If you’re planning on seeing the whole country in one visit, keep in mind that New Zealand has two main islands–North and South–that are separated by the Cook Strait. After visiting the area around Nelson, make your way to the Interislander in Picton. The Queen Charlotte Drive runs between Havelock & Picton. Although it is only 40 kilometres long, it is one the most beautiful drives in New Zealand. Make sure you include it on your country-length road trip. Today is the Big Kahuna for your trip – driving from Milford Road to Milford Sound!

travel to south island

When it comes to Milford Sound, the journey is just as spectacular as the destination. Explore deep into Fiordland National Park and take plenty of time to stop and take photos. Enjoy the Eglinton Valley’s beauty, created by glaciers during last ice age. Stop by the Mirror Lakes to admire the Homer Tunnel, which took 20 years to complete.

Today, you will travel through the Lewis Pass to reach the South Island’s West Coast. This is a remote paradise known for its rugged coastline and native bush. You have the option of enjoying a true blue New Zealand pub meal this evening before calling it a night (optional – extra cost). Next up, check out the beautiful Truman Track down to the beach, or a section of the Pororari River Track. You can drive south from Punakaiki to see the spectacular Hokitika Gorge, with its stunning bright blue waters and surrounding native forests. Tonight, you can unwind and relax with a soak at the Glacier Hot Pools. Each pool is filled with pure water from Glaciers.

The best time to ski in the South Island is between late June and early September. Visiting outside the school holidays is the best option if you aren’t travelling with school age children as New Zealand’s South Island is popular for family holidays and gets busy during these times. Summer is pleasant with low humidity and clear, sunny days. Winter sees snow on the mountains and in the middle of the South Island.

It’s only an hour up the road, so not far into your upcountry journey, but you should still stop in Wanaka. For one thing, you need to get a photo of #thatwanakatree. Wanaka is, for another reason, a lot like Queenstown but without the crowds. Stroll along the lakefront admiring views of Mount Aspiring National Park, climb Roy’s Peak, or squeeze in some epic runs down Treble Cone if you’re there before the season ends.