Overview

Hop aboard the Interislander Ferry from Wellington in the North Island and enjoy a cruise across Cook Strait, as it takes you through the spectacular scenery of Marlborough Sounds for a fitting introduction to the natural beauty of South Island.

On your 11 Day Wellington to Queenstown Explorer Self Drive look forward to a marine wildlife encounter in Kaikoura’s coastal waters, a view of the towering peaks of Mt. Cook National Park, and the sight of lush forest-clad mountains and pristine fiord of Milford Sound. 

Itineraries

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

Wellington - Picton - Christchurch - Mt Cook - Dunedin - Te Anau - Queenstown

Map of 11 Day Wellington to Queenstown Explorer 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 Wellington
Explore Wellington
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Picton to Christchurch via Murchison
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Dunedin to Te Anau
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau
Te Anau to Queenstown
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Wellington

Day 2

Explore Wellington

Day 3

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

Day 4

Picton to Christchurch via Murchison

Travel Time: 5 hrs 50 mins

Distance: 479 kms

Day 5

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs

Distance: 332 kms

Day 6

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 318 kms

Day 7

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Day 8

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 236 kms

Day 9

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs 5 mins

Distance: 171 kms

Day 10

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Day 11

Depart Queenstown

You will be met on arrival into Wellington airport and transferred to your hotel.

Welcome to Wellington

Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Stay 2 nights in Wellington

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Wellington's museums - suggested activity 

  • Te Papa
  • Museum of Wellington City & Sea

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the Interislander ferry terminal in time for your ferry check in.

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. 

Collect your rental car 
 

Stay overnight in Picton

Heading south from Picton you soon arrive into the grape growing areas around Blenheim. Continuing south following the path of the Wairau River and the Richmond Mountain Range you arrive into the Nelson Lakes region. The Buller River begins its journey to the coast from Lake Rotoroa and the route from here follows its path closely. The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop.

From Murchison you will travel south to Maruia Springs. Head inland over the Lewis Pass where the landscape becomes increasingly alpine - with large forests of red and silver beech. Descend to the Canterbury Plains and take in the rolling farmland dotted with vineyards, as you make your way through the North Canterbury wine region, the Wiararapa Valley.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola 

Stay overnight in Christchurch

Today you’ll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Bike Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tasman Valley 4WD & Argo Tours 

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama and stretch your legs in Oamaru.

Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Standard Tour 

Stay overnight in Dunedin

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. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Stay 2 nights in Te Anau

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

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.

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown

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 - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge 

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

Your final morning in Queenstown before driving to the airport and catching your next flight 

Depending on when your flight departs you might have time for one last Queenstown adventure before dropping your car off at the airport and catching your flight.

Day 1, Arrive Wellington

Arrive Wellington

You will be met on arrival into Wellington airport and transferred to your hotel.

Welcome to Wellington

Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Stay 2 nights in Wellington

Day 2, Explore Wellington

Explore Wellington

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Wellington's museums - suggested activity 

  • Te Papa
  • Museum of Wellington City & Sea

Day 3, Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the Interislander ferry terminal in time for your ferry check in.

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. 

Collect your rental car 
 

Stay overnight in Picton

Day 4, Picton to Christchurch via Murchison

Picton to Christchurch via Murchison

Travel Time: 5 hrs 50 mins

Distance: 479 kms

Heading south from Picton you soon arrive into the grape growing areas around Blenheim. Continuing south following the path of the Wairau River and the Richmond Mountain Range you arrive into the Nelson Lakes region. The Buller River begins its journey to the coast from Lake Rotoroa and the route from here follows its path closely. The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop.

From Murchison you will travel south to Maruia Springs. Head inland over the Lewis Pass where the landscape becomes increasingly alpine - with large forests of red and silver beech. Descend to the Canterbury Plains and take in the rolling farmland dotted with vineyards, as you make your way through the North Canterbury wine region, the Wiararapa Valley.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola 

Stay overnight in Christchurch

Day 5, Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs

Distance: 332 kms

Today you’ll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Bike Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tasman Valley 4WD & Argo Tours 

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

Day 6, Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 318 kms

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama and stretch your legs in Oamaru.

Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Standard Tour 

Stay overnight in Dunedin

Day 7, Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 287 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. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Stay 2 nights in Te Anau

Day 8, 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: 236 kms

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

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 9, Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs 5 mins

Distance: 171 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.

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown

Day 10, Explore Queenstown and surrounds

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 - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge 

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

Day 11, Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown

Your final morning in Queenstown before driving to the airport and catching your next flight 

Depending on when your flight departs you might have time for one last Queenstown adventure before dropping your car off at the airport and catching your flight.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 Twin/Double
Motel Accommodation from NZ$2,188* per person

* Please Note

Price is based on two adults sharing a rental car and accommodation (twin/double-share).

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 Wellington
  • 1 night Picton
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 1 night Mt Cook
  • 1 night Dunedin
  • 2 nights Te Anau
  • 2 nights 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

Interislander Ferry Picton to Wellington

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

From Christchurch

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.

From Dunedin

Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Standard Tour

This multi-award winning, scheduled, daily, 'small group' tour departs from Dunedin city in the mid-afternoon for the Otago Peninsula wildlife 'hotspots'. The tour combines tourism and conservation in a symbiotic relationship and provides absolutely unrivaled viewing of estuarine and marine wildlife. Your knowledgeable guides will inform you of activity being viewed and visit places where the best possible viewing of Hooker's Sea lions, Yellow-eyed Penguins, Blue Penguins, a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and Royal Albatross can be had. A further 25-30 other estuarine and marine bird species are seen during the experience. Close up unobtrusive viewing from beach locations and strategically placed observation hides is guaranteed .

Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock

An unforgettable experience viewing rare and fascinating wildlife. Board the Monarch Boat and take in the fascinating sight of the Northern Royal Albatross as it comes in to nest on spectacular cliffs of Taiaroa, Otago Peninsula. You'll also see eight other species of birds including sooty shearwaters and petrels as well as sea lions and fur seals - and if you're really lucky - dolphins and whales.

From 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.

Tasman Valley 4WD & Argo Tours

A unique 4WD adventure with magnificent views of the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine walls. Your friendly guide is a real Mount Cook character, learn about the area and be entertained by their wealth of knowledge and local stories. A short walk to a vantage point overlooking the Tasman Glacier and Terminal Lake provides one of the most spectacular photographic opportunities in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. As you travel up the Tasman Valley on a 4WD track you will be amazed at the awesome mountain scenery! During the Spring and Summer months you can see an abundance of Mount Cook Lilies, Celmesia Daisies, Golden Spaniard Spear Grass and many delicate mountain flowers. You may even catch a glimpse of the world's only 'mountain parrot' - New Zealand's cheeky Kea.

From Queenstown

Shotover Jet

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.

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

Interislander Ferry Picton to Wellington

The 92 km journey between Picton and Wellington takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds. This region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays is a true photographic opportunity. From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. After crossing the strait you approach Wellington Harbour and pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the countries highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

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 Wellington to Queenstown Explorer 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

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.