7 Day Campervan Trip From Christchurch
Christchurch is a great place to start your New Zealand campervan roadtrip adventure! With amazing coastlines with plenty of options for surfers and a range of natural attractions in the region, Christchurch offers something for all nature lovers. Of all the natural wonders around the South Island of New Zealand, it's hard to go past Arthur's Pass & Franz Josef Glacier - and if you've got a campervan from the good folks at Campervan Village Christchurch - then you're ready to explore these amazing natural wonders...
About the Trip
Starting and finishing in Christchurch, you can expect to travel around 1300 - 1600kms depending on how many detours you make along the way. We suggest 7-Days to really enjoy your campervan roadtrip experience.
Christchurch to Arthur's Pass (149 km - 2h from Christchurch)
Only 2 hours from Christchurch is Arthur's Pass National Park, the highest pass across the New Zealand Southern Alps. Located in-between Canterbury and the West Coast, the pass ascends more than 900 metres through the National Park and is the perfect way to travel from east to west. Arthur’s Pass National Park offers a wide range of hiking trails for every level of experience. The easiest and the most popular is the ‘Devils Punchbowl’ - only 1 hour long, this trail brings you to the base of a spectacular 131 metres waterfall. The park also offers half-day and all-day tracks, letting you explore the alpine valleys – however the difficulty of those are a little harder than the Devils Punchbowl.
Getting There: From Christchurch, head north on State Highway 73 to Old West Coast Rd. The Arthur's Pass National Park Visitor Centre is located on SH 73. The drive from Christchurch is only two hours.
Campsites: Several campsites are available in Arthur's Pass National Park. They are situated along highway 73, and they accommodate campervans and motorhomes.
Other Information: The weather in Arthur's Pass National Park changes rapidly with little warning. Keep in mind that wet and cold temperature can occur even during summer so be prepared.
Franz Josef Glacier (230km - 3h from Arthur's Pass)
From the mountain to the sea, you'll be arriving in the New Zealand's Glacier Country. Only five kilometres from the town Franz Josef is a glacier called the same that you wouldn't want to miss. The Franz Josef Glacier descends from the top of the Southern Alps into the rainforest near the sea with a relatively steep incline - it offers spectacular scenery with a mix of snow, rainforest, and mountain. A 1.5-hour walk will take you to the terminal face of the glacier - if you want to get closer, there's guided ice walk or helicopter tour that will bring you directly on the ice. After your day of hiking, take a dip in the famous Glacier Hot Pool for a relaxing afternoon or evening.
Getting There: From the Arthur's Pass, continue onto SH 73 until the end of the highway. Then, drive south on the State Highway 6 along the shore of the sea and this route will lead you to Franz Josef Village. The route is three hours’ drive.
Campsites: In the Franz Josef Glacier area, there are one Conservation Campsites named Otto/MacDonalds camping, and it's accessible for campervan. Further down the highway, closer to Fox Glacier, there's Gillespies Beach Campsite.
Other Information: South of Franz Josef Glacier area is a film location of the movie Lord of The Rings - it's the Mount Gunn, where Ered Nimrais was filmed.
Did You Know?: The Franz Josef Glacier is in the process of retreating and like most other New Zealand glaciers, the shrinking process is attributed to global warming. Scientists expect that Franz Josef Glacier will shrink by 5 km and lose 38% of its mass by 2100.
Mount Aspiring National Park (223km - 2h45 from Franz Josef Glacier)
Mount Aspiring National Park is 355,500 hectares of wilderness, beautiful rivers and high mountains. The park offers plenty of trails for hikers and while walking the mountain, you'll be serenaded by birds, as 59 recorded bird species and over 400 species of moths and butterflies call the area home. The most popular trail is the Blue Pools Track, a walk suitable for everyone that leads to the majestic blue Makarora River. You can access the park easily via the town of Makarora and the town of Wanaka. Also, the rivers in Wanaka region are a great place for jet boating.
Getting There: From Franz Josef it's quite easy to go to Mount Aspiring National Park - you simply have to follow State Highway 6 direction south. The first town you'll see is Makarora and further down is Wanaka. This route is a 2h45 drive.
Camp Sites: In the Makarora area, there are two campsites suitable for campervans - the Cameron Flat Campsite and the Pleasant Flat Campsite.
Other Information: 1-hour drive from Wanaka is the Rob Roy Glacier Track, an amazing mix of mountains, river valleys, alpine lakes and ice. When planning a visit to the national park, be sure to pack food/water and good clothes - the climate in the park can change quickly you could see all four seasons in the same day, even during summer.
Did You Know?: Mount Aspiring National Park is the third largest national park in New Zealand. Also, in the south section of the park is the filming location of Isengard in the Lord of the Rings Movies. The name of the place is ''Paradise' (a fitting name!) - access is via Glenorchy.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (257km - 3h from Wanaka)
The next destination is the highest peak in New Zealand, Mount Cook. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home to towering mountains surrounded by eternal snow. On your way to the Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, you'll be welcomed by the magnificent Lake Pukaki - the blueness of the lake will make you feel like you're in a dream. Along the way there will be plenty of viewing areas to take pictures and enjoy the moment. During the night, this region is famous for its stargazing experience. Park your campervan in an empty field and lay outside for one of the most amazing stargazing experiences of your life!
Getting There: From Wanaka, drive west on SH 6 direction SH 8A. At the intersection near Tarras, head north on State Highway 8 and drive until you arrived at Pukaki - Pukaki is the southern point of Lake Pukaki. Then, Go north for 55 km on SH 80 towards Mount Cook Village. This route is three hours’ drive.
Campsites: There's only one public campground for campervans, and it's located in Aoraki/Mount Cook Village area - the name is White Horse Hill campsite.
Other Information: If you are interested in climbing, walking or glacier skiing, there are local guides available in the village, but they are not necessary. The weather can change very quickly - be prepared for any condition.
Did You Know?: The name 'Mount Cook' was given to the mountain by Captain John Lrt Stokes to honour Captain James Cook. Captain Cook did not see the mountain during his exploration. Aoraki came from the name of a young boy from a Maori legend. The main tribe of New Zealand's southern region considers Aoraki as the most sacred of their ancestors. Many believe that the name Aoraki means "Cloud Piercer".
Lake Tekapo (105km - 1h15 from Aoraki/Mount Cook)
A photographer's' dream location, Lake Tekapo is the perfect spot to capture incredible moments through your lens and your eyes. The backdrop of your activities will be an amazing turquoise blue colour Lake. One of the lake's landmarks is the Church of the Good Shepherd - the church is one of the most photographed in New Zealand. Furthermore, the area offers a beautiful stargazing experience at Mount John Observatory, making it part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. Finally, you can decide to go for a relaxing experience in the Tekapo Springs Hot Pools overlooking the beautiful Lake Tekapo and the mountain range.
Getting There: From Aoraki/Mount Cook Village, go south on State Highway 80 and drive east on SH 8 - you will arrive directly at the destination. This route is a 1h15 drive.
Campsites: The nearest Conservation Campsite is 60km south and the name of the place is Pioneer Park Campsite. There's private campgrounds around Lake Tekapo, the price range is around $45 per night.
Did You Know?: The Church of the Good Sheperd was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin. Also, the New Zealand Collie sheepdog has an indispensable role in the Mackenzie Country livelihoods - there's a bronze sheepdog statue near the church in recognition.
Akaroa (280km - 3h30 from Lake Tekapo / 81km - 1h20 from Akaroa to Christchurch)
For our last destination, I invite you to the city of Akaroa & The Bays - this town beautifully mixes French and British culture in the center of an ancient volcano. The village, with its colonial architecture, offers plenty of craft stores, galleries, and cafés right in the heart of the Banks Peninsula. This region includes 35km of tracks along a volcanic coastline featuring waterfalls, and sandy beaches. Another thing you could do in the region is a cruise in the bay with the friendly Hector's dolphins. And if you are into kayaking, the bay offers a mind-blowing sea-kayaking experience - you might even see penguins, seals or dolphins!
Getting There: From Tekapo, head south on SH 8 until you cross State Highway 79. Drive onto SH 79 and take the exit for SH 1 for 90km. Then, take Ellesmere Jct Rd to SH75 and follow the highway until Akaroa. On your way back to Christchurch, drive north on State Highway for 80km.
Campsites: In Akaroa region, there is a private campsite called Akaroa Top 10 Holiday Park, but it's an average $47 per night. Two hours north of Akaroa, there's the public park Awaroa / Godley Head Campsite.
Did You Know?: Akaroa was the only French settlement in New Zealand - Akaroa's French street names and colonial buildings are their heritage.
Start Your New Zealand Roadtrip Adventure at Campervan Village Christchurch!
If you're looking to take an amazing New Zealand road trip, why not start in Christchurch and hire an affordable campervan from the good people at Campervan Village Auckland. With a small fleet of modern, reliable campervans, you'll be able to see more of New Zealand on even the tightest of budgets!
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