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22 Instagram-Worthy Stops On The Drive From Christchurch to Queenstown


Taking off around the South Island? Don't forget to bring along your camera! As one of New Zealand's most scenic routes, the trip between Christchurch and Queenstown demands plenty of stops along the way to take in the views. The drive takes around 6 hours (482km) if travelling direct. However, we reckon you could stretch it out to a few days, or even weeks, to really enjoy all the possibilities and freedom your campervan offers. Take a few detours, and get a real taste of what the South Island offers while travelling New Zealand.

Before you pick up your Mighty camper at our Christchurch branch, check out over 20 of the most Instagram worthy places to stop off along the way and plan your adventure accordingly. You'll have plenty of chances to snap local produce, stunning vistas, beautiful walkways and more. Get ready to go #filterfree and enjoy some of New Zealand's most photogenic spots.

1. Antigua Boat Sheds, Christchurch

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Before you head off on your road trip, take advantage of the beautiful sights in New Zealand's second-largest city, Christchurch.

Head to the banks of the Avon River in the heart of the city and time-travel to Edwardian England at the Antigua Boat Sheds. Think green and white stripes, old-timey floatation rings and a pretty river setting for all your photos. Hire a bike, or a boat, or drop by the cafe for a cuppa too. Watching your budget? Enjoy a picnic on the banks instead!

2. New Brighton Pier, Christchurch

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Dreaming of moody beach pics with a lonely pier heading into the distance? Or snapping a beautiful sunset over the water? The New Brighton Pier might just be the ticket.

New Brighton Pier is a 20-minute drive towards the coast from central Christchurch. A quick and easy detour to start off your South Island adventure.

3. Kura Tāwhiti / Castle Hill

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Heading out west to explore Franz Josef? On your way, don't miss a stop at Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Area, also known as Castle Hill, to stretch your legs and get a photo with some famous rocks. About an hour out of Christchurch, and on the way to Arthurs Pass, you can park up here and appreciate the view. Enjoy a 30-minute easy walk to get up close and personal with the enormous movie-scene-famous limestone formations, or stop for a picnic lunch and soak it all up.

Not doing Franz Josef on this trip? This half-day detour is still possible if you're heading south.

4. Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

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Glaciers are becoming harder and harder to find nowadays... But Franz Josef is a safe bet! With lush rainforest and high snow-capped Alps, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery to snap near the Franz Josef Glacier.

Franz Josef is a half day's drive away and is worth an overnight stop to ensure you get a chance to see everything the Glacier and surrounding areas offer up. Consider a tour and get directly on the ice for some super chill selfies, and don't miss out on a photo on the famous swing bridge! It's a classic shot for a good reason.

If wandering on the Glacier doesn't appeal, consider the nearby lakes and walkways for your nature fix. Plan a few nights stay in the area in one of the many excellent campsites nearby including the Franz Josef TOP 10 Holiday Park, the Franz Josef Campervan Park, and Glacier Country Campervan Park.

5. Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

The Lake Tekapo region has not one or two but three of our most instagrammable spots on the list, but one of the most famous is the Church of the Good Shepherd. This tiny church packs big photo opportunities looking great during the day and stunning under a blanket of stars at night. Nestled on the lakefront and below the striking mountain ranges, it's hard to get a bad shot!

Driving from Christchurch, you'll get to Lake Tekapo in about 3 hours, while the drive from Franz Josef is closer to 6 hours. Despite being reasonably close on the map, there is no direct route via Mt Cook National Park, so the drive will take you on a more scenic adventure!

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo and the Mt John Observatory are all within 15 minutes drive or an hours walk from one another.

6. The Lake at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is famous for its stunning days and dazzling nights. Sunrise is one of the best times to work your photo magic. Don't forget to nab a great spot for your camper too. That way you can wake up to a view! You might not even have to get out of bed to get your favourite photo.

If you're road-tripping during the summer, you'll also get to enjoy Lupin season. These flowers make for great photos and don't smell too bad either!

7. Ngatahu, Mt John Observatory

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While you're spending time at Lake Tekapo, climb up to Mt John Summit to snap a pic looking down into the blue of McKenzie basin. Lake Tekapo happens to be nestled in the heart of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, so if you're spending an evening in town, pack a tripod and have a go at astrophotography. Imagine catching a shooting star or a glimpse of Mars and getting that on Instagram!

8. Peter's Lookout

Leave Lake Tekapo and head towards Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park. In under an hour, you'll be snapping up photos of the mountain, rising up from Lake Pukaki at Peter’s Lookout. This scenery makes for those oh-so-popular 'Check out New Zealand!' kinda snaps and will surely induce a bit of jealousy from your friends stuck at home.

9. Lake Pukaki

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Lake Pukaki is the largest lake in the area. You can't miss it as you drive from Lake Tekapo towards Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park. Stop at one of the many look-out points, or spend the day hiking or biking your way around. The turquoise-blue water comes straight from the local Glacier and makes for stunning photos.

10. Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park

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Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park boasts 19 peaks over 3,000 metres, including New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, and plenty of walking and hiking tracks to explore. With half-day walks and multi-day adventures traversing rugged landscapes and native alpine bush. Snap incredible shots of rushing rivers, ice-capped glaciers, mountain vistas and more.

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is an hour's drive from Lake Tekapo, but give yourself longer for the obligatory photo stops along the way.

11. Tasman Glacier

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In the midst of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park lies the Tasman Glacier, a terminal ice structure that is the biggest in New Zealand. Exploring the Glacier's ever-changing face is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you'll have the unique snaps to show it. Head to the Glacier via plane, foot, ski, or by boat. Pick your adventure and remember, photos or it didn't happen!

12. Twizel

Around an hour south of Mt Cook National Park stop in Twizel, the central township in the region and home to five lakes. Whether you're after some creature comforts like top-notch cafes, or you're ready to try your hand at fishing for salmon and trout, you'll find something to keep you busy and some beautiful scenery to boot.

13. Lake Ruataniwha

Two kilometres down the road from Twizel, Lake Ruataniwha is ready for you to take a dip! Swim, kayak, peddle boat or paddle board and enjoy a day on the water. Heading to Twizel in autumn? Don't miss your chance to get a snap as the foliage around the lake turns golden. You'll have your own version of a picture-perfect postcard!

14. Omarama Clay Cliffs

Ready to visit Mars? There is no need to get intergalactic; the Omarama Clay Cliffs look pretty space-like and are roughly on the way from Lake Tekapo or Twizel, towards Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. Turn off SH8 and then onto unsealed Henburn Road to get to the Clay Cliffs.

15. Lindis Pass

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The dramatic terrain of Lindis Pass, often including a dusting of snow, is another excellent spot to stop and take some snaps as you head toward Lake Hawea or Wanaka. You'll find picture-postcard scenery that will look extra good on your Instagram feed. Don't forget to grab a snap with your Mighty campervan too!

16. Lake Hawea

Just 15 minutes from Wanaka and West Coast, Lake Hawea, you'll find a peaceful spot to enjoy the views of a quiet lake and below stunning mountain ranges. Take your walking shoes and enjoy a lakeside wander or climb the craggy ranges. Just don't forget your camera!

17. Lake Wanaka

One of the jewels of New Zealand, Wanaka includes one of our most famous trees. You'll quickly find it on Instagram ahead of time! Grab your own shot, including a selfie, and then head out for some locally brewed craft beers, go on an adventure via horseback or helicopter and take a dip in the lake. Plus, there are plenty of walks to keep you entertained, like Roy's Peak and Mount Iron.

18. Roy's Peak

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If you have the time and want to stretch your legs, head up Roy's Peak and take in breathtaking views over Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring/Tititea and surrounding peaks. You'll be rewarded for the steep climb through alpine meadows and tussock grasslands to the summit with incredible views on this popular day hike.

19. Mount Iron

A shorter loop walk up Mount Iron offers a time-friendly alternative at around 2 hours. You'll climb about 250 metres to see the 360-degree views of The Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin, Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.

20. Arrowtown

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To reach Wanaka, you'll need to take a less-direct route between Wanaka and Arrowtown via Cromwell due to Campervans being unsuitable for driving over the Crown Range. This route will take around 90 minutes, rather than the 60-minute direct route via Cardrona.

With mountains for skiing on the doorstep, along with plenty of golf courses, walking tracks, historical buildings, boutique shopping and delicious local produce, Arrowtown has something for everyone's Instagram feed! Have a go at panning for gold in the Arrow River.

21. Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown

You've been on quite a journey, and if you've taken our advice, you've been on a few long walks! Enjoy a dip at the Onsen Hot Pools and recharge after your trip so far. Slip into a private hot pool overlooking the Shotover River or get pampered at the day spa, just 10 minutes from central Queenstown.

22. Skyline Queenstown

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Queenstown has plenty of potential for your Instagram feed. From Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkables Mountain Range and Ferg Burgers to Jet boating, wineries and more... there's plenty of photos to be taken and experiences to be enjoyed!

Head to Skyline Queenstown via the Gondola, and spend the day above the town, taking in the scenery, racing on the luge, mountain biking and enjoying a bite to eat.

When your time in Queenstown is up, drop off your camper at our Queenstown branch, or extend your booking and travel further; there is still so much for you to see!

Ready for your next New Zealand adventure?

Book your Mighty camper today for a trip between Christchurch and Queenstown via Lake Tekapo, Lake Wanaka and even Franz Josef.

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