Queenstown to Dunedin Road Trip - Scenic Beauty and Adventure Await!

The Journey from Queenstown to Dunedin

Nestled amidst the awe-inspiring Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a world-renowned destination for adventure lovers. This picturesque town is a popular spot famous for its thrilling activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, and jet boating, attracting adrenaline junkies from across the globe. The town’s amazing views also make it a perfect escape for nature lovers and photographers. Wander the charming streets lined with shops and restaurants to discover the soul of Queenstown a  beautiful place offering a vibrant atmosphere that complements its breathtaking landscapes.

After leaving Queenstown, your journey will lead you to Dunedin. Dubbed the ‘Edinburgh of the South,’ Dunedin exudes a unique Scottish charm, evident in its architecture and vibrant cultural scene. The principal city of the Otago region is known for its historic buildings, including the iconic Dunedin Railway Station and the Larnach Castle. The Otago Peninsula features diverse wildlife and beautiful beaches, making it a must-visit spot for nature lovers.

Road trippers driving between Queenstown and Dunedin have a few popular routes to choose from, but our itinerary through Invercargill is the best route for uncovering the most epic sights. Covering a distance of approximately 530 kilometres, this Queenstown to Dunedin route takes 6 hours and 30 minutes along State Highway 6 and State Highway 94. 

Now, it’s time to plan.

Beautiful sunset shot overlooking mountain ranges.

Photo Credit: Omega Rental Cars

Tips for Planning Your Roadie

Before you head off on your epic New Zealand roadie, here are a few things to consider for a Queenstown to Dunedin drive to remember:

Dress for the Weather

New Zealand weather can be unpredictable, so it's essential to pack accordingly. While Queenstown experiences mild summers and cold winters, Dunedin is known for its cooler temperatures throughout the year. Be sure to bring layers and waterproof clothing.

Stay on Top of Road Conditions and Traffic

Before you travel, check for any road closures or construction updates along your route. Understanding the road conditions and potential traffic delays helps you avoid unnecessary surprises.

Take Breaks, Stay Safe and Respect the Environment

Driving across the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand can be an awe-inspiring experience, but it's crucial to take regular breaks for rest and rejuvenation. Stay safe by adhering to speed limits and road rules. Respect the pristine environment by disposing of waste responsibly and be mindful of your surroundings.

Stock up on Snacks and Refreshments

While you’ll pass through charming towns along the route, having some food handy ensures you won't go hungry during the drive (or if you get stuck in traffic).

Stick to Your Budget

Renting from Omega Queenstown means you can choose a vehicle that suits your preferences and budget. Whether you need a spacious SUV, a fuel-efficient compact, or a vehicle with specific features, Omega has you covered. So, what are some popular stops along the route from Queenstown to Dunedin?


All the Best Scenic Stops

Each day, you'll uncover a treasure trove of memories, making this Queenstown-Dunedin road trip a must-do adventure for any traveller. At each destination, you’ll find options for adventure and rejuvenation to help you make the most of your travels on the South Island!

Itinerary from Queenstown to Dunedin:


Day 1: Queenstown to Te Anau

Queenstown to Te Anau Map

Queenstown to Te Anau Map

The drive from Queenstown to Te Anau is one of the most scenic in New Zealand, passing stunning mountain landscapes and sparkling lakes. Take your time to savour the views and make a few stops along the way to explore some of the region's many attractions.

Lake Wakatipu

Begin your day with a scenic drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Stop at the Glenorchy Lookout for breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and the Remarkables mountain range. Get ready to take Instagram-worthy shots that will leave your friends buzzing to visit New Zealand too!

Beautiful aerial view of Lake Wakatipu Queenstown.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Devil’s Staircase

As you make your way to Te Anau, you’ll pass over the Devil's Staircase. This winding stretch of highway offers breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the Hector Mountains, making it a good place to snap photos and appreciate New Zealand's natural beauty. 

Lake Te Anau

Landscape view of Lake Te Anau on a sunny day.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Arrive at Lake Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park, and have a relaxing lakeside picnic or lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants. How about a guided tour of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves? Visitors can enjoy a fascinating underground boat ride amidst thousands of sparkling glowworms. 


Day 2: Te Anau to Invercargill

Te Anau to Invercargill Map

Te Anau to Invercargill Map

As you continue your road trip from Te Anau to Invercargill, one highlight is the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area, a UNESCO-listed site renowned for its outstanding natural beauty and ecological significance. Marvel at the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, ancient glaciers, and pristine forests that create an unparalleled scenic spectacle.

Tuatapere Town

As you venture further, you'll encounter the charming Tuatapere, celebrated for its friendly hospitality and traditional New Zealand cuisine. Indulge in a ‘blue cod and chips’, a local delicacy that perfectly captures the essence of coastal living. 

Invercargill City Parks

Upon reaching Invercargill, you'll discover a city steeped in Victorian architecture. Don't miss visiting Queens Park, a sprawling oasis of gardens and wildlife enclosures. Enjoy the Classic Motorcycle Mecca, showcasing an extensive collection of rare and vintage motorcycles.

Water fountain at Queens Park at dawn.

Photo Credit: https://southlandnz.com/listing/queens-park/14/

Invercargill Art and History

For those interested in maritime heritage, the Southland Museum and Art Gallery features intriguing exhibits, including the famous tuatara, a unique New Zealand reptile. We recommend you also check out the Bill Richardson Transport World, an extensive collection of vintage cars that tells the story of New Zealand's transport evolution.

Consider spending a day in Invercargill to fully immerse yourself in its charm and explore the various attractions, as it is a destination worth savouring at a leisurely pace. With its unique offerings and warm hospitality, Invercargill promises a memorable experience on your New Zealand road trip.


Day 3: Invercargill to Dunedin

Invercargill to Dunedin

Invercargill to Dunedin Map

As you set off on the final leg of your road trip from Invercargill to Dunedin, prepare to be enthralled by the fantastic attractions along the scenic coastal route.

Fortrose History and Animals

Detour off State Highway 1 to the historic town of Fortrose, where you can witness the fascinating fossil remains at Curio Bay. This ancient petrified forest and the chance to find rare yellow-eyed penguins and Hector's dolphins make it a great place for nature lovers.

Two Hector's dolphin doing jumps in the open ocean.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Owaka in the North Catlins

Further along the route, the beautiful small town of Owaka offers a glimpse into the region's Maori heritage. It features the Teapot World exhibition, an eclectic collection of teapots from around the globe.

Balclutha Town

As you approach Balclutha, you'll be greeted by the striking Clutha River, New Zealand's largest river by volume. Enjoy the stunning river views and explore the town's heritage buildings, including the iconic Balclutha Centennial Bridge.

To make the most of the attractions along the way, we recommend you dedicate at least a day to explore the various towns and scenic spots. This will allow you to soak in the beauty of the coastal landscapes, discover the historical significance of each place, and appreciate the region’s uniqueness.


Arriving in Amazing Dunedin  

Dunedin is steeped in history and natural beauty, offering a multitude of attractions that are sure to delight any visitor. The iconic Dunedin Railway Station is a great place to start. This architectural marvel boasts intricate detailing and beautiful stained-glass windows. Stroll through the historic Octagon, the heart of the city, surrounded by charming cafes, restaurants and boutique shops.

Nature, Wildlife and Culture! 

Fur seal with pup lazing on the beach.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Nature lovers will find solace in the Otago Peninsula, where you can spot rare wildlife such as royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguins and fur seals in their natural habitats. For a dose of culture, head to the Otago Museum, showcasing fascinating exhibits on everything from New Zealand's natural history to Pacific Island cultures. 

Baldwin Street, recognised as the world's steepest residential street, presents a fun challenge for those willing to climb its steep gradient. 

Majestic image of Larnarch Castle and Larnarch garden

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

History buffs can explore Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only castle, and learn about its intriguing past. For an unforgettable experience, take a scenic journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway, offering breathtaking vistas of spectacular New Zealand landscapes.


Book with Omega today and explore the South Island

You can rent a car for an extended period to drive back to Queenstown or continue your exploration of other stunning New Zealand destinations. Omega offers a wide range of vehicles and deals to suit your needs, ensuring your road trip is comfortable and enjoyable from start to finish. Book your rental car today!