Today I’ll continue with my recommended road trip around the South of New Zealand, kicking off with Day 10…
Day 10 – Franz Josef to Westport
Set off between 9 and 10am to arrive at Greymouth in time for lunch. Greymouth is not the most inspirational place you’ll come across but there are plenty of options to find lunch and re-fuel. After lunch head further north to Punakaiki where you’ll find the Pancake Rocks. Walking around the rocks is a relatively short affair although you’ll find they look unlike anything you’ve seen before. They’re pretty hard to describe (and I won’t try) so it’s probably best you just check out the photo gallery below. Afterwards try one of the other walks around Paparoa National Park before heading off to Westport.
Day 11 – Westport to Kaikoura
You have several options over how to spend day 9: you could potter around Westport for a bit, leave early and get some time soaking in a thermal pool in Hanmer Springs or arrive in Kaikoura early and relax in this charming coastal town. One things for sure – you’ll get to drive through the beautiful Lewis Pass Highway as you make your way across the island.
Day 12 – Kaikoura
You’ll need at least days in Kaikoura (or one full day and two half days in this case) – partly because there is so much to do and partly because it will give you some time to just chill. But it’s also because some of the activities that you’ll really want to do are weather dependent so a bit of extra time might give you a second opportunity in the event of a weather-driven cancellation. The ocean conditions at Kaikoura attract wildlife in abundance and here you’ll get the opportunity to swim with dolphins and seals or seek out sperm whales and the mighty albatross. Personally, swimming with the dusky dolphins is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done and you can expect to come face-to-face with literally hundreds of these acrobatic marine mammals. If you want to swim with dolphins then book at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment with Dolphin Encounter. If you’re trip does happen to get cancelled then put your name right on the waiting list so you’ll be called in the case of cancellations in subsequent trips. I knew a few people (including myself) who got lucky this way.
Be sure to hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway: a two-hour loop taking you round the picture-perfect peninsula that takes you past a couple of fur seal colonies along the way. If you have time you can also take a day trip up north to the world famous Marlborough wine region in Blenheim’s backyard. Otherwise to simply kick back and relax in this laidback coastal town is a nice enough experience in itself!
Day 13 and 14 – Kaikoura to Christchurch
Enjoy as much of the day in Kaikoura as you can before making the final drive down to Christchurch on day 13. Treat yourself to some good New Zealand grub on your final evening and reflect over the awesome road trip over a nice glass of local wine. Fly home on day 14!