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Exploring the Northern Regions of the South Island Tour (Part I)

Estimated Travel Period: 8 Days, about 14 hours
Estimated Travel Distance: 1,009 kms

Best Time To Travel

Summer (December to February) is a popular time to travel, although Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) also have great camping weather. The mountains can get very chilly during Winter (June to August) so if you have to go during this season, pack warm clothing and a winter jacket. Get tips on what to pack with our NZ Camping Checklist.

Journey around the top half of the South Island and discover its breathtaking natural wonders before coming back to Christchurch.


The listed holiday parks allow campervans of all sizes, and the tour makes use of sealed roads. We have the best Motorhomes For Hire from top Christchurch brands.


Day 1 Christchurch to Kaikoura

Estimated Travel Period: about 2 hours 20 mins
Estimated Travel Distance:181 kms

From Christchurch head north via State Highway 1 to Kaikoura for around 2.5 hours. The township of Kaikoura is well known for its abundant marine life, thus considered as one of the best place for whale and dolphin watching. Book your Whale or Dolphin Tour before the start of the trip and enjoy a full day with the marine animals. Watch sperm whales, swim with the dolphins, join a kayaking tour or get up close and personal with New Zealand's fur seals. If you'd rather stick to inland activity, take the Mt. Fyffe track up the Seaward Kaikoura mountains to get a magnificent view of
the peninsula.

Day 2 Kaikoura to Nelson

Estimated Travel Period: about 3 hours 5 mins
Estimated Travel Distance:192 kms

Take a scenic drive along vast vineyards while in Nelson. Enjoy a leisurely tour of the local wineries and savor the region's Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. If you think you had enough, head back to the city and experience Nelson's thriving art scene. Start with the World of WearableArt & Collectable Cars Museum,  The Suter Art Gallery (The Suter Te Arotaoi o Whakatu) and the Bead Gallery. If you're visiting on a Saturday, don't miss Nelson's famous Saturday Market for some local food, wine, art displays and crafts.

Day 3 Nelson to Punakaiki

Estimated Travel Period: about 4 hours 40 mins
Estimated Travel Distance:332 kms

Head down south to Punakaiki, the gateway to Paparoa National Park. See the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowhole located approximately 20 minutes loop walk from the main road, opposite the Visitor Centre. There are variety of walking tracks in Punakaiki ranging from an easy access walk to a difficult tramping tracks, so make sure to drop by the Visitor Centre for assistance.

Recommended Holiday Parks

Day 4 Punakaiki

Estimated Travel Period: 36 minutes
Estimated Travel Distance:44.6 kms

Explore Paparoa National Park on your second day. Go caving at Punakaiki Cavern, located 5 minutes walk north of the Punakaiki Visitor Center. Punakaiki Cavern is perfect for families because of its easy and safe access. Those who love a more challenging track may do the Fox River Cave Walk or the Pororari River Track. Other outdoor activities includes, kayaking along Pororari River, fishing and bird watching.

Travel Tip

Make sure to fuel up your vehicle before heading over to Punakaiki, there are no petrol station available in the area.

Recommended Holiday Parks

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