9 Best Drives On New Zealand’s South Island
There’s no doubt that New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for road tripping. This is particularly true for the remote South Island where travelling around in a car or better yet a campervan gives you true freedom to explore the quiet roads and beautiful landscapes surrounding them. Although every journey on the South Island is very scenic, there are a few that stand out from the rest. So fill up your tank and empty your memory card. Here are nine of the best drives on New Zealand’s South Island with the most stunning of scenery.
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Queenstown to Glenorchy
This is one of the most scenic shorter drives on New Zealand’s South Island. It’s 45km and should take you around 1 hour each way depending on how often you stop! The route follows the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu with breathtaking mountain, road and lake views all the way.
Lindis Pass: Lake Pukaki to Wanaka
All of the inland journey from Lake Pukaki to Wanaka is stunning. But the part of the road known as Lindis Pass is the most remarkable. Here, mountainous grasslands roll around the winding road with lookout points and hiking spots all along the way.
Twizel to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village
This was one of my favourite drives on New Zealand’s South Island. Linking the alpine town of Twizel with the Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, the scenery on this route is simply stunning. First, the road takes you along the shores of Lake Pukaki, then up to Mount Cook and the national park beyond.
Haast Pass: Wanaka to Haast
Another super scenic drive is Haast Pass, which connects Lake Wanaka with the west coast town of Haast. This epic road takes you right through Mount Aspiring National Park offering amazing mountain views as well as stop-offs at stunning waterfalls and blue lagoons.
Arthur’s Pass: Hokitika to Christchurch
Arthur’s Pass is one of the most scenic drives on New Zealand’s South Island. This historic highway is also the most famous mountain pass in NZ. It connects the west coast with the east, running over the ridge of the Southern Alps and through Arthur’s Pass National Park. The route is split into two distinct worlds: with rainforests as you ascend one side and beech forests as you descend on the other.
The Crown Range Road: Wanaka to Queenstown
The road from Wanaka to Queenstown is one of the most challenging drives on New Zealand’s South Island. But also one of the most rewarding. As the highest main road in New Zealand, reaching an altitude of 1121m, The Crown Range Road is very steep and windy at points. However, there are lots of viewpoints along the way where you can take a break and enjoy the beautiful views across Arrow Valley and the Southern Alps.
Blenheim to Kaikoura
Another beautiful coastal drive on New Zealand’s South Island is from Blenheim to Kaikoura on the east coast. With the Southern Alps to your right and rocky beaches and the Pacific Ocean to your left, this road is renowned for its dramatic cliff line as well as spotting whales, dolphins and seals as you approach Kaikoura.
The Milford Road: Te Anau to Milford Sound
Another one of the best drives on New Zealand’s South Island is the route from Te Anau to Milford Sound. This beautifully scenic route takes you through the heart of Fiordland National Park with lots of places to stop along the way including the Te Anau Downs, Mirror Lakes and lots of walking tracks to mountain viewpoints.
Greymouth to Westport
The route from Greymouth to Westport is one of the best coastal drives on New Zealand’s South Island. Home to rugged cliffs, dense rainforest and the sparkling Tasman sea, this road takes you through a landscape that’s the epitome of wild beauty.