New Zealand's South Island is home to numerous adventures that you can explore on a family road trip. Whether you're looking to head to the centre of the island and explore its mountains or you want to visit as many towns as you can on the coast, your family can expect to enjoy an unforgettable adventure. The highway system makes it easy to get around by car to explore nature and culture in equal measure. The key to getting the most out of your trip is opting for an experience that caters to your family's unique interests.
Best destinations for a South Island road trip
To ensure your South Island road trip is all you want it to be, you'll need to head towards some of the best destinations on the island. What counts as best, of course, largely depends on what your family is interested in. If you're looking for fun cityscapes, you'll find numerous options on the north and south side of the island. For more nature-oriented experiences, you can head to the inland mountains or out to the coast. You can even diversify your road trip to include a bit of everything, with some days dedicated to cities and others dedicated to nature.
Take a South Island road trip to Queenstown
Queenstown is a popular resort town on the South Island and a stunning road trip destination no matter where you're coming from in New Zealand. You'll find virtually endless adventure here whether you're looking to learn about history and culture at a museum or enjoy outdoor activities around the bay and Lake Wakatipu. Getting to Queenstown is easy as well since State Highway 1 and State Highway 6 can both get you there from different sides of the island. Plus, Queenstown is close to several impressive natural features, so it's an easy destination for a diverse road trip adventure.
Set out on a South Island road trip to Mount Cook
Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand, reaching a height of 3,724 metres. When you take a road trip here, you'll not only be able to explore everything the mountain itself has to offer, like hiking and biking, but you'll find quite a few impressive sights along the way whether you're travelling from Queenstown or Christchurch. Road trips to Mount Cook are especially rewarding since the roads you'll travel offer stunning views of forests and glaciers – you don't even have to get out of the car for breathtaking sights. Of course, the forested hiking trails offer even more.
Consider your South Island road trip itinerary length
A South Island road trip can be fun, but the kind of experience you'll have largely depends on how much time you're willing to dedicate to it. South Island has a lot to offer, and only having a few days to explore may mean limiting yourself to a particular part of the island if you want time to enjoy the various destinations on your trip. Having more than a week to explore, however, offers the opportunity to really dive into everything the South Island can offer.
Plan a South Island road trip 14-day itinerary
When you plan a South Island road trip itinerary that has 2 weeks' worth of experiences, you can really take time to enjoy each and every stop on your trip. Plus, that kind of time frame allows you to spend less time driving each day and more time taking in the sights and activities across the island. It also makes it easy to diversify your experience, which may be essential if you have to keep young kids entertained on the trip. You can visit sandy beaches, towering mountains, fascinating cities and charming small towns all on a singular trip.