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5 MUST DO South Island Drives In New Zealand! The Best & Most Scenic Road Trip Routes!

If adventure’s your thing, then New Zealand has to be on the top of your travel list! With towering mountain ranges, glacial rivers and even coastal paradises, it isn’t short of stunning scenery and stellar views! Better yet, it’s the perfect place to do a road trip - click here if you want an epic two week South Island itinerary! But what are the highlights that are an absolute must do?!

Lake Pukaki - Mount Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki is a true gem of New Zealand’s South Island, with water that’s as blue as a precious stone! Highway 20 leads you alongside Lake Pukaki with the Ben Ohau Mountain Range on your left and Mount Blackmore coming up on your right. Have your camera at the ready and prepare for frequent stops along the way at all of the picture perfect view points that offer CGI like scenery! Waiting for you inside the national park are lots of hikes for all abilities, as well as scenic flights from as little as $99!

Haast - Lake Wanaka & Lake Hawea

After taking you right the way down The West Coast through Hokitika, Glacier Country and an almost untouched tropical jungle, Highway 6 heads in land and deep into The Southern Alps via Haast Pass. Soon enough, you will cross into the county of Otago, where Lake Wanaka is waiting and sure to leave you speechless! As if it can’t get any more scenic, Lake Hawea seems to suddenly reveal itself from the brow of “The Neck”, with beauty that begs to be photographed!

Lake Wanaka - Queenstown (via The Crown Range)

The Crown Range is New Zealand’s highest (sealed road) mountain pass and is reminiscent of a pod-race on Tattooine (yes - as otherworldly as Star Wars)! As the road takes you higher and higher, the adrenaline starts to kick in and, once you reach the Crown Range Lookout, your jaw drops and your eyes widen as you experience the worst vertigo of your life! With snow covered peaks surrounding you and a seemingly bottomless valley below, winding roads and the sight of Lake Wakatipu guide the rest of the way to Queenstown - the adventure capital of New Zealand and an adrenaline junky’s dream!

Queenstown - Lake Pukaki (via Lindis Pass)

Heading east out of Queenstown is yet another breathtaking stretch of New Zealand’s Highway 6. The road clings to the side of the mountains following the twists and turns of the Kawarau River. From Cromwell, it’s a short drive alongside Lake Dunstan before reaching the snow topped and tussock covered hillsides of Lindis Pass, where you’ll definitely want to stop and take in the views before pushing on to Lake Pukaki!

Arthur’s Pass & Otira

Arthur’s Pass is one of New Zealand’s national parks that is not to be over looked! Connecting Christchurch with Greymouth and The West Coast, this trans-alpine route takes you along breathtaking mountain roads and treats you to Lord Of The Rings style landscapes! Otira is a few miles to the west of Arthur’s Pass Village and home to an unbelievably impressive viaduct. After stopping and snapping some photos from the view point, it’s time to drive right over the viaduct and onwards to Jacksons, where the road opens up a bit amongst beautiful green farmland and hillsides.

Bonus: Milford Sound

The journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound might just be one of the best journeys in the world (let alone in New Zealand!), but we don’t blame you if skip the long drive from the likes of Queenstown and spend some money on an organised tour. Couple it with an awe-inspiring cruise on the sound, whilst still being able to enjoy all of the views on the way there. That said, doing the drive yourself will of course allow you to stop wherever and whenever you like - and there’s plenty of places where you’ll want to do just that, such as Mirror Lakes, The Chasm Waterfalls and countless incredible view points! However you decide to get there, Milford Sound and The Fiordlands National Park is a must for your New Zealand itinerary!

Click here for More Road Trip Itineraries & Tips!

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What must do drive would you like to do the most? Leave a comment below to let us know!



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