Plan a New Zealand South Island itinerary for 7 days with the 7 Day South Island Explorer Holiday Package.
This relaxed itinerary includes the highlights of the South Island, including Queenstown, Milford Sound, Wanaka, and Lake Tekapo. In addition, enjoy a Central Otago wine tour, a Te Anau Glowworm Caves tour, and a Milford Sound Nature Cruise.
Read on for full details of this recommended New Zealand South Island itinerary for 7 days.
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 this afternoon. You have 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, experience a full day Gourmet Wine Tour around Central Otago.
Enjoy a relaxed day of fine cuisine and good company, sampling local cheeses and tasting premium cool-climate wines in one of the world’s great Pinot Noir wine regions.
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.
Firstly, your Te Anau Glowworm Cave adventure begins with a cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau on board the catamaran Luminosa. This takes you 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 Milford Sound 116 km / 72 miles, 2.5 hours (each way)
Experience Milford Sound with an unforgettable 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. Meanwhile, throughout the cruise, the guides share stories of the fiord’s history and are happy to answer your questions.
Finally, relax and explore Te Anau for the afternoon.
Driving time Te Anau to Wanaka 230 km / 143 miles, 3 hours
Return to Queenstown, where you may wish to stop in Arrowtown on your way to Wanaka (just 20 minutes past Queenstown). You’ll be enchanted by historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure located 20 minutes from Queenstown.
After that, 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 relaxing atmosphere and myriad walking tracks.
Relax and explore Wanaka in the afternoon—you may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction, or the National Toy and Transport Museum. In addition, 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.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Driving time Wanaka to Lake Tekapo 200 km / 125 miles, 2.5 hours
Travel through the dramatic Lindis Pass, which links Central Otago with the Mackenzie Basin. Just past the town of Twizel, you have the option to make a detour to Mount Cook Village (45 minutes each way) to see the stunning Tasman Glacier and New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook.
Continuing past the stunning turquoise Lake Pukaki, you will reach Lake Tekapo before long. 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.
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 a beautiful place to relax. For example, you have the option to visit the Canterbury Museum, explore the botanical gardens, and make a stop at the old Christchurch Cathedral.
In the evening, raise a glass to a fantastic New Zealand holiday! (Hint: most of the best restaurants and bars are located on Victoria Street).
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Drop your rental car off at Christchurch Airport and depart Christchurch.
This South Island holiday package is fully customisable. For example, you may wish to change the accommodation level (choose from 3.5-star, 4-star, 4.5-star, or 5-star/luxury), add or swap out activities, or change the destinations visited along your South Island road trip route.
In addition, our team will work with you to make sure your South Island itinerary matches exactly what you are looking for.
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning the holiday of a lifetime!
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