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Eco Traveller Holiday and Accommodation plan
Eco Traveller

A Nature Enthusiast’s South Island itinerary for a five day campervan adventure:

New Zealand’s Alps, Ocean and Lakes

The South Island has a diverse range of eco niches in an uncrowded environment with some fantastic eco- friendly accommodation. Take your time and enjoy this unique corner of the world.

Day One:  Christchurch- Franz Josef 5- 6 hours:

Pick up your campervan in Christchurch and head for the hills! Up and over Arthur’s pass through the heart of the Southern Alps before reaching the ocean and following the coast down through the lush West Coast to stop for the night at the township of Franz Josef.

Franz Josef Accommodation: The Rainforest Retreat is set in six acres of native bush with tree house options!

Tim’s Tip: Okarito lagoon is just before Franz Josef and is a unique avifauna with over 70 species of birds recorded here. The lagoon is a common feeding ground for kotuku (white heron) and royal spoonbill, both of which breed in the nearby Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. Take some time out from the road with a paddle on the waterways amidst the wildlife in this unique eco niche.

Day Two: Fox Glacier - Lake Hawea, 5 hours:

Consider a heli-trip in the morning for a snow landing on the glacier or drive the five km to Lake Matheson for coffee before setting off along the coast toward Haast Pass and your destination for the night, Lake Hawea Holiday Park.

Sit back and enjoy the peaceful solitude or stretch your legs on the many walking tracks. Take a stroll into the village for a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the local cuisine at the pub or café.

Lake Hawea Accommodation: Lake Hawea Holiday Park sits right on the shore of Lake Hawea giving stunning views of the Alps and water.Traditional campground accommodation with cabins, powered campervan parks and tent sites has been a kiwi family favourite for generations.

Many travellers miss out on the charms of Wanaka in their rush to get to Queenstown which is a pity.  Wanaka is a delightful lakeside town with café’s, a beautiful waterfront and activities for everyone.

Tim’s Tip: The newly built Hawea river walking track is uncrowded and follows the pristine lake runoff from the dam all the way to Alberttown.  Walk or cycle (the Holiday Park rents bikes) as much of the entire 14km as you like.  

Day Three: Lake Hawea – Queenstown day trip, 1 hour:

As it’s only an hour’s drive to Queenstown, take some time out to explore. Queenstown offers a full range of commercial tourism activities, with 4wd tours, jetboating and rafting.

Tim’s Tip: For a beautiful perspective of the Wanaka region take the walking track over Mt Iron.  Well marked and approximately an hour to do the loop, the summit provides a stunning perspective of the Southern Alps and both lakes Hawea and Wanaka. If being close to the water is your thing, the five km Fisherman’s Track from the Outlet of Lake Wanaka to Alberttown goes alongside the mighty Clutha River as it starts its journey to the Pacific. The staff at the local DOC office in Wanaka are extremely helpful with advice and knowledgeable about conditions.

Day 4: Lake Hawea – Dunedin 4 hours:

The drive to Dunedin passes the stonefruit orchards and vineyards of Central Otago before opening up into the rolling hill country heading toward the East coast and the University town of Dunedin.

Described by Dr David Bellamy as ’the finest example of Eco tourism in the world’ an exploration of the Otago Peninsula is a highlight of any nature enthusiast’s itinerary. Visit the Albatross colony, marine aquarium or take one of the highly rated harbour tours.

Dunedin Accommodation: Kaimata Retreat is a boutique eco-lodge overlooking Papanui Inlet on the Otago Peninsula

Tim’s Tip: At the township of Waihola just before Dunedin, take the signposted turnoff on the right up and over the hill to Taieri Mouth and reach Dunedin along the coast road passing through the seaside township of Brighton. 

A guided visit to the yellow eyed penguin habitat on Sandfly Bay (named after the wind blowing the sand, not the bugs) on the Otago Peninsula is not to be missed. Set up as a conservation project, profits from the tours are reinvested toward the habitat and managing the penguins welfare.

Day Five: Dunedin – Christchurch 5 hours:

Your journey north on SH1 follows the coastline through rolling farmland.  The fishing village of Moeraki is a popular lunching spot and further up the road is the coastal reserve and a café where you can walk on the beach and examine the large, spherical Moeraki Boulders. 

Once on the Canterbury Plain, there are a number of scenic picnicking spots alongside the Waitaki, Rangitata, and Rakaia rivers.

Christchurch Accommodation:  greenSpace offers a choice of two comfortable, inviting rooms in an entirely ecologically designed building.

Tim’s Tip: For an excellent mini detour offering panoramic views of the ocean and Otago coastline.

Approximately 20 minutes after heading north from Dunedin on SH1 turn right at the turnoff at Evansdale and follow the signposts for the Coast Road to Karitane, taking you through the townships of Seacliff and Karitane before rejoining SH1. The Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport is also well worth a visit.