Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Collect your rental car from the airport, discover the city or relax in 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 Mount Cook Village 332 km / 206 miles, 4 hours
Depart Christchurch and travel south to Mount Cook. This far-reaching road adventure takes you from sea level to the mountains. You will begin with the flat green tranquillity of the Canterbury Plains, but it won’t be long before you climb through the tussocky wilds towards the Southern Alps. You will pass an amazing smoky turquoise lake, which is called Lake Tekapo, take a break in Lake Tekapo if you wish and visit the most photographed church in New Zealand – the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. Other attractions in Lake Tekapo include the spa complex Tekapo Springs and of course the world-famous Mt John Observatory. Continue your travels across the barren Mackenzie Country to reach 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.
Relax and enjoy Queenstown today. You have the option to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park, the Underwater Observatory, the Queenstown Ice Arena for some ice-skating fun, or simply enjoy a lakefront stroll. The Bathhouse Café on the waterfront is a great stop for a drink or a bite to eat, with a playground for the kids right outside!
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
In the morning, get a taste of New Zealand’s farming lifestyle at Walter Peak High Country Farm. Situated on picturesque Lake Wakatipu’s southwestern shores, the farm is the perfect place to spend a relaxing few hours. The farm tour itself is a wonderful, interactive experience for the whole family, with something to keep everyone entertained and happy. Your rural host will meet you after you disembark from the TSS Earnslaw and take you for a walking tour of the farmyard. The first stop is the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep and deer and even get up close to the Scottish Highland Cattle. Then stroll through the lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel’s Homestead for afternoon tea. Afterwards, the farmer will lead you over to the shearing shed where you can watch the farm dogs rounding up sheep from the hill paddocks and see the farmer shear a sheep. You will then board the TSS Earnslaw for your cruise back to Queenstown.
Relax in Queenstown for the afternoon. You may like to ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin. At the top, you have the option to take a thrilling ride on the Skyline Luge. The purpose-built Luge carts put you in complete control as you take on over 800 metres of banked corners, tunnels and dippers. Once you’ve conquered the course, hop on the chairlift and do it all again and again. Gentle and leisurely or steep and adventurous, you’ll be hooked. Once is never enough.
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.
Driving time Queenstown to Te Anau 171 km / 106 miles, 2.5 hours
Journey alongside Queenstown’s stunning Lake Wakatipu and then through lush green farmland to reach Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
In the afternoon, join Fiordland Jet! Enjoy the thrill of jet boating down the majestic trout filled Waiau River, to the serene Lake Manapouri, step foot into ancient beach forests and learn all about this unique location among Fiordland National Park. Your journey begins with an exhilarating jet boat ride down the Waiau river. A picturesque spot, the Waiau river is lined by ancient beech tree forest and is the Anduin River; the great river of Middle Earth! Featured in the opening scene from The Lord of the Rings! Get the inside-story on The Lord of the Rings filming locations, and the crazy logistics involved in filming. Experience the thrill and excitement as you cruise down the powerful, surging, Waiau River. Stop in some quiet and tranquil spots, to soak up the amazing surrounds, spot a few trout, and learn about the unique environment and fascinating history.Suddenly, find yourself out on the breath-taking Lake Manapouri. Surrounded by mountains that have been carved by snow and ice over centuries, experience a sense of wonderment as you gaze at the magnificent mountains and sit in awe of their sheer beauty.
Stay 3 nights in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Milford Sound 116 km / 72 miles, 2.5 hours
Today, enjoy the stunning Milford Sound Nature Cruise! The Milford Road (between Te Anau and Milford) is one of the finest alpine drives in the world. The scenery is exceptional, ranging from broad grassy flats, dense rainforest, and towering mountains through to glacial lakes and alpine herb fields. No other road in Fiordland offers such a diverse glimpse into New Zealand’s alpine zone.
Upon reaching Milford Sound you will enjoy a 2.5 hour Milford Sound Nature Cruise. With specialist nature guides on board, Real Journeys Nature Cruises offer a close-up experience of Milford Sound’s rainforest, soaring rock walls, and wildlife. Throughout the cruise, the guides share stories of the fiord’s history and are happy to answer your questions.
Relax and explore Te Anau for the afternoon.
Today, take the magical Te Anau Glowworm Caves Tour. Explore a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of thousands of glowworms. Your Te Anau Glowworm Cave adventure begins with a cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau on board the catamaran Luminosa to the western side of the lake. On arrival, there is time to view the interesting displays at Cavern House before your friendly guides accompany you underground in small groups. As you explore by path and small boat, your senses will be overwhelmed. In this mysterious underground world, discover fossils and rock formations, and view rushing waterfalls and whirlpools. Learn how the caves are still being carved out by the incredible and relentless power of nature before gliding through silent darkness to the glowworm grotto. The delicate incandescence of thousands of tiny glowworms is a magical sight!
Driving time Te Anau to Wanaka 227 km / 141 miles, 3.5 hours
Drive over the beautiful Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, and admire the vistas from fantastic viewing points. 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.
Stay 3 nights in Wanaka.
Relax and explore Wanaka – you may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction, as well as the National Toy and Transport Museum. Other options include the Warbirds and Wheels Museum and Crossfire, where you can enjoy clay bird shooting, mini putt, a driving range and more.
You might like to visit the Wanaka 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!
Today’s options include visiting Rippon Vineyard and Tasting Room, or catching a film at Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka’s unique movie theatre. 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.
Driving time Wanaka to Franz Josef 285 km / 177 miles, 4 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, towards New Zealand’s most famous glaciers.
In the evening, you have the option to visit the Glacier Hot Pools for a rejuvenating soak under the stars.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Greymouth 174 km / 108 miles, 2.5 hours
Enjoy your journey along the West Coast, stopping at towns of interest such as Hokitika, which is famous for its arts and crafts. Watch a masterpiece being crafted from molten glass, paua or bone, or carve your own creation from wood or jade (pounamu). Take in Hokitika’s natural beauty before continuing to Greymouth.
In the afternoon, join On Yer Bike for an action packed wild West Coast adventure. A magical mix of mud, water and inviting trails will give you a satisfying taste of real off-roading on a 4WD Quad Bike. After some sound advice and guidance from your tour guide, you’re off on your own quad bike to tackle the puddles, hills and rainforest tracks. Your expert guide will lead the way, stopping at various points of interest as you explore this enchanted place deep in the forest.
Stay 1 night in Greymouth.
Train travel Greymouth to Christchurch 223 km / 138 miles, 4.5 hours
Relax and explore Greymouth in the morning before dropping off your rental car and boarding the TranzAlpine Train, which journeys from the West to East Coast. Your train travels through the spectacular Southern Alps and 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.
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