This is a 7 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! Disembark, pass through customs and collect your luggage – it’s time to start your holiday. Your rental car is ready to whisk you away to your centrally located accommodation.
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.
Today’s drive takes you through the Canterbury Plains to Mt Cook, known in Maori as Aoraki. Mt Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and standing at an imposing 3754m dominates the Southern Alps that separate Christchurch from Queenstown.
Certainly an icon of New Zealand, Mt Cook has long attracted climbers and mountaineers, wishing to scale its heights. However, many of the people visiting Mt Cook have less lofty ambitions, choosing simply to enjoy the impressive views on clear days or on scenic flights, which are a great way to appreciate the grandeur of the place.
This morning enjoy a glacier tour from the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier, afterwards journey onwards to Queenstown.
Some might say the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is the place where just about everything is possible and anything is likely. Boasting an incredible location on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, in front of the impressive Remarkables mountain range, nature has purpose built this area for adventure.
Today is at leisure to explore Queenstown and the surrounding areas, although there is a wide variety of adrenaline fuelled activities that will not disappoint even the most fearless visitor. You can enjoy bungy jumping, white water surfing, jet-boating, canyoning, luging and parapenting.
There is also plenty for those wanting indulgence and relaxation, from the fine wines of the region to the many shops. The best mountain views are to be had from the Skyline Gondola, which has a panoramic restaurant, overlooking the town and Lake Wakatipu, where scenic cruises on a historic steamboat are on offer.
Today make your way through Wanaka and up the West Coast to the Glaciers, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are without doubt the greatest lure of this region.
Nestled on the edge of the rainforest and descending 2500m over 13kms, these great cascading frozen rivers are only 6kms from the Tasman Sea and in this respect are unique.
They are also amongst the fastest moving glaciers in the world with Franz Josef known to move up to 5m per day on occasions. (Consider adding an extra day here if you wish to heli-hike on one of the Glaciers.)
This morning make your way to Greymouth and return your rental car to the depot at the rail station. Join the TranzAlpine train to journey through the Southern Alps to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine is described as “The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure” and is rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world – with accolades like those, you know it will be good.
Ascend through lush beech forests past the beautiful Lake Brunner via the alpine village of Arthur’s Pass situated 737 metres above sea level, before crossing the spectacular Southern Alps. The TranzAlpine then winds its way over massive viaducts, through spectacular river gorges and the stunning Waimakariri River valley before arriving in Christchurch.
On arrival in Christchurch you will be transferred by shuttle to your accommodation.
Sadly, your holiday is at an end and you will be transferred 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.