21 Day Christchurch Round Trip | Apollo Campervans NZ
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21 Day Christchurch Round Trip

Discover the best of New Zealand's South Island on this 21 day road trip.

bird species

The various nature of the southern island is stunning and you will not regret coming here! Winding roads will take you to fjords, mountains and marvelous beaches. You will have to leave the vehicle to visit Stewart Island during this trip, as this island can't be reached by campervan or motorhome. Abel Tasman is beautiful for nature and animal lovers and the ferry trip is a great experience! When arriving in Balclutha go to Nugget Point for amazing views or take a Tautuku Walk. At the end of this road trip you will arrive back in Christchurch, and conquer your fear in Adrenaline Forest!

Day 1: Christchurch Apollo Branch

Start your journey by picking up your chosen rental campervan or motorhome from our Christchurch Branch. Once you have picked up your RV, it’s time to start exploring the city of exploration - Christchurch. We recommend taking a ride on the Christchurch Gondola to admire panoramic views of this city.


Christchurch Gondola View


Day 2: Christchurch to Picton

Distance: 337km

Travel time: 4hrs 33mins

It’s time to hit the road and head to your first stop. Picton is the heart of the Marlborough Sounds and is home to great cafes, restaurants, galleries, and specialty shops. If you’re feeling adventurous and keen to get up close to the local wildlife, book a dolphin swim experience. If you’re lucky enough you might even spot an Orca.


Day 3: Picton - Kaiteriteri

Distance: 198km

Travel time: 2hrs 41mins

After a night in Picton, pack up the campervan and start making your way to the next stop - Kaiteriteri. On the way, be sure to stop at Nelson, known as being one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand. While in Nelson, step into another world and experience Middle Earth by visiting some of the iconic Lord of the Rings film locations.


Day 4: Kaiteriteri

Kaiteriteri is the best place to base yourself to explore the Abel Tasman National Park. You can explore the park from loans, water, or air depending on what you prefer. Visit Te Pukatea Bay to discover a perfect golden beach with native wildlife all around.


Te Pukatea, New Zealand


Day 5: Kaiteriteri - Punakaiki

Distance: 285km

Travel time: 3hrs 56mins

Once arriving in Punakaiki put on your hiking shoes and discover the superb short and long walks in the region including the Paparoa Track. During your stay in Punakaiki, make sure you visit the Pancake Rocks.


Day 6: Punakaiki - Franz Josef

Distance: 215km

Driving time: 2hrs 42mins

Halfway along your journey between Punakaiki and Franz Josef stop at the old mining town of Ross. Here you can visit Jones Creek to try your luck at panning for gold. Buy or hire a gold pan from the Ross Goldfields Information & Heritage Centre.


Day 7: Franz Josef

Today you will be admiring New Zealand’s most spectacular glacier -the Franz Josef Glacier, or, as it is known in local Māori legends, Kā Roimata-a-Hine Hukatere (the frozen tears of Hine Hukatere). Franz Josef Glacier is one of the steepest glaciers in the country and has incredible features such as ice caves, tunnels, and crevasses; which are continually evolving and changing. We highly recommend booking a tour in advance, especially if you’re visiting in peak periods!


Franz Josef Glacier


Day 8: Franz Josef - Wanaka

Distance: 284km

Driving time: 3hrs 37mins

Between Franz Josef and Wanaka, you’ll be driving on the Tioripatea Highway, otherwise known as the Haast Pass. This drive is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world. As you journey along Haast Pass, you’ll be cruising along the rugged coastline, temperate rainforest, and glacier country before entering UNESCO-registered Mt. Aspiring National Park.


Day 9: Wanaka

Spend today exploring the buzzing town of Wanaka. Here you will find yourself at the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures and as it’s so close to Mount Aspiring National Park, it’s the perfect destination to explore the Southern Alps.


Day 10: Wanaka - Queenstown

Distance: 68km

Travel time: 1 hr

You only have a short drive today, however, it can easily be turned into one epic trip if you stop along the way to admire the spectacular views. There are two routes to take, however, the most scenic is the drive-through Cardrona. However, sometimes during Winter this route closes so be sure to check before you head off.


Day 11: Queenstown

As the adventure capital of New Zealand, there are plenty of exciting activities to choose from. If you’re feeling adventurous, jet boating and bungy jumping are some of the most popular activities to choose from. From something a little more relaxing, ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak or take a cruise along the lake. Finish your day at Fergburger, to treat yourself to a world-famous burger.


Queenstown view at night


Day 12: Queenstown - Fiordland

Distance: 171km

Travel time: 1hr 59mins

Fiordland is a very popular stop as so many natural icons are easily accessible from here. One of them is, Milford Sound in the Maori language Popiotahi is a fjord that lies within the Fiordland National Park, Pipiotahi Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. In an international survey from TripAdvisor, Milford Sound came out as the world’s top travel destination.


Day 13: Fiordland - Stewart Island (leave camper at Bluff)

Distance: 179km

Travel time: 2hrs 7mins

It’s time to head south to Bluff and head over on a ferry to New Zealand’s third-largest island - Stewart Island. While onboard the one-hour journey, look out for the local sea birds. It is very common to see Albatross soaring behind the ferry, which is a great photo opportunity.


Day 14: Stewart Island

Whether you’re up for a day of relaxing or adventurous activities, Stewart Island has something for everyone. It’s also the best place to spot a rare kiwi bird in the wild as there is more kiwi on the island than human inhabitants!


Kiwi bird in the wild on Stewart Island


Day 15: Stewart Island - Balclutha

Distance: 150km

Travel time: 1hr 45mins

Today you will be taking the ferry back to Bluff to pick up your campervan or motorhome to continue your journey on the mainland. On your way to Balclutha, if you’re feeling hungry, stock up on snacks at Invercargill as there aren't many large towns on the coast after here.


Day 16: Balclutha

From Balcutha, take a day trip to the Otago coast and enjoy the distinctive beauty of Nugget Point. Rock formations are found scattered along the bay looking like broken pieces of necklaces in a calm blanket of blue. Then go to the lighthouse to admire breathtaking views everywhere you look.


Nugget Point, The Catlins Image via Graeme Murray


Day 17: Balclutha - Dunedin

Distance: 79.3km

Travel time: 1hr

Once arriving in Dunedin take your time to do some sightseeing of the local landscapes, wildlife, and local history. Dunedin is home to New Zealand’s only castle - Larnach Castle, which has been carefully restored to its original Victorian grandeur. Open 365 days a year, it’s a must-visit while in Dunedin.


Day 18: Dunedin - Twizel

Distance: 254km

Travel time: 3hrs

On the way to Twizel make a stop at the Moeraki Boulders. These boulders are extremely big and are scattered around on Koekohe Beach. A Maori legend says that the boulders are remains of eel baskets washed ashore from the wreck of an Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.


Moeraki Otago Image via Miles Holder


Day 19: Twizel

Twizel is the closest town to Aoraki Mt Cook and is set on the edge of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park filled with milky blue lakes, rivers, and canals. The surrounding scenery is famous for being featured in The Lord of the Rings movies. Tours are available to book, giving you behind-the-scenes insights on The Lord of the Rings films.


Day 20: Twizel - Christchurch

Distance: 285km

Travel time: 3hrs22mins

On your last day on the road, we recommend a stop at the pretty country town of Geraldine. Home to a local thriving business Barker’s at Geraldine, famous for their chutneys and chocolate sauce. With a cafe attached, it’s a great place to stop and have a tea break before heading off on your final journey to Christchurch.


Day 21: Christchurch

Finish your holiday in Christchurch and conquer your fear in Adrenaline Forest! Find out more about what to do in Christchurch here.

Places to stay: 

Dunedin Holiday Park

North South Holiday Park

Queenstown Cabin & Tourist Park

Twizel Holiday Park

Ready to explore?


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