New Zealand, Aotearoa, the country with more sheep than humans in it – however you may choose to call this thin strip of land at the end of the world, one thing always stays the same: this is one of the most beautiful, unique and diverse places on earth. Separated by thousands of kilometers of water from the next big land mass, New Zealand developed its own unique ecosystem.
Flightless birds, dinosaur forests, and volcanoes can be found next to lush rainforests, golden beaches, snow-capped mountains and mirror like glacier lakes. The infamous hospitality of the New Zealanders (also called Kiwis), their love for extreme sports and the outdoors and their lovely ability to always find a reason to party will make your trip to this country one of a kind.
The best way of getting around the country is by renting your own vehicle. (rental prices starting from 22 NDZ per day with JUCY rentals). You will be able to stop at every beautiful place you can spot (believe me, there are going to be a lot of them) and take your time driving along the southern scenic route and the Cardrona Valley admiring the view. If you would rather not drive along the curvy mountain roads, you can always choose to buy a Hop-on Hop-off bus ticket from one of the many New Zealand touring companies (Kiwiexperience offers bus tickets starting from 729 NZD).
Start your trip by driving the beautiful route from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo and watch with wonder as the small concrete houses are being replaced by ancient forests and green mountains.
After a 2 hour and 50-minute drive, you will arrive at Lake Tekapo. Enjoy your day by taking a walk along the lake shore or renting a bike to explore the surrounding area if you are feeling sporty. You can always go for a dip in the ice cold lake if you dare. Spend the night at the Mt. John Observatory admiring the milky way and try spotting the southern cross. Your chances of success are high, as this is the best place for stargazing in the country.
The next stop is Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, which is a 1h 15 min drive away from Tekapo. Go for a helicopter flight around Aoraki (Prices starting from 240 NZD per adult with The Helicopter Line), try a guided glacier walk or simply enjoy the gorgeous mountain scenery.
A 2h and 30 min drive away lies Wanaka, a tiny mountain town with a lot to offer. Once you get there, go for a short walk to see the famous Wanaka tree and spend some time on the lakeshore.
Still in need for some new summer shorts? Head to Wastebusters and get a good pre-loved pair for 2$, after having fun searching through their large costume and knick-knack fundus. If you want to go out tonight, try to catch the happy hour at Kai´s and then make your way down to Fitzpatricks, the Irish Pub, for some good beer (starting from 7NZD) and live music.
Check out the Albert town campground if you are looking for cheap accommodation. If you prefer a hostel, the YHA has got nice, clean dorms, a homey atmosphere and a fireplace for uncharacteristically cold summer nights.
Today you have got a whole day to get into the true kiwi spirit and do what every New Zealander loves to do: spend time outdoors!
If you are feeling lazy, you can go play a game of Frisbee golf or go for a short 45-minute hike around Diamond Lake. For the more active travelers, I would suggest hiking up Rob Roy´s Peak (around 5 hours return) or Isthmus Peak (7 hours return). The views are definitely worth the sweat. Feeling adventurous? Prepare for the full dose of extreme sports in Queenstown by trying Paragliding today to get in the mood.
After a short 1 hour drive to Queenstown, you will arrive in New Zealand’s extreme sports and nightlife capital. Here you can find NZ´s highest Bungy jump (134m, operated by AJ Hackett, the jump is 275 NZD), as well as the first Bungy tower of the world.
You´d rather go skydiving (skydive with NZONE for 299 NZD from 2700m)? Mountain biking? Rock climbing? Speedboating? Paragliding? Diving in the crystal clear glacier lake? No Problem. Queenstown has everything to offer for the adrenaline junky. You want to take it easy? Rent a bike and ride along the lakeshore, go for a nice boat tour or shop around Queenstown’s little shops and cafes. And if you´ve still got energy in the evening, go out and explore Queenstown’s famous nightlife. Head to Searle Lane to dance to mainstream music in a big venue or to the smaller Tardis for some drum ‘n’ bass and Dubstep.
After a long day and a long night, make your way down to Te Anau (a 2h and 30 min drive) and to one of Aotearoas’ most famous attractions: Milford Sounds! You might be lucky enough to spot dolphins, penguins or seals from a scenic boat tour through the amazing landscape. Small budgeting tip on the side: The cheapest tours are the first tours of the day, with the prices starting from 45$ if you choose to go with JUCY CRUIZE. Spend the night on one of the Campgrounds in the National Park or in Te Anau.
Along the southern scenic route, you´ll drive down to the Catlins, a place still barely discovered by tourism. See Nugget Point with its stunning white lighthouse on ragged cliffs, try to spot whales, dolphins, or the endangered, very rare yellow eyed penguin.
From the Catlins drive up the coast to Dunedin, a young and alternative university town. The beautiful beach is loved by casual tourists and surfers alike, who take the plunge into the cold waves of the ocean. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre to see the big birds up close, or head to the Larnach Castle and Gardens (31 NZD Entrance Fee).
Next Stop: Oamaru! The quirky little town with character has got a lot to offer. Visit the Steampunk museum with its curious machines, search for inspiration in the adventure bookstore and watch the little blue penguins come home in the evening after a long day of swimming and fishing.
The trip ends as it begins: in Christchurch, a 3-hour drive away from Oamaru. If you´ve got time and energy left, you can explore the botanic garden, the Canterbury Museum, or Quakecity, a little exhibition about the big earthquake, which destroyed most of the city in 2011.