We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

South Island Loop

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
178 posts
2 reviews
10 helpful votes
South Island Loop

Hey Everyone,

My wife and I will be leaving Wellington March 2nd and returning to Wellington 14th. My brother, who lives in Wellington, is going to loan us his car. Where should we go? and how much can we fit in? I was thinking about doing a big loop starting on the West Coast and staying in the following cities:


Franz Josef (Fox Glacier)



Te Anau (Milford Sound)



Kaikoura (whale watching)

That is eight places and we have 12 nights, so we will spend a few extra nights in some of these towns. Is that too much given the time constraint?

My wife and I love the outdoors and plan to do a little hiking.

Any opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated. We are in the very beginning stages of planning our route, so a lot can (and will) change

- - - - Mike

Greymouth, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
3,991 posts
143 reviews
74 helpful votes
1. Re: South Island Loop

Extra time you need to consider, is spend ing two nights in TeAnau so you can visit Milford Sound

Franz joseph Glacier will use extra time if you do a guided walk onto the glacier so an extra night there would go well as well.

have a great holiday

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
33,603 posts
85 reviews
106 helpful votes
2. Re: South Island Loop

Hi Mike

It looks good. An alternative to Dunedin (which is lovely, by the way) is to get to Chch via Aoraki/Mt Cook - my favourite drive.

So you could do

Greymouth, Franz, Franz, Queenstown, Queenstown, Te Anau, Te Anau, Wanaka, Wanaka, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Chch, Kaikoura

New Zealand
Level Contributor
9,500 posts
12 reviews
67 helpful votes
3. Re: South Island Loop

My first stop would be the Nelson area, in particular the Queen Charlotte track; http://www.qctrack.co.nz/ I would then travel through to FJ in one day(along day but stay 2 nights there so you can visit the glacier and also stop at Punakaiki on the way through.

I would only do Dunedin if you plan to visit Otago Peninsula (check out Elms Wildlife Tours) otherwise take the inland route via Tekapo to ChCh.

Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
793 posts
2 reviews
2 helpful votes
4. Re: South Island Loop

Remember that your first day has to take in the ferry crossing across the straits and could be a long day if you are planning to drive to Greymouth as well. Your first night could be in Blenheim or Nelson, and then go onto the Glaciers from there.

Umbria, Italy
Destination Expert
for Sunshine Coast, Umbria
Level Contributor
4,745 posts
118 reviews
68 helpful votes
5. Re: South Island Loop

I go to NZ (South Island )every second year and would never consider staying in Greymouth,.....the name says it all.

Do not miss the Nelson Bays area and no need to go to Dunedin...... so try to work a walk in the Farewell spit Pohara area.

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
178 posts
2 reviews
10 helpful votes
6. Re: South Island Loop

Thanks for all of the suggestions!

I'm liking everyone's ideas. I may stay in Nelson, although I'm also thinking of making a bee line to Franz Josef (and stay one quick sleep night in Greymouth). The further south we get, the better. Once we drive back to the Wellington, Nelson, Marborough regions, my brother may be able to join us for a night or two in Nelson/Marborough starting on March 13th.

I really like the suggestion of skipping Dunedin and staying in Aoraki/Mt Cook

We don't leave back to LA until March 16th.

Our very quick North Island Loop (Feb 26,27,28) will only consist of:

Waitomo Caves (Tubing with glowworms)

Rotorua (I have to raft over Tutea Falls)

Napier (wine for the South Island trip)

This will most likely be our only trip to New Zealand and I'd love to make the most of it.

Level Contributor
83 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: South Island Loop

Hokitika, further south from Greymouth has the best range of green stone shops. WE stayed at the Aneden Motel in March 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed the peace of the place for a one night stopover on our way to Franz Josef.Takeaway dinner overlooking the sunset over the ocean was spectacular.

Devon, UK
Level Contributor
1,054 posts
11 reviews
25 helpful votes
8. Re: South Island Loop

Hi depending on how much time you want to spend in one place but you must visit Akaroa, it is really beautiful and you can swim with dolphins there. We did 10 days touring round, bearing in mind we flew into christchurch adn wanted to see as much as poss in time had.


Lake Tekapo


Te Anau

Milford Sound ( stayed there overnight as in campervan


Mount Cook

Fox Glacier

Franz Joseph Glacier (helicopter ride to it with walk on glacier


Along Arthurs Pass


Fly home

You could fit in Akaroa if you wished at start of your trip.

9. Re: South Island Loop

-:- Message from Tripadvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the Tripadvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 05 October 2009, 05:22
Canada (English)
© 2021 TripAdvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in Canada. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.