Backpacking in South Island!

I have been to New Zealand many times before. Its a beautiful country and my most favourite country as well, so visiting this part of the World is almost like an annual ritual. This time around, I decided to do a backpacking trip in the South Island.

PIN for later reference

South Island

South Island

South Island is the biggest island of the two islands in New Zealand. It is undoubtedly a heaven on Earth. The island is famous for its glaciers, National parks and southern lights.

This post is my detailed itinerary and expenses of my backpacking travel for 10 days in South Island with a total expenses of AUD 1,951.81.


Sydney – Christchurch:

  • Frequent flights fly between Sydney and Christchurch.
  • Jetstar is definitely the most economical airline.
  • Sydney to Christchurch return: CostAUD 409.34 (including 15Kgs of Check-in baggage) (USD 310).

Invercargill – Stewart Island:

  • Stewart Island Flights run flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island.
  • Cost for return flights and two sight-seeing tours: AUD 282 (USD 214).

Local Transportation

Christchurch airport transfer:

  • Cost: NZD 25 or AUD 23.1 (USD 17.6).

Stewart Island Car hire:

  • Cost: NZD 120 or AUD 111.79 (USD 83.45).

Invercargill airport shuttle:

  • Cost: NZD 15 or AUD 13.9 (USD 11.4).

Intercity travel:

  • I traveled mostly by buses. Intercity NZ run frequent buses between the cities and towns. But one can also hire a campervan to travel within the island, read Cheap New Zealand Campervan Hire for details on how to get the best and cheap campervans.
Route Route (Cont..)ProviderCost in NZDCost in AUDCost in USD
Christchurch to Tekapo Intercity38.9935.9627.2
Tekapo to Twizel to Mt Cook The Cook Connection37.534.5926.18
Mt Cook to Twizel to Tekapo The Cook ConnectionIncluded in aboveIncluded in aboveIncluded in above
Tekapo to TarrasTarras to WanakaIntercity68.9963.6348.17
Wanaka YHA to Queenstown Intercity32.9930.4223.03
Queenstown to Dunedin Intercity4.994.63.48
Dunedin to GoreGore to InvercargillIntercity25.9923.9718.14
Invercargill to GoreGore to ChristchurchIntercity39.9936.8827.91


NameAddressAccomodation typeCost per night (NZD)Cost per night (AUD)Cost per night (USD)
Christchurch YHA36, Hereford Street, Christchurch; +64337995366 Bed Share Female40.537.328.2
LakeFront Backpackers Lodge2, Lakeside drive, Lake Tekapo; +64368068256 Bed Share Mixed373426
Aoraki Mt Cook YHA1, Bowen Drive, Mt Cook; +64343518208 Bed Share Female34.231.523.9
Wanaka YHA94, Brownston Street, Wanaka; +64344318804 Bed Share Female36.93425.8
Nomads Queenstown5 – 11, Church Street, Queenstown; +64344139226 Bed Share Female4137.828.62
Central Backpackers Dunedin243, Moray Place, Dunedin; +64347799858 Bed Share Female2825.819.5
Tuatara Lodge32, Dee Street, P.O. Box 960, Invercargill; +64321409544 Bed Share Mixed3229.522.3
South Sea Hotel – Stewart IslandElgin Terrace, Half Moon Bay; +6432191059Single Room7569.152.3
Tuatara Lodge30 – 32, Dee Street, P.O. Box 960, Invercargill; +64321409544 Bed Share Mixed3229.522.3
JUCY Snooze Christchurch5, Peter Leeming Road, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch, New Zealand; +64390300708 Bed Share Female3330.423


Maori Powhiri Welcome Dance:

  • Cost: AUD 23.64 (USD 17.89)
  • Booked on Viator

Tekapo Star Gazing:

  • Cost: AUD 85.10 (USD 64.41)
  • Booked on Viator

Queenstown Zipline tour:

  • Cost: AUD 89.83 (USD 67.99) + NZD 44 or AUD 40.73 (USD 30.82)
  • Booked on Viator

Queenstown Gandola:

  • Cost: NZD 39 or AUD 36.11 (USD 27.31)
  • Booked at the bottom of Gandola

Dunedin City and Coastal Tour:

  • Cost: AUD 80.38 (USD 60.84)
  • Booked on Viator

Larnach Castle entrance:

  • Cost: NZD 31 or AUD 28.91 (USD 21.62)
  • Booked at the Castle gate

Water Taxi to Ulva Island & Stewart Island Bus Tour:

  • Cost: Included with the flights
  • Booked along with the flights add-on

Tip: Always Ensure you call the tour operators one day before to confirm your bookings. And also mention them the places you are staying, sometimes they pick you up from your hostels.


  • I carried 10 packets of ready to eat of food; cost: AUD 18 (USD 13.64).
  • Note: Do not forget to declare this at the airport.
  • I also ate food at various restaurants, costing about NZD 150 or AUD 139.05 (USD 113.7).
  • Stewart Island was the most expensive place for food.

SIM and Wifi

  • Optus Australia is my phone provider. Having prepaid connection automatically qualifies me for International roaming. So I did not buy a separate SIM card.
  • Generally at hostels, the Wifi is free. However some hostels I stayed at, did charge me for Wifi connection. The cost was around NZD 5 or AUD 4.63 (USD 3.79).


NZ Itinerary

Day 1: Sydney to Christchurch

  • I had an evening flight from Sydney to Christchurch. New Zealand is 2 hours ahead of Sydney, so I reached Christchurch midnight.
  • The best way to travel from Christchurch airport to the hostel was the shuttle bus.

Day 2: Christchurch to Tekapo

  • I took an early morning bus to Tekapo. The bus journey along the countryside was totally worth getting up that morning.
  • I reached Tekapo in the afternoon. After boarding at the hostel, I straight away headed to do the Mt John South Summit hike.
  • In the evening, I was picked up by the tour guide for Tekapo Star Gazing. Having been on so many star gazing tours, I personally did not like this tour. I felt the tour was more about the hot springs than the star gazing itself. I felt it was waste of money. But I did hear that star gazing at Mt John Observatory is a must do.

Day 3: Tekapo to Mt Cook

  • Mt Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. And I had decided to stay at Mt Cook for a night. Unfortunately, I was blessed by the rain god and it was pouring the entire time I was at Mt Cook.
  • But rain did not stop me and in the afternoon, I did the Tasman Glacier View and Blue Lake hike, which was pretty awesome.

For detailed information on things to do in Mount Cook, read Things to do in Mount Cook.

Day 4: Mt Cook to Wanaka

  • I reached Wanaka in the evening and the first thing after the check in at hostel was to head to the Wanaka tree. It was a delight to watch this lone tree.
  • I also waited for the sunset and the Milky Way to show up. I again did not have much luck and the cloud ruined my view of the Milky Way.

Day 5: Wanaka, Wanaka to Queenstown

  • In the morning, I hiked up to the summit of Mt Iron to get picturesque views of Wanaka. It was totally worth it!
  • In the evening I was at Queenstown, where I tried the burger at famous Fergburger.

Day 6: Queenstown, Queenstown to Dunedin

  • In the morning, I did the 4 line zipling at Queenstown.
  • And the entire day I traveled to Dunedin.

Day 7: Dunedin, Dunedin to Invercargill

  • The first half of the day, I visited the famous landmarks of Dunedin. I really liked Dunedin.
  • And I spent the rest of the day traveling to Invercargill.

Day 8: Invercargill to Stewart Island

  • I explored Stewart Island the entire day.
  • I have posted more information on Stewart Island in another post.

Day 9: Ulva Island, Stewart Island to Invercargill

  • I was dropped at Ulva Island in the morning.
  • I spent about 2 hours on Ulva, before heading back to Stewart Island to catch a flight to Invercargill.

Day 10: Invercargill to Christchurch

  • I spent the entire day traveling on the bus, from Invercargill to Christchurch.

Day 11: Christchurch to Sydney

  • I had an early morning flight from Christchurch to Sydney.

My Route map

PIN for later reference

South Island

One comment

  1. Pingback: Travel Guide | Stewart Island (New Zealand's third biggest island) - SOLOPASSPORT

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