Taking a South Island Road Trip in New Zealand is surely on everyone’s bucket list. All you really need is a long weekend to explore the very bottom of New Zealand, from the historic Dunedin to the adventure capital of Queenstown.
This was my South Island Road Trip itinerary.
Dunedin now serves to remind me of Edinburgh with it’s castles and Scottish feel. It’s a university town with beautiful university buildings, a thriving student bar culture and some fun cafes and places to eat in the Octagon. New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle is in Dunedin, as is the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street.
I flew into Dunedin to start our South Island road trip on a Wednesday night, meeting Mike who’d been there for a conference. We stayed at the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross – an old hotel nicely done up to modern standards.
The following day we had breakfast at Nova in The Octagon before driving up Baldwin Street, aka The World’s Steepest Street.
We were down south intending on going skiing but the snow was late and the ski report wasn’t looking promising. From Dunedin we headed south along State Highway 1, through towns such as Gore and Invercargill to Bluff rather than directly to Wanaka.
Bluff features on my 30 Before 30 list – ‘See where my Grandfather grew up’. As well as the tourist spots such as the Lighthouse, Lookout and Signpost we drove along Bill’s old street. Finally we had wine and Oysters at the Anchorage Wine Bar.
With the closure of the industries such as the Flaxworks down there I’m sure Bluff is not the place it was in my Grandfather’s day, but it was a brilliant Winter day and there was still much more to it than I had anticipated. It’s famous Bluff Oyster Festival takes place earlier in the year.
We stayed at Edgewater Hotel in Wanaka for three nights on the shore of Lake Wanaka. Our unit was bigger than both our two apartments put together and was as close to the Spa Pools and Sauna as we could get.
We found some great spots for brunch in Wanaka thanks to TripAdvisor – Ritual Espresso and Kai Whakapai , and Francesca’s Pizza Restaurant delivered one of the best pizza’s I’ve had outside of Italy with a delivery cost of only $5.
We saw the very sad movie The Fault in Our Stars at Rubys Cinema – a cute 1920’s style bar and movie cinema in a tucked away part of Wanaka.
With it being only my second time skiing (and first on an actual ski field) I took a two hour lesson, learning important skills such as how to turn and stop on the beginner slope. Having gained a bit more confidence Mike then took me up the Chair Lift to attempt the beginner trails during the afternoon.
We finished the day with Mulled Wine at the picturesque Cardrona Hotel.
I’d heard so many good things about Fergburger in Queenstown that it was a must visit and it definitely lived up to the hype. While the queue to order was short and I had to make my mind up faster than expected, there was a 45 minute wait for our order (I’ve heard of friends waiting an hour and a half so I was pretty happy with this).
The alcohol licence probably means people are more inclined to stay – a Warm Apple Cider was the best thing to wait with. The ‘Holier than Thou’ Vegetarian Burger with fried tofu replacing a meat patty was fantastic proving this joint is not just for true beef burger eaters. The staff were awesome too despite having to work extremely hard to get burgers out the door and keep the punters happy.
On our last afternoon down south we tried to get into Amisfield for lunch, but Will and Kate’s visit earlier this year seems to have made it super popular and there was a waiting list. We stayed and did wine tasking ($8pp), buying a Riesling to take home, the wine tasting guy referring us on to Gibston Valley Cheese for more wine and a Cheese Tasting Plate. His only slight error was recommending the Autumn Gold which was a strong, stinky cheese and not my personal favourite.
From Queenstown I flew home to Wellington, disappointed to find was not much warmer than the 9 degrees off the ski field.