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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Great Journeys: New Zealand: South Island

Experience some of the most accessible yet rugged trekking in the world, from rainforests to mountains to glaciers.

Map of the South Island, New Zealand

Click on the links below to find out more about individual destinations.

Journey Summary

Starting our journey in Christchurch, we strike west to the delightful Peel Forest, where the lovely walking and camping prepares us for the drive through the glacial lakes to Twizel. From here we drive into the stunning Southern Alps to Mt Cook village, where the walking is wonderful (though the weather often isn't). Heading south again, we come to Queenstown, spiritual home of bungee jumping, white water rafting and plenty of other extreme sports. Driving to Te Anau bring us to our first Great Walk, the Kepler Track, from where it's a short drive north to the huge Hollyford-Pyke Route, a walk that's not for the inexperienced. Stopping only to visit the tourist Mecca of Milford, we head back through Queenstown to walk the mountainous Routeburn-Greenstone Track, before we head off to the west coast and the stunning Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. The beautiful settlement of Okarito provides a breathtaking view of the Southern Alps, and the drive to Hokitika is rugged and a delight. Cutting across the mountains at Arthur's Pass provides more amazing views, before we drop back down to the plains and Christchurch once again.

Suggested Itinerary

The following is only a suggested itinerary, and is based round a journey by car, with overnight stops at camping grounds. All roads are suitable for normal two-wheel-drive cars.

Day Suggested Itinerary
1 Fly to Christchurch
2-3 Two days in Christchurch
4 Christchurch to Peel Forest
5 One day in Peel Forest
6 Peel Forest to Twizel
7 Twizel to Mt Cook
8-9 Two days walking to Mueller Hut
10 One day in Mt Cook
11-12 Two days walking to Ball Shelter
13 One day in Mt Cook
14 Mt Cook to Queenstown
15-16 Two days in Queenstown
17 Queenstown to Te Anau
18-21 Four days walking the Kepler Track
22 One day in Te Anau
23 Te Anau to Hollyford
24-31 Eight days walking the Hollyford-Pyke Route
32 One day in Hollyford
33 Hollyford to Queenstown (via Milford)
34 One day in Queenstown
35 Queenstown to Glenorchy
36-39 Four days walking the Routeburn-Greenstone Track
40 One day in Glenorchy
41 Glenorchy to Lake Paringa (via Cardrona)
42 Lake Paringa to Fox Glacier
43 One day in Fox Glacier
44 Fox Glacier to Okarito (via Franz Josef Glacier)
45 One day in Okarito
46 Okarito to Hokitika
47 Hokitika to Arthur's Pass
48 One day in Arthur's Pass
49 Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
50 One day in Christchurch
51 Fly from Christchurch