Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Collect your rental car from the airport and make your way to your Queenstown accommodation.
Relax and explore Queenstown, with 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 2 nights in Queenstown.
Today, get ready for the world’s most exciting jet boat ride! Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It’s a thrilling ride – skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet ‘Big Red,’ you will twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds. And a major highlight – hold tight for the world-famous Shotover Jet full 360º spins!
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 four course meal. 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.
Driving time Queenstown to Te Anau 171 km / 106 miles, 2.5 hours
In the afternoon, join Southern Lakes Helicopters for a spectacular 30 minute scenic helicopter flight and sample the grandeur of the Fiordland scenery. Venture into the untamed Kepler Mountains and see what lies beyond the Te Anau horizon! Views of the Kepler Track (one of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks) and the Hidden Lakes spread out before you. Land at a mountain tarn to enjoy the vista and ruggedness of the Main Divide.
Stay 2 nights in Te Anau.
Driving time Te Anau to Manapouri 23 km / 14 miles, 30 minutes
Today, go on an amazing Doubtful Sound day excursion! Located deep in the heart of a World Heritage Area, Doubtful Sound is an overwhelming place. You can feel the power of nature here – the remoteness, the wilderness and the peace. In Manapouri, board your luxury catamaran and cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a trip across New Zealand’s most expensive road (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.
Relax and explore Te Anau in the evening.
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 Otago Museum, the Speight’s Brewery, Larnach Castle and of course the stunning Otago Peninsula. Explore Dunedin and visit attractions of interest.
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. 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.
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, between Moeraki and Hampden, where you will see unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast. 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. From there, 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 2 nights in Lake Tekapo.
Relax in Lake Tekapo for the day, exploring walking tracks and attractions of interest.
Option to add on a scenic flight around Mount Cook and the glaciers.
Driving time Lake Tekapo to Akaroa 280 km / 173 miles, 4 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 Akaroa. Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of the Banks Peninsula, an area noted for its beauty and unique wildlife and defined by rolling volcanic peaks which give way to sandy beaches and two magnificent harbours.
Stay 2 nights in Akaroa.
Explore Akaroa village, where you can visit colonial architecture, galleries, cafés, wineries, the Barry’s Bay cheese factory and the local museum. 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.
Driving time Akaroa to Christchurch 81 km / 50 miles, 1.5 hours
Journey to New Zealand’s Garden City, Christchurch.
In the afternoon, experience all four of Christchurch’s must do activities: Christchurch Gondola, Tramway, Punting on the Avon River and Botanical Gardens Tour.
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 Cafe, and browse what is on offer in the shop.
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.
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.
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 1 night in Christchurch.
Driving time Christchurch to Kaikoura 180 km / 111 miles, 3 hours
Travel along the South Island’s stunning East Coast to reach Kaikoura, a picturesque town famous for its delicious seafood delicacies and whale watching!
In the afternoon, experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with a Whale Watch Scenic Flight to view the majestic Sperm Whales off the Kaikoura Coast.
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Driving time Kaikoura to Blenheim 129 km / 80 miles, 2.5 hours
Relax in Kaikoura in the morning and discover this coastal paradise. In the afternoon, meander around the coast to reach the Marlborough wine country. Recognised internationally for its distinctive, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region, home to about 65 wineries, 290 grape growers, and over 4,000 hectares planted in grapes—mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.
Stay 2 nights in Blenheim.
Experience the famous wines of the region on a gourmet lunch wine tour. As you enjoy plenty of tastings and a three-course meal in a beautiful winery restaurant, you will quickly fall in love with this fantastic wine region. Learn more about the winemaking process, and taste the subtle differences between different vintages and different soils. This tour is a must-do for any wine aficionados.
Driving time Blenheim to Abel Tasman 161 km / 100 miles, 3 hours
Drive through native bush to reach the Abel Tasman area, renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, rich unmodified estuaries, long sunshine hours and the world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Stay 2 nights in Abel Tasman.
Take a boat cruise into Abel Tasman National Park today, where you can relax on the hot golden sand, enjoy a day walk, or simply remain aboard for a return boat cruise. Soak 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.
Driving time Abel Tasman to Hokitika 377 km / 243 miles, 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, 2.5 hours
Continue south through dense rainforest towards New Zealand’s most famous glaciers. Stay at Franz Josef Glacier township.
In the afternoon, take a 20 minute scenic helicopter flight sweeping above Westland National Park as you explore Franz Josef Glacier before landing in the snow to enjoy exceptional views of the majestic Southern Alps.
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, with 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.
Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.
Relax in Wanaka, exploring attractions such as Puzzling World, the National Toy and Transport Museum, the Warbirds and Wheels Museum, Crossfire, Rippon Vineyard and Tasting Room, and Cinema Paradiso.
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. Relax and explore Queenstown in the afternoon and celebrate a fantastic holiday!
Stay 1 night in Queenstown.
Drop your rental car off at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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