There are many different routes you can take to explore New Zealand’s wonders and so it is pretty hard to go wrong with which one you pick. The country is beautiful no matter where you drive and has endless adventures around every corner. After extensive research, help from my dad, and personally driving the route myself I believe I have found the way to go….follow me!
For starters, I would recommend renting a car so you can see as much as possible and not be limited on where you go. This route will start in Nelson and end up in Queenstown. You will need to drive a lot but don’t worry, driving through New Zealand is incredible and one of my favorite parts of the trip. I would recommend at least 7 nights for this road trip…definitely more if you can!
Stop 1: Fly into Nelson, New Zealand and pick up your rental car. Drive to Abel Tasman National Park and spend a day or two here. I recommend staying at this hotel .
Stop 2: Drive from Abel Tasman National Park to Punakaiki, New Zealand. I recommend staying at this hotel. It is right on the beach and has the mountains behind you. Here you will find the pancake rocks which are quite extraordinary. It is a very small town so possibly bring some food to make dinner at your place or go to one of the few restaurants they have. I would stay here no more than one night.
Stop 3: Get up early and drive to Arthur’s Pass which is slightly more inland and spend the day here exploring and hiking. When you have hiked all you can for the day jump back in the car and drive to Hokitika to spend the night. I recommend staying this hotel.
Stop 4: Drive to Franz Joseph Glacier and spend the morning exploring. After you have experienced this incredible Glacier grab some snacks, jump back into the car, and drive to Twizel and stay here which is a town outside Mount Cook National Park. This drive will be around 5 hours but I promise you, driving through New Zealand is an amazing experience in itself.
Stop 5: Drive to Mount Cook from your hotel and go on a hike. This was one of my favorite days because of how incredible the hike was. I recommend this hike. In mid afternoon drive to Lake Wanaka for a quick pit stop, possibly dinner, and then continue driving until you reach Queenstown.
Stop 6: Stay in Queenstown for at least 2-3 days. I recommend staying at this hotel . Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and truly had endless opportunities for activities and excursions. It also is one of the most quaint, beautiful, and unique cities I have been to..one of my favorites!
I will be posting soon about all I recommend to do in and around Queenstown!