Summer Roadtripping in the South Island of NZ

Summer Roadtripping in the South Island of NZ

November 20, 2019

Are you a fan of the mountains, the forest/native bush, the beach or all three?

What is your dream trip around New Zealand? Fortunately this is one of the few countries in the world where you can enjoy the beach and the mountains in the same day if you want to!

Especially on the long and narrow South Island, which is characterised by the spine of the Southern Alps running most of the length of the island.

When you are fully self-contained in your campervan, sleepervan or motorhome, the amazing options of this beautiful country open right up to you.

National Parks

New Zealand is blessed with a multitude of National Parks and Reserves, usually managed by our Dept of Conservation aka DOC.

To get all the info you need to know about these special parts of Aotearoa, check out the DOC website. In many locations they have camp sites where self-contained vehicles can park for free. 

Tai Poutini National Park West Coast

In the South Island there is also a special type of reserve, the International Dark Sky Reserve at Lake Tekapo - the perfect place to head if you love a starry starry night (with a backdrop of mountains and lakes of course.)


The South Island has some beautiful beaches - ranging from white sand along much of the East coast to black sand on the West Coast and golden sands around the Tasman and Golden Bay area at the top of the island.

For those who enjoy a more rugged, stony, windswept beach, we have those too in spades - for example heading towards Dunedin in the south of the island, on the east coast. And while you are heading down that way, make sure to stop at Moeraki for the utterly unique Moeraki Boulders.

Check out some of these stunning locations for a wide variety of seaside experiences:

The Catlins (South)

Moeraki (South)

Moeraki boulders

Abel Tasman National Park  (northern part of the South Island)

Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks (West Coast)

Hokitika (West Coast)



 Aoraki/Mt Cook is the place to start of course. This is New Zealand's tallest and most famous peak. It sits alongside some equally impressive mountains right there in the Southern Alps, so if you want to get up close, head inland from Lake Pukaki.

Aoraki Mt Cook

Kaikoura - the perfect combination of mountains and sea all in one location, Kaikoura is an absolute must for your South Island road trip.

The Inland and Seaward Kaikoura mountain ranges come right out to the east coast - stunning and snow capped most of the year round. If you are flying down to Christchurch to pick up your vehicle, book the window seat and hope for a fine day to see these incredible mountains from the air.

Inland Kaikouras

Fiordland - best known for its fiords (deep inland waterways), is also home to some of our most stunning peaks. Perhaps the most famous is Mitre Peak - subject of many a landscape painting.

Mitre Peak