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This 14-day South Island family road trip package is perfect for families with children of all ages. Make a circuit around the island, exploring highlights such as Queenstown, Milford Sound, Franz Josef, and Wanaka.
Our South Island family road trip includes family-style accommodation, top-rated activities, and a rental car. We bundle everything together and take care of all bookings and arrangements for convenient, stress-free travel.
Read on for the full details of this 14-day South Island family road trip.
Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Collect your rental car from the airport and make your way to your accommodation.
Relax and enjoy Queenstown this afternoon. You have the option to visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park, 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! Another great family option is visiting the Below Zero Ice Bar where everything is carved from ice! Queenstown also offers many other family-friendly activities such as
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Today, 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. On your 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. Here 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.
You may also 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.
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, 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. Board the catamaran Luminosa to cross to the western side of the lake. On arrival, there is time to view the interesting displays at Cavern House. After that, 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!
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Milford Sound 116 km / 72 miles, 1.5 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.
Driving time Te Anau to Dunedin 291 km / 180 miles, 4 hours
Travel to Dunedin, one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the southern hemisphere. Dunedin offers a diverse range of experiences including the Speight’s Brewery, Larnach Castle and the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Explore Dunedin and visit attractions of interest.
You also have the option to discover the Otago Peninsula on a wildlife cruise, to see the world’s only mainland nesting place of the Northern Royal Albatross. Along the way, you will get the chance to see fur seals, up to 20 species of rare ocean birds, and—if you’re lucky—penguins and dolphins. Or you can view the local penguin colony up close on an Argo tour.
Stay 2 nights in Dunedin.
Today, join the Taieri Gorge Railway for one of the world’s great train trips, an experience not to be missed. Departing from Dunedin’s beautiful railway station, the Taieri Gorge Railway begins its scenic journey into some of New Zealand’s most rugged, ever-changing scenery. The train travels into the Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep canyon carved out over aeons by the ancient Taieri River. Negotiating the gorge with ease, the train travels through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts. The train will stop or slow down at various scenic points along the way, and you will get the chance to take photos or disembark to look around. Stand on the open-air platforms while the train moves, or enjoy a quiet drink and food from the onboard café while the train manager tells the story of the nature and history of the area.
Driving time Dunedin to Lake Tekapo 286 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
The drive to Lake Tekapo is stunning. On the way you will first come across the Moeraki Boulders, a series of unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast between Moeraki and Hampden. Next you will pass through Oamaru, which is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and also features some of New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture. Then follow braided rivers and glacial lakes to reach Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo presents many world class attractions such as the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, the luxurious spa complex Tekapo Springs and of course the world-famous Mt John Observatory.
Stay 1 night in Lake Tekapo.
Driving time Lake Tekapo to Christchurch 227 km /141 miles, 3 hours
This far reaching road adventure takes you from the mountains to sea level. Climb through the tussocky wilds of the Mackenzie Country before reaching the flat green tranquillity of the Canterbury Plains on your way to Christchurch.
Experience Christchurch in the afternoon with the Christchurch Tramway and Botanical Gardens Tour.
Tramway – Enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre on board the beautifully restored heritage Trams. Your day-long ticket allows you to hop on and off the Tram as much as you please.
Botanical Gardens Tour – A visit to Christchurch is not complete until you visit the historic Botanical Gardens. Climb aboard an all-weather electric vehicle and tour in comfort.
Stay 2 nights in Christchurch.
Today, experience Punting on the Avon and the Christchurch Gondola.
Punting on the Avon River – Relax among the velvet cushions as your punter takes you down the river for 30 minutes on one of two routes – City or Park.
Gondola – Soar suspended above the suburbs as birds fly beneath your cabin. The Christchurch Gondola whisks you nearly a kilometre to the Crater Rim. Revive your spirits with a snack at the Red Rock Café, and browse what is on offer in the shop.
Driving time Christchurch to Greymouth 250 km /155 miles, 3.5 hours
The Arthur’s Pass Highway through Porters Pass and Arthur’s Pass National Park is one of the most stunning drives in New Zealand. This coast-to-coast route traverses the Southern Alps. Highlights include passing the impressive Waimakariri and Otira River gorges, driving along the Otira Viaduct and exploring natural wonders like the rocks at Castle Hill and the narrow limestone cave at Cave Stream Reserve.
Explore Greymouth for the afternoon. You have the option to visit the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, which look like giant pancakes. The curious limestone formations are especially spectacular at high tide in a westerly sea. Mildly acidic rain, wind and seawater sculpted the bizarre shapes.
Stay 1 night in Greymouth.
Driving time Greymouth to Franz Josef 173 km /107 miles, 2.5 hours
Continue south through dense rainforest towards New Zealand’s most famous glaciers. Stay at Franz Josef Glacier township.
While in Franz Josef you may wish to soak in the Glacier Hot Pools, nestled in lush rainforest in a haven of natural tranquility. 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 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Wanaka 285 km / 177 miles, 4 hours
The change in landscape will amaze you as you travel down the West Coast. Along the way, catch glimpses of the Tasman Sea showing beneath rugged cliffs. Take the Haast Pass Highway inland and admire waterfalls and many viewing points and short walks along the way before reaching Wanaka, an alpine paradise with views so good it’s hard to put down your camera.
Wanaka has the buzz of a genuine alpine town and is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures. In addition, with Mount Aspiring National Park located close by, it’s the perfect destination for exploring the Southern Alps.
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. In addition, the crystal-clear water of the lakes and rivers are ideal for kayaking, fishing, lake cruises, and jet-boating, or to get an aerial perspective of the region, take a scenic flight.
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.
Driving time Wanaka to Queenstown 68 km / 42 miles, 1 hour
Drive over the Crown Range, one of New Zealand’s highest alpine roads, and admire the fantastic views along the way before arriving back in the stunning alpine resort of Queenstown. Drop your rental car off at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown at your leisure.
When you book a family holiday package with New Zealand Travel Organiser, we take care of every detail. From family-style apartments to car seats and cots if necessary, we include everything necessary for a hassle-free family holiday.
This South Island family road trip itinerary has been carefully designed to suit families with children of all ages. With comfortable driving times and many longer stays, this package is well-paced for travel even with young children.
Our New Zealand holiday packages are fully customisable. In other words, we can change the inclusions, amend the schedule, or upgrade accommodation to suit your preferences. You may also wish to explore our other family holiday packages for inspiration.
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your unforgettable family getaway.
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