Project Adventure Fitness
NZ South Island 7 day adventure road trip: This adventure is designed for time-poor people who have 7 days to take an active holiday and want to cram as much adventure and sightseeing in as possible.
Start your journey in Christchurch
Top Pick: Once in Christchurch, don’t muck around, put on your hiking boots and head straight to Heathcote Valley to start off your road trip with a bang. Catch an aerial voyage on the Gondola from the bottom of the valley up to the Port Hills Summit where you get jaw dropping views the entire way up. Once at the top, grab a warm brew and take a moment to breathe in the fresh air and view Christchurch and surrounding areas like you are the king of the mountain.
Adventure Fit: Don’t take the Gondola back down, go on an adventurous hike through the rolling hills down to the arty port town of Lyttleton (get a staff member to point you in the right direction). This is a 45 minute easy hike but will take longer if you stop and take photos along the way. Once in Lyttleton, take a look around and walk your body to the funky Wunderbar where you can have a beer and chill in a pretty sweet location.
Christchurch: From here, head back to Christchurch where urban regeneration and creativity thrive. One of our favourite things we did here was trek around and visit all the creative street art and snapped ourselves getting amongst it. The city is full of beautiful parks and flowers and has a very English feel.
Food: For good eats in Christchurch, our top picks was Little High Eatery
Coffee: C1 Espresso was Lee’s posh pick of the day.
Stay: The Crowne Plaza is centrally located with a stylish and sophisticated feel at affordable rates.
Drive from Christchurch to Franz Josef via Arthur’s Pass
This first leg of the road trip is the longest, taking 5 hours, but it offers plenty of adventure along the way.
Car of choice: The Holden Trailablazer is an epic way to explore the south island of NZ. From using only 2 tanks of fuel the entire trip, to comfort, safety and off the road driving, this vehicle is so much fun to use for adventure.
Top Pick 1st stop: Limestone formations at Castle Hill.
The scenic drive to the limestone formations is the very first taste of the beauty that South NZ offers. With snow capped mountains in the distance, yellow canola flowers blowing a gale, fresh air and bright skies, make sure you take this drive with the windows down and music up.
On arrival, put your hiking boots on and take the fairy tale path to the foot of limestone formations. It is now time to explore and wander. There are many little goat tracks to follow, but the one we followed took us to the summit where there were views to get lost in.
2nd stop: Cave Stream
Located on State Highway 73, Cave Stream is just 40 kilometres from Arthur’s Pass. Be prepared to get wet from the chest down in this 590 metre mysterious cave. This natural attraction is a must-do for your road trip. Take warm clothes that can get wet and a head torch, and you’ll love it. Once you get over the initial shock of the water, the rest of the walk is so amazing it will leave you wanting more. Use caution and research the safest times to visit e.g. not during rainfall.
3rd stop: Devils Punchbowl Falls
2 hours down the track is an adventure for the soul. There is a beautiful bush walk in Arthur’s Pass called Devils Punchbowl Falls – only 2km return.This track is a stunning way to experience the mountain beech forest and finish it amongst the mist blowing waterfall.
This sleepy little village is in a small clearing of the rainforest just 7km from the Franz Josef Glacier. It is a very cozy place to stay the night and chill from a busy day taking in the beauty and adventuring.
Stay: The Rainforest Retreat was a refreshing way to finish off a huge day. With a basket of fresh food waiting for us on arrival, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend the late afternoon on our balcony, with 2 glasses of wine, a blanky and a full tummy.
Foods: Ensure to stop in at ‘The Landing‘ for dinner and try a delicious pizza. Lee and I both agree the pizzas served were one of the best we’ve had.
Off to Wanaka we go 3.4 hours
The next leg of our trip is renown for it’s stunning scenery and voted by Lonely Planet as one of the “top 10 coastal drives in the world’. We can’t wait to get on the road and get lost in our dreams.
1st Stop: Fox Glacier
A 30 minute drive before the sun came up and we were at the starting point of the famous Fox Glacier – a 13 km long glacier that is sliding down an eerie range that you can see from a distance. To see it closely you have to hike for 60min return, and to get even closer you need to go on a guided tour with specific safety equipment. To see it from the sky, you need to hire a helicopter and jump on it. We toughed it out and hiked individually. Ensure you bring some warm clothes the wind blows straight through you and freshens up the system.
2nd Stop: Thunder Creek Falls
A 10min trek is the amount of time it takes to see this 96-metre waterfall in Mt Aspiring National Park. You don’t have to go out of your way as it is just along the Haast Highway. The waterfall is beautiful and you can spend some time exploring and jumping from rock to rock admiring the clear waters at the bottom.
3rd Stop: Blue Pools Hike
Just off the Hasst Highway is a short 20 min walk with bridges overhanging the landscape. Here you will get the first taste of the pretty blue holes New Zealand has to offer.
4th Stop: Mirror Lake Hawea
Your mirror lake eyes are about to see something spectacular with this stop. The stillness of this mysterious lake will capture your zen and leave you blown away. Ensure you take some time with this one!
Wanaka is a picture perfect town buzzing with an adventurous feel that makes you feel inspired. If you arrive before sunset after a HUGE day, ensure you head to Mt Iron which will provide you with a stunning 360 degree panoramic view.
Accomodation: Faulks Terrace, The Release
A cozy home away from home with a magical view, a fire place and comfy bed, this accommodation is every Aussie’s dream stay.
If you are looking for adventure, Wanaka is an adventurer’s dream. It has something to suit everyone from hiking, kayaking, mountain bike riding, sky diving and snow skiing. If you want to stay somewhere less busy but just as amazing as Queenstown, Wanaka is the place to be.
Adventure Fitness 1: Kyaking to Ruby Island
Wanaka Paddling is easy to find as they located on the beach of Lake Wanaka. You can hire serious kayaks to get yourself out on the water and start paddling. You will be amazed that the blue water you paddle isn’t ocean but fresh water. The paddle to Ruby Island will take about an hour, but it is so worth it! On the island you can explore, chill and sit amongst the wild flowers.
Adventure Fitness 2: Mountain Bike Riding along Lake Wanaka
Grab a bike from Wanaka Bike Tours, cruise alongside the Wanaka lakefront and visit the very famous lone tree. A classic afternoon of adventure the whole family can get involved in.
Relax: Onsen Hot pools
Just 45 minutes away, this picturesque drive is totally worth the completely relaxing hot spa with views made straight from your dreams.
Accomodation: Faulks Terrace, The Release.
Fancy a bushman’s tv and a glass of red to finish off the day? Stay another night at the Faulks Terrace where you will sink into the comfy lounge and be on a high from an amazing day.
To Mt Cook for a look 3 hours
Allow half a day for this fairy tale drive. If you are anything like us, you will be stopping and starting the entire day to capture moments of the fascinating surrounding views.
Top Pick: Hike to Tasman Glacier Lake
Roundtrip of 40 mins. Steepish 20 mins hike up. Mostly wooden stairs so makes it easy to climb. Nice view of the glacier at the top and you can see the mind blowing blue lakes. Give yourself an hour when you get there for photos and to take in the surreal views.
Accomodation: The Hermitage
You could spend an entire day at this very happening and iconic hotel. The Hermitage is home to a selection of activities, restaurants and accomodation that has views to die for. Picture this: laying on your bed and watching the sun sparkling through the snow capped mountain of Mt Cook. During the night, picture a glass of red in your hand and feeling like the stars are at arms length.
Back to Christchurch but before you do…
Adventure Fit: Aorki Hike 3 hours return
This would have to be one of the most incredible hikes you will ever do! Where adventure meets the elements, this hike will leave you in awe of mother nature and make you feel incredibly small. Ensure you wear a wind jacket and warm pants. At the turn around point you will be met by floating glaciers in a blue lake and spectacular views of Mt Cook.
Road trip from Mt Cook to Christchurch 4.5 hours
This is the last leg of the trip, so take your time. An amazing spot to stop off is Lake Tekapo. Tekapo is absolutely buzzing with tourists and it is clear that the the beauty of the lake and surroundings brings them there. We visited the small cathedral on the waterfront and took in the views from within the church. We said some gratefuls and were on our way. This town is WINDY so jumpers are a must.
If you have any time left, squeeze in a visit to the Quake City Museum where you will gain a better understanding of what happened during the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. It is a sad, yet fascinating place and provides strong personal experience from those who experienced this tragic event. Definitely a must do.
Accomodation: Breakfree on cashel is a really affordable and comfortable way to spend your last night in Christchurch. If you arrive late, have a cheat meal and order room service. The burgers on the menu are delicious and the pavlova is a treat.