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Travelling North

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from Queenstown to Christchurch

Patrina and her husband travelled to New Zealand from Singapore to celebrate a special birthday. The couple loves travelling and exploring new cultures and what a place to do it if not New Zealand? Follow their journey travelling North from Queenstown to Christchurch and all the stops in between.

You can see more images from their trip on Patrina's Instagram page.

Travel

10 days


Route

Queenstown to Christchurch

700km


Best Time of the Year

anytime

Highlights

  • Fiordland NP
  • Franz Josef
  • Skydive Wanaka
  • High Country Salmon
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Alpaca Farm

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Day 1
Queenstown to Te Anau

Distance 173km - Driving Time 2 hours

Just a few minutes after we touched down in Queenstown, we headed straight for maui’s shuttle service phone. Not long after, a van came taking us to the maui Queenstown branch in less than 5 minutes. The friendly staff ran through the dos and don'ts of the motorhome before bringing us to it for thorough explanations on how to empty wastewater, top-up freshwater and most importantly, empty the waste cart. Before we left, it was snowing heavily but we were happy to know that we’ve got everything we need in the motorhome and should we need to stop at any point, we'll know what to do. First stop was the supermarket which is another 2-3 mins drive away from the pick-up.

We stocked up for 3 days worth of meals and started our journey to Te Anau. View along the way was the best we ever saw. Snow-capped mountains at every bend. When we got to Te Anau, it was already dark. So the only thing left to do was to whip up an amazing dinner. The holiday park we went to (Te Anau Lakeview Holiday Park) has a nice and well-equipped kitchen. It didn’t take us long to gobble down our dinner and had an early night before a full-on day tomorrow.

Day 2
Te Anau to Queenstown

Distance 170km - Driving Time 2 hours

We woke up the next day feeling excited. The view took our breath away when we stepped out of the motorhome.  We took a stroll in Fiordland National Park before we headed back to Queenstown. It was a rather short stay because our plans to Milford Sound were disrupted.

Checked in to Queenstown Holiday Park and Motel after a three hours drive. It was right next to Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Luge which was on our list of attractions to see that day. We spent the day there and ended the day with a buffet dinner that has an amazing view of Queenstown.

Day 3
Queenstown to Franz Josef

Distance 350km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins

We started off the day with the famous Ferg Burger. It was definitely worth the 20 minutes wait. We were supposed to skydive that day but bad weather set us apart. So we decided to move on to Glenorchy and maybe try our luck when we get to Wanaka.

Glenorchy is beautiful in its own way, quiet and peaceful. We were there for an hour before we left for Franz Josef. The journey there would take us 4 hours and we wouldn’t advise driving there in the dark. We decided to park up for the night at one of the unpowered campsites along the way.

Day 4
Franz Joseph

Our plan in Franz Josef was to do a heli hike but due to bad weather again, we had to cancel. Another advice when planning your itinerary, always check the weather forecast before going anywhere. So instead of a heli hike, we went for a hot pool dip and an hour massage. Soaking in a hot pool during winter could just be the right thing to do when your plan fails.

We finished off the day with dinner at the Monsoon Bar. One of the better meals I had during our trip. I would totally recommend this restaurant if you’re in Franz Josef.

Day 5
Franz Joseph to Wanaka

Distance 290km - Driving Time 4 hours

We tried our luck with the heli hike again but the bad weather persisted. So we decided to move on with our plans and return to the city. It is another four hours drive but we took turns driving which made it a lot more enjoyable.

We stopped halfway for lunch and cooked lunch in our van. Once again, the perks of having a functional kitchen wherever we go. We decided to check out Wanaka Skydive to see if they can fit us in. And thankfully they could! It was my first time doing such a thrilling activity and I did contemplate not doing it.But it’s New Zealand and I couldn't think of a better place to do it! I must say I did not regret it. The view was breathtaking and my tandem master handled my fear so well. Wanaka is a small town, so it’s not long before we got to the famous Wanaka Tree.

Day 6
Roys Peak

We originally planned to wake up at sunrise for the best view, but the bed in the campervan was so comfortable we've decided to sleep in leaving the holiday park around 8 am.

I’ve heard stories of how people gave up before reaching the top due to a steep climb, but we've decided to give it a try anyway. Lunch cooked on our maui Ultima Plus slide-out bbq and water-packed, comfortable shoes on and we were on our way. It was hard but well worth the effort as the views at the top are absolutely breathtaking. We would recommend packing proper hiking boots as some parts of the track can get a little muddy.

Day 7
Wanaka to Mt Cook

Distance 185km - Driving Time 3 hours

That day our aim was to get to Mount Cook. Along the way, we stopped by High Country Salmon for the freshest salmon. Our plan was to spend the day touring Mount Cook. But sadly, it was snowing heavily and we saw many vehicles stranded at the side of the road. So we ended the day early at Glentanner Holiday Park.

Day 8
Mount Cook to Lake Tekapo

With the weather looking better, we drove towards Mount Cook.

We picked our hike - Kea Point track, approximately one and a half hours long. It was snowing heavily the previous day so the entire path was covered in thick snow. We skipped Hooker Valley because it wasn’t open when we got there.

After that we drove to Lake Tekapo, getting there just before the sunset and witnessed a beautiful wedding at the Church of Good Shepherd. We finished off the day by cooking our dinner at the holiday park. The weather disrupted our plans once again and unfortunately, we were not able to go stargazing. But it didn’t stop us from coming out of our motorhome to catch a glimpse of the sky that was filled with stars at 4 am.

Day 9
Lake Tekapo to Christchurch

Distance 229km - Driving Time 3 hours

I surprised my husband with a trip to Shamarra Alpacas Farm. He loves animals while I, on the contrary, am afraid of all animals. It was a long journey but the view again, compensated for it. We've reached the farm earlier than expected and one of the perks of driving a campervan is that we have our bed everywhere we go, so we took an hour nap before meeting the alpacas. The experience was amazing and we had so much fun feeding and taking selfies with the alpacas.

Day 10
Christchurch

On the last day of our trip, we had to return the motorhome back to the original state - emptying the wastewater and toilet cassette, topping up clean water and folding the bedding. It wasn't a chore as the van is so compact and the instructions were very clear. Dropping off the van at the Christchurch branch was easy, it took about 10 mins including the payment of road user charges. We had withdrawal symptoms of the motorhome when we switched to a normal car. Our journey with maui was fun and we are already planning for the next one. Till the next, maui motorhomes!

 

Inspired to follow Patrina's itinerary to travel North from Queenstown to Christchurch? To get started on this journey, book a maui motorhome today or read our other recommended itineraries for the South Island. Or check out our latest deals and specials here.