Skip Navigation

A week in South Island

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific A week in South Island

Last Post This thread is marked as being about New Zealand
1. Posted by rach13 (Inactive 17 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

hi guys,
im going to be travelling round South Island in a few weeks, i only have a week to do it due to time restraints. I do realise that this probably isnt enough time to see everything so i was wondering if anyone could give me an idea of what i should definitely do. i want to go to Lake Tekapo and hopefully go to the glaciers. Could anyone suggest other things to do and see? i plan on just camping, will i have to book ahead as i will be going over new years?

i know this is all very last minute, the whole trip has been very spur of the moment...

happy travels everyone!

2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 615 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi Rachel,
No way you'll get round the island in a week. But prioritise what you want to see and you'll have a great time - just don't spend it all travelling. Get to Queenstown and Milford Sound.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5233 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

One week is indeed very short, but you can do a very basic loop from Christchurch in a week that will still cover a lot of the highlights. In fact, I think I once wrote up one for someone else on here... *searches* yes, indeed:

day 1: arrive Christchurch, explore.
day 2: travel to Franz Josef Glacier via Artur's Pass (~6 hours by car, 10 by train (TranzAlpine) + bus).
day 3: explore Franz Josef Glacier (helicopter flight, glacier hike, or just walk up to it (make sure not to miss Peter's Pool and Robert's Point track), depending on your budget).
day 4: travel to Queenstown (~5 hours by car, 8 by bus).
day 5: explore Queenstown (go bungy jumping if that's your thing).
day 6: travel to Lake Tekapo (~3 hours by car, 4 by bus (or 6 with lunch at the Hermitage at Mt. Cook)), see Lake Tekapo (I highly recommend the 2.5 hour (easy walking) roundtrip to the top of Mt. John - truly awesome and gorgeous views from up there; or do a helicopter flight if you have the budget but the weather was bad at the glaciers).
day 7: travel to Christchurch (~3 hours by car, 4 by bus), depart.

If you have one extra day, I'd spend it on a (very long) daytrip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound from Queenstown out (even if you have a car, don't drive yourself, as you'd only be stuck behind the tourbuses anyway, and it's about 14 hours total to do this).
One more extra day might be nice to stop at Mt. Cook in addition to Lake Tekapo, or to take a daytrip up to Kaikoura from Christchurch and do whalewatching there (if it's a good time of the year for that).

(You can also do this itinerary the other way around, although with public transport you'd arrive really late in the day in Christchurch on the 7th day, as the train only goes that way in the afternoon.)

Also, man, it's no fun when people already want to go to Lake Tekapo; there's no need to convince them that they want to, then. :)

4. Posted by chemgal (Full Member 149 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

You should book camping spots ahead of time, New Years is the busiest time for camp grounds and they get booked out months in advanced.

5. Posted by rach13 (Inactive 17 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I had actually noticed you suggesting Lake tekapo to a few other people so i took your advice from there. i hope tha it will be worth it after all your persuasion ;)

thanks for all the help, its really helped.