stop, then drive just outside town to see the tall pinnacles of the Omarama Clay Cliffs. Soak the day away at  Hot Tubs Omarama (opens in new window) and park up at Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park(opens in new window) for the night.

Day 6: Omarama to Wānaka

lake-wanaka

Lake adventures in Wānaka

Highlights

  • That Wānaka Tree
  • Roy's Peak
  • Scenic spots

Top 10 things to do in Lake Wānaka

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Drive through Lindis Pass(opens in new window) into Central Otago(opens in new window), renowned for its food(opens in new window) and wine(opens in new window), and on to Wānaka(opens in new window). The town buzzes in winter with snow-lovers heading to the two major ski fields of Treble Cone(opens in new window) and Cardrona(opens in new window). There’s plenty to do year-round – get out on the water with a cruise(opens in new window) or water adventure(opens in new window), up in the air with Skydive Wānaka(opens in new window), or try a waterfall cable climb with Wildwire Wānaka(opens in new window). There’s a range of walks(opens in new window)including the challenging Roy’s Peak Track(opens in new window) at six hours return. Take the kids to Puzzling World(opens in new window) for amazing illusions and games and stroll the gardens at Wānaka Lavender Farm(opens in new window). Browse Wanaka’s boutique stores and art galleries and head along the waterfront to see ‘That Wānaka Tree’ at the lake’s southern end. You may want to spend a couple of nights heretry Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park(opens in new window), Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park(opens in new window) or Glendhu Bay Motor Camp(opens in new window).

Day 7: Wānaka to Arrowtown (via SH6)

central-otago

Discover the flavours of Central Otago

Highlights

  • Cromwell
  • AJ Hackett Bungy
  • Arrowtown

Top 10 things to do in Central Otago

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Soak up Central Otago’s scenery as you head down SH6 along the shores of Lake Dunstan and into Cromwell(opens in new window). It’s known as New Zealand’s ‘stone fruit capital’, so look out for its giant fruit sculpture. Shop for local produce at Mrs Jones Fruit Stall(opens in new window) and explore the cafés and shops in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct(opens in new window). Save room for a wine tour and tasting at Gibbston Valley(opens in new window) and stock up at their cheesery and deli. You’ll find the original AJ Hackett Bungy(opens in new window) at Kawarau River – take the leap or watch others plunge bravely from the 43m bridge. Historic gold-mining town Arrowtown(opens in new window) is just minutes away and its tree-lined streets draw visitors year-round, but especially for its autumn colours. Browse the boutique stores, hire a bike(opens in new window) or try your luck and pan for gold(opens in new window). Keen golfers should book a round at renowned Millbrook Resort(opens in new window). Stay in town at Arrowtown Holiday Park(opens in new window).

Day 8: Arrowtown to Queenstown (via SH6)

queenstown

Fun and adventure in Queenstown

Highlights

  • Skyline Queenstown
  • Ski fields
  • Shotover Jet

Top 10 things to do in Queenstown

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From Arrowtown it’s just 20 minutes past beautiful Lake Hayes and into Queenstown(opens in new window), with its spectacular mountain surrounds. Start with a trip on Skyline Queenstown(opens in new window), the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, for incredible panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu(opens in new window) and the mountains and then ride the luge trails. Queenstown has a huge array of adventure(opens in new window) activities choose from skydiving and paragliding, climbing, white water rafting and more. The Shotover Jet(opens in new window) is an iconic Queenstown experience and an adrenalin rush for the whole family. For something more relaxed, cruise Lake Wakatipu on vintage steamship the TSS Earnslaw(opens in new window). Queenstown is a hub for skiers and snowboarders over winter as it’s close to world-renowned ski areas Coronet Peak(opens in new window) and The Remarkables(opens in new window). There’s an array of eateries(opens in new window) to choose from in Queenstown, including the famous Fergburger(opens in new window). Book ahead at one of the campgrounds and holiday parks in the area.

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