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Exploring the South Island in a Campervan

Exploring the South Island in a Campervan

The South Island of New Zealand is a truly magnificent place to visit and one of the best (and most affordable) ways to see it all is by hiring a campervan. We hired a campervan and set off with 3 kids to explore the South Island. We went from Christchurch – Hamner – Reefton – Greymouth – Frans Joseph Glacier – Haast – Cardrona – Queenstown all in one amazing week! Here’s what we learnt along the way…

First up – campervans (and more specifically the one we hired from Kea) are awesome but there are a whole bunch of things that I wish people had of told me about hiring a Campervan. You can read about them here and hopefully you will be much more prepared than we were!

Driving behind James and the kids as they travel by Camper Van up to Hamner Springs

Driving behind James and the kids as they travel by Camper Van up to Hamner Springs

Our first stop was Christchurch. It’s my birth city, the home of my best friend and one of my absolute favourite places to spend time in New Zealand but I just feel so raw and emotional when I go there since the earthquakes. But raw as it may be you need to go now. You need to go before all her scars are covered and Christchurch emerges as the world class city she will become. Go and see that scars but then move quickly past to the amazing new Christchurch that is already emerging. Here is our story of our visit…

Mural in Christchurch

Mural in Christchurch

Our next stop was Hamner Springs and it is well worth venturing up to. Picturesque with lovely driving roads between Christchurch and Hamner you are then met with the awesomeness that is Hamner Springs Pools – the kids adored it! You can read about that here.

Hamner Springs Super bowl

Hamner Springs Super bowl

Day 3 is about where we decided to throw the plans out the window and get lost…. After about an hour of the GPS telling us to make a U turn it finally accepted defeat and gave in to the craziness of it all. Hopefully our story here inspires you to get a little lost in your Campervan too…

Get Lost

It was clearly meant to be – a sign telling us to Get Lost

Along the way of getting lost we found a charming town – Reefton – which is well worth a stop and explore before heading on to explore Shantytown in Greymouth.


No time to rest we were soon back on the road and heading towards Frans Joseph Glacier. Now it’s about this point that we began to take on the slightly impossible travelling from Hamner to Frans Joseph in a day, but don’t worry – it gets crazier still but in the meantime you can read about our visit to Frans Joseph Glacier here.

Looking out to Frans Joseph Glacier

The funny thing about the South Island is that you tend to under estimate how long it takes to get places (or at least we consistently did) and we made the somewhat foolish decision to push on to Haast that day. It ended up being a funny story culminating in us arriving to awake a Southern Man in the middle of the night to beg for a place to park our Campervan (I don’t think it improved his impression of Auckland’s any) and you can read all about it (and have a bit of a laugh at our expense) here…

Haast Camping Ground

Haast Camping Ground

Pushing on to Haast had it’s advantages though because it meant we got to see the absolutely stunning route between Haast and Wanaka in the daylight and it, like so much of the scenery in the South Island will simply take your breath away…

We stopped at Cardrona for the day (so much fun going up that hill in a campervan) and got ski lessons for the kids – you can read about that adventure here.

A ute perched on the side of Cardrona

It was a magic day. The kids learnt to ski, I drank wine and wandered around taking photos to my hearts content while James did his best impression of James Bond on the slopes (he did well – oh so sexy)…

James heading off on the slopes

At last we were off to our final destination and what a destination it was – the every beautiful and amazing Queenstown. We stayed for 3 days and can thoroughly recommend Creeksyde to stay – have a look here at our story to see their awesome toilets – crazy amazing!

Our view at Creeksyde

Our view at Creeksyde

There is just so much to recommend in Queenstown. You can read about our favourites – the luge and Caddyshack by clicking on the links (we won’t send you off to another site we promise – it’s all on Getting Lost).

My favourite has to be Arrowtown – it is just absolutely stunning and so much to do. We went on a rainy day and it was still absolutely perfect – you can read about that here.

Looking into the trees in Arrowtown

All up, it was a magical, amazing trip that I challenge everyone visiting the South Island to give a go. Travelling by campervan is easy and convenient and an awesome way to see a part of the countryside that you just wouldn’t see any other way – where else would you see this for example (you have to make it big to really read the signs). Love, love, love….

So what are you waiting for – get in and book. We are not paid in any way to promote Kea/Maui but we thought they did a pretty awesome job (despite our grumbles at the start) so if you want to hire a campervan then try them first – there details are here.

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