New Zealand was one of our long awaited trips and had been dreaming about his place since childhood. Also it happened to be our first overseas trip after moving to Australia. It takes 4 hours by flight to reach Christchurch from Melbourne.
Things to Know before you Plan a trip to NZ
New Zealand is a small country when compared to its Neighbor Australia. Still there are tons of things to do and experience. First we need to understand the Geography of New Zealand. there are tow major island, The North & the South. You have to decide which places you are going to visit and design the itinerary accordingly.
Since it was winter and we were more inclined towards adventure activities & snowy mountains, so we preferred the South island. We decided to spend at least 4 days in Queenstown and the split the remaining Starting from Christchurch going towards Queenstown.
Renting a car will give you more flexibility with the places to visit. Public transportation is not available to all destinations. Also we found extremely beautiful places off the track. So its worth to rent a car, slightly on the higher side though
New Zealand is not a cheap destination, but there are still lot of things to do for free. You can still travel NZ if you are on a budget
7 Days in South Island!!What to Do?
Christchurch-City tours & Gondola
Mount Cook-Glaciers , Hiking, Lake Pukaki
Lake tekapo- Photography, Walking trails, Star Gazing
Queenstown-Bungy, Jetboat, Skiing Helicopter tours- Adventure Tourism
Our Road Map will give you an overall idea of
what we did and you can mix it up the way
you want. We have also highlighted our mistakes
& what we could have did better in the below blog
Day 1: Christchurch
Day 2: Christchurch to Mount Cook
Day 3: Mount Cook & Tasman Glacier
Day 4: Lake Tekapo
Day 5: Lake Tekapo to Queenstown
Day 6: Queenstown - Bungy & Shotoverjet
Day 7: Queenstown - Skyline Gondolo & Helicopter Tour
We spent Day 8 on the Photoshoot, that was the plan for our Anniversary. We recommend to take the day trip to Milford Sound
Thing we missed:
Helicopter tour with Glacier landing & Milford Sound
Day 1: Christchurch
Downtown Christchurch is great for exploring on foot. Just about all touristically relevant destinations are within walking distance of each other. We spent the evening walking down the streets and having a relaxed dinner in one of the Indian restaurants. We had a car, so we didn’t have to think about public transportation in the entire trip. All we needed was Data & GPS. We had activated roaming coming from Melbourne and it was less expensive than taking a local sim. When you travel from India, do get a local sim with sufficient data to cover your trip.
Two places we wanted to visit in Christchurch, One is is the Avon river punting. Next is to take the Christchurch Gondola and get a panoramic view of the city.
Try Buying a Combo Ticket, will cost 55NZ/person for both (Gondola & Punting), tickets cost 30each/person
You can totally skip Christchurch and move towards the regional areas if city tour is not your type. Our recommendation is not to spend more than a day in Christchurch
Watch out for the weather forecast while taking the Gondola. We had a bad weather, as you can see. We didn't get any views
Day 2: Driving from Christchurch to Mount Cook
We had a long drive towards Mt. Cook and we found this little town of Tinwald. Definitely not on anyone’s map, we had to stop here for lunch. We found this The Plains Vintage Railway & Historical Museum History. They operate steam locomotives for around 20 minutes and you can enjoy this little ride. We were really happy to have stopped by.
The Tickets were less than 10NZD/person. They also have other vintage locomotives, rural industrial equipment's & all other little vintage stuffs.
You can find more about this in their website. Click here
Day 3: Mount Cook
Aoraki, or Mount Cook as it’s more commonly known, is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,724m above sea level. Aoraki is the traditional Maori name for Mount Cook.
Mount Cook National Park is one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand for tourists, and we can see why. There are countless things you can do in this region varying from cost free hike to most expensive helicopter tours
We did couple of things here, Visited the Tasman Glacier lake viewpoint & the famous Mt. Cook road photo. The other thing we missed and should have done is the hooker valley trek. It was relatively easy with flat terrains. Some of the highlights on the Hooker Valley Track include the Mueller Lake, Mueller Glacier, Hooker Lake, and Mount Cook.
No Entrance tickets to The glacier lake or to go on a Hike. Its completely free
Lake Pukaki: (free Activity, no entry tickets/charges)
The bluest lake that we have ever seen. Take a photo from any viewpoints surrounding the lake and show it anyone, they will sure for this that it is edited or photoshopped. Such is the blueness of the lake and it is unbelievably beautiful.
Day 4: Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo: (Free activity, except if you wish to go on a organized Star gazing tour )
Star Gazing is one of the best things to do during the night in lake Tekapo area. We drove deep into the regional area where there was no light pollution. How lucky we were that night to see the wonderful stars. It was stunning. We were not that good with photography, but were able to capture some of the moments
We’ve seen beautiful photos of Star Gazing at the “Church of the Good Shepard”. But the reality is you will be surrounded by Travel groups who come in large coaches. We were there around 11pm. People were flashing lights making it a waste of time
Day 5: Lake tekapo to Queenstown
Scenic drive from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown
New Zealand is full of amazing landscapes. You could stop at any point outside the cities and find it breathtaking. The Drive from Lake tekapo to Queenstown was close to 4 hours approx. 250km. We had frequent stops on the way enjoying the scenery, snowy mountains, fresh snow and coffee stops of course.
Day 6: Queenstown
Now comes the best part of our trip, three things which we had planned & booked were Bungy jumping, shotoverjet & a couple photoshoot in snow covered “Remarkables”
One thing which were not sure about was the Helicopter ride over Queenstown with snow landing. It depends upon weather & snowfall
The AJ Hackett Bridge, also known as the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, is actually the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site. We preferred Kawarau(43m) to Nevis(132m) because we wanted to a tandem jump and it is possible only in Kawarau! Need to get the booking done upfront, so that you are guaranteed a spot and a timing.
Click here to read our Bungy Jumping full story
The Shotover Jet boat ride is a once in a lifetime experience. Navigating through the canyons on the shotover river at a very high speed & unbelievably close range and water spraying all over, it is an extreme adventure activity in Queenstown 🇳🇿. Ohhh, not to forget the shallow water 360 degree spins. They are mind blowing!!
Click here to read our full story of Shotoverjet
Day 7: Queenstown
Gondola / Skyline Queenstown
You can easily spend the whole day doing 10 different types of activities up the Bob’s peak. Gondola is the easy way to go up the hill and you’ll be amazed with the views overlooking Queenstown and lake wakatipu. You can see all the peaks and ski resorts around you.
There is a restaurant up there and souvenirs to shop. Other optional activities are Bungy jumping (yes AJ Hackett has got one here as well), Paragliding, Zip lining, Mountain biking, Riding the Luge (The Luge is an exciting gravity-powered ride down the mountain). It was the last day of our trip, so we decided to just chill out on the top
44NZ/person return ride
Helicopter tours with Snow landing
Everyone talks about adrenaline rush and we felt it everywhere in Queenstown. This is the ultimate adventure we had, a scenic helicopter flight around Queenstown with snow landing on top of “Remarkables”. Is it thrilling more than a bungy jump?? We would say yes
NZ 150 /person and varies depending on the type of flight you book
Click here to read our full story of our Helicopter Tour
Queenstown helped us in ticking one more off our Bucketlist. We wanted to do a photoshoot in the snow cladded mountains. Fallon was our photographer and Gloria did the hair & makeup for Deeps. Thanks to them, we were able to fulfill our longtime dream
Click here to read our full story of photoshoot
Lake Wakatipu, the best place to spend the evening, the views are fantastic. After a long day of shoot @ the Remarkables, we didn't spend the night out. Instead stayed back at home, Wine & Dine
Conclusion & Our Recommendation
New Zealand is the longest ever road trip we had ever taken. We enjoyed it and wish to travel again, next time to the North Island. There is always scope for improvement with planning, but at the same time that's where the fun is. Mistakes, learnings & takeaways will make us better travelers next time in NZ
Our Recommendation: Must Go!