The South Island In 7 Days

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Read about 'The South Island In 7 Days' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

7 days in the South Island and not sure where to go? Let us show you the best of the South Island in one week!

Tackling the entire South Island in seven days is an extreme challenge even for the seasoned traveller, so we have broken it down into two options, both taking 7 days. You can either head north to the sunny beaches and beautiful crystal clear waters of the Nelson and Marlborough region or turn South and discover the majestic Southern Alps, Queenstown and Arthurs Pass – the choice is yours!

When you only have 7 days most people will enter the South Island via flights to the Christchurch Airport, as flying in from the North Island not only saves money, it is a much more efficient use of time. Therefore both of these itinerary options begin from, and return to, Christchurch.

7 Days In The North Of The South Island

Having decided you’re going to use the next seven days exploring the top of the South Island, you’re going to need some idea of where to go, where to stop and what things you simply can’t miss! Here is our comprehensive guide to holidaying at the top of the South Island.

Day 1 Christchurch

Drive time Christchurch to Kaikoura 2.5 hrs

Having hit the ground in Christchurch, make sure you set aside some time to explore the city and make the most of its best attractions and activities. If you are an early riser or have kids in tow head on over to the Margaret Mahy Playground on Armagh Street for some free outdoor fun and a morning coffee while you set about planning the day ahead.

When you are finished enjoying the sights and sounds of Christchurch, hit the road and head North to Kaikoura for the night. Driving towards the end of the day allows you to reach the following day’s destination by nightfall, enjoy a relaxing sleep and wake refreshed and ready to enjoy the day’s activities. For this one make sure you leave Christchurch with plenty of daylight available – the drive has some lovely coastal views as you near Kaikoura.

Sunset On The Avon River, Christchurch

Top 3 Things To Do In Christchurch

Having only set aside the one day for seeing Christchurch, you will need to be a bit selective on what you decide to see and do – here are our top 3 picks.

1. Antarctic Centre

One of the best Christchurch attractions of all time, the Antarctic Centre takes a unique peek into the historical aspects of Antarctica exploration and the lives of the intrepid explorers who took on the extreme conditions of this icy far away land. Find out what it’s like to experience an arctic storm and watch the Little Blue Penguins do their thing!

Highlights
  • Penguin Rescue Centre
  • Storm Dome
  • Husky Zone

2. Christchurch Tram

Not only great for sightseeing, the Tram also offers convenient transportation around the central city with a handy hop-on-hop-off policy allowing you to use its services for the entire day. You can even enjoy a unique onboard dining experience in the Tramway Restaurant. There are a total of 17 stops around the city including the Botanic Gardens, Riverside Markets and Margaret Mahy Playground.

Highlights
  • Tramway Restaurant
  • Hop-on-hop-off all day service
  • Guided commentary

3. Botanic Gardens

Christchurch isn’t known as the garden city for nothing, so a visit to the Botanic Gardens is a must! Best of all, entry to the gardens is free! Wander about the beautiful historic gardens taking in the extensive native and exotic plantings, ancient trees and flowering blooms and once you’re done, take a walk through the Canterbury Museum before you leave. Located right at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens the Museum offers a range of historical displays and interactive exhibits for all ages. 

Highlights
  • Gilpin House Conservatory
  • Central Rose Garden
  • Canterbury Museum

Day 2 Kaikoura

Drive time Kaikoura to Nelson 3.5 hrs

Kaikoura is a small town most known for the size of its crayfish and abundance of fresh seafood, so your arrival at night is the perfect time for one of those good old kiwi classics – fish and chips on the beach is on the menu for dinner tonight! If you haven’t already be sure to book your dolphin or whale watching tour for tomorrow morning, then sit back and relax at your choice of boutique accommodation in Kaikoura.

After a day of adventure out on the water, you can either spend another night in Kaikoura or hit the road and make your way to Blenheim for the night (2 hrs drive) or continue on to Nelson (3.5 hrs) – this is the option we recommend, but it will depend on how much time you have left in the day.

Top 3 Things To Do In Kaikoura

The dawn of a new day will bring stunning early morning views out over the ocean and the urge to get up and get going! Whether its whale watching, swimming with dolphins or fishing on the agenda you are in for a spectacular day out on the water!

Kaikoura Coastline

1. Whale Or Dolphin Watching

One of the iconic things to do in Kaikoura is taking a whale or dolphin watching tour. These tours are designed to give you the most likelihood of spotting one of these magnificent creatures in the natural watery habitat. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where Sperm Whales are regularly seen close to shore year-round.

Highlights
  • Sperm Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Albatross

2. Swimming With Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is one of those unique ‘Bucket List’ activities that everyone should do in their lifetime and what better place to do it than Kaikoura! All dolphin encounters are built around observing these beautiful, intelligent creatures in their natural environment and eco-friendly operating principles.

Highlights
  • Dusky Dolphins
  • Hectors Dolphins
  • The Orca (These killer whales only travel through Kaikoura waters intermittently throughout the year, the best chance of seeing them is over the summer months).

3. Fishing In Kaikoura

Want to get out on the water and catch some of that fantastic Kaikoura fish for yourself? Then a fishing charter is the way to go. Choose from 2- 4 hour tours, and full-day options depending on how much time you have. The best part is any fish you catch will be filleted and bagged up ready for you to take with you by the time you reach the shore.

Highlights
  • The crayfish!
  • Complimentary deck hand baiting and hook removal
  • Fish filleted and bagged for you!

Day 3 Nelson

Drive Time Nelson to Motueka 30 minutes, Nelson to Marahau 1 hr, Nelson to Kaiteriteri 45 minutes.

Today is all about taking a break and hanging out at the beach in preparation for tomorrow’s long walk in the Abel Tasman National Park. If just relaxing at the beautiful Tahunanui Beach isn’t enough for the day then Nelson is full of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. The Natureland Wildlife Trust offers a great way to meet some of the locals – local wildlife that is!

The Abel Tasman National Park is the destination for tomorrow so make sure you have picked up supplies at the markets and got your walking shoes sorted. Don’t worry, there are water-based options for those who prefer more oceanic forms of transportations! Book tonight’s accommodation in Motueka, Marahau or Kaiteriteri for an easier start in the morning. The beginning of the track is from Marahau.

Top 3 Things To Do In Nelson

Nelson is everything you would expect from a sunny New Zealand beach side town, it’s arty and crafty, and the people are laid back and welcoming. Take a look at our favourite things to do in Nelson below or see here for more ideas on what to do in Nelson.

1. Saturday Markets

If you are in Nelson on the weekend, the Nelson markets are a great way to sample some of the local produce and explore the best of the art and crafts that Nelson is known for. The Saturday Markets are focused on fresh food and produce along with an assortment of food trucks, while in contrast, the Sunday Markets are more focused on items such as pre-loved clothes, recycled tools, books, antiques, collectables, and homewares.

Highlights
  • Fresh local produce
  • Local food trucks
  • Local art and crafts

2. Natureland Wildlife Trust

Although perhaps not one of the first things that springs to mind when thinking of Nelson, the Natureland Wildlife Trust is a great place to meet some of the local wildlife. Natureland is a not-for-profit conservation charity that supports native species commonly found in the Nelson-Tasman area as well as rare breeds and a few exotic animals involved in global conservation programs.

Highlights
  • The native bellbirds, kea, morepork, kereru and more!
  • Kunekune pigs
  • Tuatara

3. Tahunanui Beach

The most popular central beach in Nelson the Tahunanui Beach is actually an entire beachfront reserve dedicated to fun in the sun! Choose from a wide range of activities at the nearby Fun Park including beach volleyball, mini-golf, go-karts, trampolines, a hydroslide, bumper boats, and more! Or just chill out at the beach for the day, the waters are safe for swimming, and it really is a beautiful beach.

Highlights
  • The Fun Park
  • Roller skating rink and BMX track
  • Swimming

Day 4, 5, and 6 Abel Tasman National Park

Drive Time 23 minutes from Motueka, 1 hour from Nelson, 15 minutes from Kaiteriteri (depending on where you stayed the night)

The Abel Tasman National Park is one of those must-do activities when visiting the Nelson area. The well-formed track offers you some of the best picturesque views of the beautiful blue waters and bays dotted around the water’s edge, as well as swimming, and soaking up the sun.

Top 3 Things To Do Abel Tasman 

There are a number of ways to explore the National Park, one of the most popular being walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track over a period of three to five days. You can also join in a guided tour, kayak, or take a water taxi to various points along the way if you prefer not to walk. Water taxi services operate between Tōtaranui and Mārahau and offer an easy return trip back to your vehicle.

1. The Abel Tasman Coast Track

At a total of 60 km, one way the Abel Tasman Coast Track is easily completed within 3 to 5 days. There are some bunk-style DOC huts situated along the track but taking your own tent is best. It does pay to note there are three tidal dependent crossings on the track – all of which require you to time your arrival – otherwise, you will have to take the long way round or wait until the tides are right –remember to factor this in when planning your trip.

Highlights
  • Crossing the Awaroa Inlet at low tide
  • Onetahuti Bay
  • Bark Bay
  • The views!

2. Sea Kayaking At Abel Tasman

Prefer to spend your time out on the water instead of hiking up hills? Sea kayaking at Abel Tasman is a great alternative – with a totally different perspective too. Choose from half-day right up to multi-day trips that will extend right along the Abel Tasman coastline. You can also do a kayak/walk combo and add in a night at the Awaroa Lodge if you feel like some pampering after spending all day out on the ocean.

Highlights
  • Guided tours
  • Kayak/walk combo tours – why not try both!
  • Again, the views!

3. Awaroa Lodge

Trust me, after three days on the track, a hot shower is suddenly a very welcome sight! The Awaroa Lodge is situated overlooking the Awaroa Inlet towards the end of the hike if you are starting from the Mārahau end or one day in if you begin at the Northern end of the track near Tōtaranui.

Highlights
  • A hot shower!
  • Comfy beds!
  • Beautiful forest surrounds

Day 7 Hanmer Springs, And Back To Christchurch

Drive times Nelson to Hanmer Springs 4 hrs, plus another 1hr 45 minutes to Christchurch

While day 4, 5 and 6 will easily be absorbed by your Abel Tasman adventures, it is time to return to civilisation once again. Day 7 means hitting the road again and making your way back to Christchurch via the inland route. Your road trip will take you alongside the majestic Southern Alps, the stunning Nelson Lakes National Park and back across the Lewis Pass.

The village of Hanmer Springs is located roughly 4 hours’ drive from Nelson making it a great place to stop for lunch. After enjoying a bite to eat at one of the local cafes – soaking away the aches and pains of the Abel Tasman at the thermal hot pools is going to be next on the list for sure!

Hanmer Springs Village

Top 3 Things To Do In Hanmer

Hanmer Springs is an alpine village located inland at the foot of the Hanmer Forest Park. It is a favourite weekend getaway destination for Christchurch residents and visitors to the area. The mountains in the distance and forest-clad hills offer up an idyllic and peaceful retreat for all ages.

1. Hanmer Springs Hot Pools

Entry to the hot pools is going to cost you around $35 per adult and $20 per child. Access to the hydro slides, changing areas, and all of the age-appropriate pools are included in the price. Private pools and sauna experiences are available at an extra cost, bookings are available for 30 minutes and 1 hour. There are also relaxing spa treatments available including manicures, pedicures, facials and various types of massages.

Highlights
  • Private Pools
  • Kids water play area
  • The hydroslides

2. Hanmer Mini Golf

While mini golf might not be high on your list of sightseeing priorities – the A-Maze-N-Golf complex is a bit of light-hearted fun for all ages that doesn’t cost the earth. You will find two activities a gold rush themed mini-golf course and adventure maze complete with a daring water feature that will put a smile on everyone’s faces – insider tip – don’t rush your way through, just take your time and enjoy it!

Highlights
  • Lost Temple Adventure Maze
  • Gold Rush 18 hole Mini Golf
  • Family fun!

3. No. 31 Restaurant And Café

Because this day is about winding down, we have included our favourite café in Hanmer in this one, but if you prefer there are plenty of hiking and biking trails in Hanmer to explore! Tucked in behind the main street (on Amuri Avenue) you will find this little hidden gem of a café. No. 31 Restaurant caters to a wide variety of tastes and dietary requirements all within comfortable surrounds that included indoor and outdoor seating.

Highlights
  • Premium New Zealand hand-selected grass-fed beef
  • Fiordland wild venison
  • And the lemon curd cheesecake!

Yes, I know it’s going to be difficult to drag yourself out of the hot pools and away from Hanmer Springs, but it’s time to make your way back to Christchurch and head home. Or, you could carry on and do another 7 days down South! Take a look below for our South of the South Island road trip.

7 Days In The South Of The South Island

Having decided you would like to spend your week in the South of the South Island, here are our top itinerary recommendations for your southern road trip. This one could be easily done in either direction – however, keep in mind there is a significant amount of driving involved, sharing the load is the ideal solution. Enjoy!

Day 1 Christchurch

Drive time Christchurch to Tekapo 3 hrs

Assuming you have flown into the Christchurch Airport, you’ll want to hit the ground running, so grab a rental car and let’s go! Spending the day in Christchurch it is easy to see why it’s affectionately known as the ‘Garden City’ you can’t go far without coming across the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, tree-lined streets and other green spaces.

When you have completed your Christchurch activities for the day, it’s time to make your way inland to Lake Tekapo for the night. There are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget from the Peppers Blue Water Resort right through to holiday houses, a camping ground and various Bed & Breakfasts – waking up to the stunning views of the Lake is well worth the night-drive.

Top 3 Things To Do In Christchurch

Since we have already covered a few of the best things to do in Christchurch in the ‘North’ section above, here are a few different options to think about – feel free to pick and choose what suits you the most!

1. Punting On The Avon

Punting on the Avon is one of those iconic activities you see on all the websites and while you may think it doesn’t really count as an action-packed adventure – it is such a great way to really get a feel for what Christchurch is all about. This unique perspective of the Hagley Park gardens, the majestic trees and peacefulness of floating along the river lined with ducks and other wildlife is the perfect way to begin your southern adventures.

Highlights
  • Guided commentary
  • The Punter in period dress
  • Beautiful surrounds

2. Christchurch Gondola

The Christchurch Gondola is one of the best ways to get up on the Port Hills and explore a little bit without all the effort of hiking or biking. The ocean and city views are beautiful – there is something peaceful about looking out over it all from this distant perspective that makes it memorable in so many ways.

Highlights
  • The 360-degree views!
  • Walking tracks
  • The Time Tunnel 

3. Lyttelton

Taking the time to visit Lyttelton is a good one for those who like to get out of the city when travelling. There are two ways you can get there by car – one is to take the scenic route up over the Port Hills (45 minutes) and is to go under – through the tunnel (15 minutes), of course! Hire a bike, walk or drive around the small town, discover the markets, take a ferry ride across the bay or find your favourite café for long lunch- – there is something for everyone.

Highlights
  • Lyttelton Markets
  • Steam Tug Tours
  • Diamond Harbour Ferry Ride

Day 2 Tekapo

Drive time – stay in Tekapo, Roundhill 45 minutes drive, Mt Dobson 50 minutes

The alpine township of Tekapo offers a great range of activities including skiing, ice skating, boating stargazing and much more! If arriving at night, do take the time to enjoy the stargazing opportunity at the Mount John Observatory overlooking the Lake.

After enjoying your day on the slopes, it is a great idea to spend some time at the Tekapo Hot Springs to unwind and soak under the stars. After such a big day, and because the drive to Queenstown from Tekapo is so scenic, it’s best to spend another in Tekapo and be up early for the drive to Queenstown.

Top 3 Things To Do In Tekapo

What you end up doing in Tekapo will likely depend on the time of year – the winter months are perfect for skiing and ice skating while the summer months are usually more ideal for boating and hiking. There is also water activities and a variety of tours to choose from – take a look at the Tekapo Tourism website here for more ideas.

Church Of The Good Shepherd, Tekapo

1. Stargazing At Tekapo

High atop Mount John, you will find the Mount John Observatory and the site of the Dark Sky Project Summit Experience. Entry is by tour only with stargazing experiences departing from the Motuariki Lane, Dark Sky Project Base. This stargazing tour is well worth staying up for and lasts around two hours  – it is definitely one to remember.

Highlights
  • The night-sky views of the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world!
  • Optional backup indoor Dark Sky Experience which operates all year round
  • One of the only organised night time activities in Tekapo

2. Skiing In Tekapo

There are two ski fields located within an easy drive of Tekapo Village, Roundhill is the closest at just 45 minutes’ drive (30km) and Mt Dobson at about 50 minutes (45km). Both are situated at the end of gravel roads so if you are planning to drive a rental car up you may want to check whether that’s permitted under your rental agreement, you will also need snow chains – just in case. Don’t panic if you are not comfortable driving up there are usually seasonal shuttle services operating if you ask around.

Highlights
  • Roundhill ski field
  • Mt Dobson ski field
  • On-site ski and gear hire

3. Walking And Hiking

There are a number of excellent walking tracks in and around Tekapo so don’t forget your hiking boots! Tracks range from short walks through to 3 to 4 hours hikes and can include some steep terrain, it’s always best to be prepared. Our top pick is the Mt John Summit Track, but it is quite steep in places, or you could try the Peninsula Walkway for flatter terrain.

Highlights
  • Mt John Summit Circuit Track (1.5 hrs)
  • Cowans Hill Walkway (2 hrs)
  • The Peninsula Walkway (2-3 hrs)

Day 3 Queenstown

Drive time Tekapo to Queenstown 3 hrs

Queenstown is roughly a 3 hour drive from Tekapo along some of the most scenic roads in New Zealand. Arriving in Queenstown getting some food is likely to be your first port of call – if you fancy yourself a bit of a burger connoisseur Fergburger on Shotover Street is the place for you! Otherwise, stroll along Rees Street and look out for Vudu Café for some really great café style food with a twist – try the Raspberry Cheesecake French Toast it is divine.

Enjoy some of Queenstown’s best restaurants and bars and then spend the night at one of the superb accommodation options in Queenstown and get some rest because the drive up to Franz Joseph tomorrow is the longest driving distance on the trip so far.

Top 3 Things To Do In Queenstown

There are so many awesome kiwi adventures to try in Queenstown its impossible to narrow it down to just three but here goes!

1. Bungy Jumping

Bungy jumping in Queenstown is pretty much on everyone’s list when visiting this vibrant and picturesque place. The good news is there are three great bungy options in Queenstown; the Kawerau Bridge Bungy (43m), the Nevis Bungy (134m), and the Ledge Bungy (47m) – all with their own unique take on this adrenaline-fuelled adventure activity!

Highlights
  • There are three to pick from!
  • Absolutely stunning jump locations
  • 8.5 second freefall on NZ’s highest bungy – The Nevis

2. Lord of the Rings Tour

What better way to see some of this great countryside up close than an epic 4WD tour. Add in some of the famous Lord of the Rings movie locations, some gold panning and the amazing Shotover River, and you’ve got a Queenstown experience to remember! You will find there are many tours to choose from in Queenstown so do shop around and find one that suits you, but our recommendation is the Lord Of The Rings 4WD Tour from the team at Nomad Safaris.

Highlights
  • Skippers Canyon and Lighthouse Rock
  • Gold Panning
  • Lord of the Rings locations (Ford of Bruinen, Misty Mountains and the Pillars of the Kings)

3. Skiing In Queenstown

The sole purpose of many visitors to Queenstown is to experience some of the world-class ski fields in the area. These include The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and the Treble Cone ski field. The Remarkables is well known for its great base Lodge and user-friendly beginners area, Coronet Peak is the closest to Queenstown and provides a unique night-time ski option for those who just can’t bear to take the skis off. Cardrona is particularly child friendly, and Treble Cone is for the more advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Highlights
  • On-mountain ski and snowboard hire
  • Heli-skiing available
  • Excellent snowfall and facilities

Day 4 Wanaka, Haast, and the Franz Joseph Glacier

Drive time Queenstown to Wanaka then Hasst, and then on to Franz Joseph 5 hours total

Hitting the road again its back up towards the West Coast we go, passing through Wanaka (the Treble Cone ski area is near here if you are a ski bunny and wish to check it out) and on to Haast for lunch or a quick Pitt Stop at the coast. Then it’s another 2 hours up the coast until you reach the Franz Joseph Glacier. This is one of the longest drives on our road trip, so do allow plenty of time to get there, aiming to arrive in Franz Joseph by early afternoon is the best bet.

Having had a busy day on the road and the Glacier and when you are done soaking away your aches and pains at the Hot Pools its time to turn in for the night and get some rest. There are plenty of great accommodation options in Franz Joseph, with a focus on boutique-style motels, hotels and Bed and Breakfasts.

Top 3 Things To Do In Franz Joseph

Just like all West Coast towns, you will find Franz Joseph to be quaint but well-stocked. You will find everything you need here, including a selection of places to stay and eat and relax.

1. Franz Joseph Glacier

Yes well, of course, you are going to check out the Glacier while you here – the choice is more about how you wish to do this. Scenic flights are a great option (priced anywhere between $200 up to $600), along with Guided Glacier Tours, or you can just make your way on foot to the glacier viewing platforms free of charge!

Highlights
  • Scenic Flights
  • Heli Hiking
  • Walking tracks

2. Glacier Hot Pools

The Glacier Hot Pools are the perfect way to unwind after a long day behind the wheel and exploring the Glacier. Set among rainforest surround the pools are suitable for all ages with private pool options if you prefer. Entry costs are $29 per adult and $25 per child.

Highlights
  • Private Pools
  • Beautiful surrounds
  • The ‘All Day Pass’ which allows you to come and go as you please for the day.

3. West Coast Wildlife Centre

This unique interactive experience brings together a touch of nature, a dash of conservation and some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife all in the one place. At the West Coast Wildlife Centre, you will find interesting facts and a peek into the conservation efforts for the rowi kiwi and tuatara. A Back Stage Pass is a must!

Highlights
  • Kiwi and tuatara fully guided Backstage Pass Tours
  • The kiwi Hatching programme
  • The kiwi eggs!

Day 5 Hokitika

Drive time Franz Joseph to Hokitika 2 hours

After your stopover in Franz Joseph, it’s time to get going up the West Coast, and on to Hokitika. Stop and check out the Fox Glacier on the way, or if you have had enough glaciers for now, keep on going until you reach Hokitika (roughly 2 hrs). Grab some lunch from one of the cafes on the main street and wander about stretching the legs a bit. Try the ‘Points of Interest Loop‘ for a look at local art, historical monuments and buildings, or just wander along the beach.

From Hokitika, it’s a short drive (30 minutes) through to Greymouth so whether you decide to stay in Hokitika for another night or drive to Greymouth after dark – it’s entirely up to you!

Hokitika Beach

Top 3 Things To Do In Hokitika

Hokitika is a traditional West Coast town complete with colourful locals and interesting past, you will find plenty of things to do to keep you occupied. See below for our top 3 things to do in Hokitika.

1. Fox Glacier

Fed by a total of four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier is faster moving than the Franz Josef Glacier and longer. You will find the terminal face approximately five kilometres from the main village. And as with Franz Joseph, there are a number of ways to explore the area. Nearby Lake Matheson is worth a look too and at the end of the day don’t miss watching the sun go down on Gillespies Beach.

Highlights
  • Fox Glacier guided hikes
  • Lake Matheson
  • Sunset on Gillespies Beach

2. Hokitika Walks

Glow worms, kahikatea, historic railways and much more await the avid walker out there. Hokitika has a wide range of walks from within the town, and further afield, these are our top three or take a look here for more!

Highlights
  • Town Centre Points of Interest Loop – Walk
  • Hokitika Gorge Track
  • Tunnel Terrace Walk

3. Hokitika Glow Worm Dell

Not far from the main township, just of State Highway 7, you will find the car park for the Glow Worm Dell entrance. You can visit the Dell for free and spend as much time here as you like, but you will have to wait around for dark on this one. The glow worms are only visible at night.

Highlights
  • Well, the glow worms, of course!
  • Excellent night time activity.
  • It’s free!

Day 6 Greymouth

Drive time Hokitika to Greymouth 30 minutes

Beginning your day in Greymouth, it’s easy to see why many people find this wild West Coast town fascinating. Steeped in history, you’ll soon discover ‘Coasters’ as they are affectionately known, are very proud of their little town and its stoic past.

Staying the night in Greymouth, you will find plenty of accommodation of all kinds, shop around for the best prices or look for something with great views!

Top 3 Things To Do In Greymouth

The town is the largest on the West Coast so you will have no trouble finding what you need and a few things you didn’t know you needed. There are also plenty of things to keep you occupied, such as the pounamu (New Zealand jade) galleries, gold mining relics, fishing, and adventure activities like rafting and caving.

1. Shantytown Heritage Park

Ride the steam train, pan for gold, get an old-timey photo, check out the sawmill and learn about the people who helped establish Greymouth over the years. Shantytown entry prices are currently $35 for adults and $18 for children, discounted family tickets are available.

Highlights
  • Steam train
  • Gold panning
  • The old fashioned village

2. Quad Bike Adventures

This one is going to get muddy! One of the best ways to get out in some of the famous West Coast rainforests, 4WD quad bike tours allow you to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in a very kiwi sort of way. There are children sized bikes, full-size quads and buggy style vehicle to choose from along with an all-terrain ex-military Hagglund ride if you would prefer to keep your distance from the mud.

Highlights
  • The bikes, of course!
  • Native forest scenery, beautiful creeks, and rivers
  • Hagglund Ride

3. The Point Elizabeth Walk

Its time to get some walking in before you make the long drive back to Christchurch tomorrow and the Point Elizabeth Walkway is a great way to do it. The 2 hour walk takes you through a scenic reserve and past some old gold mining sites and covers approximately 5.5 km. You will find the entrance to the walk roughly 11km North of Greymouth at Rapahoe Beach, or you can walk it the opposite way from the entrance off North Beach Road. Allow time to walk the return trip to your vehicle if you haven’t got anyone to meet you at the other end.

Highlights
  • Ocean and forest views
  • Point Elizabeth lookout
  • Rapahoe Beach

Day 7 Back to Christchurch Via Arthurs Pass

Drive time Greymouth to Arthurs Pass 1.5 hrs plus 2 hrs back to Christchurch

Saving the best for last, from Greymouth, it’s across the iconic Arthurs Pass and back to Christchurch for the completion of your ‘South of the South’ road trip. You will love this drive, so try to remember it’s all about the journey and take your time stopping and starting where and when it pleases you.

Top 3 Things To Do In Arthurs Pass

Plan for a lunch stop in the middle at the Arthurs Pass township. It’s a good chance to stretch the legs – and take some great photos (if the weather is clear). There are also a number of walks from the village and sights to see such as waterfalls, the beginning of the Otira Tunnel and more. Stop by the visitor centre for some great ideas on what to do or here are our top 3 suggestions.

1. Devils Punchbowl Waterfall

Take a walk through the lush beech forest to this 131 metre high waterfall and enjoy the fresh mountain air and forest-clad hills. Keep an eye out for native kea birds – they are quite inquisitive. The track is 2 km return, so it only takes about an hour.

Highlights
  • The waterfall
  • Native bird life
  • Beautiful scenery

2. Skiing

If the weather is right, there is also the chance to go skiing near Arthurs Pass at the Temple Basin ski fields. These ski fields are not for the faint-hearted – you have to walk up to them there is no road access. The walk will take around an hour depending on your fitness, however, there is a ‘goods lift’ to help with your skis and gear.

Highlights
  • Excellent off-piste skiing and snowboarding
  • Uncrowded
  • Good variety of intermediate and advanced terrain

3. Wobbly Kea Café & Bar

While in Arthurs Pass you are going to want to grab something to eat before you set off again, so our recommendation is the Wobbly Kea Café. You will find a good assortment of the usual kiwi fare including fries, soups, salads, pizza, pies and pasta. This is a great opportunity to sit for a while and reflect on your epic South Island roadie … and maybe plan where to go next time!

Highlights
  • The carrot cake
  • Beer battered fish
  • The great atmosphere and views

That concludes our best 7 days in the South – if you haven’t already take a look at our North of the south section above and maybe think about that one for next time. Have extra time in Christchurch? Take a look at our 3 Day Christchurch itinerary here.

 

 

 

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