Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Collect your rental car from the airport and make your way to your Christchurch accommodation.
Discover the vibrant and picturesque garden city, renowned for its natural beauty, lively entertainment scene, and strong cultural heritage. With its stunning botanical gardens and tree-lined avenues, Christchurch is both a sophisticated city and beautiful place to relax.
Your options include visiting the Canterbury Museum where you can find rare Maori artefacts; the stories behind them will fascinate you. The museum has a frequent range of special exhibitions, a café and a gift shop for you to browse. Other recommended activities include the Christchurch Gondola, Tramway, Punting on the Avon River and the Botanical Gardens Tour.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Driving time Christchurch to Kaikoura 181 km / 112 miles, 3 hours
In the afternoon, take a scenic cruise to view the majestic Sperm Whales off the Kaikoura Coast.
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Driving time Kaikoura to Nelson 245 km / 152 miles, 3.5 hours
Continue north to Nelson, passing through the Marlborough wine region. Enjoying New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours, Nelson is a creative paradise, with galleries, boutique shopping, local markets and gourmet cafés. You will soon love the Nelson way of life.
Stay 2 nights in Nelson.
Driving time Nelson to Abel Tasman 65 km / 40 miles, 1.5 hours (each way)
Discover the Abel Tasman, an area renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, unmodified estuaries, long sunshine hours and the world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Explore the coast with a kayak tour around the iconic Split Apple Rock, and enjoy the best of the picturesque beaches.
Driving time Nelson to Hokitika 325 km / 201 miles, 4.5 hours
Discover the rugged West Coast as you travel to Hokitika, famous for its arts and crafts. Watch a masterpiece being crafted from gold, silver, molten glass, bone, silk or greywacke 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 Franz Josef 136 km / 85 miles, 2 hours
Continue south through dense rainforest towards Franz Josef, located at the foot of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers.
While in Franz Josef, you can walk to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier to take a look at the ice, or enjoy one of the local walks. In Franz Josef township you have the chance to see New Zealand’s rarest kiwi at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, a unique and interactive experience that brings together nature, conservation, and wildlife all under one roof.
Stay 2 nights in Franz Josef.
Take a short helicopter flight onto Franz Josef Glacier today, where you will explore the spectacular ice formations on a heli hike!
Afterwards, soak in the Glacier Hot Pools to warm up after an exciting day on the ice.
* Note: Ages 8 and up only. An alternative option will be provided for younger children.
Driving time Franz Josef to Wanaka 285 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
Continue down the West Coast. The change in landscape will amaze you as you make your way farther south, with glimpses of the Tasman Sea showing beneath rugged cliffs. Take the Haast Pass Highway inland, and admire waterfalls, glaciers, and the crystal-clear river flowing beside the highway. Eventually you will arrive in Wanaka, an alpine paradise with views so good it’s hard to put down your camera.
Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.
Relax and explore Wanaka – 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. For a more adrenaline-filled day, add on a skydive.
Driving time Wanaka to Te Anau 230 km / 143 miles, 3 hours
Drive over the beautiful Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, and admire the fantastic views along the way. Continue on past Lake Wakatipu as you make your way into the heart of New Zealand, where you will find the town of Te Anau sitting beside a vast lake.
Option to add on a tour of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves.
Stay 1 night in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Manapouri 21 km / 13 miles, 20 minutes
Board the Fiordland Navigator today for an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. Explore by kayak or tender boat, soak in the overwhelming majesty of the fiord, or even go for a swim!
Stay 1 night aboard the Fiordland Navigator.
After a hearty breakfast, return to Manapouri and make your way back to Queenstown.
Driving time Manapouri to Queenstown 172 km / 107 miles, 2 hours
Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown has something for the whole family! Relax and explore the downtown in the afternoon, or add on a thrilling ride on the Shotover Jet!
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Conquer one of Queenstown’s rivers today with a thrilling whitewater rafting trip! Choose from the Kawarau River (grade 2-3, beginner) or the Shotover River (grade 3-5, advanced).
* Note: Ages 13 and up only. An alternative option will be provided for younger children.
You also 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.
Drop off your rental car at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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