Days 9 - 10: Christchurch
Climb aboard the Coastal Pacific Train for one New Zealand’s most picturesque rail journeys. You’ll travel along the Pacific coast meandering breathtakingly close to the sea, where the mighty Pacific Ocean meets the rising Kaikoura Mountains.
Taking just over five hours, the train passes everything from craggy coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops to modern vineyards and rustic farmsteads. Throw in a healthy dose of seals, seagulls, dolphins and the occasional whale, the Coastal Pacific train delivers something for everyone.
Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city, known for its beautiful public gardens, old world charm and architecture, and its quaint and a very walkable city centre. Much of this changed in the 2011 earthquakes when so much of the city was lost. However, the city is rising to the challenge, quite literally, and it is now home to funky and unique pop-up malls, dozens of new buildings, high street, designer and boutique shops, a world class art gallery and museum, and restaurants galore.
Don’t miss a visit to the Riverside market, a vibrant indoor farmers market with a wonderful range of restaurants to tempt your taste buds with a focus on sustainable local produce.
Days 11 - 12: Lake Tekapo
Distance: 226 km / 141 miles
Collect your motorhome and continue to Mt. Cook (Aoraki), the highest peak in Australasia. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo and take in the wonders of the Mt. John observatory for your own views of this International Dark Sky Reserve. Then stop for a photo opportunity at Lake Pukaki, whose waters are an otherworldly icy blue, caused by the fine particles that float in its cool glacier runoff. There are hiking and walking trails for all abilities on the slopes of Aoraki and plenty to do in Mt. Cook village. The surrounding countryside provided some of the locations for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, including the Pellenor Fields, near Twizel. Grab a tour book from a local bookstore to seek out the highlights.
Days 13 - 14: Wanaka
Distance: 199 km / 124 miles
Located in the spectacular Alps of New Zealand’s South Island, Wanaka draws visitors from around the world with its outstanding natural beauty, its stunning mountain and lakeside setting and its proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is only 68km from Wanaka. As well as being the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown also offers boat trips across the lake and excursions to the Milford Sound.
Days 15 - 16: Franz Josef
Distance: 287 km / 179 miles
Enjoy the views along the shores of Lake Hawea as you head north and stop for lunch at Makarora before hitting the Haast Pass. The scenery here changes dramatically as you enter the rainforest. The settlement of Haast is a town with a touch of the Wild West, and another good place to stretch the legs and have a look around. Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing. From here, a 40-minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Then continue to Franz Josef for a two-night stay.