Overview

Explore the wilderness of the south from Queenstown, New Zealand and meet the fascinating marine wildlife of the southern waters in this 10 Day Southern Adventure Self Drive.

Enjoy five unique cruise experiences that will stay with you for a long time - cruise the pristine waters of Milford Sound, stand face to face with an iceberg on the Tasman Glacier Lake, glide through the underground waters of a glow worm cave, and hop aboard two wildlife cruises for a rare opportunity to see seals, dolphins and royal albatross.

Itineraries

All itineraries can be done in the reverse direction, amended or combined with other itineraries. Please advise amendments when requesting a quote.

Queenstown - Mt Cook - Christchurch - Akaroa - Dunedin - Te Anau - Queenstown

Map of 10 Day Southern Adventure Self Drive
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View itinerary for day 10
Arrive Queenstown
Explore Queenstown
Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park
Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch
Christchurch to Akaroa
Akaroa to Dunedin
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Dunedin to Te Anau
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Queenstown

Day 2

Explore Queenstown

Day 3

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 3 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 263 kms

Day 4

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Travel Time: 4 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 333 kms

Day 5

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 81 kms

Day 6

Akaroa to Dunedin

Travel Time: 5 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 409 kms

Day 7

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Day 8

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 289 kms

Day 9

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 234 kms

Day 10

Depart Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 166 kms

 

Welcome to Queenstown. You will be met from your flight and transferred to your Queenstown hotel.

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown

Collect your rental car 

Explore Queenstown and surrounds 

Head down the Gibbston valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.

Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dart River Wilderness Safari 

Leaving Queenstown you'll head through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge - a popular bungy jumping location. Continue through the Gibbston Valley and be sure to stop at one of its many vineyards for a tasting. As you leave the gorge you'll arrive in Cromwell.

Cromwell itself sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the old historic town is well worth the visit. Head over through the Lindis Pass. It's tussock covered hills are a barren but beautiful sight as you descend into the Mackenzie Basin. You'll go through the towns of Omarama and Twizel - the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mount. Cook Highway to arrive in the small village.

Included: Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook 

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mt. Cook Ski Planes Glacier Highlights Scenic Flight including Glacier Landing 

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch 

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. Learn about the formation of the region and take in the spectacular views of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo also displays the same reflective qualities of Lake Pukaki - making the waters a bright turquoise. You’ll go through the small town of Tekapo, home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. From here you travel through Burkes Pass and into the rich farming valley that surrounds Geraldine. Continue on across the vast Canterbury Plains to arrive in Christchurch City, your destination for the night.

Stay overnight in Christchurch

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise 

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin.

Stay overnight in Akaroa

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. 

The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone.

Just a little further south and you arrive at Moeraki and its famous Moeraki Boulders. The last stretch of road follows the coastline before crossing the hills and descending into the city of Dunedin.

Stay 2 nights in Dunedin

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology.

Otago Peninsula Wildlife full day tour including Larnach Castle 
Enjoy a scenic Otago Peninsula tour by bus seeing various species of wading birds in their natural habitats. Experience a guided tour at the Royal Albatross This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes either a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin’s great landmarks or a visit to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre with its absorbing display of local sealife.

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri.  Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau.

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves 

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you’ll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.

Stay 2 nights in Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country.

Arriving into the village of Milford,you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord before back-tracking the way you came.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise 

A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. 

Today you’ll cross vast tussocklands on your way to Queenstown. Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation. Continue on through the Southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Depart Queenstown today 

Drop your rental car at the Queenstown airport today and farewell New Zealand.

Day 1, Arrive Queenstown

Arrive Queenstown

 

Welcome to Queenstown. You will be met from your flight and transferred to your Queenstown hotel.

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown

Day 2, Explore Queenstown

Explore Queenstown

Collect your rental car 

Explore Queenstown and surrounds 

Head down the Gibbston valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.

Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dart River Wilderness Safari 

Day 3, Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 3 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 263 kms

Leaving Queenstown you'll head through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge - a popular bungy jumping location. Continue through the Gibbston Valley and be sure to stop at one of its many vineyards for a tasting. As you leave the gorge you'll arrive in Cromwell.

Cromwell itself sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the old historic town is well worth the visit. Head over through the Lindis Pass. It's tussock covered hills are a barren but beautiful sight as you descend into the Mackenzie Basin. You'll go through the towns of Omarama and Twizel - the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mount. Cook Highway to arrive in the small village.

Included: Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook 

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

Day 4, Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Travel Time: 4 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 333 kms

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mt. Cook Ski Planes Glacier Highlights Scenic Flight including Glacier Landing 

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch 

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. Learn about the formation of the region and take in the spectacular views of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo also displays the same reflective qualities of Lake Pukaki - making the waters a bright turquoise. You’ll go through the small town of Tekapo, home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. From here you travel through Burkes Pass and into the rich farming valley that surrounds Geraldine. Continue on across the vast Canterbury Plains to arrive in Christchurch City, your destination for the night.

Stay overnight in Christchurch

Day 5, Christchurch to Akaroa

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 81 kms

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise 

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin.

Stay overnight in Akaroa

Day 6, Akaroa to Dunedin

Akaroa to Dunedin

Travel Time: 5 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 409 kms

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. 

The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone.

Just a little further south and you arrive at Moeraki and its famous Moeraki Boulders. The last stretch of road follows the coastline before crossing the hills and descending into the city of Dunedin.

Stay 2 nights in Dunedin

Day 7, Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology.

Otago Peninsula Wildlife full day tour including Larnach Castle 
Enjoy a scenic Otago Peninsula tour by bus seeing various species of wading birds in their natural habitats. Experience a guided tour at the Royal Albatross This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes either a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin’s great landmarks or a visit to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre with its absorbing display of local sealife.

Day 8, Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 289 kms

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri.  Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau.

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves 

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you’ll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.

Stay 2 nights in Te Anau

Day 9, Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 234 kms

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country.

Arriving into the village of Milford,you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord before back-tracking the way you came.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise 

A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. 

Day 10, Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 166 kms

Today you’ll cross vast tussocklands on your way to Queenstown. Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation. Continue on through the Southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Depart Queenstown today 

Drop your rental car at the Queenstown airport today and farewell New Zealand.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 Twin/Double
Motel Accommodation from NZ$2,406* per person

*PLEASE NOTE

Prices are estimates only, and are subject to availability and exchange rates when booking, seasonal or holiday price surcharges (such as Christmas/New Year and Easter); as well as special events that may be on. Please forward a request and we will be happy to forward a quote.

Payment

  • Deposit: 10% of the package cost or NZ$250 per person (whichever is the greater) at time of booking
  • Full Payment: 60 Days before travel
  • Airfares (if applicable): Paid in full no more than 6 days after booking

Cancellation Charges

  • Cancellation Fees up to 100% can apply after booking. Extra deposits or full payment may be requested to cover these charges prior to booking
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Includes

Includes:

9 nights accommodation

  • 2 nights Queenstown
  • 1 night Mt Cook
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 1 night Akaroa
  • 2 nights Dunedin
  • 2 nights Te Anau

Rental Car Hire

  • Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible.
  • Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation. unlimited kms,airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers.

Private airport transfers

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Glacier Explorers Tour, Mt Cook

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour including Larnach Castle

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Options

Travel Insurance

If you are going overseas, then travel insurance is a necssity. Compare rates and polices online and get a free travel insurance quote.

Accommodation

There is a choice of accommodation available on all packages, which depending on locations, includes motels, 3 star hotels, 4 star hotels, boutique lodges & hotels and luxury lodges and hotels. We are happy to quote on alternate accommodation requests.

Airfares

International flights can be included from Australia for all Australian residents.

Optional Extras

Mt. Cook Ski Planes Glacier Highlights Scenic Flight including Glacier Landing

Take in the spectacular Southern Alps - including New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki Mount Cook - and the constantly changing glacial landscape. See the Hochstetter Icefall as you fly beneath the face of Mount Cook then along the length of the Tasman glacier before landing on the glacier itself. Experience the silence of the mountains, broken only by the rumbling of an avalanche and creaking of the snow and ice beneath your feet. You'll take off again for another incredible flight over peaks, ice falls, alpine lakes and climbing huts.

Explore Queenstown

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Skyline Gondola and Luge

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. Catch a gondola to the summit for awe-inspiring views and delicious local fare with view. Ride the 800 metre luge track, then for added thrill, choose to tandem paraglide back to base.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw steamship. On disembarking, you'll be escorted through the beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel's Homestead. Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country. On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Highlights

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort.

Glacier Explorers Tour, Mt Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat. These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour including Larnach Castle

This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

An extended and leisurely 2½ hour cruise of Milford Sound on board the Milford Mariner, MV Sinbad or Milford Wanderer. These modern vessels, purpose built for operating in a fiord environment, have been designed along the lines of a traditional trading scow, and have real character. These relaxing cruises have special appeal for the independent traveller and an on board nature guide provides detailed interpretation and commentary. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and to view the stunning scenery, including waterfalls, rainforest and the towering peaks. Keep a lookout for dolphins, seals and penguins.

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.

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10 Day Southern Adventure Self Drive

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