There’s a reason why NZ is on the global map as a must-see for lovers of adventure and travel. Whether you’re backpacking through New Zealand, renting a caravan, or ride-sharing with friends, there are many breathtaking sights to take in along NZ scenic routes.

Just like all beautiful things, some truly stand out. Here’s a list of some scenic routes you should explore around South Island.

1. Te Anau- Milford Sound (Milford Road)

This is one of the most famous road trips around New Zealand. The journey starts at Te Anau and takes a 118 Km trip of fun-filled adventure through Fiordland National Park. You will enjoy scenic views of Lake Marian, Mirror Lakes, and Eglinton Valley.

Once you get to Milford Sound, take time to experience some breathtaking underwater views from the Milford Sound Underwater Observatory.

milford sound route

2. Queenstown to Glenorchy

The scenic journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy is not only short but filled with breathtaking views of undiscovered areas of the Southern Alps. The route will carry you along Lake Wakatipu, also known as the gateway to Paradise.

If you have the time for it, venture into Paradise and enjoy the sunsets at Mt. Aspiring National Park or watch the water run along the Dart River.

glenorchy route

By: Craving AdventureSelf-Contained Campervan

3. Greymouth to Westport

The west coast of South Island is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Once you take this route, be sure to experience the dark green subtropical rainforest, beautiful sunsets at the beach, rugged mountain, and meandering rivers. 

As you enjoy the scenic route from Greymouth to Westport, the magnificent South Alps peaks, and the Tasman Coast accompanying you along the journey is a sight you will never forget.

If you like, you should consider exploring the limestone cliffs, underground streams, and the forest.

greymouth route

4. Nelson to Kaikoura

If you’re interested in learning a little more about the most extensive wine-growing region in New Zealand, this is the route to take. You will pass through Marlborough and, if you like, time your journey to coincide with lunchtime.

You will get to sample delicious, locally produced wine from one of the 40 wineries in the region. Once you pass through Marlborough, you can enjoy some views of the awe-inspiring coastlines that make up the South Island and the Kaikoura Coast.

nelson route

5. Dunedin to Te Anau

The route to Te Anau from Dunedin will transport you through farming scenery. You will get to enjoy views of the winding coastline and discover hidden waterfalls and the weather-beaten coast.

Ensure you take a drive to Kaka Point and enjoy the scenery of the majestic surf and rugged cliffs. If you would like to enjoy some natural beauty, take a detour through Invercargill to Colac Bay and view more scenery at Manapouri.

dunedin road

6. Twizel to Mount Cook

If you need an Instagram worthy photo to brag about your holiday in South Island, NZ, the route to Mt. Cook from Twizel is the perfect muse. You would be interested to know that Sir Edmund Hillary practiced on Mt. Cook before he conquered Everest.

The views are bound to leave your jaws on the floor, quite literally, so ensure you take your time to take in the scenery and capture photos of your adventures along the road. Plan your trip early enough to ensure you have enough time to stop along the road and take in the heavenly views along your journey.

mt cook road

7. Lindis Pass

Lindis Pass is a sight to behold and is the pathway that forms a connection between Lakes Pukaki, Wanaka, Tekapo, Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Christchurch. The entire route is full of beautiful sceneries, but the unique part of this route is the Lundis Pass.

It will take you only 2 hours of continuous driving to travel from Lake Pukaki to Lake Wanaka. However, the journey will take longer if you decide to stop frequently along the road to take in the beautiful scenery and views.

lindis scenic view

8. Dunedin to Invercargill through the Catlins

If you want to enjoy the coastline’s amazing views, you can visit Purakaunui Falls on your journey from Dunedin to Invercargill.

On the way, you can explore the beautiful landscapes of Catlins or wander off for a short hike up to the Nugget Point Lighthouse. From this point, you are sure to take in breathtaking views of the coastline. Remember to watch the fur seals as they laze and play about in rock pools.

road with scenic view


There are very few travel destinations in the world that can compare to the Paradise that is New Zealand, South Island. All you need to explore the region is patience, essential gear, and a reliable transport mode.

Of course, you need to capture memories of your trip to earn bragging points amongst your friends, so don’t forget to tag your camera along and throw in an extra memory card. New Zealand, South Island is, indeed, a place of wondrous beauty.