Like a marmite and chip sandwich, the great Kiwi summer road trip is a New Zealand institution. Surrounded by ocean and home to more than 3,000 beautiful lakes, no matter where you are in NZ, you’re never too far from the water. There’s a host of fantastic hidden gems within an easy driving distance from Queenstown so you too can get a taste of the Kiwi summer dream! Here’s some of my favourites…
1. The south coast of Dunedin
Stunning beaches, great surf spots and an easy three hour drive, the Dunedin coastline is a fantastic choice for a weekend get away.
Ocean on one side, sheep on the other. This is classic New Zealand.
2. The Catlins
Rugged coastlines, hidden waterfalls and home to a host of NZ wildlife, the Catlins are the highlight of the Southern Scenic Route (a highway that links Queenstown, Fiordland, Te Anau and the iconic Milford Road to Dunedin, Invercargill and The Catlins). Keep your eyes peeled for the locals –dolphins, penguins and seals call this beautiful region home.
The wild and wonderful PK Bay, The Catlins.
Nugget spotting at Nugget Point, The Catlins.
3. Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau, Milford and Doubtful Sounds, Fiordland National Park
The Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Area, is home to lakes, mountains and fiords aplenty. You could literally spend days soaking in the glory of this majestic place and its waterways. Most commonly visited for the jewel of the park – the legendary Milford Sound, it’s also home to Milford’s lesser known sister fiord –Doubtful Sound. If you truly want to get off the beaten track and out into the vast wilderness, Doubtful Sound should be on your list.
Magical and moody, Doubtful Sound arguably at it’s finest.
If you’re going to Doubtful Sound, go all in! An overnight trip with Real Journeys gets you up close and personal with this dramatic scenery. Even in the rain it is simply magical!
4. Haast Beach
The west coast is renowned for being wild and wonderful. At just under three hours drive from Queenstown it’s a bit of hike but I guarantee it’s worth it. Almost every single time I’ve been there, we’ve had the beach to ourselves. Yes, the entire beach!
No traffic, no worries! The road to Haast beach.
Not another soul in sight! Haast Beach.
Make sure you allow enough time to stop off at the aptly named Blue Pools along the way. Sign posted, they’re a few km’s out of Makarora . Depending on the weather they can be any shade of blue or green but always crystal clear. Don’t forget your bug spray, mosquitoes also love it here!
5. Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea
Just over an hours drive over the hill from Queenstown, the lakes of Wanaka and Hawea are simply majestic.
On the road to Wanaka.
This one’s a bit further afield, a weekend trip minimum but it’s just too darn magical to leave off my list. An hour’s drive along the peninsula road from Christchurch lies the beautiful French settlement of Akaroa.
Picture postcard pretty. Akaroa Harbour.
Hectors dolphins, Black Cat Cruises Akaroa.
About the author: Raegan
A self-described word nerd, Raegan has been writing stories since way back. She moonlights as a copywriter, loves a good G&T and can often be found lakeside with her brown wolf, Indy. Raegan joined the Real Journeys marketing team in February 2017.