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North and South Island Road Trip

Image of clouds rolling across the Milford Sounds on the South Island in New Zealand - KILROY
View the full itinerary as a list

Recommend duration

3-4 weeks



Travel type

Road trip


Flights and campervan rental

Book this itinerary
Explore the best of New Zealand's South and North islands on this three-week road trip that takes you from Christchurch to Auckland, visiting glaciers, volcanos and caves along the way.

Adventure through alpine meadows, ancient glaciers and snow-capped mountains as you experience stunning filming locations, Middle Earth inspired activities and more. Experience friendly Kiwi hospitality at its best and fully immerse yourself in the highlights of New Zealand with this comprehensive adventure.

Start your adventure in Christchurch and end in Auckland. Following the itinerary in this order means you avoid the one-way fee on the campervan hire. You could easily spend three weeks exploring just one of the islands, but if you're low on time with big plans on covering more of the country, you can't beat this itinerary.

*Price is a 'from' price per person based on two people over 25 travelling together in low season. Reach out to us if you're younger - it's not a problem!


What's included
  • Return flights from the UK to New Zealand
  • 1 night pre road trip hostel accommodation in Christchurch
  • 21 days of campervan rental (3-berth Chaser camper)
  • 2 nights' post road trip hostel accommodation in Auckland 
  • Booking fees
  • Services of your own travel advisor
What's not included
  • Travel insurance (but we can help you with that)
  • Vaccinations
  • Meals
  • Ferry pass between the North and South Island
  • Optional activities

Route Suggestion

Home - Christchurch - Arthur's Pass - Fox Glacier - Wanaka - Queenstown - Fiordland - Stewart Island - Dunedin - Hanmer Springs - Marlborough - Wellington - Taupo - Rotorua - Waitomo Caves - Northland & Bay of Islands - Poor Knights Islands - Auckland - Home

This is only a suggested itinerary for your New Zealand road trip. You can tweak this itinerary to get it just right - spend more time in one place, skip another place. Add a tour here, or an activity there. Let us know what you want and we'll create your dream trip.


Arrive in Christchurch from the UK. This eclectic city is home to plenty of contemporary culture and you've got a night here to relax after your flight and spend some time exploring.

Cycle along the picturesque Avon River, mountain bike down well-worn tracks in the Port Hills and enjoy delicious dining options in the central city. This student-friendly city boasts lots of bars with a vibrant nightlife, so make sure you satisfy your party gene here before you start your road trip!

Arthur's Pass

Pick up your camper from Christchurch and get ready to hit the road! First stop on your trip is Arthur's Pass, which is located in the national park of the same name. It's the highest and most spectacular pass across the Southern Alps in New Zealand, and a great place for a spot of hiking.

Fox & Franz Josef Glacier

Continue to the west coast of the South Island and head south to reach Fox Glacier. This spectacular glacier is 13km-long and peaks at around 2800 metres above sea level. Close by is another glacier worth a visit - the Franz Josef Glacier. It's equally as stunning with great hiking opportunities.

Wanaka & Queenstown

Leaving the glaciers behind, continue south towards Wanaka and Queenstown. Wanaka Lake is famous for the tree in the middle of the water that symbolises hope. Near Wanaka you'll find Roy's Peak, which is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Head on to one of New Zealand's top visitor destinations, Queenstown, which is surrounded by stunning mountains and a crystal clear lake. Get your adrenaline pumping with a skydive or bungy jump, have a go on the slopes or enjoy picturesque dining locations.


One of the most enchanting places in New Zealand, Fiordland is home to waterfalls that cascade hundreds of metres into deep black fiords and ancient rainforest that clings to towering mountains. Unique creatures swim deep under dark lakes and granite peaks shimmer in the sun. Explore the Milford Sound and its neighbours with a boat cruise or kayak.

Stewart Island

South of South Island (still with us?) you reach the country's third biggest island, Stewart Island with a coastal line of around 700km. This place is famous for its wildlife and amazing hiking trails. There's only around 28km of road on the island, so you'll need a good pair of walking shoes if you wish to get around. If you're lucky you can spot dolphins and whales from the bays on the island, and you might get a glimpse of the mighty Albatross if you're visiting during their migration period.

Dunedin & Kaikorai

Dunedin & Kaikorai are on the east coast of the South Island, lying between the rugged seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean. Whales, fur seals and dolphins live in the coastal waters and the area is famous for its marine mammal encounters. Whale watching trips leave the town several times a day and the local seal colony is always entertaining. Oh, and if you feel like getting some exercise, New Zealand's steepest street is also found here.

Hanmer Springs

It's a long drive from Dunedin to Hanmer Springs, so make sure to stop every now and then. Hanmer Springs is a thermal water oasis with outdoor hot springs surrounded by rugged landscapes. This area is also one of New Zealand's best wine areas, so it's a no-brainer to get a nice bottle (or two!) while you're here.


From Hanmer Springs you head to Wellington, but we encourage you to stop in Marlborough on the way. Malborough is also famous for wine and the food scene is not too shabby either!

Take the ferry from Picton on the South Island to Wellington, located at the southernmost tip of the North Island. Wellington is home to the Weta Workshop and the Weta Cave. Here you can get a behind-the-scenes look at movie-making magic in action. Indulge in the city's buzzing food and wine scene, and enjoy a cable-car ride to the Kelburn lookout for expansive harbour views.

Taupo & Rotorua

Depart from Wellington and head to Taupo, home to the famous Lake Taupo and the nearby Huka Falls. We encourage you to check out both, and if you feel active, you can hike to the top of Mt. Tauhara and enjoy the view. After the hike you can relax in a natural spa pool at Otumuheke Stream.

Continue to Rotorua, which has one of the world's most lively fields of geothermal activity. Explore bubbling mud pools and lands of steam and geysers, or get your adrenaline pumping with some of the great adventure activities on offer. Experience a fascinating Maori cultural show or marae stay, or soak aching limbs in one of the many naturally-heated mineral pools.

Waitomo Caves

Around 2 hours' drive from Taupo lie the Waitomo Caves, a fascinating labyrinth of underground sinkholes, caves and rivers beneath rolling green farmland. Take a walking or boat tour, try black water rafting or zip line through the darkness and see the famous glow worms that illuminate the dark caves.

Bay of Islands & Poor Knights Island

Drive north to the Bay of Islands and check out the small, picturesque town Paihia. It has a welcoming vibe and provides plenty of bars and restaurants, as well as a sandy beach. If you have time, you can opt for a trip to nearby Russell or you can check out some of the marine life including seals, dolphins or even whales if you're lucky. You should also visit Poor Knights Island where the marine life is extraordinary, in case if you're into snorkelling or scuba diving.


Your road trip around New Zealand ends in Auckland. Drop off your campervan and then enjoy two nights in a hostel in the city where you can reflect on your adventure through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. Take it slow and make sure to check out the different corners of the city. And if you feel brave you can opt for some bungy jumping while you're here.

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