Overview

Setting off from Queenstown, this fittingly named Southern adventure takes you from the adventure capital of New Zealand to Mt. Cook National Park, the training ground of Sir Edmund Hillary before he climbed the world’s highest peak. Survey the majestic mountains of the Southern Alps on your breathtaking scenic helicopter flight.

Heading further north, discover the wonders of Christchurch and Akaroa, where you’ll see face-to-face rare Hectors dolphins on a swim. You then travel south for an enchanting encounter with the wildlife of Dunedin, then venture deeper south for the lush rainforests and mesmerizing waterfalls of the stunning Milford Sound in the heart of Fiordland from where you’ll make your way back to Queenstown.

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

Map of 11 Day Queenstown Natural Wonders Self Drive
View itinerary for day 1
View itinerary for day 2
View itinerary for day 3
View itinerary for day 4
View itinerary for day 5
View itinerary for day 6
View itinerary for day 7
View itinerary for day 8
View itinerary for day 9
View itinerary for day 10
View itinerary for day 11
Arrive Queenstown
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
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
Te Anau to Queenstown
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Queenstown

Day 2

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Day 3

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 256 km

Day 4

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 327 kms

Day 5

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 71 kms

Day 6

Akaroa to Dunedin

Travel Time: 5 hrs 15 mins

Distance: 410 kms

Day 7

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Day 8

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 387 kms

Day 9

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return

Travel Time: 3 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 233 kms

Day 10

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 164 kms

Day 11

Depart 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 - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Collect your rental car

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.

Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. 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 Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

Included: Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Nomad Safaris, Safari of the Scenes Wakatipu Basin tour

Leaving Queenstown you'll head through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge. Continue through the Gibbston Valley. As you leave the gorge you'll arrive in Cromwell, known for its many fruit orchards.

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, one of New Zealand’s highest roads, with the summit reaching 971 metres. 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: Aoraki Paradise Scenic Helicopter Flight
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Stay 1 night Mt Cook

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola
Stay 1 night 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.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Included: Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise
Stay 1 night 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. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. The towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru are worth a short detour to the town centre.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour
Stay 2 nights 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. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life.

Included: Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

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, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Included: Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
Stay 2 nights 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.

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. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord.

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.

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 - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Day 2, Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Collect your rental car

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.

Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. 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 Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.

Included: Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Nomad Safaris, Safari of the Scenes Wakatipu Basin tour

Day 3, Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 256 km

Leaving Queenstown you'll head through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge. Continue through the Gibbston Valley. As you leave the gorge you'll arrive in Cromwell, known for its many fruit orchards.

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, one of New Zealand’s highest roads, with the summit reaching 971 metres. 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: Aoraki Paradise Scenic Helicopter Flight
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Stay 1 night Mt Cook

Day 4, Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 327 kms

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola
Stay 1 night Christchurch

Day 5, Christchurch to Akaroa

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 71 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.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Included: Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise
Stay 1 night Akaroa

Day 6, Akaroa to Dunedin

Akaroa to Dunedin

Travel Time: 5 hrs 15 mins

Distance: 410 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. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. The towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru are worth a short detour to the town centre.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour
Stay 2 nights 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. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life.

Included: Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

Day 8, Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 387 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, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Included: Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
Stay 2 nights Te Anau

Day 9, Te Anau to Milford Sound and return

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return

Travel Time: 3 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 233 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.

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. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord.

Day 10, Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 164 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.

Day 11, Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown

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$3,045* per person

* PLEASE NOTE

Price is per person and based on two adults travelling together and sharing a rental car and accommodation.

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: 20% of the package cost or NZ$250 per person (whichever is the greater) at time of booking
  • Full Payment: 45 Days before travel
  • Airfares (if applicable): Paid in full at the time of 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
Currency Converter

Includes

Includes:

10 nights accommodation

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

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

Aoraki Paradise Scenic Flight

Wildlife cruise and Yellow eyed penguin colony

Shotover jet boat ride

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

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

Explore Queenstown

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak with 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 & 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.

Nomad Safaris, Safari of the Scenes Wakatipu Basin tour

For those keen on the Hobbit and Lord of The Rings films, come with us for an unexpectedly delightful journey. In safari-equipped 4WD vehicles, you will be taken on a true off-road adventure. Experienced guides will take you on a breathtaking excursion through diverse scenery around the Wakatipu Basin. See historic Arrowtown and go over the Arrow River, as well as experiencing the truly remarkable views of the lake and mountain surround from the Skippers Canyon Saddle.

Explore Mt Cook

Glacier Explorers

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.

Explore Christchurch

Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch city, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago. Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps. Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

Explore Dunedin

Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour

This 60 minute tour focuses on the Royal Albatrosses and wildlife that inhabit Pukekura (Taiaroa Head). Begin with a short film, then enjoy the informative commentary provided by your guide about albatrosses as you visit the observatory to see nesting albatross in their natural habitat.

Highlights

From Akaroa

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.

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. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March.

Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.

You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised.

From Mt Cook

Aoraki Paradise Scenic Flight

This 45 minute flight takes you on a journey to discover Aoraki/ Mt Cook National park. Flying the full length of the Tasman Glacier viewing this incredible Alpine region with amazing views of New Zealand’s highest peak Aoraki Mt Cook before landing on the magnificent Tasman Glacier. This majestic flight allows you to discover some of the many hidden treasures within the National Park. “An experience with the X Factor”.

From Dunedin

Wildlife cruise and Yellow eyed penguin colony

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

From Queenstown

Shotover Jet boat ride

Riding the iconic ‘Big Red’ Jet Boat through the narrow Shotover Canyon is an exhilarating experience not to be missed. Your skilled jet boat driver pushes the boat to 85 kph, skimming across shallow water and past towering canyon walls. This 25 minute white water ride includes 360 degree spins and maximum thrills.

From 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.

You’ll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

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.

Book now, pay later No credit card required

11 Day Queenstown Natural Wonders Self Drive

Fields marked with * are required

If you see this field, please leave it blank and invest in CSS support.

Your Details

(e.g +44 208 123456)

Additional Extras

Accommodation & Transport

Flights

Other Passengers

Please list the full name(s) of each passenger travelling with you.

General Information

Please specify if you wish to include any tour options or extra days & if you have any special requirements. e.g dietary, physical, medical; and (if available) advise arrival and departure flight details in New Zealand.