Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital.
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.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
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.
Today, you have the option to take a day trip to Glenorchy. At the Head of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is nestled between the Richardson (east) and Humboldt (west) Mountain Ranges and overlooked by the mighty snow-capped Mount Earnslaw in the north. From Glenorchy, you can travel on to a number of fantastic valleys, including Rees Valley, Paradise Valley, Dart Valley, and Routeburn Valley. These valleys border both Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park, and they are ringed by some of the most dramatic mountains in New Zealand. The tiny Kinloch township lies further along the road; this is an excellent spot to enjoy a coffee while taking in the views over the stunning shores of Lake Wakatipu.
The two main industries in Glenorchy are farming and tourism, which have enabled the town to thrive while still maintaining its unique qualities and southern kiwi culture. Home to approximately 200 people, Glenorchy is a welcoming and vibrant town offering a range of cafés, restaurants, bars, shopping, hiking, fishing, and much much more. Glenorchy’s surrounding landscape has become a prime location for film scouts and was chosen to depict many scenes in the award-winning Lord of the Rings movies. More recently, the area has featured in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, Hercules, and countless adverts.
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 2 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.
Driving time Te Anau to Wanaka 227 km / 141 miles, 3.5 hours
Drive through historic Central Otago—past farmland, orchards and vineyards—to reach Wanaka, an alpine paradise with views so good it’s hard to put down your camera.
Explore Wanaka this afternoon, you might like to make a visit to 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!
The more adventurous might like to check out Wildwire – a Ferrata course on a rocky Wanaka hillside, showcasing some of the best waterfall views in Wanaka! Clip ‘N Climb is also available, as well as Crossfire gaming centre if you haven’t paid a visit yet.
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.
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, where you will drop your rental car off at Queenstown Airport and depart Queenstown.
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