Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Collect your rental car from the airport and explore the vibrant downtown, or relax in your accommodation.
Relax and explore Queenstown this afternoon. You have the option to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park, the Underwater Observatory, or the Ivan Clarke Gallery; ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin, or simply enjoy a lakefront stroll or a bit of boutique shopping.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Start your holiday off with a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Disembark at the Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you will enjoy a fantastic gourmet BBQ lunch. Afterwards, an entertaining farm show will allow you to experience high-country farm life.
Today, get ready for the world’s most exciting jet boat ride! It’s a thrilling ride as the Shotover Jet twists and turns through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds.
In the afternoon, you have the option 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, an alpine town boasting panoramic views, a relaxing atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
Relax and explore Wanaka this afternoon – you may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction, or the National Toy and Transport Museum. Other options include strolling along one of Wanaka’s stunning walking tracks, relaxing on the lake’s edge or browsing through Wanaka’s boutique shops.
You could also visit Rippon Vineyard and Tasting Room to sample local wines, or catch a film at Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka’s quirky local theatre.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Driving time Wanaka to Franz Josef 285 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
Enjoy the journey up the West Coast to reach Franz Josef. There are many short walks and viewing points to take in along the Haast Pass Highway, which will help break up the journey—a scenic walk to the Blue Pools is highly recommended. Other points of interest along the way are Ship Cove and Bruce Bay. Continuing along the West Coast, you may like to visit to Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier, where you can take a 20 minute walk (one-way) to the jetty, to admire the reflected views of the Southern Alps on the surface of the lake.
In the afternoon, discover Franz Josef with the highly recommended Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk. Hike the ancient path of where the glacier once stood; through lush rainforest and alongside the Waiho river. Discover the legends and history of the glacier and learn all about the flora and fauna you encounter along the way. Your guide will lead you on an informative journey through this unique valley, with plenty of opportunities to explore the remarkable landscape and see what the glacier has left behind. Experience pristine waterfalls, ancient temperate rainforest and the dynamic Waiho River. After a brief climb you will be rewarded with views of the glacier’s constantly changing terminal face and enjoy a well-deserved hot drink.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Greymouth 180 km / 112 miles, 2.5 hours
Enjoy your journey along the West Coast, stopping at towns of interest such as Hokitika, before continuing on to Greymouth. Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast of the South Island, with around 13,000 people calling it home. This hardy West Coast town has a history of jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods. The West Coast is known for its rugged beaches and coast, and for the ‘coasters,’ or the locals. They are an independent bunch, who are self-resilient but also friendly and hospitable.
This afternoon you might like to add on an off road 4WD adventure!
Stay 1 night in Greymouth.
Driving time Greymouth to Hanmer Springs 213 km / 132 miles, 3 hours
Travel on to Hanmer Springs, a year-round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities, great cafés and of course the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Visitors have been travelling to bathe in the rejuvenating hot mineral pools for over 120 years! Relax in open-air thermal public and private pools and de-stress with spa therapies.
Stay 1 night in Hanmer Springs.
Driving time Hanmer Springs to Akaroa 216 km / 134 miles, 3 hours
Journey along the South Island’s stunning East Coast to reach Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.
Escape to Okains Bay, one of the Banks Peninsula’s unique and beautiful bays near Akaroa. Kawatea is a gracious historic homestead set in mature gardens, surrounded by 1500 acres of coastal land farmed by the family for five generations. Enjoy the secluded beaches with panoramic views and excellent swimming and walking opportunities. Learn about Maori culture and the life of the early settlers at the acclaimed Okains Bay museum. Join your hosts in the evening for creative country fare from their garden whilst sharing experiences with fellow travellers.
Stay 2 nights near Akaroa at a Farm Stay.
Today, relax or take part in the many activities on offer, including Pohatu Penguins Nature and Sea Kayak Tours – Pohatu is home to the largest Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. You may also like to take a harbour cruise to view dolphins, penguins and fur seals.
In the evening you may like to visit one of the local restaurants with their focus on French cuisine and head along to Barry’s Bay Cheese, where they’ve persevered with original methods for over a century.
Driving time Akaroa to Christchurch 81 km / 50 miles, 1.5 hours
Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City, and explore the city – you could visit the botanic gardens or the Canterbury Museum, or go punting on the Avon River.
In the evening, enjoy a Maori Cultural Experience which includes a guided tour through the kiwi house to see kiwi and other New Zealand wildlife icons. Then 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.
Drop off your rental car at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch at your leisure.
For more information about New Zealand Farm Stays, read our informative blog: What is the best farm stay in New Zealand? New Zealand Travel Organiser can custom-design the perfect New Zealand holiday inclusive of your choice of farm stays.
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