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Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip

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Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip

Hello ,

We are a family of 3 ( dad/mom/ 5yr old boy), planning a trip to South Island for 15 days in Mid Jan 2014. Our goal is to experience the loads of natural beauty that South Island has to offer , while not feeling like we are driving the whole time. Our first list was too crowded , so we cut down Arthur pass. We also cut the glaciers off our list since it seems like it would not be kid friendly. Can the South Island experts on the forum weigh in on this : Are we realistic here or is this still doing too much? Any recommendations are very welcome.. We love walks & hikes.. And are also considering a helicopter/ flight ride if we can find one that we can take our 5 year old on..

Can we do any kayaking with our boy anywhere?

Day 1 - Arrive at Christchurch, Pickup Campervan to Abel Tasman National Park , stay here

Day 2 - Abel Tasman -Hike/Etc , Head out to Wharariki Beach ( 1.5 hrs drive time )

 Day 3 - Sunrise At Wharariki , leave afternoon , Night at Westport ( 5 hrs )

Day 4 - West coast drive day - with stops for taking in the sites to Wanaka ( 7 hrs drive time )

Stay at Wanaka

Day 5 - Explore Wanaka , night at Queenstown

Day 6 - Explore Queenstown, Stay in Queenstown 

Day 7 -nAfter breakfast, head out to Lake Manapouri for Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Day 8 - Return from Cruise - Drive to Te Anau ( 1.5 hrs drive time ) -stay here

Day 9 - Milford Sound -Day Cruise at Milford - stay at Milford

Day 10 - Hike Key Summit, Evening drive out to Twizel ( 4.5 hr Drive time )

Day 11 - explore Aoraki  

After breakfast, head out to Aoraki ( 1 hr Drive Time ) Night Stay at Aoraki

Day12 - Lake Takepo - stay at Takepo

Day 13 - Christchurch - Explore and stay

day 14 - explore Christchurch

day 15 - Fly out 

Appreciate all comments and reviews....thanks in advance !


New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,315 posts
83 reviews
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1. Re: Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip

Welcome to the forum :)

You have the makings of a good trip but your drive times are all over the place. Some far too short, some far too long ( it takes just 20 - 30 minutes to drive Te Anau to Manapouri). Don't forget a campervan travels about 20% slower than a car - so allow plenty of time to drive.

Where do you live? Where are you flying to Chch from?

If further away than the North Island, NZ then please don't drive immediately on arriving in NZ. You have devoted a day to explore Chch at the end of your trip - it needs to be day 1.

Visotors avaerage 6 hours to drive Franz to Wanaka. To plan to drive Westport to Wanaka is suicidal. Simply don't do it. No one is making you explore the glaciers, but you do need to stop and sleep for the night. Also your son could very well enjoy the greatwalks to see the glaciers.

I don't see any point on stopping in Twizel and Aoraki and Tekapo. These nights will be better used to even up your overlong drives.

<<Day 10 - Hike Key Summit, Evening drive out to Twizel ( 4.5 hr Drive time ) >> it takes a car 4.5 hours to drive Te Anau to Twizel. But you are starting 85ks before te Anau so add one hours driving, plus you are in a campervan so add another hour. So it will take you 6.5 hours to drive Key Summit to Twizel.

My suggestion;

1 arrive Christchurch, explore

2 drive to Abel Tasman

3 explore

4 drive to Westport or Punakaiki

5 drive to Franz Josef or Fox

6 drive to Wanaka

7 explore

8 drive 3 hours to Manapouri, Doubtful overnight

9 return from overnight, drive to Milford, cruise

10 hike Key Summit, drive to Te Anau

11 drive to Queenstown

12 explore

13 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

14 drive to Chch

15 fly out

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,315 posts
83 reviews
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2. Re: Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip

Most heli-tours will take your 5 year old.

Your 5 yo will need an approved child seat for the campervan (and when travelling by car). Most campervans are only able to fit the childseat in the rear on the van. This can make for lonely family travel with 2 adults in the front and the child alone in the rear or the driver alone while the other adult and the child travel in the rear.

Best get a campervan which has another seat directly behind the front seats.

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3. Re: Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip


Thank you so much for the detailed review !!! This is awesome, we did not even think about the seating arrangements in the campervan. Thanks for the pointing that out, we will be making our renting decision based on that now..

We are flying in from a vacation stop in India, we will be updating the itinerary based on your feedback for the first day drive . Looking forward to having an awesome time in NZ..

R,R & R

4. Re: Itinerary check - South Island Campervan trip

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