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If you crave pleasant walks, beautiful blue lakes whose colors range from baby blue to deep sapphire, wonderful people and stunning coastlines – then you have come to the best place. New Zealand's South Island has everything, and more. While traveling across the South Island of New Zealand in only a week, you will have to reserve other plans to make the most of your journey here. Attempting to fit excessive plans in a short amount of time makes the trip much less pleasurable, exhausting, less about experiences and more practically "ticking boxes".
Plan your arrival and separation to and from the South Island's largest city, Christchurch. It is hassle-free, simple to leave, and supplies terrific locations for you to go to if you have additional time. Most significantly, Christchurch is a beautiful port of arrival as it has cost effective prices for both nationwide and global visitors.
From Christchurch, head to the remarkable Arthur's Pass, routinely elected as one of the most scenic drives in the world, and you will know the reason why! You will want to stop every 15 mins to capture the view of the looming hills. Also, the Kea (New Zealand alpine parrots), who are not found close, will certainly mock you for attempting to capture the scenic beauty using your devices. When leaving Arthur's Pass, head south on the wild West Coast of the South Island, going through the "Greenstone Capital of New Zealand", Hokitika.
Hokitika is a beautiful little community. It is a hub of souvenir shopping with stacks of jade stores and carving studios where you can carve your jade locket- a solid rock to the Maori people of New Zealand and is a beautiful little treasure to take home with you. If you like exploring, head to the fantastic Hokitika Gorge. It is a short yet lovely stroll above the milky blue river snuggled in a smooth sedimentary rock chasm. You can find a lot of inexpensive lodging in Hokitika. Continue to Franz Josef Glacier and have more time for some experiences tomorrow.
From Hokitika, it is a 1h 30min drive to New Zealand's comparatively accessible glacier. You will witness a vast river of ice, sculpting a spectacular glacial valley. From seeing the Franz Josef Glacier from the highest skydive point in the Southern Hemisphere to an impressive hike onto the glacier itself, it has a lot to offer in terms of thrill and scenic beauty. For something a little less crazy, attempt a calm kayaking trip on one of the most reflective lakes in the nation, or hike on the serious face of the glacier. Whatever you desire your journey to be, Franz Josef Glacier is sure to be among the top highlights of your trip.
The fun does not stop in the evening too, as there is always something taking place in Franz Josef. Have some beverages with your traveling mates in a bar like the Monsoon Bar, which offers all-you-can-eat pizza evenings or relax in the late-closing Glacier Hot Pools.
From Franz Josef, take the magnificent Haast Pass roadway to Wanaka and its famous WanakaTree (the highlight of all Wanaka tours). The drive takes you via the heart of the World Heritage Area, Mt. Aspiring National Park, one of the most beautiful and safeguarded locations in the world. Don't forget to visit Thunder Creek Falls and the Blue Pools of Haast for a short leg-stretcher or a traveler photo which is not to be missed out on.
On Wanaka tours, once again, the choice of adventure is yours: kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the photographer's dream- #ThatWanakaTree, skydive over the Southern Alps, hike Roys Peak, take a stroll around the lake, give canyoning a shot, or ski/snowboard in the winter months. The town has more to offer than what the residents have time for. For those who certainly want to take a break, there are plenty of bars, coffee shops, and fantastic dining establishments, including a couple of micro-breweries so you can even say that you partied with the locals.
No trip on the South Island is complete without spending time in Queenstown, also referred to as the Adventure Capital of the World. On your way from Wanaka to Queenstown, you will undoubtedly be driving through the breathtaking Crown Range, a drive so unforgettable that it is a standard location for vehicle advertisers from around the world. Take an hour to stop by the village of Arrowtown, where you will undoubtedly go back in time to the early New Zealand gold thrill age. Some still find gold in the close-by Shotover River.
You can do a lot on your Queenstown tours. From legendary wild water rafting to absolutely frightening bungee jumping; from impressive jet boat flights to crazy pub-crawling; from oversized burger-eating to the enjoyable luge-riding: allow yourself to spend a couple of days here, and save some money to make the most out of your time in Queenstown.
Reserve one of your days for an unmissable journey to Milford Sound. Buses on Queenstown tours make their way to the "8th Wonder of the World" daily, with many trips using a cruise combination that costs under NZ$ 200. It might be a long day, however after you have ventured into the jungles of Fiordland National Park and proceed to see the inky black waters of Milford Sound, holding vast upright mountains, you will not want this particular day to end!
For your last overnight stay, we have picked Lake Tekapo. On your way from Queenstown, you will be greeted by the Southern Alps and you will pass by New Zealand's highest Aoraki/ Mt Cook. If you like what you see, you can take a closer look at Lake Tekapo by taking a nice trip over and around the Southern Alps.
Another unbelievable scenic drive from Queenstown heading north will bring you to what is one of New Zealand's many photographed lakes. In front of you: the blue-green waters of Lake Tekapo. Around you: a spread of vibrant lupin blossoms. Take a quick visit to the Church of the Good Sheppard with the outstanding backdrop of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps. How legendary can a picture be?! Take a swim in the Tekapo Springs and do not even consider going to sleep too early, as Lake Tekapo happens to be in the heart of an International Dark Sky Reserve. The limited light contamination at night makes Lake Tekapo a premium spot worldwide for stargazing.
The last leg of your journey is a drive through the Canterbury Plains, the flattest part of New Zealand, back to Christchurch city with a lot of time to prepare yourself for your flight.
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