South Island Journey

New Zealand South Island mountain lake view

Embark on an unforgettable campervan adventure across New Zealand’s South Island. This guide will take you through some of the most breathtaking locations, detailing accommodation, dining, adventure activities, and travel tips for each stop.




Accommodation: Christchurch offers a range of accommodations suitable for all budgets. For a luxurious stay, consider the George Hotel, known for its exceptional service and beautiful park views. Mid-range travelers might enjoy the Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch, which offers modern amenities and a central location. Budget travelers can stay at the Christchurch Top 10 Holiday Park, which provides comfortable campervan sites and essential facilities.


Restaurants: For fine dining, try Pescatore at The George, which offers innovative cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Little High Eatery is a great mid-range option, featuring a variety of food stalls with diverse cuisines. For a quick and delicious meal, visit Bacon Brothers, known for its gourmet bacon sandwiches and friendly service.


Adventure Activity Providers: Christchurch is a gateway to numerous adventures. Adrenaline junkies can enjoy hot air ballooning with Ballooning Canterbury, offering stunning views of the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps. For a more relaxed experience, take a punting trip on the Avon River with Christchurch Punting. The Christchurch Adventure Park offers mountain biking, zip-lining, and hiking for all levels of adventurers.


Travel Tips: Christchurch is a city of seasons, with warm summers and chilly winters. The city is easy to navigate with a campervan, but ensure you park in designated areas. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum for a taste of local history and culture.


Arthur’s Pass


Accommodation: Arthur’s Pass Village offers cozy stays for nature lovers. The Bealey Hotel provides a comfortable stay with stunning mountain views. For a mid-range option, the Arthur’s Pass Motel & Lodge offers self-contained units perfect for families. Budget travelers can stay at the Avalanche Creek Shelter, a DOC (Department of Conservation) campground.


Restaurants: Dining options are limited in Arthur’s Pass, but the Wobbly Kea Café & Bar is a popular spot for hearty meals and a friendly atmosphere. For a quick bite, grab a snack from the Arthur’s Pass Store.


Adventure Activity Providers: Arthur’s Pass is a hiker’s paradise. The DOC Visitor Centre provides maps and information on various trails, including the popular Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall Walk. For a more challenging adventure, try the Bealey Spur Track, which offers panoramic views of the Waimakariri River. The area is also excellent for bird watching, with opportunities to spot the rare kea, a native alpine parrot.


Travel Tips: Weather in Arthur’s Pass can change rapidly, so pack layers and be prepared for all conditions. Always check the weather forecast and trail conditions at the DOC Visitor Centre before heading out. Carry plenty of water and snacks, as services are limited.


Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers


Accommodation: For a luxurious stay, try Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, surrounded by native rainforest. The Rainforest Retreat provides mid-range options with tree huts and motels. Budget travelers can park their campervans at the Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park.


Restaurants: King Tiger Eastern Eating House & Bar in Franz Josef offers a delicious blend of Asian and Indian cuisine. Alice May is a cozy spot in Franz Josef for hearty meals and local beers. For a quick and tasty option, visit the Cook Saddle Café & Saloon in Fox Glacier.


Adventure Activity Providers: Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are renowned for their guided glacier hikes and heli-tours. Franz Josef Glacier Guides offer a range of tours, including ice climbing and scenic flights. Fox Glacier Guiding provides similar services with the added experience of exploring ice caves. For a unique adventure, book a skydiving experience with Skydive Franz & Fox Glacier, offering breathtaking views of the Southern Alps and Tasman Sea.


Travel Tips: The glacier region is best visited in summer (December to February) for clear skies and optimal conditions. Dress in layers and wear sturdy hiking boots. Book adventure activities in advance, as they are popular and spots fill up quickly.




Accommodation: For luxury, stay at the Eichardt’s Private Hotel, which provides stunning lake views and top-notch service. The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments offers a comfortable mid-range option with modern amenities. For budget travelers, the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park provides affordable campervan sites and facilities.


Restaurants: Queenstown has a vibrant food scene. Rata by Josh Emett offers fine dining with a focus on local produce. For a casual yet delicious meal, try Fergburger, famous for its gourmet burgers. For a quick bite, visit Devil Burger, another popular burger joint in town.


Adventure Activity Providers: Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. AJ Hackett Bungy offers the world’s first commercial bungee jump at the Kawarau Bridge. Shotover Jet provides thrilling jet boat rides through the Shotover River canyons. For a more relaxed adventure, take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu with Southern Discoveries.


Travel Tips: Queenstown is busy year-round, so book accommodations and activities in advance. The town is walkable, but a campervan allows easy access to surrounding attractions. Pack for all seasons, as weather can change quickly.


Milford Sound


Accommodation: Milford Sound has limited accommodation options. The Milford Sound Lodge offers comfortable chalets and campervan sites. For a unique experience, consider staying on a Milford Sound overnight cruise, which provides cozy cabins and stunning views.


Restaurants: Dining options are limited in Milford Sound. The Milford Sound Lodge Pio Pio Café offers hearty meals and snacks. For a quick bite, pack a picnic to enjoy the stunning surroundings.


Adventure Activity Providers: Explore Milford Sound with Real Journeys, which offers scenic cruises and kayaking tours. Southern Discoveries provides similar experiences, including underwater observatory visits. For a unique adventure, book a scenic flight with Air Milford for breathtaking aerial views.


Travel Tips: Milford Sound is best visited in summer for clear views, but it’s stunning year-round. The road to Milford Sound is narrow and winding, so drive carefully and allow plenty of time. Pack rain gear, as the area is one of the wettest in New Zealand.




Accommodation: For luxury, stay at the Distinction Dunedin Hotel, known for its historic charm and modern amenities. The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides a comfortable mid-range option. Budget travelers can park their campervans at the Dunedin Holiday Park.


Restaurants: Dunedin has a vibrant food scene. For fine dining, try Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant, known for its excellent wine selection and seasonal menu. The Good Oil Café is a great spot for brunch and casual meals. For a quick and tasty option, visit Velvet Burger for gourmet burgers.


Adventure Activity Providers: Explore the Otago Peninsula with Elm Wildlife Tours, offering guided tours to see albatross, seals, and penguins. Larnach Castle offers historical tours and stunning gardens. For a unique adventure, visit the Orokonui Ecosanctuary to see native birds and plants.


Travel Tips: Dunedin is known for its Scottish heritage, so take time to explore the historic buildings and museums. The weather can be chilly, even in summer, so pack warm layers. The city is hilly, so wear comfortable walking shoes.


Central Otago


Accommodation: For a luxurious stay, consider the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, offering boutique lodges and charming B&Bs. The Harvest Hotel in Cromwell provides comfortable mid-range accommodations. Budget travelers can park their campervans at the Cromwell Holiday Park.


Restaurants: Central Otago is renowned for its wine and food. Visit Mt Difficulty Wines for fine dining with stunning vineyard views. The Bannockburn Hotel offers excellent meals and an extensive wine list. For a quick and tasty option, try the local food trucks in Cromwell, which offer a variety of cuisines.


Adventure Activity Providers: Explore the vineyards of Central Otago with Appellation Wine Tours, offering guided tours and tastings. The Otago Central Rail Trail is perfect for cycling enthusiasts, providing a scenic route through historic gold mining towns. For a unique adventure, try gold panning with Goldfields Mining Centre.


Travel Tips: Central Otago is best visited in autumn for the harvest season and vibrant fall colors. Rent a bike to explore the region’s extensive cycling trails. Make time to visit the historic gold mining towns and learn about the region’s rich history.


Hanmer Springs


Accommodation: For luxury, stay at the Heritage Hanmer Springs, known for its beautiful gardens and historic charm. The Hanmer Springs Hotel offers comfortable mid-range accommodations. Budget travelers can park their campervans at the Hanmer Springs TOP 10 Holiday Park.


Restaurants: For fine dining, try No.31 Restaurant & Bar, which offers contemporary New Zealand cuisine. Malabar is a great mid-range option, known for its fusion of Indian and Asian flavors. For a quick and tasty meal, visit the Powerhouse Café for excellent coffee and fresh, local dishes.


Adventure Activity Providers: Relax in the thermal pools of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, offering a range of pools and spa treatments. For an adrenaline rush, try jet boating with Hanmer Springs Attractions. The area also offers excellent hiking trails, such as the Conical Hill Walk and Waterfall Track.


Travel Tips: Hanmer Springs is best visited year-round, but spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) offer mild weather and beautiful scenery. Pack swimwear for the thermal pools and comfortable walking shoes for the hiking trails. Book spa treatments in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred times.