This itinerary, from Dunedin to Christchurch, connects the South Island’s two largest cities, exploring some beautiful coastline and the highest mountains in New Zealand along the way.
The southern city of Dunedin is known for its Scottish heritage, and in some ways feels like the most cultured city in the country. One of the richest cities in the world during New Zealand’s gold rush era, there are great examples of fine architecture around the city. The railway station is said to be the most photographed building in the country, and just down the road is the main campus of the University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest.
The Otago Peninsula & Albatross Colony
Just out of the city is the Otago Peninsula, where you’ll find beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife. At the farthest point on the peninsula is the Royal Albatross Center. On the scenic drive that leads there you can stop by the historic Larnach Castle.
From Dunedin, you can then set out north up the coast, stopping by the Moeraki Boulders and historic Oamaru. Here, turn inland and experience a sudden transition from lush coastal scenery to the dry interior of Otago. If you’re travelling in autumn you’ll catch beautiful colours in Omarama, which is also a world class location to experience flight in a glider.
Mt Cook & Lake Tekapo
From Omarama, you’re not far from Mt Cook – the highest summit in the country, where you can enjoy hikes of varying lengths, and check out the Tasman Glacier.
Just down the road a little further is the vibrant blue of the glacial Lake Tekapo.
Canterbury Plains & Christchurch
From Lake Tekapo, the itinerary leads you across the Canterbury plains to Christchurch – make your way up the Port Hills for fine views over the city and over the volcanic Banks Peninsula.