Travel Tips: Scenic Pit Stops in New Zealand’s South Island

The beauty of New Zealand, many argue, is uncompromisable. The rolling green hills and stunning lakes and waterways that New Zealand has to offer are second to none, many of which are accessible right alongside the highway as you make your way through either the north, or south island.

Although we love both islands equally (and couldn’t possibly pick a favourite), below we’re going to be diving into the best scenic pit stops that make up New Zealand’s south island to help give you an idea of the beauty and scenery available just a few short footsteps away from some of the south island’s busiest roads. Prepare to be enchanted…

Milford Soundand Fiord and National Park

Milford Sound is nestled within Fiordland National Park in the south west of the south island, part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.

Although there are many activities that take place here during the winter months, if you’re just travelling on through for a scenic pit stop in your campervan it’s best to come by during the summer so you can appreciate what Rudyard Kipling famously called the “eighth Wonder of the World,” an area which is, rightly so, New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination.

Mount Cook National Park

Located near the town of Twizel, Mount Cook National Park is the location for New Zealand’s highest mountain (Mount Cook), although the area actually includes twenty-seven other mountain peaks all over 3,050 meters tall.

The nearby alpine village of Mount Cook has accommodation for travellers with plenty of parking spaces for your campervan if you wish to stay overnight, all of which is located a short distance from the main highway. Make a point to search for campervan hire in NZ early on, so you land yourself the perfect camper if you plan on sleeping in it several times in and around Mount Cook National Park.

The Store, Kekerengu

If you drive south from Picton you’ll soon come across a tiny village called The Store in Kekerengu beside highway SH1. Looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, The Store is both the perfect place to set up your campervan for the night if you arrive in the evening, or to grab a quick lunch (at the local, award-winning cafe) if you come by during the early afternoon.

Lake Wanaka

Located within Mount Aspiring National Park, Lake Wanaka is well known for offering a wide array of recreational activities to locals and tourists alike, making it the ideal spot to roll off the highway towards in your campervan and spend a couple of days enjoying yourselves in this stunning landscape.

The landforms are incredibly diverse around Lake Wanaka, with glaciers, rock bluffs, snow fields, alpine meadows, forests, and rivers all being located within the vicinity.

The Marlborough Sounds

Not as famous as Milford Sound, but arguably just as beautiful, the Marlborough Sounds are an enormous collection of what are known as ‘sea-drowned valleys’ at the northern tip of the south island, looking up towards the north island and Wellington, New Zealand’s capital.

Easy to drive to from Nelson or Picton, there are numerous locations close to the sounds whereby you can park up your campervan and settle down for the night, allowing you to jump up an explore the sounds at the first light of day.

In conclusion, New Zealand’s south island is made up of uncompromisable beauty, much of which can be seen from clear stopping-off points and pit stops beside the country’s busiest roads. If you’re planning a trip around the south island soon, make sure you stop off at Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, Mount Cook National Park, The Store (Kekerengu), Lake Wanaka, and the Marlborough Sounds.

Author: Salamanda Travel is a company that offers holiday solutions such as campervan hire in NZ. Their holiday vehicles can help you better explore the beautiful natural landscapes of the country by road without the hassle of public transportation.


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