A 7-day South Island Itinerary for Campervans


A New Zealand Road Trip is something everybody should do at least once in their lives. It’s like nothing else in the world – picture well-kept, un-crowded roads with epic scenery around every corner combined with spending the night in holiday parks perched on the edge of beaches, forests or National Parks.  Inspired? We would definitely recommend hiring a campervan instead of a rental car – you’ve got so much more freedom when you can stop at camping grounds and holiday parks for the night (plus, these places are generally far more scenic than your average hotel).

The Milford Lodge team are keen travellers, so whenever we get time off, you’ll generally find us out exploring our own backyard! To help get you started, we’ve put together a tried-and-tested 7-day South Island Itinerary. No day is longer than 3.5 hours of driving, and you’ll get to enjoy all the best bits of the central and lower South Island. Along the way, there’s time for one two-night stop – Wanaka or Milford Sound are our personal favourites.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to organize to pick your campervan up in Christchurch, and drop it off in Dunedin.

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo – 3 hours driving, 244km

Pick up your keys and head inland to the stunning Mackenzie Country, which lies at the foot of the Southern Alps. En route, stop in Geraldine or Fairlie for a bite to eat – both are down-to-earth kiwi farming towns. When you first lay eyes on Lake Tekapo, it might take your breath away – the lake is an intense milky-turquoise colour, which it gets from the surrounding glaciers. Spectacular is an understatement! We’d recommend staying at the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park. Hit the hot pools, go stargazing, or stroll the lakefront.

South Island Itinerary lake tekapo

Lake Tekapo to Wanaka, 2.5 hours driving, 220km

Today, take your time driving through some of the South Island’s most picturesque places. Heading south, stop at Lake Pukaki; further on, journey up and over the Lindis Pass, which links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. Try to arrive in Wanaka in the early afternoon, so that you can explore the area a little – hire a bike and cycle the lakefront, go for a short hike in Mount Aspiring National Park or just kick back with your drink of choice and soak up the scenery. Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park is a good place to park up for the night.

South Island Itinerary lake wanaka

Wanaka to Te Anau, 3 hours driving, 244km

This morning your route takes you over the Crown Range, through the outskirts of Queenstown and along the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Te Anau looks out over the wilderness that is Fiordland National Park – it’s a spectacular settlement. Again, consider exploring on foot; stroll the lakeshore, walk part of the famous Kepler Track or even think about trying your hand at fly-fishing with one of the local operators.  Spend the night at Te Anau Lakeview Holiday Park.

Drive the Milford Road to Milford Sound, 2 hours driving, 120km

Today is the Big Kahuna of your trip – driving the Milford Road to Milford Sound! When it comes to Milford Sound, the journey is just as spectacular as the destination.  Venture deep into the heart of Fiordland National Park, and make sure you make plenty of time to stop for photos. Soak up the beauty of the Eglinton Valley, carved by glaciers during the last ice age; stop to see the Mirror Lakes and admire the accomplishment that is the Homer Tunnel – which took 20 years to complete! The descent into Milford Sound itself spectacular.  Park up for the night in our stunning Rainforest Campervan Park, perched on the edge of Milford Sound, before venturing out to explore. Make sure you book ahead. Our Campervan Package is great value.

South Island Itinerary milford campervan

Milford Sound to Manapouri, 2hours 15min driving, 140km

You’ll re-trace much of your driving from yesterday, but when it’s all so beautiful, does it really matter? Spend the night in Manapouri, another little town on the edge of a huge lake. Take a stroll, hire a bike to stretch your legs or jump in the lake for a refreshing dip. Park up at Manapouri Motels & Holiday Park.

Manapouri to Dunedin, 3 hours 20 mins driving, 290km

Today, cross much of the lower South Island to reach Dunedin. Stop for a look around in Gore – the official home of country music in New Zealand. There are a couple of great museums and galleries here. Dunedin is around two hours from Gore.

Ka Kite Ano – We hope you enjoyed our 7-day South Island Itinerary! See you soon in Milford Sound.