If you love nature or outdoor / adventure activities (including extreme activities), New Zealand is the best place for you to visit.
Maybe this question pop up on your mind “What places should I visit in New Zealand?” In this post & next several posts (part 1 up to final part), I will give you the itinerary / road trip map for 2 weeks trip on New Zealand. You can see the road trip map in the middle of this post.
There are so many outdoor / adventure activities that you can do in New Zealand, such as skydiving, bungy jumping, stargazing, kayaking, rafting, jet boating, skiing, cycling/mountain biking, surfing, hiking, horse trekking, fishing, paragliding, parasailing, etc.
The best way to explore the beauty of New Zealand’s very diverse landscapes is by doing a road trip.
Among all places that I’ve been to, New Zealand is my most favorite country, especially the South Island. I was blown away by the natural beauty of the South Island. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful! Absolutely stunning! The South Island has extraordinary diverse landscapes of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, fjord, vast grassy plains, lakes, rivers, forest, hills, valleys, etc.
The dramatic, contrasting landscapes of New Zealand have inspired the world’s best filmmakers. Because of the stunning nature of New Zealand, The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was being filmed in New Zealand, mostly in South Island. More than 150 locations throughout the country were used to film The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy movie. These movies were also being filmed in New Zealand: Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Samurai, Wolverine, Vertical Limit, The Piano, King Kong.
In these videos, you will see some of stunning New Zealand scenery:
video by Raw Cinematics
video by Timestorm Films
video by Timestorm Films
On my summer trip on South Island (December), while we’re driving on the road, I loved seeing the scenery along the roadside because the landscapes were so diverse and stunning. I also loved seeing lots of lupin flowers, sheeps, and cows along the roadside.
One of my favorite scenic road is Lindis Pass. Lindis Pass lies between Cromwell and Omarama. When you are driving through Lindis Pass, you will see mountain slopes with yellow-brownish grass on that mountain slopes. The scenery at Lindis Pass is stunning, but it’s hard to describe it. It’s better you see the photograph of Lindis Pass scenery to see the beauty of it. Unfortunately I don’t have a good photo of Lindis Pass scenery, but you can see the beauty of Lindis Pass from this great photos: Lindis Pass photo 1 , Lindis Pass photo 2 .
My other favorite scenic road is the scenery from Te Anau to Milford Sound. You will see snow capped mountains, rivers, rainforest, meadow, etc along the way. The scenery is stunning. This is a great photo of one scenery that you can find on the road to milford sound: mirror lake photo .
I recommend you to spend a minimum of 2 weeks in New Zealand. If you only have 2 weeks, stick to the South Island. The reasons to visit South Island (instead of North Island) are:
- The South Island’s landscapes are much more beautiful and more diverse than North Island’s landscape. The South Island’s scenery are breathtakingly beautiful. South Island has the best scenery of New Zealand.
- You will be covering more places in South Island than in North Island, at the same amount of time. In South Island, many places of interest are located near to each other (all within easy reach of each other), so you will be covering quite a lot of places in South Island in a short time. In North Island, the distance between one place of interest to other place of interest is quite far (compared to places in South Island), so you will be covering only a few places in North Island in a short time.
- New Zealand has a total of 14 national parks, 9 of which are located on the South Island.
- The 10 highest mountains in New Zealand are all located on the South Island. The highest mountain is Mount Cook. The Southern Alps run from the top of the South Island all the way down to the bottom of the South Island.
- New Zealand has many glaciers. The 5 largest glaciers are located on the South Island.
- Fiordland national park on the South Island is New Zealand’s largest national park, and also a large wilderness area.This area does not only have large lakes, but also tall mountain peaks and waterfalls tumbling down into the fiords. It offers some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand.
- Four of the 5 largest lakes in New Zealand are located on the South Island.
- Marlborough, which is located on the South Island, is New Zealand’s most significant wine-producing region. In addition, Central Otago on the South Island is becoming well-known for its wineries and award-winning pinot noir wines.
- The South Island has Queenstown as the adventure capital of New Zealand.
- The South Island is more rural than the North Island, so there are many farms and there are many sheeps & cows that you can see along the roadside while you’re driving.
Some people want to go to Hobbiton movie set (in North Island), well then… my advice to you is…. you need to add 3 more days in your New Zealand trip. It means 3 days for a trip from Auckland to Hobbiton and back to Auckland then fly from Auckland to Christchurch, then start a 2 weeks trip in South Island.
This is the itinerary / road trip map for 2 weeks trip on South Island of New Zealand:
New Zealand South Island, 2 weeks trip’s road trip map/itinerary :
Christchurch (A) → Akaroa (B)→ Christchurch (C)→ Castle Hill (D) → Punakaiki (E) → Hokitika (F) → Franz Josef Glacier (G) → Wanaka (H) → Te Anau (I) → Milford Sound (J) → Te Anau (I) → Queenstown (K) → Arrowtown (L) → Cromwell (M) → Omarama (N) →“high country salmon” Twizel (O) → Lake Ohau (P) –> Lake Pukaki (Q) → Mount Cook –> Lake Pukaki (Q) –> Lake Tekapo & church of the good shepherd (S) –> Christchurch (A).
What you see above is the itinerary / road trip map for 2 weeks trip on South Island, that start at Christchurch and end at Christchurch. You can follow that road trip map, or modify it into a trip that “start at Queenstown and end at Queenstown”. Both Christchurch and Queenstown have airport, so you can go from your country to Christchurch airport or Queenstown airport, and then go back to your country from Christchurch airport or Queenstown airport.
In this blog I will show you the itinerary that start at Christchurch and end at Christchurch. Below the last scenery photos, you will find a more detail information about each “place of interest (town, glacier,lake, etc)” that I wrote on the road trip map above. If you want to read information about each “place of interest” that was written on the road trip map, just skip these scenery photos and jump into information below last scenery photo.
These are the scenery that I saw along the roadside of South Island on my summer road trip (December):
Now, Let’s begin the road trip!
From your country or from wherever you are, fly to Christchurch airport. Then spend time in Christchurch.
Christchurch is the garden city. It is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps. Christchurch has a history of involvement in Antarctic exploration. Within the city, the Canterbury Museum preserves and exhibits many historic artefacts and stories of Antarctic exploration.
Things to do & see in Christchurch :
Botanic Garden (New Zealand’s largest inner-city park)
Air force museum
International Antarctic Centre
The Court Theatre
The Isaac Theatre Royal
For more detail information, go to these sites:
Canterbury museum: http://www.canterburymuseum.com/
Quake city: http://www.canterburymuseum.com/whats-on/quake-city/
The Court Theatre : https://courttheatre.org.nz/
The Isaac Theatre Royal : http://isaactheatreroyal.co.nz/
When reading my statement “drive from C to D via state highway number x”, you had better see it in the “state highway map” . The state highway map will help you get the whole picture. You can download the “state highway map” from this link: state highway map 1, state highway map 2.
CHRISTCHURCH → AKAROA , via SH 75
Drive from Christchurch to Akaroa via state highway 75.
Akaroa is the most French town in New Zealand. It was the only French settlement in New Zealand.The area still has a French influence. It is situated in the heart of an ancient volcano.
The best way to explore Akaroa is on foot. Begin at the information centre, which is on the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie. You’ll find brochures and maps that will help you to decide where to walk.
Things to do & see in Akaroa:
The Giants House (sculpture & mosaic garden)
Shamarra Alpaca farm
Swimming with dolphins
Seeing penguins in their natural habitat
Walking/trekking/hiking round the mountain
Fiik motorised skateboarding
Fishermans Bay Garden
For more detail information, go to these sites:
Akaroa : http://www.akaroa.com/
The Giants House (sculpture & mosaic garden) : http://www.thegiantshouse.co.nz/
Shamarra Alpaca farm : http://www.shamarra-alpacas.co.nz/farm-tours/