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This New Zealand South Island road trip is one of our most popular holiday package itineraries. The classic route travels from Christchurch down to Queenstown before looping back up the West Coast, hitting the major highlights along the way. View diverse landscapes, from glaciers to fiords, and enjoy classic experiences like the TranzAlpine Train and a Milford Sound cruise.
Read on for more details on the 10 Day Loop the South Island Holiday Package.
Arrive in New Zealand’s Garden City – Christchurch. Collect your rental car from the airport and discover the city or relax in your Christchurch accommodation.
In the evening, enjoy a Maori Cultural Experience. This includes a guided tour through the kiwi house to see kiwi and other New Zealand wildlife icons. Afterward, you will be greeted with a traditional Maori welcome and challenge (wero), followed by a tour of the replica Maori village, where you will learn about their history, ancestors and traditions. Before dinner you will experience a traditional Maori performance including the haka and a waiata a ringa. Finally, to finish off your evening, enjoy a four course dinner with traditional hangi mains, where food is cooked underground long and slow from stones that are heated in a pit.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Driving time Christchurch to Mount Cook Village 332 km / 206 miles, 4 hours
Travel south across the Canterbury Plains and before turning inland towards the majestic Southern Alps. Cross the barren Mackenzie Country to reach two stunning glacial lakes as you journey towards Mount Cook. Optional Scenic Helicopter Flight with snow landing to view Mount Cook and glaciers.
Stay 1 night in Mount Cook.
Driving time Mount Cook Village to Queenstown 262 km / 163 miles, 3.5 hours
Venture past Lake Pukaki, a picturesque turquoise lake, before you travel through the dramatic Lindis Pass which links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital and scenic resort town.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Enjoy a scenic coach journey through heartland New Zealand to reach Milford Sound, where you will enjoy a 2.5 hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Milford Sound is sure to impress! Sheer cliffs, towering snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, sub-tropical rainforest, marine life… words just don’t do it justice, you have to see it for yourself! After your cruise, relax while your coach delivers you back to your Queenstown accommodation.
Relax and enjoy Queenstown today. You might like to make a trip to Arrowtown. You’ll be enchanted by historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure located 20 minutes from Queenstown. Arrowtown is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of heritage buildings that stretches into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miner’s cottages. The buildings in this lovely precinct house shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants – many classy, most individual, and not one from an international chain.
Driving time Queenstown to Wanaka 70 km / 43 miles, 1 hour
Drive over the beautiful Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, and admire the fantastic views along the way. Be sure to stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel for a refreshment before your arrival into Wanaka. This alpine township boasts panoramic views, a relaxing atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
In the afternoon, you have many options – you may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction, or the famous Toy and Transport museum. You may also want to take a look around Wanaka’s boutique shops, stroll around the lakefront, or indulge in one of the many activities on offer.
Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.
You could also visit the Wander Lavender Farm Wander through 10 acres of beautiful lavender fields, meet their friendly farm animals, play garden games and enjoy a hot or cold drink at the café; Wanaka Lavender farm is a great place to unwind!
Driving time Wanaka to Franz Josef 285 km / 177 miles, 3.5 hours
Discover the Haast Pass Highway, where there are many short walks and natural attractions to view along the way. Continue north, through dense rainforest broken by rugged coastal vistas, until you reach Franz Josef, the home of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers. In the afternoon, enjoy a scenic helicopter flight sweeping above Westland National Park as you explore Franz Josef Glacier before landing in the snow!
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Hokitika 136 km / 85 miles, 1.5 hours
Discover more West Coast beauty as you travel to Hokitika, famous for its arts and crafts. Watch a masterpiece being crafted from gold, molten glass, paua or bone, or carve your own creation from wood or jade (“pounamu”). Take in Hokitika’s natural beauty, enjoy its expansive beach, or venture down one of the many walking and mountain biking tracks.
Stay 1 night in Hokitika.
Driving time Hokitika to Greymouth 40 km / 25 miles, 45 minutes
Train Travel Greymouth to Christchurch 223 km / 138 miles, 4.5 hours
Drive north to reach Greymouth, where you will drop off your rental car and board the TranzAlpine Train for a spectacular journey from the West Coast to the East Coast. The train travels through the spectacular Southern Alps, past gorges and river valleys, before reaching the fields of the Canterbury Plains.
Arrive back in Christchurch and make your way to your accommodation.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Make your way to Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch.
This popular South Island self drive holiday package is fully customisable. From the inclusions to the schedule, we can tailor the itinerary to suit your preferences. Let us know if you have any special interests or must-do activities you want to include.
Plus, we offer a range of additional 10-day South Island self drive holiday packages for inspiration. Contact us today to begin planning!
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