Auckland to Christchurch Road Trip | Apollo Campervans NZ
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Auckland to Christchurch Road Trip

This itinerary jam packs the best of New Zealand into an 17 day epic adventure.

metre high glaciers

This itinerary jam packs the best of New Zealand into a 17 day epic adventure. You will travel from Auckland to Christchurch and discover one spectacular view after another. On this road trip from Auckland to Christchurch, you will discover the best of both worlds. Not only will you explore all the beauty mother nature has to offer in New Zealand you will also visit many of the big cities New Zealand has to offer.

Start your holiday in Auckland with a sky-high view from Sky Tower or get off-grid at Glenfern Sanctuary. Visit the magical Waitomo Glow worm Caves and watch the tiny creatures while sitting in a small boat and listening to the tour guide. A real must-see is Wai O Tapu, these sacred waters are a volcanic wonder and a perfect attraction. Ever touched a cheetah? Make that happen at the Wellington Zoo. Continue to Franz Josef glacier where you can hike over the amazing glaciers, we recommend booking a tour in advance! Surrounded by massive mountains and a beautiful lake with a lot of activities throughout the year. When travelling to Lake Tekapo you can do a lot of water activities which is the best way to explore the beautiful nature and surroundings. Finish your holiday in Christchurch and find out why it is one of the world’s most unique destinations!

Day 1: Auckland Apollo Branch

Start your road trip enjoying everything Auckland has to offer. Head to the harbour and either take a relaxing boat cruise around or if you’re in the mood for something more fast-paced, choose a jet boat road instead. While out on the water, keep your eye your for whales and dolphins. While in Auckland, be sure to take a trip up to the Sky Tower and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree views over Auckland and beyond.


Day 2: Auckland to Rotorua

Distance: 228kms

Travel time: 2hrs 45min

On your way to Rotorua, stop at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. They will definitely be one of the major highlights of this trip. The glow worms that live in these caves are unique to New Zealand. The best way to see the caves is to book a guided tour.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, North Island New Zealand


Day 3: Rotorua

While in Rotorua, you will find this active geothermal area just north of the Reporoa caldera in New Zealand’s Taupo Volcanic Zone. There are many hot springs and are known for their colourful appearance. The name of this area comes from the Maori and it means ‘Sacred Waters’.


Day 4: Rotorua - Napier

Distance: 216kms

Travel time: 2hrs, 40mins

Once you arrive in Napier, you will feel as though you have stepped back in time as Napier is known for its Art Deco architecture. The city was ruined in 1931 by an earthquake and its reconstruction reflects the style of the time. Take the day to take a self-guided tour of the city by foot.


Day 5: Napier - Wellington

Distance: 321kms

Travel time: 4hrs, 5mins

Once you have left Napier and heading south to Wellington, stop at Wairarapa - home to some of New Zealand’s best pinot noir. If you enjoy premium wines, a lunch stop at Wairarapa is a must. When you’re ready to head off, journey over the Remutaka Ranges to New Zealand’s capital - Wellington.


Day 6: Wellington

You’ll be spoilt with choice on what to do in Wellington. Never touched a cheetah? Make that happen at the Wellington Zoo. Keen to taste New Zealand’s best coffee? Visit Flight Coffee for a tasting tray. Interested in learning more about New Zealand or Maori culture? Take a trip to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.


Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand


Day 7: Wellington - Picton

Distance: 99kms

Travel time: 4hrs, 5mins

Today it’s time to journey across the Cook Strait to the South Island. This picturesque journey will take you through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds before arriving in Picton. Once arriving in Picton, take the time to explore nearby wine regions, or if you’d prefer to get up close to the local marine wildlife, spend some time cruising the Sounds.


Day 8: Picton - Hokitika

Distance: 388kms

Time travel: 4hrs, 48mins

On your way to Hokitika from Picton, be sure to stop at Hanmer Springs. Treat yourself to a day of relaxation and indulgence at the hot springs or the spa. If you’re feeling more adventurous, Hanmer Springs offers a range of outdoor activities such as jet boating, horse trekking and bungy jumping. Make sure you get to Hokitika in time to watch the sunset over the beach as this cool little town is known to have one of the best sunsets in New Zealand.


Day 9: Hokitika - Franz Josef

Distance: 134kms

Travel time: 1hr, 41mins

Hokitika is known as a “Jade Country” due to the great amount of jade found in the area. During your stop here, not only can you watch master carvers at work, you can also have a go yourself and carve your very own greenstone pendant. You may be able to find some greenstone on the beach to carve for the perfect souvenir. Otherwise, there are plenty of carving studios to purchase some greenstone.


Day 10: Franz Josef

Meet Franz Josef Glacier, or, as it is known in local Māori legends, Kā Roimata-a-Hine Hukatere (the frozen tears of Hine Hukatere). Franz Josef Glacier is the steepest glacier in the country and has incredible features such as ice caves, tunnels and crevasses; all of which are constantly changing. we recommend booking a tour in advance!


Franz Josef, West Coast NZ Image Credit Miles Holden


Day 11: Franz Josef - Wanaka

Distance: 284kms

Travel time: 3hrs, 38mins

Driving on the Tioripatea Highway, otherwise known as the Haast Pass to Wanaka will be one of the most beautiful scenic drives, you’ll ever come across. The road winds along the rugged coastline, temperate rainforest and glacier country before entering UNESCO registered Mt. Aspiring National Park. This is a drive you want to take your time doing as you admire all the scenery along the way.


Day 12: Wanaka - Queenstown

Distance: 68kms

Travel time: 1hr, 3mins

Spend most of today exploring the buzzing town of Wanaka. Wanaka is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures and as it’s so close to Mount Aspiring National Park, it’s the perfect destination to explore the Southern Alps.


Day 13: Queenstown

Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is home to a range of activities for everyone. Each season brings a new range of experiences, winter it’s all about skiing and snowboarding and in summer the mountains attract keen mountain bikers. No matter the weather, a stop at Fergburger, for world-famous burgers is essential.


View of Queenstown at night


Day 14: Queenstown - Lake Tekapo

Distance: 256kms

Travel time: 3hrs, 3mins

Between Queenstown and Lake Tekapo, we recommend stopping at New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook. The best way to see the best mountain and glacial scenery is on a helicopter ride (highly recommend booking in advance to ensure a spot). If time allows, there’s a number of restaurants at the top of the mountain with tasty food and picturesque views to enjoy.


Day 15: Lake Tekapo

In the heart of the Mackenzie Country lies Lake Tekapo; breathtaking in all its technicolour glory. Lie by the lake (a part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve) and admire the pristine blanket of sparkling stars where they burn brightly as though they were only close by.


Lake Tekapo, Canterbury Image via Julian Apse


Day 16: Lake Tekapo - Christchurch

Distance: 226kms

Travel time: 2hrs, 49mins

About an hour away from Lake Tekapo on route to Christchurch, a stop at Geraldine is an absolute must. Geraldine is a pretty country town that is home to Barker’s at Geraldine, which is famous for their chutneys and chocolate sauce. With an eatery attached to the store, it’s a great place to stop and have a break before you continue on your journey to Christchurch.


Day 17: Christchurch Apollo Branch

Finish your holiday in Christchurch and find out why it is one of the world’s most unique destinations! Find out more about what to do in Christchurch here


Where to stay:

Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park

North South Holiday Park

All Seasons Holiday Park

Wellington's Kiwi Holiday Park

Ready to explore?

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