Arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Collect your rental car from the airport, discover the city or relax in your Christchurch accommodation.
Stay 2 nights in Christchurch.
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.
Experience the best of Christchurch with a Triple Pass including three of the city’s must-do activities. Choose from the Christchurch Gondola, the Tramway, Punting on the Avon River, or the Botanical Gardens Tour.
Driving time Christchurch to Lake Tekapo 230 km / 143 miles, 3 hours
Depart Christchurch and travel south across the Canterbury Plains before turning inwards towards the Southern Alps. The town of Lake Tekapo, set beside an amazing turquoise lake, offers many world-class attractions, from the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd to the luxurious spa complex of Tekapo Springs and of course Mt John Observatory.
In the afternoon, enjoy a spectacular scenic flightseeing tour of Mount Cook and Westland World Heritage National Park. Explore the alpine wonderland of New Zealand’s highest mountains and mightiest alpine glaciers, and discover the lush coastal rainforest. View turquoise glacial lakes, golden tussock lands & braided rivers as you fly over the Mackenzie basin. Highlights include Mount Cook, Tasman Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier! Every passenger has a window seat, and all aircraft have wings above for optimum viewing.
Stay 2 nights in Lake Tekapo.
Relax and explore Lake Tekapo today. Wander along the stunning lakefront, soak in the spa pools at Tekapo Springs, or visit the historic Church of the Good Shepherd.
In the evening, option to add on a nighttime tour at Mt John Observatory.
Driving time Lake Tekapo to Dunedin 286 km / 177 miles, 3.5 hours
Continue your journey south, following a network of braided rivers on the drive to Oamaru. The town is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, and features some of New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture. Further south, you will come across the Moeraki Boulders. These unusually large, spherical boulders are lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast between Moeraki and Hampden. After you have discovered the boulders, carry on to Dunedin, one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the southern hemisphere. Dunedin offers a diverse range of experiences including the Otago Museum, the Speight’s Brewery, Larnach Castle and of course the stunning Otago Peninsula.
Stay 3 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. The train negotiates the gorge with ease as it 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 cafe while the train manager tells the story of the nature and history of the area.
Explore the city of Dunedin today, visiting attractions of interest.
Option to discover the Otago Peninsula on a wildlife cruise.
Driving time Dunedin to Te Anau 289 km / 179 miles, 4 hours
Venture inland to heartland New Zealand as you travel to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland.
In the afternoon, 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!
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Manapouri 21 km / 13 miles, 20 minutes
Doubtful Sound and the Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise is the next step up from Milford Sound! In Manapouri, board your luxury catamaran and cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a trip across Wilmot Pass, pausing along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening far below. In Doubtful Sound, you will board another catamaran for a three-hour cruise through this pristine fiord. During the cruise, your knowledgeable and friendly nature guides will share with you their passion for the region through their commentary. They will answer questions, point out landmarks and provide you with information about the varied wildlife you may encounter, including dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguin.
Driving time Te Anau to Queenstown 174 km / 108 miles, 3 hours
Venture past Lake Wakatipu, a picturesque glacial lake framed by rugged mountains. Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, awaits you halfway up the lake.
In the evening, relive the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel with a cruise aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, the only coal-fired passenger vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. Step aboard – watch the stokers fueling the fireboxes and hear the hiss of the steam engines working as the TSS Earnslaw takes you on a nostalgic cruise over beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you will enjoy a stunning gourmet BBQ dinner. An entertaining after-dinner farm show provides a glimpse into high country farming life. On your return cruise, relax with a drink from the bar or join a fun sing-along with the ship’s pianist.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Today, join Nomad Safaris for their half-day heritage Skippers Canyon adventure that follows the rugged and once-treacherous Skippers Road. The Skippers Canyon 4WD tour departs from Queenstown, heading out towards Coronet Peak. Follow in the footsteps of many adventurers and discoverers as this winding road brings you to the historic Skippers Bridge, which provides a stunning photo opportunity. After carefully negotiating the bridge, you will continue into the historical township of Skippers. Though the settlement was long since abandoned, many original buildings still remain for you to explore. Indulge in morning tea at the Skippers Schoolhouse, and immerse yourself in the history of this stunning place through photos and artefacts from the early days of this settlement. On the return journey you will stop at Deep Creek, where you can immerse yourself in the heritage of the local area by turning your hand to a spot of gold panning. Some may also recognise spots along the Skippers Road from their appearance in The Lord of The Rings.
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 relaxed atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
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.
Driving time Wanaka to Franz Josef 285 km / 177 miles, 3.5 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, you have the option to add on a highly recommended scenic helicopter flight to view and land on Franz Josef Glacier.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Driving time Franz Josef to Hokitika 136 km / 85 miles, 1.5 hours
Enjoy your journey along the West Coast 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 Nelson 325 km / 202 miles, 4.5 hours
Journey towards Nelson, which enjoys New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours. Set within the world-famous Marlborough wine region, Nelson is a food-lover’s paradise.
Stay 3 nights in Nelson.
Driving time Nelson to Abel Tasman 65 km / 40 miles, 1 hour (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.
Enjoy a boat cruise into Abel Tasman National Park, where you can relax on the hot golden sand, enjoy a day walk, or simply remain aboard for a return boat cruise. Take in the natural beauty and enjoy! This trip allows you to explore sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track; the boat will stop at scenic points along the way where you can get off and walk a section of the track. The boat will then collect you later in the day. You could also just pack a picnic lunch and beach towels and laze on the beach for the day.
Discover downtown Nelson today – the attractive walking mall at the heart of town is filled with galleries, gourmet cafes, and local shops.
Driving time Nelson to Hanmer Springs 308 km / 191 miles, 3.5 hours
Travel on to Hanmer Springs, a year-round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities, great cafes 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.
In the afternoon experience the adrenaline rush of going 80 km per hour, skimming the river below, with Thrillseekers Jet! Cut corners as turquoise snowmelt churns out behind you, and experience 360° spins while you travel up the stunning Waiau Gorge. An amazing adventure with a great mix of adrenalin, sightseeing and local history.
Stay 1 night in Hanmer Springs.
Driving time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch 134 km / 83 miles, 2 hours
Return to Christchurch and celebrate your final day in New Zealand.
Visit the Canterbury Museum, or make a day trip to the historic French settlement of Akaroa (1 hour’s drive), where you can swim with dolphins, visit a local winery, or tour the Barrys Bay Cheesery.
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Drop off your rental car at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch.
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