As most travelers who have been to these fine shores will tell you, the best way to travel New Zealand is by campervan. If you have found yourself behind the wheel of a campervan in Queenstown with a week of free time and fuel for fun then this guide’s got you covered.
A one-week Queenstown itinerary gives you enough freedom to divide up your time between the town and nearby areas. If you only have seven days in Queenstown though, you don't want to spend too much time driving. Aim for the highlughts in the Queenstown/Wanaka area. Your itinerary will look something like this:
Queenstown/Glenorchy – Day 1-3
Te Anau – Day 3-4
Milford Sound – Day 4-5
Arrowtown – Day 5-6
Wanaka – Day 6-7
- Download the Rankers Camping app to find spots around the South Island to freedom camp and/or powered sites for your campervan. Download the map so you can use it offline.
- Another helpful app is Maps.Me. Download each region you are visiting before you go for the best offline maps going around - and for the super organized you can mark each spot you will be visiting.
DAY 1-3 – QUEENSTOWN/GLENORCHY
Use our top tips for things to do, places to eat, and where to stay to fill three days in Queenstown.
THINGS TO DO
- Trek up to the summit of Bob’s Peak for a stunning view of Queenstown. The trail takes 1-2 hours return or for tired legs and deeper pockets take the gondola for $39 return.
- Go skiing/snowboarding at the nearby slopes (Coronet peak, Cardrona, Remarkables or Treble Cone).
- Relax and indulge at the Onsen hot pools. 15 minutes drive from Queenstown. This place has the most beautiful view you can get in a hot pool and is the perfect way to relax your muscles after a day of hiking or skiing.
- Stroll around the Queenstown gardens to enjoy rose gardens and views back to Queenstown and around to the Remarkables.
- Bump up your adrenaline and go bungy jumping or hooning around on the Shotover Jet.
- Take a day trip to Glenorchy, 45 minutes from Queenstown. Here you can visit the most photographed boat shed and wharf in New Zealand. At sunset there are fewer tourists and beautiful colours in the sky!
- On the way to Glenorchy stop off at Bennetts Bluff Lookout for views over Lake Wakatipu with the stunning mountain range behind.
- The Devil's Staircase is a windy but scenic drive just south of Queenstown. Make sure to stop at the designated lookouts for some amazing views.
Fergburger – If you are a burger fan then you have to try out the NZ famous burger. There is always a line but it moves pretty quickly and totally worth it!
Vudu Café – Award wining café serving fresh, local, and organic food.
Atlas Café – Into craft beer? You can’t go past this cafe. They have delicious brews on draft for any pallet.
Lake View Holiday Park has good facilities and is only a short walk to the main street in Queenstown. When traveling in the middle of winter, it is great to stay at powered sites so you can heat up your van before going to sleep.
Snooze Queenstown has budget-friendly pod accommodation for before or after your Queenstown campervan trip.
Go freedom camping just outside of Glenorchy – you'll wake up next to the lake with a mountain backdrop.
DAY 3-5 - MILFORD SOUND / TE ANAU
Any good Queenstown itinerary should include a trip to Milford Sound. Before you go, know that there are no supermarkets, petrol stations, ATMs or service on the road from Te Anua to Milford Sound. Make sure you top up you vehicle with enough petrol and get any cash out. Fill up at NPD Fuel in Mossburn for the cheapest gas in the area. You can pay for accommodation and boat trips with card.
THINGS TO DO
- Take a Milford Sound Cruise. This is the best way to see the whole fiord in a short amount of time.
- On the way to Milford Sound stop off at Eglington Valley and Mirror Lakes for some amazing photo opportunities.
- Jump off the Marakura wharf for a refreshing dip (if you can handle the cold!).
Take supplies into the sound with you. You can cook your own meals in Milford Sound as there aren't many places to eat out, plus you'll save money. JUCY campervans have fridges and mini kitchens to make this easier.
Stay at least one night in Milford Sound to properly experience its beauty before.
Milford Sound Lodge is a holiday park with excellent facilities and situated very close to the fiord.
You can also go freedom camping just outside of Te Anau.
DAY 5-7 - ARROWTOWN/WANAKA – DAY 5-6
Wanaka is within easy driving distance of Queenstown, so in seven days you can easily squeeze in a little road trip over the Crown Range.
THINGS TO DO
- Visit the Chinese Settlement in Arrowtown. In the 1800’s Chinese miners were invited to Arrowtown to re-establish the economy and hunt for gold. Today the settlement is still standing.
- The Cardrona Hotel is rumoured to be the most photographed building in New Zealand. It's also an award winning restaurant and beer garden. Definitely worth a pit stop!
- The Rippon Winery has fantastic views and a tasting room to sample their wines - for free!
- Hike up to Roys Peak for some fantastic views. This walk begins six kilometres outside Wanaka, and starting from the carpark it is an eight kilometre ascent (total of 16 kilometres return). At an average pace it will take 5-6 hours. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water as there is no shade and on a hot day you'll get very sweaty.
- Snap a picture at Wanaka Tree. A photographer’s favorite spot.
- If you have more time make sure to check out other hikes in the area – Rob Roy Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Mount Iron.
Akarua Wines and Kitchen by Artisan is a top brunch spot, situated outside of Arrowtown.
Red Star Burger rivals Fergberger for delicious burgers.
Federal Diner is the place to be to grab a good coffee in Wanaka, confirmed by the locals!
Albert town campsite is a great spot to park up your campervan for a small fee. It's located next to a river and a short drive away from Wanaka, perfect if you are on a budget but want to stay in close proximity to the town.
Go freedom camping just outside of Arrowtown on the summit of the Crown ranges. It's definitely an adventure spending the night atop a mountain in the middle of winter! Make sure you get here at sunset to watch the sun going down.
YOU’VE DONE IT!
Seven days, countless kilometres and heaps of beeps from other JUCY campervans cruising the other way. If you managed to fit everything in then you'll have a great sleep on the plane home, knowing that you did all you could experience Queenstown in seven days!