One of the best ways to see New Zealand is from its roads. If you decide to take the leap and Rent a Campervan in New Zealand, the journey from Christchurch to Milford Sound is one you should consider taking. With stunning mountain views, cool-off opportunities in natural lakes and cozy roadside restaurants, this road trip will be one that gets you closer to understanding the culture and natural beauty of the country. Here are some of the top things to do when making the trip.
Get Cultured in Christchurch
Even though it’s your starting point, don’t forget to give Christchurch the attention that it deserves. This riverside town is tranquil and surrounded by a laidback atmosphere. Located along a river, this town is filled with historic buildings and a prominent art scene. Wander around the quaint streets, stopping in art galleries, boutique shops or one of the creative restaurants.
Stop in Ashburton
This town is home to residents of a more local, farming community. Stop to pick up some handicrafts from the galleries or try your hand at the popular trout fishing. If you packed a grill in the camper rental, fire it up if you manage to catch dinner for the evening.
Visit the Geraldine Attractions
If you keep driving south, you will make it to the town of Geraldine. Here you can visit the vintage car museum or a factory that makes local and gourmet cheeses. After a few hours of learning how things are made, head to the nearby Rangitata Gorge for an afternoon of rafting.
This tiny city is beautifully put together. Visitors can take a historic walk around the city to view the architecture. There is a large art gallery to wander around, botanical gardens and a boutique brewery for all of the beer lovers out there.
See Penguins in Oamaru
Also filled with historic buildings and a stunning harbor, Oamaru is best visited for its penguin colony. Check out some of the island’s most adorable wildlife on a quick roadside detour from your journey.
Stop in Dunedin
This town has been left with plenty of Victorian architecture. Wander around and check out the houses, hotels and churches and don’t forget to take a peek at the castle. Members of the community take eco-tourism quite seriously and visitors will have opportunities to see penguins, seal and albatross colonies.
Experience Wildlife in the Catlins
If you haven’t had enough wildlife on your Campervan or Motorhome Hire journey, there is even more to be seen. This entire area is filled with diverse landscapes and fauna and will take you and your campervan around winding and lush roads to see it all. You can spot sea-lions, seals, dolphins and several different penguin species. The scenery is just as magical as the wildlife.In the area known as Catlins which falls just on south of Balclutha, you can see the Curio Bay petrified forest, waterfalls, beaches, rivers and lakes. This is a fantastic destination to park the RV and have a camp out amongst the gorgeous scenery.
Detour in Invercargill
The business district of Invercargill is the place to be. Start in Queen’s Park to wander through the rose gardens, visit the zoo and feed the ducks in the pond. If you want a break from the sun, head inside to the Art Gallery and Southland Museum that also reside in the park. Visitors tend to flock to Esk Street where the shopping is superb.
Visit Stewart Island
If you want to experience Stewart Island, you may have to abandon your campervan rental for the quick 20 minute flight to get there. Much of the island has been deemed a national park and here is where visitors can spot rare birds on the beaches and hike on nature trails around the park. There is also a small town on the island where visitors can opt to spend the night.
Wander Around Riverton
Riverton is one of the oldest settlements in all of the country. The town is extremely close to a cluster of places of interest that are easy to get to with the use of your NZ Campervan Rental. From Riverton, head on to Clifden and Tuatapere to discover caves, Lake Manapouri and a historic suspension bridge.
The rugged mountain area of Queenstown is your destination if you are looking for some real adventure. If you are ready to bring a little adrenalin into your trip, stop the campervan here and make sure to stay for a while. Stretch your campervan cooped up legs and try some jet-skiing, bungee jumping, river rafting and surfing. Relax from it all at one of the many luxury spas and restaurants serving gourmet meals and wine.
New Zealand is renowned for its wine so you can’t miss the chance to stop in the Gibbston area and check out the vineyards. You can also see the Kawarau Gorge and Lake Dunstan which are nearby.
Located in Fiorland National Park, this site is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations. Take nature walks, go trekking, kayaking or even take a cruise. You can see penguins and dolphins and all around stunning scenery. Milford Sound can actually be easily reached from Queenstown within the same day by road. It is 295 km and takes a little over 4 hours to be reached. Head there for a quick day trip early in the morning and make it back to Queenstown by nightfall.
This area has an absolutely stunning scenery that makes it popular with gliders. If you want to brave the infamous winds, schedule a scenic gliding adventure before you leave. If adrenalin isn’t your thing, try the fishing and golfing there instead.
After taking the drive through farmland and countryside, you will arrive in the mountain town of Twizel. It is most popular for its mountain biking, climbing, kayaking and fishing. As you leave to make your way to Mt. Cook Village, stop to experience Lake Pukaki’s turquoise waters and the snow capped mountains that line the way.
Mt. Cook Village
With one of the highest mountain peaks in the region, the area is filled with climbers, nature lovers and hikers. There is a small village where most people usually start off before taking some of the nature trails, going heli skiing, heli hiking or just taking a sightseeing tour from the sky. Most will finish their day back in the city relaxing at a local pub.
When heading off from Mt. Cook Village, you will drive through the stunning Tasman Valley. Once arriving, get your camera ready for the glacier fed waters and relax while kayaking, fishing, trekking and skiing.
Finally, after a long campervan journey, head back to Christchurch. You will pass through Mackenzie Country and see even more gorgeous farm land that you may have missed on the way down. Pop into the museums and historic sites of Fairlie and check out Mt. Somers for historic homes. You can stop to climb to the top of Mt. Hutt and see Glentunnel, a town built on coalmining. Drive through the plains of Canterbury and eventually land back in Christchurch to get one last chance at seeing anything you may have missed.
If you plan on hiring a NZ Motorhome or Campervan, make sure to take it on this journey. With some of the country’s best landscapes and most historical towns, you are sure to end your trip with a whole new appreciation for nature, New Zealand and road trips of course.
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