The South Island of New Zealand is renowned for its mountains, lakes and glaciers.
The Southern Alps, home to 3724m-high Mt. Cook, runs the entire length of the island – and it’s not hard to see why the South Island is extremely sought after for its hiking trails.
We’ve chosen our top ten hikes and made it easy for you to begin planning your next adventure, and after you get an idea of the views, you’ll see on the hikes below you’ll be booking your trip as fast as we did!
It’s not hard to see why the Hooker Valley Track is one of the most popular tracks in New Zealand – before you know it you’ll be travelling and on your way!
At only 5 kilometres in length and gaining roughly 100m in height, the well-formed Hooker Valley Track can be walked by almost anyone, suitable for a range of fitness levels.
Glacier Lake, Hooker River and swing bridges all feature, and with a National Park covered in a rugged terrain of ice and rock, you’ll experience some of the most ancient landscapes on offer in New Zealand.
To get tracking, we recommend starting early to avoid peak times between 9am to 5pm – not to mention, the early morning light does offer a pretty spectacular view.
What are you waiting for? We’ll see you there!
DISTANCE: 5km One-way
BEST TIME: All Year
Milford Track is arguably New Zealand’s most famous walk.
The 53 km journey begins at the head of Lake Te Anau and takes you across suspension bridges, boardwalks and a mountain pass, backed by postcard-perfect views of winding lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks and enormous valleys.
To kick things off, there are a number of tour providers that can assist, especially if you’re not sure where to begin planning your journey. It’s worth noting, this is one of the more extensive tracks on South Island, and will need at least 5 days of your time to complete.
Without a doubt, it’s one of the finest hikes in the world, and you’ll soon discover why – get started!
DISTANCE: 53km One-way
BEST TIME: Late October to Late April
Lake Marian, an alpine lake formed by glacial action and set in a stunning valley over Fiordland.
It’s set above the bush line, and is surrounded by mountains and calm waters – making for quite a special sight.
To begin, we’ll make our way from the carpark to a series of waterfalls, which by our account normally takes around 20 minutes. Conserve your energy here if you get the chance, as the next section can become a little steep and muddy once we ascend up towards the lake itself.
You’ll navigate through the backcountry and may need to rely on your trusty coordination and fitness, but it’ll all be worth it once you reach the top.
Gazing over the lake is truly something special to behold, and you won’t want to miss it if you’re around the Fiordland National Park.
Pack your things, and we’ll see you there!
DISTANCE: 3.1km Loop
BEST TIME: October to April
The Rocky Mountain Summit track is a scenic hiking trail located in the Diamond Lake of Otago, starting with a gentle climb along the edge of Diamond Lake.
In fact, the higher you climb, the more rewarding the views get across the Southern Alps, Mount Aspiring and Lake Wanaka – so don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of photo opportunities. Once you reach the top, you’ll want to take a minute (or maybe 45) to appreciate New Zealand’s purity.
Now one of the best things about the Rocky Mountain track is the amount of options on offer. If you’re not feeling up to the challenge of a longer hike, try a shorter trail like the Lake Wanaka lookout, which still gives you an epic view.
Give this hike a go today!
DISTANCE: 7km Loop
BEST TIME: November to April
Along the Rob Roy Track, you’ll come face to face with active glaciers and alpine vistas, strung together by mountains, river valleys and lakes like no other.
The incline on your way to the viewing point is gradual, and once you arrive at the top, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the Kea – a mountain parrot known to try and steal your food!
Although this is a pretty light track, take note that the weather can be a little unpredictable – so pack the right clothing, and make sure you check the conditions ahead of your trip.
DISTANCE: 10km One-way
BEST TIME: November to Late April
So the Moonlight Track isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and it will require a little skill and experience to get to the top – however – we bet it’ll lift your spirits as high as the Southern Alps.
You’re actually going to feel quite spoilt once you see what’s on offer: views of the Shotover River, Southern Alps and Queenstown’s gold mining history.
Feel free to start at either side of the track, and arrange some sort of transport on either side so that the way back isn’t as harsh. Now lucky for you, the track also offers a series of different legs, with an option to venture off-track and attempt the summits of a circa 1750m climb (here’s a little hint – it’ll give you one of the best views over the Southern Alps).
Along the rest of the track, you’ll notice little markers or poles indicating the way to Sefferstown – an old mining village that holds the remains of the old Moke Creek stone school – and as you near the end of your journey, you’ll cast an eye across Shotover River.
No doubt this is one of the tougher tracks on South Island, but man is it worth it!
DISTANCE: 14km One-way
BEST TIME: October to May
Mount Robert is a loop circuit located in Nelson Lakes National Park, well formed to combine Pinchgut Track and Paddy’s Track.
The Pinchgut Track starts to zig-zag up the steep bareface of Mount Robert, before beginning to enter Beech Forest. It’s by no means an easy track, and it’s probably where you’ll find yourself climbing more than a couple of times.
That being said, Paddy’s Track naturally connects you to the Mount Robert circuit, which cuts across the mountain’s open face and several gullies, before bringing you to a rewarding view of Lake Rotoiti.
Planning to head up soon? The weather could be a little crisp, so make sure you’re prepared for an Alpine-like environment – or in the warmer months – choose to bring some insect repellent for sand flies often located near the lake.
Ready for a challenge? We’ll meet you up the top!
DISTANCE: 9km One-way
BEST TIME: November to Late April
Located in the heart of Queenstown, the Queenstown Hill Time walk is one of the most popular and accessible tracks in the region: a demanding 1.5km walk that stretches up Te Tapunui to show the past, present and future.
Test your legs on the hill track up to the ‘basket of dreams’, a favourite lookout spot to check out historically-rich information plates and illustrations.
You’ll wind through pine forest, ascending higher before breaking out above the treeline to be met with sweeping views of the Remarkables, Cecil Peak and parts of Lake Wakatipu. We recommend bringing along a packed lunch where you can stop for a snack before you begin your descent, on the shore of the small mountain lake.
DISTANCE: 1.5km One-way
BEST TIME: All Year
Roy’s Peak Track, a famous trail known to bring travellers from all corners of the world.
You’ll start by zig-zagging along a steep 4WD track from the carepark, up to the conservation area, before being met by wild grasslands that guide you up to Roy’s Peak summit.
It’s there, and along the way, that you’ll catch a panoramic view of the ridgeline, taking in most of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding peaks of Mount Aspiring.
Since the hiking trail is quite popular, parking can be a little limited during peak hours (9am – 5pm), so remember to take this into consideration when planning your trip. In fact, have you thought about an early start? If you time it right, Lake Wanaka and the accompanying sunrise will simply speak for itself.
So, we’ll see you there right?
DISTANCE: 16km One-way
BEST TIME: Mid November to September
Part of Te Araroa, the Lake Ohau Track takes you around the shores with breaktaking views of surrounding mountains.
Like some of our other featured walks, it’s not for the faint-hearted, and will require a bit of extra effort to take you past a zig-zagging mountain side – but you’ve got this!
As you approach the final stretch, make your way through scree and tussock slope, and suck up a view of the entire Mackenzie Basin below, with uninterrupted views in every direction.
Especially in the colder months, come well prepared as parts of the track can become very slippery under snowy terrain.
Ready to start hiking? Let’s go!
DISTANCE: 8km One-way
BEST TIME: November to Late April
Hiking is one of the best ways to truly absorb the splendour of New Zealand’s South Island, with a wide range of experiences to choose from.
With some of the best hikes on offer across the South Island, we’ve made it even easier to plan a jam-packed adventure with this hand-picked list!
Most tracks will allow you to catch glimpses of the Remarkables Mountain Range that cover a high volume of the South Island, but if you’re up for more, conquer the best hikes in New Zealand.
There’s no time like the present to begin planning your next adventure!
Ready for your road trip? Got your car or campervan ready? New Zealand, here we come… but not before reading some vital tips from our mechanics to ensure a safe trip!
An obvious one – but so often forgotten due to vehicle owners wanting to save money. A basic service will often cost you anywhere between $75 to $150 and will check the basic needs of each vehicle – oil, filters, tyres and so on. If you were to have a breakdown, towing and mechanical costs would outweigh the service costs greatly! Get a service regularly and don’t risk having to get towed!
Check your battery before heading onto a long trip – most batteries have nowadays an indicator that will advise of the stage of the battery. A pair of jump starters are also quite useful to have for your trip. When travelling in a van or campervan remember that most campers have 2 batteries these days – one for the engine (vital for you to drive) – and one for lights, fridge & USB plug-ins!
For most cars, we recommend 32 psi – for a Van/Campervan around 45 psi. Any inflatable tyre can lead to an explosion as well as using up more petrol! We recommend checking your tyres every 1000 km to be on the safe side…
One thing we all like to forget is our spare tyre – before going on a long road trip check your spare tyre – check the tyre pressure as well as the overall quality of the spare tyre! And in case you need to change a tyre on the road feel free to check out our video below…
Having a valid membership for roadside assistance is vital for any long road trip. It will allow you to have access to a mechanics network all over New Zealand for as little $89/year – full covered. For New Zealand, we recommend joining the AA Roadside Assistance! Feel free to give them a call today…
Depending on how much you drive, you should typically check all your oil/water on a weekly basis. Running out of oil & water is just so unnecessary and often requires a brand new engine… there goes the party money! A 2nd hand-engine can cost you around $2000 for a car and around $5000 for a campervan – OUCH!!!
To make life easy we have created a few videos on how to check your oil & water in cars as well as campervans!
For more video check out our HOW TO VIDEO library on YouTube!
Most important – if you start to feel tired or have been driving for more than 2 hours – take a break…you never have far to go between cities or petrol stations. Take a break, have a coffee & re-energise yourself!
If you are after buying a car or some basic information feel free to contact Travellers Autobarn – your car, campervan rental & campervan sales specialist 😉
Planning to buy a camper to explore New Zealand? We are offering a variety of Toyota Hiace Campervans for Sales – check them out today…
When you think about New Zealand’s South Island, there’s no doubt that stunning mountains, starry skies, and spectacular fjords are what come to mind. The South Island is a nature lover’s paradise – and that’s why camping or travelling in a campervan is the perfect way to explore the stunning outdoors here.
There are plenty of options for camping and outdoor accommodation in the South Island – whether it’s pitching a tent, staying in a deluxe cabin, or pulling up and sleeping in your campervan. Because exploring the South Island in this way is so popular, there is certainly no shortage of options for places to stay. In fact, there are so many it can become almost overwhelming to choose! We have narrowed it down for you, with five of the South Island’s best campgrounds listed below.
Price guide: Paid campground
There’s plenty to see and do in Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Whether it’s the place you are starting or ending your trip, or you are stopping through during your exploration of the rest of the country, you will appreciate having a comfortable and practical place to stay when you’re in the garden city.
If lots of facilities and a convenient location is what you’re after, Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park will tick all the right boxes. Located about halfway between the airport and the city, you can’t get a more convenient location for camping in Christchurch. You’ll find everything from hot showers, power connections, BBQ areas, a heated pool, free WIFI, dump stations, and much more!
You can take your pick from all accommodation styles – from cabins and self-contained rooms, to powered and unpowered tent and campervan sites. There is plenty of space available, but we recommend booking in advance if you’re travelling in peak season.
Visit the Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park website to learn more and make a booking.
Price guide: Free campground
For the ultimate outdoor experience, camp at Lake Pukaki Freedom Campground, where you will feel a million miles away from civilization, in the best way possible. The campground is located less than 4 hours away from Christchurch, at the south bank of Lake Pukaki.
This stunning lake naturally glows a shade of turquoise blue, backing right onto the Mount Cook region, meaning you’ll have a clear view of the distant mountain range. It’s a real delight to take a tip in the cool water during the day, then settle in to watch the mountain horizon turn a shade of pink as the sun goes down. At night, you can witness the sparkling universe as you stargaze at some of the clearest skies in the world!
This campsite is a freedom camping site – meaning it’s completely free to stay at! However, you do need to be in a certified self-contained vehicle in order to stay here. There are no amenities at this campground other than a small drop toilet, so make sure you are prepared with all the water and supplies you need.
There’s no need to book or check in here, simply arrive and choose your place to set up camp. It can get quite busy with other campervans in peak season, so the earlier you get there, the better position you’ll be able to secure.
Price guide: Low-cost campground
Head to the South Island’s lesser-explored region, to the southeast point of the island. Here, you’ll find rugged coastlines, rocky cliffs, and stunning sandy beaches. Purakaunui Bay in the Catlins region is an ideal place to stay, located under 2 hours from the South Island’s second largest city, Dunedin, and close to other amazing destinations such as Nugget Point Lighthouse.
If you want to sleep by the beach with the sound of waves crashing onto the shore, you will love staying at Purakaunui Bay Campsite. This campsite has an amazing view of sheer cliff faces on the beach, which fur seals regularly come to the shores to play on.
Purakaunui Bay campsite is run by the Department of Conservation, so there is a small fee to stay here, and it’s based off a first-come first-served availability system. There 40 non-powered/tent sites on a scenic grassy area, with basic facilities including long-drop toilets, and water on tap.
Price guide: Paid campground
No trip to the South Island would be complete without visiting New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. This stunning lakeside town attracts visitors from far and wide, and for good reason. The mountain backdrop surrounding the town make it naturally stunning, plus there is plenty to do here from world-class dining, a buzzing nightlife, and every adrenaline activity you could imagine.
Stay at Queenstown Holiday Park Creeksyde for an ideal place to base yourself during your Queenstown adventures. This peaceful and serene campground is just a 5-minute walk out of the heart of Queenstown, providing quiet sites away from all the hustle and bustle.
Here you will find both powered and unpowered sites, kitchen, lounges, laundries, WIFI, sauna, and spa, plus the knowledgeable staff at reception can assist you in booking all your Queenstown activities.
You’ll be sure to enjoy your stay at Queenstown Holiday Park & Motels Creeksyde. Learn more and make a booking.
Price guide: Low-cost campground
If you’re route takes you across the west coast of the South Island, there’s no doubt a stop at Franz Josef Glacier will be on your list. The 12km long glacier offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment, in a temperate semitropical environment, and both easy round-walks or fully guided glacier treks.
If you’re looking for an affordable yet fully equipped place to stay during your trip, check out Orange Sheep Caravan Park. This campground is perfectly located, within the subtropical rainforest of Franz Josef, and just 5 minutes’ walk of several good restaurants and bars.
For a budget-friendly price, your stay will also allow you access to the grounds’ hot showers, BBQ, kitchen, free unlimited WIFI, drinking water, dump station, and more!
There’s no need to need to book a site here, just turn up with cash and use the self check in form. You can learn more about the site and get directions on their website.
Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Get a quote on a campervan out of Christchurch and start exploring New Zealand’s incredible South Island soon!
Learn more about New Zealand’s best campgrounds so you can spend less time researching and more time exploring this beautiful country!
Heading on a camping trip across New Zealand? It’s possible that you’ve started to plan ahead or have been given recommendations by friends – but what you’ll need to know is how to find top-rated campsites, trails and views, insider tips and how to respond to any emergencies (fingers crossed not!).
Here are the best camping apps for New Zealand:
Let’s jump right in.
No more camping fines? Yes please!
The Ranking Camping app shows you council-approved sites, so it’s perfect for a last-minute adventure, or if your trip involves a spontaneous pitstop.
As a huge advantage over other apps, Rankers Camping allows you to download grounds for offline use, giving you access to a range of nearby sites and points of interest across 2000+ locations. What’s more? You can save your favourites and ensure you’re getting the best spot possible – with sites backed by over 60,000 reviews.
If you’re choosing New Zealand for your next camping adventure, download the Rankers Camping app.
Collecting over 100,000 tracks, AllTrails is the ideal app for those that enjoy breaking their sweat and exploring the outdoors.
Backed by a community of 10 million travellers, the app provides an extensive and localised map outlining popular tracks and points of interest. Of course, you don’t have to sweat for each trip – but especially if you’re close to some of South Island’s best camping grounds, you’ll be able to browse popular trails and compare against a range of geo-tagged images.
Grab the latest climate information with live weather maps, fire history and air quality scales, save your favourite trails before you hit a higher altitude, and stay in the right lane with accurate GPS tracking.
Ready to make the most of New Zealand’s night sky on your next trip? Star Chart acts as a portable planetarium – simply point your camera at the sky, and you’ll find out all there is to know about our solar system; every planet and every star visible from Earth is all captured in the one app.
From the comfort of your own tent, you can use voice commands like “Take me to Mars”, virtually navigate throughout the solar system, and capture over 120,000 visible stars.
With the latest on camping spots and points-of-interest, the Travellers Autobarn app lets you find campsites ahead of time, or allows you to select based on your current location. You’ll be provided with suggestions on nearby facilities such as ATMs or laundromats, so if you’re in dire straits on an upcoming adventure – this app certainly has you covered.
As well as that, you’ll have the chance to interact with the community hub; add your photos, leave reviews and grab recent updates on local deals relevant to where you’re staying.
Once you’ve decided on a camping ground and you’ve settled in, your next thought is probably along the lines of – “what do we have to eat?”.
When you become sick from eating all of those nut-bars, Trail Chef is the best solution for cooking from your tent or campervan. Not only does it include over 60 easy-to-follow recipes, but the app also allows you to access the full menu without an internet connection.
Add your own recipes, categorise by dietary requirements and save your favourites for other adventures down the track.
So don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be bitten by a spider or break a bone on your next New Zealand trip – but this app is ideal for all things off-the-grid. The ‘Offline Survival Manual’ is an intuitive but comprehensive guide for skills such as building a campfire or shelter, finding food or treating bites and stings.
We know it’s quite obvious, but it’s also worth mentioning that the app can be used no matter whether you have a data connection or not, so you’ll always be prepared. Explore different areas of survival across basic medicine, shelter, fire, water procurement, poisonous plants or dangerous animals – and yes, the list continues.
Going on a trip without a proper plan? You wouldn’t dare – especially in New Zealand.
The Camping Checklist app provides a collection of templates and quick ways to share your items with other mates. This app also includes pre-loaded checklists, which means you can quickly start to plan ahead if you’ve organised a last-minute getaway.
Don’t trust Siri when it comes to weather – particularly in the land of the long white cloud! The MetService app has been designed to warn you of severe weather changes, and provides updates for up to 48 hours ahead of time.
You’ll get real-time rain radars and climate warnings, customisable dashboards and access to live traffic cameras – absolute must-haves if you’re considering a trip throughout the south or north islands. Created by the Meteorological Service of New Zealand, it’s ideal for keeping up to date on all things weather.
Ok, so we’re not here to shelter you, but a first aid app cannot go unnoticed if you’re camping in New Zealand. The First Aid & Emergency mobile app, created by the NZ Red Cross, is designed to give simple, easy advice for emergency situations.
Broken down with step-by-step instructions, it’s an accredited app that lets you access guides without reception or an internet connection – providing advice for natural disasters or first-aid scenarios.
Learn, prepare and test your knowledge with built-in modules, and use it as a pocket guide in case of any emergencies.
Wrapping up the best apps for camping across New Zealand, you should now be well prepared for your next trip. If you’re planning on driving throughout your journey, be sure to check out the best travel apps as well – it’s packed full of tips for Wi-fi hotspots and where to pick up the cheapest fuel, so you can’t miss out!
Have some other recommendations for us? Feel free to get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
You’re finally going on that spontaneous road trip across New Zealand.
You’ve saved up as much money as possible, got the time off work, and shown off your campervan booking confirmation to your mates. Now what do you do?
Believe us, being spontaneous is fun, but you’ll probably want to do a little planning before you go and find some places to check out when you’re there. Finding places to eat, sleep, get fuel and go on day trips can seem daunting, but finding these places (and saving a bit of money along the way) will be much easier with these 9 apps.
These are the top road trip apps for New Zealand:
Campermate is the personal guide to New Zealand you didn’t know you needed. From finding epic campsites, nearby petrol stations or the best bar in town, this app has you covered. It was built with New Zealand and Australia in mind, so it’s not short on detail and is updated with warnings and alerts in real time.
The most comprehensive maps app out there due to the sheer scale of countries it covers – 220 countries! You’ll have no trouble finding your destination with this app. You can save 120,000 square kilometres in the offline mode and seeing as though it’s only about 1,700 kilometres from South Island to North Island, you’ll have no trouble getting from A to B (unless, of course, you want to get lost).
Google Maps should be pre-installed on most Android devices, so if you’re on an Apple device, download it from their App Store here.
Grab the latest tips on camping spots, places to visit and sights-to-see with the Travellers Autobarn app. You’ll not only find campsites closest to your road trip route, but will be thrown suggestions for facilities like the closest laundromat or nearest ATM.
With the app’s very own community-hub, add photos of your trip, provide reviews to other travellers and get the very latest updates on local deals relevant to your location.
Not only is there a lot to see in New Zealand, there’s also a lot to do. That’s why you’ll want the locals guide to all the best events around town with the What’s Hot NZ app. This free download is your ultimate event guide for design, fashion, arts, dining and accommodation. The app also includes:
When you’re on the road, knowing where to fill up can make all the difference. With petrol prices changing daily, you want to be able to rely on an app that gives you up to date price information, crowd-sourced by it’s own users. Enter, Gaspy.
This petrol station locator app helps you compare prices from petrol stations on your journey and avoid paying too much. It keeps money in your pocket for the important things, like 15 foods you must eat.
Download Gaspy from the App Store or Google Play store.
If you need to get online, you want to do it quickly and effectively so that you can return to the road. To do that, we recommend Wi-fi sweet spots – an app which scans your location for the strongest wi-fi connection. This might also help in choosing your morning coffee shop to catch up on recent posts, or for reading the latest updates in your news feed.
Take in even more of New Zealand with GrabOne. This app offers some incredible discounts across local activities, restaurants or outdoor camping spots, and even let’s you purchase your vouchers in advance.
Better yet, you can filter your searches by location, price and category, so you’ll never be short of adventure – even as you inevitably come across some of New Zealand’ most instagrammable locations.
This road trip app contains the GPS locations of over 200 campsites managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Whether cheap or free, these sites span the length of both the North and South Island, and the app itself contains some amazing locations which are saved locally – so no need to worry about losing mobile data or a wifi-hotspot.
Find the NZ Doc Campsite Finder app on Google’s Play Store.
The Outbound Collective is a community-based travel app, great for finding local adventures, or planning your road trip to visit as many places as possible. The app features personal stories on real adventures, amazing landscape galleries, and categorises trips by activity and season. Be sure to check out their guides on exploring Karekare Falls (near Auckland), and the Rakaia Gorge Walkway (near Christchurch).