16 days in South Island Itinerary

16 days in South Island Itinerary

Created using Inspirock South Island holiday planner

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Route & dates

16 days in South Island Itinerary

Start: Sydney
Fly:  6​h 15​min
1
Christchurch
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h
2
Mt. Cook Village
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Dunedin
— 2 nights
bus:  5​h 15​min
4
Te Anau
— 4 nights
bus:  3​h 15​min
5
Queenstown
— 3 nights
Fly:  5​h 45​min
End: Sydney

3
nights
Christchurch

Christchurch ©
Recovering from the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 was no easy task, but Christchurch has faced the challenges with aplomb.
Get out of town with these interesting Christchurch side-trips: Little River Gallery (in Little River) and Dolphin & Whale Watching (in Akaroa). There's lots more to do: take in nature's colorful creations at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, let little ones run wild at Margaret Mahy Family Playground, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Cardboard Cathedral, and examine the collection at International Antarctic Centre.

Plan a Christchurch trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

Sydney, Australia to Christchurch is an approximately 6.5-hour flight. The time zone changes from Australian Eastern Standard Time (New South Wales) (AEST) to New Zealand Standard Time (NZST), which is usually a 2 hour difference. In December, Christchurch is a bit cooler than Sydney - with highs of 24°C and lows of 12°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sun) so you can travel to Mt. Cook Village.

Things to do in Christchurch

Transportation Tours Parks

Side Trips

Dolphin & Whale Watching, Little River Gallery
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Christchurch Botanic Gardens ©
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Canterbury Museum ©
Canterbury Museum

3
nights
Mt. Cook Village

Mt. Cook Village ©
Siting under towering peaks of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt.
Change things up with a short trip to Lake Tekapo in Lake Tekapo (about 58 minutes away). There's lots more to do: trek along Hooker Valley Track, tour the pleasant surroundings at Ski The Tasman, look and learn at Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, and get outside with Aoraki/Mt. Cook.

For more things to do and tourist information, read our Mt. Cook Village tour planner .

Traveling by car from Christchurch to Mt. Cook Village takes 4 hours. Cap off your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) early enough to travel to Dunedin.

Things to do in Mt. Cook Village

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (Te Wahipounamu), Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki
Find places to stay Dec 29 — Jan 1:
Highlights from your plan
Hooker Valley Track ©
Hooker Valley Track
Aoraki/Mt. Cook ©
Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo

2
nights
Dunedin

Dunedin ©
With its history proudly stemming from the Scottish settlers who came here during the colonial era, Dunedin's streets are lined with well-preserved examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, while a new culture of nightlife and fine dining takes hold around them.
On the 2nd (Thu), explore the striking landscape at Otago Peninsula, then don't miss a visit to The Royal Albatross Centre, and then get great views at Flagstaff lookout and Hotere Garden. Here are some ideas for day two: make a trip to The World's Steepest Street, contemplate the long history of Olveston Historic Home, then examine the collection at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, then hike along Tunnel Beach Track, and finally explore the historical opulence of Larnach Castle & Gardens.

For reviews, more things to do, and tourist information, use the Dunedin journey maker app .

Traveling by car from Mt. Cook Village to Dunedin takes 4 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri) to allow time to take a bus to Te Anau.

Things to do in Dunedin

Parks Wildlife Nature
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
The Royal Albatross Centre ©
The Royal Albatross Centre
Otago Peninsula ©
Otago Peninsula
Tunnel Beach Track ©
Tunnel Beach Track

4
nights
Te Anau

Te Anau ©
Set among the picturesque peaks and glacially carved fiords of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau offers those wishing to explore the park a great place to stay and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a small town in an enviable location.
Go for a jaunt from Te Anau to Milford to see Milford Foreshore Walk about 1h 15 min away. There's still lots to do: identify plant and animal life at Doubtful Sound, tour the pleasant surroundings at Kepler Track, hike along Hollyford Track, and explore the activities along Milford Sound.

For where to stay, reviews, photos, and tourist information, read our Te Anau travel route builder tool .

Traveling by bus from Dunedin to Te Anau takes 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Tue) to allow time to take a bus to Queenstown.

Things to do in Te Anau

Parks Outdoors Trails

Side Trips

Fiordland National Park, Milford Foreshore Walk
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Milford Sound ©
Milford Sound
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Te Anau Glowworm Caves ©
Te Anau Glowworm Caves

3
nights
Queenstown

Queenstown ©
Sheltered in an inlet of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown enjoys a strong reputation for its adventuring and skiing opportunities.
When in Queenstown, make a side trip to see Lake Wanaka in Wanaka, approximately 1h 30 min away. There's lots more to do: have some family-friendly fun at Skyline Queenstown, look for all kinds of wild species at Kiwi Birdlife Park, glide through the air with a parasailing or paragliding tour, and get some thrills on the water with a speed boat tour.

For ratings, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Queenstown trip itinerary maker .

Take a bus from Te Anau to Queenstown in 3.5 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 10th (Fri) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Queenstown

Tours Outdoors Adventure

Side Trip

Lake Wanaka
Find places to stay Jan 7 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Skyline Queenstown ©
Skyline Queenstown
Zipline
Adrenaline & Extreme Tours

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