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Planning our road trip in NZ South Island with kids

Carlotta Cerri

This is the itinerary we have decided for our two-week road trip in the South Island of New Zealand: at this time Oliver is 5 years old and Emily is 3.

Staying in the car for many hours is not easy even for children like Oliver and Emily who are used to traveling: I think trains and busses are much easier options. BUT to get around New Zealand the only options are the car or the camper van, which we decided to avoid this time, because it's winter and we'd like to have our first camper van experience in spring/summer (and we did, please check out the related posts!).

To help the kids, before leaving I prepared a map with the stops and for each one I chose a representative photo of what we'll see (I chose what I know they'll like the best, but there is a lot more).

The map of our road trip I made for the kids 

And this is the itinerary that Alex prepared with all the stops and the options in every place (including museums, wildlife, cafes etc that were recommended online). We know we won't do everything, but it's great to have options already picked out when you're on the road: we'll do as much as we can as long as everybody's happy.

We're leaving on July 24th and coming back August 10th (2020). Please check out the article "20-day road trip in New Zealand South Island with kids" in the recommended posts to see what we actually managed to do.  


As you can see, everyday there's something for the kids, but also for mommy and daddy: some trips might be more difficult than others (I'm thinking Tekapo Adventure Tour and 3h Hooker Valley trek, for example), but we'll make the most of them.

Fri, Jul 24

Christchurch (1)

  • Get car
  • The Grange B&B
  • Margaret Mahy Playground

Sat, Jul 25

Drive to (2) Geraldine (2:00h) (10-12)

  • Take the scenic highway
  • Check out big playground

Drive to (3) Fairlie (0:37h) (13-14)

  • Have lunch at Fairlie Bakehouse
  • Check in to Airbnb
  • Farm tour

Sun, Jul 26

Wake up in Fairlie (3)

Drive to (4) Lake Tekapo (0:30h)

  • Tekapo Adventure Tour (10am)
  • Lunch (Greedy Cow Cafe)
  • Snow tubing
  • Stay overnight

Mon, Jul 27

Wake up in Tekapo (4)

Drive to (5) Mt Cook Village (1:40h) (10)

  • Stop at Lake Pukaki
  • Check into Hotel Hermitage
  • Hooker Valley Trek (3:00h loop)
  • Stay overnight

Tue, Jul 28

Wake up in Mt Cook (5)

Drive to (6) Wanaka (2:30h) (13-14)

  • Puzzling World

Drive to (7) Queenstown (1:00h)

  • Check into Airbnb
  • Walk around
  • Stay overnight

Wed, Jul 29

Wake up in Queenstown (7)

  • Go on the steamship cruise (1:30h)
  • Ice skating
  • Stay overnight

Thu, Jul 30

Wake up in Queenstown (7)

  • Drive to (8) Glenorchy and road to paradise (1:00h x 2)
  • Ski lesson?
  • Stay overnight

Fri, Jul 31

Wake up in Queenstown (7)

Drive to (9)Waikawa (3:30h)

  • Slope Point
  • Lunch at Blue Cod Caravan in Waikawa
  • Check in to Curio Bay Airbnb

Sat, Aug 1

Wake up in Waikawa (9)

  • Walk around
  • Relax

Sun, Aug 2

Wake up in Waikawa (9)

Drive to (10) Kaka Point (1:30h)

  • Nugget Point Light house (1:00h)
  • Sea lions at Surat Bay
  • Penguins everywhere

Drive to (11) Dunedin (1:30h)

  • Check into hotel
  • Penguin place at 3:45pm
  • Dinosaur playground
  • Baldwin street
  • Larnach Castle
  • Relax
  • Stay overnight

Mon, Aug 3

Wake up in Dunedin (11)

  • Orokonui Ecosanctuary
  • Albatross
  • Tunnel Beach
  • Okia Reserve

Drive to (12) Oamaru (1:30h)

  • Shag point lookout
  • Moeraki boulders
  • Katiki Lighthouse
  • Check into hotel
  • Steampunk Playground
  • See penguins in the evening
  • Relax
  • Stay overnight

Tue, Aug 4

Wake up in Oamaru (12)

  • See wallabies

Drive to Christchurch (3:20h)

  • Stop in Timaru for lunch (13)
  • Check into hotel in (14) Christchurch (15:00)
  • Playground
  • Quake City
  • Dinner
  • Stay overnight

Wed, Aug 5

Wake up in Christchurch (14)

  • Drive to (15) Akaroa (1:00h)
  • Akaroa Dolphins (2:30h)
  • Lunch
  • Drive back to Chch (1:00h)
  • Stay overnight

Thu, Aug 6

Wake up in Christchurch (14)

Drive to (16) Kaikoura (2:30h)

Fri, Aug 7

Wake up in Kaikoura (16)

Drive to (17) Blenheim (1:45h)

  • Stop at Ohau to see seals
  • See WW1 airplanes

Drive to (18) Picton (0:25h)

  • Monkey Bay
  • Check into hotel
  • Stay overnight

Sat, Aug 8

Wake up in Picton (18)

Ferry to (19) Wellington @ 9:30 (3:35h)

  • Check into hotel
  • Walk around
  • Stay overnight

Sun, Aug 9

Wake up in Wellington (19)

  • Hannahs Laneway
  • Cuba Street
  • Cable car
  • Stay overnight

Mon, Aug 10

Wellington (19)

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