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A Seven Day Winter Road Trip in the South Island

Road to Mt. Cook Southern Alps, New Zealand

To see snow-covered mountains, remarkable glaciers and bustling ski slopes, a winter road trip in New Zealand is a must. There is plenty to see and do in New Zealand, and the scenery through the winter is stunning. If you are heading to the South Island you can explore the Southern Alps, see the highest mountain in New Zealand and enjoy uninterrupted views of the starry skies. VroomVroomVroom has put together a sample itinerary of a seven day adventure through the South Island.

Kids skiing in the famous Coronet Peak, NZ

Day One: Hit the ski slopes of Queenstown

Start off your New Zealand road trip in exciting Queenstown. The city is full of life through the cold winters, when snow sports enthusiasts flock to the city to test their skills on the slopes. Head up to Coronet Peak or the Remarkables and experience the famous ski fields, within easy reach of central Queenstown.

The season kicks off in Queenstown with the annual Winter Festival. The festival involves music, fireworks and plenty of activities for the kids. The festivities begin in late June. The Winter Festival is just the start of the festivities, with events taking place throughout the season.

One of the most popular ski resort locations in Queenstown is Coronet Peak. The mountain is just over 20 minutes outside of town, and offers fantastic skiing for people of all different skill sets. Coronet Peak is not the only mountain in Queenstown offering challenging slopes with other peaks in the Remarkables filled with inviting layers of snow.

Day Two: Explore the adventure capital of New Zealand

For your second day in New Zealand, stick around in Queenstown and find out why it is the go-to destination for thrills and adventure. Home to the world's first commercial bungy jump over the Kawarau River as well as a number of ziplining venues through the surrounding canyons, you will never be bored in this town.

Breathtaking scenery of Crown Range Road

The rivers and waterways surrounding Queenstown also provide an opportunity for adventures. Go jet boating and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the region as it whirls past.

Day Three: Head over the Crown Range Road

The Crown Range Road is a scenic highway linking Queenstown to Wanaka. Take additional care in winter when the road may be covered in snow and ice, and be aware that snow chains are required. The road offers many scenic lookouts and beautiful views of Arrowtown and the Remarkables. If you are not comfortable with the challenging driving conditions, don't worry! You can still reach Wanaka by the more frequently used highway that takes you through Cromwell.

Day Four: Compare the ski slopes of Wanaka to Queenstown

Don't stop your skiing adventure in Queenstown. Continue on to Wanaka and enjoy a number of other first-rate ski fields. Close to Wanaka are the popular fields of Cardrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm. Spend the day on one of the ski fields and enjoy stunning views and world class skiing terrain.

Day Five: See the clear night skies from Lake Tekapo

Depart Wanaka and head north to Lake Tekapo. There are plenty of scenic stops along the way to break up your journey such as Mount Cook National Park and Lake Pukaki. The lake is home to the Church of the Good Shepherd, a popular destination for photographers. Marvel at the turquoise colour of the water caused by the surrounding glaciers.

Explore Christchurch by riding the famous tram

Spend the night in Tekapo to gaze at the incredible, clear view of the night skies. Tekapo is listed as a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, and Mount John Observatory offers a great opportunity to see the stars.

Day Six: Explore Christchurch by tram

Christchurch is a beautiful town, restored with new attractions after the devastating earthquakes. One of the most interesting attractions in the city are the new pop up bars and restaurants around the city, built with makeshift materials. You can explore Christchurch's historic centre by tram, and enjoy an array of shopping.

Day Seven: Escape the winter chill in Hanmer Springs

On your final day in New Zealand, you could spend the day exploring more of Christchurch or you could take a two hour trip to Hanmer Springs. Relax in the thermal pools and escape the cold weather. There are also plenty of other activities available in Hanmer Springs like boutique shopping, hiking as well as ski slopes.

What is your favourite winter destination in New Zealand? Let us know in the comment section below.

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