3 weeks +
Travel around in your own campervan and discover the most stunning areas of New Zealand’s South Island through the eyes of adventure couple, the Flip Flop Wanderers. Explore the city centre of Christchurch, go penguin spotting at Banks Peninsula, walk the Hooker Valley Track, admire the Moeraki Boulders, cruise through Milford Sound, visit Paradise in Glenorchy, explore Hokitika Gorge, stumble upon the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall and discover the best of the South Island on this adventurous road trip!
$2000 USD per person
About Flip Flop Wanderers
We are Bram and Manon, an adventurous couple with a passion for slow travel. As the Flip Flop Wanderers, we travel full-time around the world. When we visit a country, we want to experience it really well. That’s why we don’t stick to the country’s highlights, we take our time to get off the beaten path, learn about the culture, meet the local people and find out what it is like to live there. We do a lot of research before we go to make the most of our time and we’d like to share these experiences to help others plan their trip. We hope we can inspire you to go on an amazing adventure!
Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier
Visit Lake Tekapo
Drive the beautiful road to Mount Aspiring
Bungy jump at the world's first bungy jump location in Queenstown
Cruise through the Milford Sound
Arthur's Pass, one of the most beautiful passes through the Southern Alps
Included in Price
- All accommodation
- Ground transportation
- Airport transfers
- Paid activities
- Access to the storyteller's interactive guide (including lots of free activities and helpful tips)
Not Included in Price
- Travel insurance
- Entry visas / airport departure tax
- Personal expenses
- An actual guide / host of the trip (Airguides trips are unhosted)
The biggest city of the South Island only inhabits 380,000 people and doesn’t have big city vibes. The city center was ruined by an earthquake in 2010 and you can still see the destruction. Even after all this time the city center hasn’t recovered yet and is rather quiet. With the biggest international airport on the south island, this is the best place to start your trip. Pick up your camper, visit the city center, and pack up some groceries for your upcoming trip.
Explore the City Center
It is impressive to see the destruction of the 2010 earthquake. A half-ruined church and the ‘185 White Chairs’ monument show you a little bit of this disaster which marks Christchurch history.
Enjoy the view from Port Hills
At the southern side of the city, you can find the Port hills. These hills are great for trekking with on one site views over the city and on the other side you’ll look out over a beautiful bay. Start at the cafe
Sign of the Kiwi with the Mitchells Track and make your way back via the Cedrics Track (one hour return).
Just south of Christchurch, the Banks Peninsula is a real must-see! Eruptions of Volcanoes has formed this hilly peninsula. As you can see on Google Maps, the peninsula has many, many bays and the views from the ridges are incredible!
Scenic Drive via Summit Road
There is a highway that leads to Akaroa, but there is a way more scenic road to get there too. A very windy road with many hairpin curves takes you via beautiful bays to the heart of Banks Peninsula. From Christchurch
go to Governors Bay and drive via Charteris Bay, Diamond Harbour, and Purau to Pigeon Bay. Turn left the end of Pigeon Bay Road to take the scenic Summit Road and turn left at Long Bay Road towards Akaroa.
The Banks Peninsula is home to a large Little Penguin colony. From Akaroa, you can take a tour to the bay which these White Flippered guys call home. You can see the nests and from a shelter you can watch with binoculars
and a telescope how the penguins float around in the bay and how they waggle home in the evening.
At the largest bay, Akaroa Harbour, you can find the Picturesque town Akaroa. It is a small town with beautiful old buildings and a cozy atmosphere. A very long time ago it was a French Settlement, just before the
English colonized New Zealand, and you can still see the French, but also English influences.
You can’t miss a visit to this huge lake with a backdrop of the Southern Alps. Soak up the views from Mount John, visit the most iconic church of New Zealand, and watch billions of stars appear in this Dark Sky Reserve.
At the west side of the lake you can find Mount John. From this hill, you have beautiful views from over the lake. You can do a 3-hour walk from town or go by car. Entrance Fee: $8 per vehicle. Open from 9.00am
to 4.30pm. At night time you can only visit the mountain with a tour.
Church of the Good Shepherd
On the edge of Lake Tekapo, you can find the most photographed building of New Zealand. It's also the most scenic church we ever saw. It can get pretty crowded here so if you want a good shot you better go early.
From mid-November till Christmas the bush is often filled with beautiful purple lupins which makes it even more special. If you are into photography it’s also a perfect location to take night shots.
One of the most impressive mountains we have ever seen and our top favorite place in New Zealand is Mount Cook. For some reason, this truly stunning location is often not on the standard itinerary on a road trip through the Southern Island. Too bad for them because you don’t want to miss this place!
Visit Lake Pukaki
On your way to Mount Cook, you will first pass Lake Pukaki. This lake is another gem of this area with, in the background, our beloved mountain. Make a stop at Hayman Road viewpoint and Lake Pukaki viewing point
to admire the scenery.
Admire the view from Peter’s Lookout
If you have seen only one photo from the road to Mount Cook it was probably taken from this viewpoint. There is a car park along the road to admire this picture-perfect view when the weather allows it.
White Horse Hill Campground
This DOC camp (government-owned) is in the heart of the Mount Cook action. Many hikes start close to here. There are no lights at night because it is part of the Dark Sky Reserve so bring a torch. No showers on
location but available in Mount Cook Village (2,5km).
Walk the Hooker Valley Track
This gorgeous 3-hour easy walk takes you passed Mueller Lake and brings you all the way to Hooker Lake with amazing views on your way. You have to cross several swing bridges and the path is partly made of boardwalks
which makes it an easy stroll. 10km return. Please visit the website for the most relevant information and track conditions.
Blue Lakes & Tasman Glacier
A lake full of floating icebergs and views on New Zealand's longest glacier is what you find when you head over to Tasman Lake. There are two short walks from the Tasman Glacier Car Park. A 40-minute return walk
takes you via the Blue Lakes (which are not blue) up to a viewpoint where you can see the lake and the glacier. Another 1-hour walk takes you to the edge of the lake where you can come up close with icebergs.
Dunedin is a vibrant city and with about 120,000 residents it’s the second-largest city on the south island. There are many beautiful old buildings in the city center. It is also a popular student town which makes it a vibrant city. Besides the city, the way over there from Mount Cook is beautiful as well and you should not forget to stop at the Moeraki Boulders.
A quick stop at Lake Ruataniwha
The first quick stop on your way towards Dunedin is Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel. This is another beautiful lake with great scenery.
Watch the otherworldly Clay Cliffs in Omarama
Before you pass Omarama you take a right turn towards the Clay Cliffs. These steep cliffs in all kind of formations look like they are from another world. There is a $5 vehicle admission that you can pay at Omarama
Information Center or at the donation box at the gate.
Visit the Moeraki Boulders
When you’re back at the coast you head south and you’ll pass a beach with huge boulders spread out. These perfectly ball-shaped rocks on the beach, or in the ocean during high tide, are amazing to see and great
for a few snaps! Tip: especially good at sunrise so if you can time it that way, even better!
Visit the steepest street in the world
In Dunedin, you can find the steepest street: Baldwin Street. Inclining 35% on the steepest point makes it a tough climb up, and that’s why the sidewalk consists out of stairs.
Check out the beautiful buildings in the city centre
Dunedin has some beautiful old buildings! We recommend to visit the University of Otago Registry Building, head over to the Dunedin Railway Station and visit the Octagon.
Beautiful waterfalls and rugged coastlines are what’s on the menu when visiting the Catlins. The beautiful Nugget Point Lighthouse is one of the many highlights of this beautiful area. There is a big chance to spot seals as well!
Nugget Point Lighthouse
Built on the rocks, this lighthouse is totally worth the 30km road you have to take to get there. The road itself is great too. At Kaka Point, you can often see seals and sometimes penguins. It’s a must-see when
you are in the area.
A 20-minute easy return walk takes you to these beautiful multi-layered falls.
Via a nice path through the forest, you can reach this 10-meter high waterfall (30min return).
This stunning 22m waterfall is one of the most impressive in the area and can be reached by an easy 40-minute return walk. Please note, the track might be closed due to rockfall! Check the website for the most up
to date information.
At this beautiful bay, you have a good chance to spot Yellow Eyed Penguins. These 75cm tall penguins are pretty rare.
Florence Hill Lookout
When you continue the road through the Catlins you will pass the Florence Hill lookout. From here you have a beautiful view over Tautuku Bay.
Te Anau and Milford Sound
Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland and Milford Sound. This part has some amazing hikes through incredible nature and although Milford Sound itself is very popular, the surroundings are often skipped by the many day-trippers that come by busses from Queenstown, while these surroundings are incredible too. Also, the road from the Catlins via Invercargill has some nice stops.
Drive to the end of Highway 1
Before you head into Invercargill you can take the Highway 1 towards the south to visit Bluff and Stirling Point. Highway 1 leads all the way from the northernmost point at Cape Reinga to this point. At Stirling
Point, you can find a large signpost with distances to major cities.
Enjoy the coastal drive
From Invercargill, take the coastal drive via Riverton, Colac Bay, and Pahia. Close to Pahia, you can visit the small town Cosy Nook. There are some fishing boats and small holiday cribs which gives a nice view.
After Pahia, have a stop at McCrackens Rest. This area has a beautiful view of the bay and it’s a great place to have a short break on your drive.
Enjoy the views of Lake Manapouri
Before you arrive in Te Anau there is a beautiful lake on the edge of the Fiordland. Head over to this lake to enjoy the views from Frasers Beach.
The road to Milford Sound
The road towards Milford sound is a very scenic drive with many views on the way. Take your time driving up there and don’t forget to stop. Some suggestions to stop on your way over there: Eglinton Valley, The
Mirror Lakes, Lake Gunn, Pops View, Falls Creek, Monkey Creek, the Homer Tunnel, the Chasm, and the Tutoko Suspension bridge. Start very early so you can enjoy the ride and all the surroundings!
Cruise through the Milford Sound
The best views you get at Milford Sound is from the water. The cruise takes you among the most stunning cliffs, waterfalls, and bays. We would recommend taking the one at 10.45 am so you have some time afterward
to explore the surroundings a bit more.
Walk the Foreshore Walk
At the bay of Milford sound is a nice short walk. The walk takes you past some gorgeous views on Milford Sound and Mitre Peak, and there is also a swing which is a beautiful photo opportunity.
Peaceful Lake Marian
On your drive back to Te Anau there are still plenty beautiful hikes to do. One of these is a track to the most stunning alpine lake: Lake Marian. Not many people visit this place and that makes the 3-hour return
walk even more worth it. After 10 minutes on the way, you’ll also pass the Marian rapids, a series of waterfalls.
Waipapa Point Lighthouse
The first stop on the way from the Catlins to Te Anau is the Waipapa Point Lighthouse in the Catlins. This lighthouse is definitely worth a visit because besides the lighthouse itself, you can often see seals snoozing
in the area and you can enjoy a walk on the beach.
Our favorite ‘city’ of New Zealand: Queenstown. This town has some spectacular views and so many options for adventure! Skydiving, bungee jumping, canyon swings, jet boats and much more. It’s the adventure capital and another real must see!
Immerge the view and drive downhill in a go-cart
The best way to soak up the views from Queenstown is to go up with the gondola at Skyline Queenstown. Up here you can walk the beautiful Skyline Loop track and get rushed down the hill a couple of times with some
sort of toboggan/go-cart called Luge.
Wander through the Queenstown Gardens
The Queenstown Gardens is a beautiful park at the lake. From here you have stunning views in all directions, especially on the Remarkables. Hike around or get yourself some Frisbees to play Frisbee-golf.
If you like burgers then you can’t miss a visit to the famous Fergburger. There is a queue in front of this place the whole day long, that’s how popular this place is.
Bungy jump at the world's first bungy jump location
You are in the place where the world's first commercial bungy jumping took place. The Kawarau bridge to be exact. At AJ Hacket you are in the right place to take the leap of faith!
Drive up to Coronet Peak
One of New Zealand's famous ski-areas is Coronet Peak. It’s not only great for skiing in winter, but you can also find some of the best views up here! Drive up via the hairpin bends and simply enjoy the views.
Visit historical Arrowtown
Close to Queenstown, you can find a little town called Arrowtown. This historical town has some really nice buildings and is a great place to stroll around.
Drive up to the Remarkables
The second ski-area in Queenstown is the Remarkables. Again, it’s not only great for skiing but also for soaking up the view. It's opposite of Coronet Peak and you can overlook the valley from the other side.
Enjoy the Onsen Hot Pools
Relax while soaking in hot pools with the most beautiful views! Even better if you order a bottle of bubbles on the side. The Onsen Hot Pools is a great place to do so. Usually, you need to book 6 weeks in advance.
Go Skydiving with the best view
Have you ever wanted to jump out of a plane? Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places to do so. The adrenaline of falling from up to 1,000 ft above the most amazing scenery is an awesome experience that you’ll
Glenorchy is a small rustic town not far from Queenstown. With an iconic boatshed and a pier that is lit up by a little light at night this town has some amazing photo spots. But not only the town itself is cute, the views on the way over there are really good as well!
Drive to Glenorchy
The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is very scenic. There are many stops on the way so let’s take it slow and enjoy the views. Don’t forget to stop at Wilsons Bay, the Bennets Bluff Lookout, the Old Jetty
at Meiklejohn’s Bay and Lake Face Creek.
Red Boat House
This old boat house in Glenorchy looks pretty amazing, especially with the backdrop consisting out of high mountains.
Visit the Glenorchy Jetty
The jetty is another stunning site you have to visit when you’re in Glenorchy. Don’t forget to come back when its dark to see the jetty lit up by a tiny light.
Go to Paradise
You are really close to paradise and if you want to visit, then this is your chance! Paradise is a small ‘town’ 17km north of Glenorchy. You can hardly call it a town with only one farm there. It looks nice,
and after visiting you can tell everyone that you’ve been to paradise.
Wanaka is a small town that can get pretty busy. The location of Wanaka is in beautiful scenery beside a lake and surrounded by impressive mountains. There are some spectacular views and gorgeous hikes. It is also home to New Zealand’s most famous tree. Again, the road towards Wanaka is already an amazing experience of jaw-dropping views.
Enjoy spectacular views
The road between Queenstown and Wanaka is a very scenic one. When you take the scenic road via the Cardrona Ski fields you’ll soon see the Crown Range Road scenic lookout. We would definitely recommend having
a stop here!
Visit Cardrona Ski Field + Bra Fence
When you drive from Glenorchy to Wanaka you will pass the Cardrona Ski Area. Take the winding road up for some spectacular views. And when you are back down and continue the road to Wanaka don’t forget to check
out the Cardrona Bra Fence on the right side of the road.
Visit New Zealand’s most famous tree
Have you heard of ‘That Wanaka Tree’? You can find it in Wanaka, of course. This tree is standing in the lake and it must be the most photographed tree of New Zealand. If you want a photo you best go with sunrise
because there are always people around.
Drive the beautiful road to Mount Aspiring
A beautiful gravel road, with some fords (river crossings) on the way, takes you to the start of the Rob Roy Glacier Track. The views along this road are stunning, and if you have time for the 3-4 hours return walk
at the glacier we would definitely recommend it (check the website for the latest track information and closures). Make sure to stop on the way at Glendhu Bay lookout and the Wishbone Falls.
Enjoy the views over Lake Wanaka
You can find beautiful views over the lake all around in Wanaka, and when you go away from the main lookout point you can have those views almost to yourself. One place that has amazing scenery is at the Rippon
Winery. Other spots with great views are at Bremner Bay and Waterfall Creek.
Haast Pass is the pass between Wanaka and Haast. This mountain road takes you via spectacular views past lakes and valleys. There are also a lot of waterfalls that are worth visiting. Take your time for this drive because it’s all about the journey on this route.
The road towards Haast firstly passes Lake Hawea. There are some beautiful views over the lake and we would recommend to stop at Lake Hawea Lookout.
The Neck viewpoint
After Lake Hawea, you will drive through ‘The Neck’. This small piece of land in between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka offers some great views.
Lake Wanaka lookout
Not far from the Neck it is time to park your car again to soak up the views over the northern part of Lake Wanaka from the Lake Wanaka Viewpoint.
Blue Pools Walk
This walk takes you via a swing bridge to an insane blue part of the Makarora River. It’s a one-hour return walk which is definitely worth it. Don’t forget to bring mosquito spray because this place is also
very popular with sandflies.
This 23-meter waterfall makes its way over the rocks between the trees. You can access it via an easy 10-minute return walk.
Thunder Creek Falls
This waterfall reaches a height of 96 meters! Close to the road, you can get there easily via a 10-minute return walk.
Roaring Billy Falls
As the name describes, Billy roars down through the valley. You can reach it via a 25-minute return track.
Have a bonfire at Haast Beach
Watch the sunset at the beach and light up a fire if it is not too windy to get that ultimate camping feeling.
Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier
Welcome to Glacier Country! This area has some spectacular views and some beautiful walks to enjoy these views. Most amazing is the Heli-hike which takes you up to the glaciers. The many lakes in the area are great to watch the reflection of the alps, which is a must-see too!
Visit Ship Creek
After 20 km of driving north on the West Coast from Haast, you’ll pass Ship Creek. This is a great stop to have one of the short walks. There is a walk that takes you through the swamp and another one that takes
you along the windy sand dunes.
Stop at Knights Point Lookout
A bit further down the road you’ll find the Knights Point Lookout. Its signposted and not hard to miss. The views from up here are amazing.
Fox Glacier Walk
If you have not seen enough of this place yet, you can do the Fox Glacier Walk. This 1-hour return walk takes you through the valley that is carved out by the forces of the glacier. At the end of the walk, there
is a viewpoint where you can see the glacier in the back. Don’t expect too much of the glacier views though, it’s pretty far away. Check out the website for current information.
Admire the reflections of Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson is the perfect place to watch the reflection of the mountains (Mount Cook and Mount Tasman) in the water. It’s a spectacular view, especially on a clear day. The water is usually very still. Walk
around the lake to get to the Jetty viewpoint.
Peters Pool Walk
The path up to Franz Josef Glacier passes Peters Pool. You can do a 20-minute walk toward to this little lake that formed 200 years ago by melting ice.
Sentinel Rock Walk
A short steady climb takes you up to a beautiful view over the valley that’s carved out by the Franz Josef Glacier.
Franz Josef Glacier Walk
This walk takes you through the beautiful valley of Franz Josef Glacier. Along the river and the many rocks you also see some waterfalls. At the end of the walk, you have views over the glacier itself. 1,5 hours
Following the road up the west coast, you’ll pass small towns, beautiful lakes, great sceneries and you will find a beautiful gorge: Hokitika Gorge. It has super blue water and it's a great place to stroll around.
Visit Okarito beach
On your way up north you can make a side tour to the rugged coastline of Okarito beach. The views of the coastlines are great for a stroll around.
Hans Bay – Lake Kaniere Campsite (DOC)
A lovely DOC campground right at Lake Kaniere. It's perfect to end a day of exploring this beautiful area.
Visit Hokitika Town
Hokitika itself is a small town. Along the shore, the letters of Hokitika are made out of driftwood which is a cool looking sign. You can take a chance of finding Pounamu on the beach. This special kind of rock
has great value, but it’s pretty hard to find between all the other rocks.
This beautiful gorge is filled with very green/blue water. The Hokitika river makes its way through here and the views from the swing bridge are incredible. A 15-minute walk takes you around the place.
Lake Kaniere and Dorothy Falls
Dorothy Falls is a multistep waterfall coming from a height of 64 meters. It’s close to the road and a little bit further down that road you can find the beautiful Lake Kaniere. For the latest information about
the walk over there check out the website.
One of the most beautiful passes through the New Zealand Alps is Arthur's Pass. It cuts straight through the middle of New Zealand and has some very scenic views along the way. There are also some beautiful waterfalls on this road from west to east.
Before we start on the Arthur's Pass we take a little detour via Lake Brunner. There are several short walks and we would advise taking the Rakaitane Track which takes you via a suspension footbridge to panoramic
views, and with a bit of luck nice reflections of the trees (30 minutes return).
Devils Punchbowl Waterfall
When you drive into Arthur's Pass Town you can see this 112-meter tall waterfall from far. A 1-hour return track takes you via some bridges to the base of this impressive waterfall.
When you have passed Arthur's Pass Village the road will take you through Waimakariri Valley. Take your time driving through this area and stop to take in the beautiful landscape at the Waimakariri River Lookout.
This beautiful and peaceful lake is a great stop to just sit and enjoy the tranquillity.
Enjoy the view from the Otira Viaduct Lookout
Just before you drive into Arthur’s Pass Town you’ll pass a huge viaduct. From this lookout, you have an amazing view over the road behind you.
The last day of this trip will take you back to our starting point Christchurch. On the way over there you will finish the last part of Arthur's Pass with as a highlight the scenic area Castle Hill.
Cave Stream Scenic Reserve
This area is known for its 594-meter long cave that makes it way underneath the surface. When you are comfortable with it you can go through the pitch-black cave. You’ll have to go through waist-deep cold water.
There are safety restrictions you have to check on the website before going in. It takes about one hour, but if you are not comfortable going in you can check out the cave inlet and outlet.
Castle Hill (Kura Tawhiti)
This scenic area is a field full of all kinds of different rock formations. You can wander around for hours, and even though it can get pretty crowded on the weekends, you won’t notice that because the area is
so spread out.
Pink Donut in Springfield
On the last leg of the road back to Christchurch, you’ll pass the town Springfield. Although the town is just a town, it has the same name as the town of The Simpsons. For that reason, they have a huge Pink Donut
in town, so if you are a Simpsons fan you can’t miss visiting.