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For a start, you'll find fewer traffic jams to contend with than some of the big cities in the North Island. The roads are comfortable and well-marked, making for easy driving days. Plus, you're on holiday, so there is no need to rush! That means you can spread your driving days out. Kick back and enjoy what the South Island has on offer from the comfort of your campervan.
No matter which direction you head, you're likely to enjoy some of the best night skies to fall asleep under and the most stunning views to wake up to. With mountains, lakes, plains, coasts... well, there is more than enough tranquil scenery to go around. You'll find heaps of opportunity to reconnect with nature and the outdoors at your own pace with walks, biking tracks or beautiful swimming spots.
On top of all the stunning scenery that the great outdoors has to offer, there are plenty of chilled out activities to keep you just busy enough along the way. With art galleries, wine tastings and market shopping on offer, you can relax with some of the finer things in life.
With so many places to visit in New Zealand, don't forget to take your time. This holiday is about relaxing and recharging. Leave the rushing around for another time and settle down for a couple of days in the spots you're most excited to visit. We've even picked out our top places to visit in New Zealand to help take the stress out of trip planning.
How to have a relaxing holiday
With so much going on in our lives, it can be hard to work out how to chill out and have some time for ourselves. Caught yourself wondering “How can I relax on holiday?” We've gathered some top tips from relaxed road trippers to get you off to a good start.
1. Turn of your phone (or at least your notifications)
Try disconnecting yourself from all the pings, buzzes, dings and other notifications that you probably receive every day. If your phone doubles as a camera or map for navigation, consider putting it in flight mode and downloading maps to use offline. It'll help you conserve battery, put a stop to mindless scrolling of the internet and give you some well-deserved peace and quiet.
2. Practice being present
Take a few holiday snaps, then pop your phone or camera away and soak in the atmosphere you're here to enjoy. Consider what you can see, what you can smell, what you can taste, hear and feel. It's a great way to connect with your surroundings and enjoy attractions and activities in real life.
3. Try to travel during the off-peak season
If possible, plan your holiday during off-peak travel seasons, or shoulder seasons. You'll encounter fewer people, which means you have your pick of the best camping spots. You're also likely to run into fewer queues and enjoy a bit more space at the most popular attractions. If you are travelling during peak times, try hitting places off the beaten track or giving freedom camping a try.
4. Let the road be your guide
Itineraries like the one below can help you identify popular or suitable routes, but planning your daily activities down to the minute can make things feel stressful and rushed. Feel empowered to go with the flow. You can often stay longer in places you're enjoying or leave places that haven't tickled your fancy. Where opportunity arises to take a detour for a must-see attraction, why not take it? Make a list of places you want to see along the way, then pick and choose on the road.
Pack in advance, and plan for at least a few different situations
Remember to bring along your sunblock, a jacket and your favourite book. If you're going to enjoy some specialist activities like one of the South Island’s many golf greens, then make sure you pack your clubs too.
On the topic of specialist hobbies, it's important to choose the right motorhome for your trip to give yourself the space to relax and carry the equipment your hobby requires. Don't want to bring it all along? There are plenty of opportunities to hire extras like bikes, golf clubs, skis and more along the way.
The most relaxing destinations in the South Island
The South Island has plenty of wonderful things to see and do, plus many locations can be accessed as part of a more extensive loop trip. So, we've picked some of the best south island must-dos for this 14-day south island itinerary. All you need to do is decide if you want to go ahead and stay longer in your most anticipated spots or skip ahead to different destinations.
Day 1 + 2: Queenstown
First, sort out your campervan hire so that you can get on with all the lovely relaxing things to do in Queenstown. You can collect your camper from the Queenstown Maui branch before or after you've explored one of New Zealand's more luxurious destinations.
While you're in Queenstown, don't miss the opportunity to cruise Lake Wakatipu and enjoy a breath of fresh air. Then head up into the air yourselves, with a trip up the gondola and dine at Stratosphere restaurant or a hot balloon ride at sunrise. Both are dreamy.
For something soothing and romantic, hire a private hot pool for a relaxing dip as you enjoy the view before a spot of fine dining on the waterfront at The Grille.
Ready to stretch out a little? Head out for a walk to Glenorchy walkway or one of many walks in the area to clear your head, and get the blood (gently) pumping.
Day 3 + 4: Milford Sound
Get on the road, and take a detour from Queenstown to Milford Sound. The 3.5-hour drive isn't too strenuous, and the destination is well worth the effort. Take your time getting there and stopping often, as it feels like another world. Keep an eye out for the cheeky Kea, the large alpine parrot. If you're planning on staying, find yourself a spot at Milford Sound campground.
Once you've settled in, take a cruise of the Milford Sound, or get out on the water yourself in a kayak.
If you'd rather stay on terra firma, then make tracks on the Chasm walk to see some of the famous waterfalls before visiting the Milford Sound Observatory.
Whether you've been cruising, kayaking, walking or stargazing, make sure you refuel with a bite to eat from Pio Pio restaurant.
Day 5 + 6: Te Anau
Spend about two hours on the road and leave Milford Sound to head to Te Anau. This is a convenient spot to stop for a day or two as it's before you head back to Queenstown and then on to Wanaka, one of the South Island's gems.
Lock up your camper and head to the Te Anau bird sanctuary to enjoy some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna. Or, head to Te Anau lake for a spot of walking, biking or kayaking to get the endorphins going. You can hire bikes along with your rental, which gives you plenty of transportation options at every destination along the way.
Avoid having to cook and instead enjoy some food and drink at The Red Cliff restaurant and bar.
Day 7 + 8: Wanaka
Just up the road from Te Anau, you'll find the popular south island destination Wanaka. Maui campers are not permitted to drive on the crown range due to road restrictions, so opt to take the scenic route through the Gibbston Valley and Cromwell.
If you have time up your sleeve and can add an extra hour drive onto your day, head to Mount Aspiring National Park for hiking or a lazy day of fishing.
Once you're in Wanaka township, take a bike tour and don't forget to go for a wander on the waterfront to see the famous Wanaka tree! If you need some time indoors, there are plenty of art galleries to enjoy.
You can feast all your senses at Wanaka Lavender Farm. You'll find delicious food to eat, and you can wander the gardens and check out the view. While you're there, don't forget to pick up some relaxing massage oils or special shower gels for the camper.
Day 9 + 10: Franz Josef
Half a day's drive (including stops) away from Wanaka, you'll find Franz Josef.
Work up an appetite while you wander the Franz Josef glacier walk, followed by a dip in the Glacier pools before treating yourself to a meal at The Landing.
Or, take to the skies for a quick scenic flight before visiting some Kiwi (who aren't very good at flying at all!) at the West Coast wildlife centre.
And, don't miss a chance to get some beautiful holiday snaps by visiting Lake Matheson. You'll enjoy a leisurely walk and get to see New Zealand's tallest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, reflected in the still waters.
Day 11 + 12: Greymouth
Clock up about 200kms and head north up the West Coast from Franz Josef to Greymouth.
On your way, make sure to stop at Ross to visit the Heritage Centre and learn about New Zealand's gold mining history. You can even give panning a go!
Once you reach Greymouth, park up and head to Monteiths Brewery for a tasting session. Or leave that until you've completed the Brunner mine site walk and you've worked up a real thirst.
Don't leave town until you've made tracks to see the unique rock formation of Pancake rocks. Don't forget to bring along your camera.
Day 13 + 14: Christchurch
By now you should be feeling nice and relaxed. As you head from Greymouth in the West to Christchurch in the East, make sure to stop at Arthurs pass National Park for a final bike ride, or just to stretch your legs and go for a walk.
You'll end your journey in Christchurch, where you can drop off your camper, but first, take some time to enjoy the South Island's largest city.
Hit the Riverside market to shop, dine, buy fresh products, or grab some delicious treats at Sweet soul patisserie. Then, walk it all off with a wander through the Botanic Gardens.
Head to the water and have a go at punting on the Avon River before spending some time enjoying one of the many art galleries.
For a final indulgence, take a wine tour out to Waipara and sample some of the region’s best wines.
What to pack for a relaxing holiday
For a restful and relaxing holiday, bring along your favourite things. It will help the whole experience feel extra luxurious. Your camper will have plenty of storage space for all your creature comforts.
Bring along the skincare, makeup and toiletries that make you feel good. You might want to pack a plush bathrobe, some cozy slippers and maybe even bring along a facemask and nail polish for some extra self-pampering.
For those times when you're not on the road or exploring new places, bring along some of the things you enjoy relaxing with at home. That could be some portable speakers for music, podcasts or audiobooks, or a tablet or laptop to watch Netflix on. If you're trying to rely less on technology, your favourite craft, a puzzle book, or a book you've been waiting to read might be just the ticket.
While your camper comes with plenty of gear, a bit of additional camping gear like seats and blankets for stargazing might come in handy too. Rest assured your camper will come equipped with camping mugs for hot cocoa and some outdoor glassware for your evening tipple, so don’t forget to stock up on a few luxury treats for your trip.
Active relaxers might like to bring along their own outdoor gear like hiking boots. If you're planning on partaking in other outdoor hobbies, you might want to bring along your gear from those too. While golf clubs and fishing rods can often be hired, you can bring your own as well.
Ready to leave on your relaxing road trip?
Hire your camper from Maui and leave your stresses behind with a relaxing holiday around the South Island. Book your Maui motorhome now.