Shaelah and Andrew's great South Island escape

Follow Shaelah and Andrew on their epic 10 day campervan road trip around the South Island of New Zealand.

Day One: Christchurch to Oamaru

Distance: 270km Driving time: About 4 hours

Our main reason for visiting Oamaru was to see the penguins. However, on arrival, the girl at reception recommended we bring all our woollies and jumpers to accommodate the chilly temperatures, we quickly realised we couldn’t do it! It was already freezing and unfortunately for us we didn’t have any extra warm clothes to take so we decided to do a little day tour of the facility then headed out to the campground.

We returned the following day and explored the old town. We parked our Britz campervan in a DOC campsite 20 minutes outside of Oamaru.

Find more information on camping sites in New Zealand here.

Day Two: Oamaru to Queenstown

Distance: 272km Driving time: 4 hours

From Oamaru, we headed to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. We had planned to visit Lake Tekapo, but realised it was a whole lot of doubling back and not the best use of time.

On our way to Queenstown we were lucky to stumble across a little store selling merino wool (conveniently on sale) and stocked up. Finally we were warm again. We then drove over the Lindis pass, and briefly stopped in Cromwell to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables.

We stayed just outside of Queenstown in a 12-mile delta campsite, which was beautiful and where Andrew acquired some of the best photos of the road trip.

Day Three: Milford Sound to Te Anau

Distance: 171km Driving time: 3.5 hours

Next on our campervan itinerary was the Milford Sound, however the road was closed due to an overnight dumping of snow so we decided to visit Te Anau instead, where we stayed at Cascade Creek campsite.

We woke super early for the drive to Milford Sound. Not recommended. They decide at 7:30am whether to road is open or not and we had already passed the sign by them.

We did 4 hour return Kepler Track walk. The second half of which was in torrential rain. Note: a weatherproof jacket is not the same as a rain jacket. We made our way up to the campsite battling the elements. You could make out ice cracking in the distance. Then there was a thunderstorm, which was perfect as we lay in bed with a good book. It was kind of fun!

Day Four: Queenstown to Arrowtown

Distance: 192km Driving time:  Around 3 hours

Unfortunately, Milford was closed again which was disappointing, but we managed our expectations this time and headed back to Queenstown. We drove out to Glenochy for horse riding, which was spectacular, then back to Queenstown, on to Arrowtown. We highly recommend the camping park there – newly built and inexpensive.

Arrowtown is simply magical. We popped in to the Fork and Tap pub for a drink or two after dinner, and Andrew had a great chat to a craft beer brewer about his sweet potato ale.

Day Five: Arrowtown to Fox Glacier

Distance: 317km Driving time: 4.5 hours

While we really wanted to stay a week in Arrowtown, we had places to go and see so we took to the road via the Crown Ranges. We stopped in the picturesque Wanaka and enjoyed the stunning scenery. Unfortunately, it was rainy again making it difficult on the roads so by the end of the day Andrew was exhausted.

We made the decision to experience Fox Glacier, and so happy we did! I’ve personally never seen a glacier, and the sheer scale and desolation, the lack of any sound but rushing water…well, it was an incredible experience. We stayed at Marble Hill Campground.

Day Six: Fox Glacier to Maruia Springs

Distance: 332km Driving time: Around 4.5 hours

Most of this day was behind the wheel. It was raining heavily and windy for most of the day. We stayed in a campground just outside of Maruia Springs, after arriving around mid-afternoon, and enjoyed a wander and some well-deserved R&R.

Day Seven: Maruia Springs to Blenheim

Distance: 260km Driving time: 3.5 hours

We made it to Marlborough, wine country! We stopped at a beautiful lake that I can’t recall the name of and did an easy walking trail. After stocking up on groceries, we made our way to another DOC campsite outside of town. We were pleasantly surprised to learn there was electricity for only an extra NZ$5 per night.

Day Eight: Wine and rest day

Distance: 0km Driving time: -

We visited Nautilus Estate and Moa Brewery where we enjoyed an incredible platter and superbly crafted wines at one of the iconic wineries, Wither Hills. Amazing.

Day Nine: Whites Bay to Hanmer Springs

Distance: 282km Driving time: 4 hours

The coastal drive to Hanmer Springs, down state highway 1, was spectacular. We were keeping a keen eye out for seals and lucky for us you don’t have to look too hard, they were lining the rocky coastline for all to see. On arrival in Hanmer, we checked into a caravan park, visited the springs, cooked dinner and went to bed. It had been another long day driving so a good night’s rest was well deserved.

Day Ten: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Distance: 133km Driving time: Almost 2 hours

We enjoyed the Woodland Walk trail just outside Hanmer Springs, so beautiful, then stopped at a seal colony on our drive back to Christchurch.

Need some ideas for your Britz self-drive holiday Adventure? Check out a few selected customers' stories about the where and how of where our campers could take you.

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