New Zealand is quite a small island nation. However, it is packed with beautiful landscapes, untamed wilderness, and teeming with a lot of art and culture. Is it possible, though, to travel the entire span of the islands in less than two weeks? Let us see the places and things the southern island offers from east to west in all its majesty.


Choose a comfortable motorhome with ample storage. Modern campervans are more impressive than they look. The interiors are very well designed with several innovative space-saving storage techniques.

A fully functioning toilet and bathroom are available too. You can stop, sleep, eat, and even wash your car without rigidly defined schedules. Then start your journey from the Christchurch Wilderness depot.

A useful tool to book a car, ferry or plane in New Zealand is the APP Flightwonder you can check it before starting your trip and compare different deals depending on the destination you have in mind. 

As you leave Christchurch, the landscapes change from open fields to mountainous terrain. You will arrive at Punakaiki on the west coast by late afternoon. Camp by the beach here as darkness falls and hear the waves crashing against the rocks at night.


Franz Josef Glacier

A few hundred yards from the Punakaiki beach is a dense jungle woodland. Around this area, there are several rock formations of interest. In particular, the Pancake Rocks demonstrate millions of years of sweater sediment deposits that look like towers of pancakes stacked on top of each other.

The crashing waves have formed many caves, and several geysers splash water into the air with a salty mist. A few hours down the road is glacier territory. Roads and footpaths can take you close to the base. The Franz Josef glacier lies here.

The glacier appears to squeeze its way through the rock like a river of ice. Further south, you get to Fox, where the equally stunning Fox glacier lies.

Lake Matheson and Haast Pass

Ten minutes from Fox lies the pristine waters of Lake Matheson. It is a glacial meltwater lake surrounded by dense pine trees and ferns. On the far side of the lake is the beautiful view of the Southern Alps mountain range.

Going back to Fox, you can see the glacier nestled between touring mountain summits. As you drive further south, you cut through rolling mountains and hills until you reach Haast Pass. You can stop by and walk along the Blue Pools: a collection of turquoise pools with meltwater from the surrounding mountains.

Finally, driving South, you reach Wanaka's town, where you can camp and meet up with other tourists.

Roy's Peak

You haven't seen all of Wanaka until you reach the peak of Wanaka's very own, Mount Roy. At over 1500m, the peak offers an unhindered view of the Wanaka basin below and the Mount Aspiring National Park. After you make it down the mountain in a four-hour hike, take a break, grab something to eat, and rest for the night. The next stop is Queenstown.

Queenstown Thrills

There is mountain biking, jet-boating, sky diving, and bungy-jumping here. You can hire bikes and stroll down the Seven Mile Bike Park. The park trails vary in difficulty, but the challenge is worth the experience for bike amateurs and veterans. Later, spend the night at Te Anau before starting on the next challenge the following morning.

Milford Sound

The road to Milford Sound winds through the mountains. When open, you will find a stunning alpine landscape, with the dark rocks coated with snow bringing a sharp contrast.  Milford Sound can be hard to describe but imagine its pristine glassy surface, framed by steep black rock and high waterfalls tumbling down from the rainforests above.

At the center of the fjord is the Mitre Peak towering at almost 1700m. You can hike, kayak, paraglide, or hire a plane to see the irresistible scene. Alternatively, you can choose a boat ride on one of the ferries that run from a hidden harbor.   

On a clear day, the view of the rainbows around the waterfalls and the meltwater crashing down from the peaks will melt your heart. Milford Sounds should arguably be among the wonders of the world.


On your way back to Queenstown, check out the town of Glenorchy. It is famed for some of the filmic settings such as Isengard in the Lord of the Rings and Narnia. The town lies in a valley with spectacular views of Mt Bonpland and Mt Alfred.

When back to Queenstown, your tour isn't complete without a gondola ride. Visitors carried 450m above the town get panoramic views of the Coronet peak and the Remarkables mountain range. Alternatively, you can try to climb the top of Ben Lomond if you want a quieter view of the town.

Kawarau River Bungy and Lake Pukaki

Northeast of Queenstown lies the Kawarau River valley. Between the river banks is a suspension bridge almost 50m above the water. Thrill-seekers gather here as it is one of the only permanent Bungy bridges around.

As you proceed, you can visit lake Pukaki, a bright blue body of glacial water sitting in the shadow of Mt Cook. The sky in this part of the world suffers no light pollution, so the constellations come out to play in full color as you listen to the gently lapping sounds of the water washing up the shore.

Hooker Valley, Tekapo, and Mt Sunday

As the sun rises, the mountains on the far side of the lake are baked in pink colors as the trees silhouette over the orange glow. The road to Mt Cook takes an hour or so, but you can take a detour to Hooker Valley.

A lot of suspension bridges wander across the valley. As you make your way back to Christchurch, you can take a detour to see another Lord of the Rings film set- Mount Sunday. It is 30km off the main road and located on private land.

The view of the surrounding valley is a sight to behold. You could easily run up its side and make it to the peak. On the way back to the main road, you can finally make your way back to Christchurch.


The Grand Finale! On your last day, you can review your trip as it winds to a close. The thrill seeker in you has much to be tested in New Zealand if you give it a try. Think of all the fun things you've been able to do and the amazing people you've met on the way. As you clean up your motorhome and fill up the gas, you know deep down that you will remember this all the days of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Taylor has worked in various senior roles including, sales, manufacturing, and commercial.

During this time he has gained an invaluable insight into the day-to-day pressures that go with such leadership roles and the expectations to be met.