New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary - 6 Days in the South Island
Day one - Dunedin to Timaru
Our route started in Dunedin because that's where my boyfriend Connor lives. From there we drove two and a half hours North to Timaru. On our way we made a pit stop at the Moeraki Boulders. This place was swimming with tourists despite what you see in my very carefully framed Instagram snapshot. Because of the crowds, we didn't stay long and once we had our photo, we were swiftly back on the road until reaching Oamaru. This town is known as the steampunk capital of the NZ and was one of my favourite places we visited. Driving down the main stretch of road you don't see much, make sure you turn off and follow the signs to find the steampunk goodness. There were so many quirky shops and awesome buildings, I could have spent a whole day taking photos there!
We arrived at our accomodation in Timaru later that afternoon, which just so happened to be a beautiful mini castle! Yes, that was obviously my choice to stay there. But wow what a wicked experience - even Connor enjoyed it in the end.
Day Two - Timaru to Lake Hawea
After one night in Timaru we were in for a big journey driving to our next accomodation in Lake Hawea. This was the day of many beautiful lakes - the photos speak for themselves really! On our drive we stopped first at Lake Tekapo, a place we knew would be a tourist hotspot but even that couldn't prepare us for the crowds. We ended up travelling around Tekapo to Lake Alexandrina (left image), which we would definitely recommend for something a little more quiet. My favourite however was Lake Pukaki. The pale blue water was incredible, like something out of a painting, and in my opinion even more picturesque than Tekapo.
Day three & four -
Lake Hawea, Wanaka & Blue Springs
We spent two days exploring around the area with Lake Hawea (pictured above) as our base for sleep and food. Our biggest adventure was a two hour drive out to the Blue Pools. This was another Instagram hot spot that I dragged Connor out to see. However, the thing we didn't think about was the fact that it had been raining all morning meaning that the beautiful clear sparkling water I had seen online wasn't anywhere to be seen. It was also extremely busy as you can see in the photo to the left - I'm not sure what's more obvious, the crowds of people on the rocks or the moskito bite on my shoulder! Yes, that's a hot tip from me, remember your bug spray for this one people
But despite my complaints, I would still 100% recommend you visit this place - if not for the Blue Pools but for the drive itself. I felt bad for Connor having to focus on the road because I couldn't take my eyes off the beautiful sites as we cruised around Lake Pukaki, then later across 'The Neck' to continue the road around the top of Lake Wanaka. There's plenty of look out stops to pull over along the way, so make sure you allow plenty of time for that.
Our favourite part of this area was spending our days cruising around in the car, finding random side roads, rivers and paddocks for mini adventures and photoshoots. It was a nice and relaxing way to explore the local area, as well as hitting the key tourist hot spots.
Day five & six - Te Anau and Milford Sounds
We certainly finished the trip on a high note! Te Anau was our highlight of the trip and the moment our holiday was over, we immediately wanted to come back to this small Southern town. The main reason people stay in Te Anau is it's a good base to get to Milford Sounds. We would highly recommend this over taking a day trip from Queenstown as it makes the trip much more relaxed and, as we quickly discovered, Te Anau is an amazing place in it's own right.
Even in summer this place is notorious for rain. But make sure you try and squeeze in a picnic down on the lakefront during your trip - it is a must! In particular, we were blown away by the bao buns from Habit Foods. I'm drooling just thinking about them. And sitting on the pebbled-shore eating, starring out at the endless mountains was incredible and something I could have done for hours.
The Air bnb we stayed in was also our favourite from the entire trip. I'll link it here for anyone interested, but basically it was this sweet little caravan just outside the main town centre on a family farm. It was so cheap and so nicely put together. It even had this incredible outdoor bath, which you can guarantee I hoped into at the end of each day.
And of course, Milford Sounds.
This place is nicknamed the eighth wonder of the world and there's no surprise as to why once you arrive. We booked in for the first cruise of the day kicking off at 8am. This meant we had to leave Te Anau before 6am and drive mostly in the dark. However, the benefit was that it was a little less crowded at that time. It rained the day we were there, but this only made it more beautiful with hundreds of waterfalls coming alive as we cruised along the water. It's an experience that's hard to describe in words and is something that you can only understand when you see it yourself. Oh, and we also saw seals... HOW CUTE ARE THEY???
AND THAT'S A WRAP...
From there, we reluctantly left Te Anau behind, driving back to Dunedin where I flew back to Auckland. It was truly an incredible roadtrip and looking back at these photos now makes me realise how lucky I was to experience it all.
If you've done a South Island road trip, I'd love to hear what you did! And if you haven't already, check out the vlog I made for our YouTube channel from our road trip.
In the mean time I'll leave you with this quality 10/10 self-timed photo with me and my number one bebs.