This is a 10 day self-drive itinerary that travels the South Island of New Zealand, starting and finishing in Christchurch.
“Haere Mai” Welcome to Christchurch – the Garden City. Upon arrival at Christchurch airport, you will be personally met by our representative and transferred in an executive sedan to your accommodation.
Following the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has re-emerged as a vibrant, ever-changing city. What should you do with the rest of the day? Take it slow, sit back and relax, punting down the River Avon through the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
Take delivery of your rental car this morning and travel south across the Canterbury Plains through seaside Timaru, and historic Oamaru. Here you can stop and sample the South Hill Walk, perfect for stunning coastal views from Cape Wanbrow.
Continue on to reach Moeraki Beach – famous for the fascinating 60 million-year-old boulders. Maori legend describes these boulders as the food baskets of the gods.
Continue south to reach the Scottish influenced city of Dunedin, “the Edinburgh of the South”.
Drive through the rolling hill country of South Otago and Southland. The Otago Harbour deserves to be on every bucket list. Board a Monarch Cruises vessel and savour an unrivalled view of Taiaroa Head, the only mainland nesting place for Northern Royal Albatross in the world and the home to New Zealand fur seals. Don’t be surprised if you spot dolphins, sea lions and countless ocean birds, including penguins!
After a visit to the farming centre of Gore, cross the Waimea plains towards Fiordland. Visit Lake Manapouri with its rugged bush clad mountains before arriving at the shores of Lake Te Anau.
Drive through pristine beech forests and the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. We have included a cruise on Milford Sound to enable you to appreciate the majesty of Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls.
On arrival at Milford Sound, board either the Milford Mariner or Milford Wanderer – our specifically designed fiord explorers – and settle in for a 2.5-hour cruise. Milford Sound is nothing short of heart-stopping, inducing subconscious smiles in the hard to please and easily bored almost instantly; it’s simply magnificent. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins!
Return to Te Anau, then turn north, following the dramatic southern shores of Lake Wakatipu to reach Queenstown, a beautiful alpine resort town and regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier holiday destinations.
The capital of adrenaline, beauty and local foodie culture, you can pick and choose from a long list of adventures. From thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River and horse-riding in Glenorchy, to panning for gold in Arrowtown or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed.
Or, if you’re not ready to break the spell of the last few days a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.
Enjoy another day of exploring the magnificent Queenstown. If you have not yet had your will of adventure, why not try bungy jumping or white water surfing, jet-boating, canyoning and luging.
Added to that the more traditional pursuits of rafting, wind-surfing, mountain biking and skiing in winter. The only question to as is: ‘Will you have time to fit it all in?’
Depart Queenstown this morning, travel along the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to the Haast Pass, gateway to World Heritage Westland National Park.
Then continue up the West Coast past spectacular mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to Franz Josef Glacier.
Endless opportunities exist to allow you to take in the beauty of this special part of the South Island’s West Coast. Take a guided walk or heli-hike to explore the spectacular ice formations, experience the thrill of a scenic flight and place your footprints onto a high alpine snowfield.
You could visit New Zealand’s only White Heron (Kotuku) nesting colony, take in the scenery as you kayak the stunning Okarito lagoon or visit Lake Matheson, renowned for its mirror images of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and Mt Tasman, New Zealand’s highest peaks.
Travel north along the narrow, bush clad, coastal plain past Hokitika, to Greymouth. Turn inland towards the Southern Alps to travel through the Otira Gorge, over Arthur’s Pass and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
Sadly your holiday is at an end and you will return your rental car to Christchurch airport today for your onward flight. Here, we bid you a fond farewell and hope you leave with many happy memories of your stay in Aotearoa, New Zealand.