Overview

Traversing a figure 8 through the stunning South Island scenery, this comprehensive 21 Day South Island New Zealand Self Drive tour takes you from Christchurch to Mt. Cook through the Mackenzie Country before continuing to Otago and Dunedin. A foray into the remote Doubtful Sound in the heart of the Fiordland National Park’s wilderness comes next, followed by a journey up north to the alpine playground of Queenstown and the glacier region of the West Coast. Spend a night in the Arthur’s Pass National Park on your journey across the Southern Alps, then make your way to Kaikoura in the east coast. Along the way, experience the wine region of Marlborough and admire the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park. Finally, turn south following the rugged West Coast, catching the TranzAlpine Scenic Train for the return journey to Christchurch.

Christchurch - Mt Cook - Dunedin - Te Anau - Doubtful Sound - Queenstown - Glaciers - Punakaiki - Arthur's Pass - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Abel Tasman National Park - Westport - Greymouth - TranzAlpine Train - Christchurch

Map of 21 Day South Island New Zealand Self Drive
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Arrive Christchurch
Explore Christchurch City
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Dunedin to Te Anau
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Manapouri to Queenstown
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park
Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman to Westport
Westport to Greymouth
Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch
Depart Christchurch

Day 1

Arrive Christchurch

Day 2

Explore Christchurch City

Day 3

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 350 kms

Day 4

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 318 kms

Day 5

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Day 6

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 387 kms

Day 7

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Travel Time: 15 mins

Distance: 18 kms

Day 8

Manapouri to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 166 kms

Day 9

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Day 10

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Travel Time: 4 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 350 kms

Day 11

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Day 12

Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Travel Time: 2 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 212 kms

Day 13

Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park

Travel Time: 1 hr 50 mins

Distance: 138 kms

Day 14

Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Day 15

Kaikoura to Blenheim

Travel Time: 1 hr 25 mins

Distance: 116 kms

Day 16

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Travel Time: 2 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 184 kms

Day 17

Abel Tasman National Park

Day 18

Abel Tasman to Westport

Travel Time: 3 hrs 15 mins

Distance: 236 kms

Day 19

Westport to Greymouth

Travel Time: 1 hr 15 mins

Distance: 90 kms

Day 20

Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch

Day 21

Depart Christchurch

Welcome to Christchurch City
Christchurch, New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights - or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Stay 2 nights Christchurch 

Collect your rental car

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Bike Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dinner on board the Christchurch Restaurant Tram

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 - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Stay 1 night 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 - gliding capital of New Zealand. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. 

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.
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. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Stay 1 night Te Anau

Te Anau to Manapouri
This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise.

As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you’ll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you’re lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you’re really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck.

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussocklands, pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through lush Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over your approach to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

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

Stay 2 nights 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.

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

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Appellation Central Boutique Wine Tour

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a ten minute walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.
Stay 2 nights Glaciers

Franz Josef is small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice up close walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glaciers Scenic Helicopter Flight

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

Be sure to stop at the supermarket in Greymouth as there is none in Punakaiki. Punakaiki is a highlight of this drive so allow plenty of time to walk the paths and explore the formations.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Underworld adventures - glowworm cave tour

Stay 1 night Punakaiki

Today you’ll head south towards Greymouth, before turning onto State Highway 73 as you make your way to Arthur's Pass. Winding your way up and over the Southern Alps, this route takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country - even in the rain when hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the bush clad hillsides.

Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity
Within the Arthur's Pass there are many short walks to suit all ages and abilities. Located in the Arthur's Pass Village is a Department of Conservation information centre where you can get updates on track conditions and track suitability as well as learning about the natural history of the area and its people.

Stay 1 night Arthur's Pass

Travelling from the Southern Alps to the Coast, this drive offers spectacular views of braided river valleys. You’ll travel through Castle Hill Scenic Reserve, dotted with remarkable rocky outcrops - popular for hiking.

Descending on to the Canterbury Plains, you’ll travel through the rich farmland surrounding Christchurch before turning North through the small towns of Rangiora and Oxford. You’ll then travel on State Highway 1 through the Waipara Valley. If you have plenty of time be sure to stop at Hanmer Springs for a soak in the hot mineral pools.

The road hugs the coast for the final stretch of this drive, before arriving into your destination, Kaikoura. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura 

Stay 1 night Kaikoura

Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals.

As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. 

Stay 1 night Blenheim

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant - so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.
Stay 2 nights Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals - fur seals and dolphins.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch

Today travel along the Buller Gorge home to spectacular scenery. Head through the sleepy town of Murchison, a great place to stop for lunch then continue on to Inangahua, the first major town in the region. You’ll then come to Whites Creek - where New Zealand’s longest swing bridge is located. As you cross the river take in the magnificent views of the gorge before drive a short way further to arrive in Westport, the largest town the Northern West Coast.

Stay 1 night Westport

Cape Foulwind just south of Westport is home to a seal colony and the short walk provides some spectacular scenery. The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki. 

Greymouth sits on the Grey River almost at the western end of State Highway 73. It's the largest town on the coast and as such is the commercial centre. A fine small town centre with some interesting buildings makes it a pleasant place to stroll or if you are feeling a little more adventurous then there is almost every activity you can think of available here. In the centre of town you will also find the Monteith's brewery and a tour is highly worthwhile. Greymouth is also where the Tranz Alpine train arrives and departs. Just south of Greymouth is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shantytown Heritage Park
Stay 1 night Greymouth

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the Tranz Alpine scenic train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island through the Arthur's Pass National Park from the west coast to the east.

From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.
Stay 1 night Christchurch

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

Day 1, Arrive Christchurch

Arrive Christchurch

Welcome to Christchurch City
Christchurch, New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights - or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Stay 2 nights Christchurch 

Day 2, Explore Christchurch City

Explore Christchurch City

Collect your rental car

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Bike Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dinner on board the Christchurch Restaurant Tram

Day 3, Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 350 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 - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Stay 1 night Mt Cook

Day 4, Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 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 - gliding capital of New Zealand. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. 

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.
Stay 2 nights Dunedin

Day 5, 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. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour

Day 6, 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. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

Stay 1 night Te Anau

Day 7, Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Travel Time: 15 mins

Distance: 18 kms

Te Anau to Manapouri
This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise.

As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you’ll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you’re lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you’re really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck.

Day 8, Manapouri to Queenstown

Manapouri to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 166 kms

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussocklands, pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through lush Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over your approach to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

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

Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Day 9, 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.

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

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Appellation Central Boutique Wine Tour

Day 10, Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Travel Time: 4 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 350 kms

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a ten minute walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.
Stay 2 nights Glaciers

Day 11, Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice up close walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glaciers Scenic Helicopter Flight

Day 12, Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Travel Time: 2 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 212 kms

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

Be sure to stop at the supermarket in Greymouth as there is none in Punakaiki. Punakaiki is a highlight of this drive so allow plenty of time to walk the paths and explore the formations.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Underworld adventures - glowworm cave tour

Stay 1 night Punakaiki

Day 13, Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park

Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park

Travel Time: 1 hr 50 mins

Distance: 138 kms

Today you’ll head south towards Greymouth, before turning onto State Highway 73 as you make your way to Arthur's Pass. Winding your way up and over the Southern Alps, this route takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country - even in the rain when hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the bush clad hillsides.

Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity
Within the Arthur's Pass there are many short walks to suit all ages and abilities. Located in the Arthur's Pass Village is a Department of Conservation information centre where you can get updates on track conditions and track suitability as well as learning about the natural history of the area and its people.

Stay 1 night Arthur's Pass

Day 14, Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura

Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Travelling from the Southern Alps to the Coast, this drive offers spectacular views of braided river valleys. You’ll travel through Castle Hill Scenic Reserve, dotted with remarkable rocky outcrops - popular for hiking.

Descending on to the Canterbury Plains, you’ll travel through the rich farmland surrounding Christchurch before turning North through the small towns of Rangiora and Oxford. You’ll then travel on State Highway 1 through the Waipara Valley. If you have plenty of time be sure to stop at Hanmer Springs for a soak in the hot mineral pools.

The road hugs the coast for the final stretch of this drive, before arriving into your destination, Kaikoura. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura 

Stay 1 night Kaikoura

Day 15, Kaikoura to Blenheim

Kaikoura to Blenheim

Travel Time: 1 hr 25 mins

Distance: 116 kms

Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals.

As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. 

Stay 1 night Blenheim

Day 16, Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Travel Time: 2 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 184 kms

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant - so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.
Stay 2 nights Abel Tasman National Park

Day 17, Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals - fur seals and dolphins.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch

Day 18, Abel Tasman to Westport

Abel Tasman to Westport

Travel Time: 3 hrs 15 mins

Distance: 236 kms

Today travel along the Buller Gorge home to spectacular scenery. Head through the sleepy town of Murchison, a great place to stop for lunch then continue on to Inangahua, the first major town in the region. You’ll then come to Whites Creek - where New Zealand’s longest swing bridge is located. As you cross the river take in the magnificent views of the gorge before drive a short way further to arrive in Westport, the largest town the Northern West Coast.

Stay 1 night Westport

Day 19, Westport to Greymouth

Westport to Greymouth

Travel Time: 1 hr 15 mins

Distance: 90 kms

Cape Foulwind just south of Westport is home to a seal colony and the short walk provides some spectacular scenery. The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki. 

Greymouth sits on the Grey River almost at the western end of State Highway 73. It's the largest town on the coast and as such is the commercial centre. A fine small town centre with some interesting buildings makes it a pleasant place to stroll or if you are feeling a little more adventurous then there is almost every activity you can think of available here. In the centre of town you will also find the Monteith's brewery and a tour is highly worthwhile. Greymouth is also where the Tranz Alpine train arrives and departs. Just south of Greymouth is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shantytown Heritage Park
Stay 1 night Greymouth

Day 20, Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch

Tranz Alpine Scenic train Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the Tranz Alpine scenic train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island through the Arthur's Pass National Park from the west coast to the east.

From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.
Stay 1 night Christchurch

Day 21, Depart Christchurch

Depart Christchurch

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 Twin/Double
Motel Accommodation from NZ$4,177* 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
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Includes

Includes:

20 nights accommodation

  • 2 nights Christchurch
  • 1 night Mt Cook
  • 2 nights Dunedin
  • 1 night Te Anau
  • 1 night Doubtful Sound 
  • 2 nights Queenstown
  • 2 nights Glaciers
  • 1 night Punakaiki
  • 1 night Arthur's Pass
  • 1 night Kaikoura
  • 1 night Blenheim
  • 2 nights Abel Tasman National Park
  • 1 night Westport
  • 1 night Greymouth
  • 1 night Christchurch

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 and train station transfers

Tranz Alpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch

Doubtful Sound Overnight 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 Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

Experience 3 of Christchurch’s iconic attractions in 1 day, the gondola, tram and punting on the Avon River. The historic tram is a delightful way to explore the inner city, through the Spanish style buildings of New Regent St and the regenerating city centre. You’ll also enjoy a bird’s eye view of Christchurch and the Canterbury region including all the distant peaks of the Southern Alps when you ride the gondola to the top of the Heathcote Valley. Punting on the Avon River takes you through the city’s green belt, a relaxing way to explore the city that is affectionately known as the ‘Garden City’.

 

Dinner on board the Christchurch Restaurant Tram

A truly unique dining experience in the heart of Christchurch. You’ll board a historic colonial-style dining tram for an unforgettable moving four-course restaurant experience. Journey along the inner city tram loop taking in the regenerating central business district as you enjoy gourmet cuisine and a complimentary drink. Lasting two and a half hours, you’ll take three laps of the tram line passing New Regent street, The Avon River, High Street and Victoria Square.

From Mt Cook

Glacier Explorers 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.

From Dunedin

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

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.

Speights Brewery Tour

Founded in 1876 the Speights Brewery still occupies its original Dunedin site - with several of its buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. One of the only remaining ‘gravity breweries’ in the world, your 90 minute tour will take you through it’s inner workings. You’ll also have a chance to taste six different beers as well as bottle, cap and brew your own personal Speights Gold Medal Ale - the brewery's flagship beer.

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.

From Queenstown

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 & 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.

Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure

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.

Appellation Central Boutique Wine Tour

Go off-the-beaten-track with this unique Central Otago wine tour. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions. The wineries you’ll visit are selected from the following: Peregrine, Chard Farm, Carrick, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. This tour also includes a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.

From Franz Josef

Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk

On this relaxing walk, you’ll wander through regenerating rainforest alongside the Waiho Riverbed, following the path of the glacier as it winds its way through the landscape. Learn about the glacier’s history and role in shaping this remarkable area. As you approach the terminal face, you’ll have the chance to venture beyond the public barriers and see this magnificent river of ice up close. You’ll also have the chance to access exclusive trails and hear the Maori legend of Ka Roimata O Hine Hukatere.

With 1 guide for every 13 guests, this 3 hour trip ensures you gain an in-depth knowledge about this unique region.

Twin Glaciers Scenic Helicopter Flight

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line’s operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

From Punakaiki

Underworld adventures - glowworm cave tour

Delve into an ancient wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites and glowworms in the enormous Nile River Caves. At the Charleston Base you’ll be equipped with caving helmets, coats and boots and then taken to the Nile River Rainforest Train where you’ll travel through the forest before exploring the dry upper levels of the Aranui Entrance series. Recently discovered, the Metro cave is one of only several caves in the world left in a natural unspoilt state.

This trip is suitable for anyone that can walk unassisted for two hours on uneven surfaces.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company, Whale Watch Kaikoura offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the giant sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, is sometimes seen.
You’ll be taken out in modern catamarans specifically designed for whale watching - featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Abel Tasman National Park

Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you’ll meet your guide and join the 9.30am Vista Cruise along the magnificent coastline to Torrent Bay. You’ll then arrive at Torrent Bay Lodge and complete a full training session and safety briefing before moving on to the water in kayaks to discover beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers.

Stop for a picnic lunch in a sheltered cove and take some time to swim, explore or sunbathe on the sand. On your return trip, if the winds are favourable, sails will be hoisted and you’ll sail back via Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony there - if you’re lucky, you may even see some resident blue penguins at the same time. Arriving back at Torrent Bay Lodge, freshen up with a hot shower and re-join the vista cruise back to Kaiteriteri, arriving at 4.10 pm.

During the summer there is the option to enjoy an unguided two hour coastal bush walk after the kayaking trip. Walk around the picturesque Torrent Bay Lagoon - via Cleopatra's Pool - to anchorage where you will re-join the boat back to Kaiteriteri. Minimum age 12 years.

Split Apple, Seals and Walk day trip including picnic lunch

This relaxing paddle explores the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline with its golden beaches, and sculpted granite cliffs. Stop for lunch at a secluded cove before heading back to Kaiteriteri for your picnic lunch. Swap your kayak booties for walking shoes and join the Vista Cruise to Onetahuti where you’ll have the chance to view the seal colony at Tonga Island on the way.

After arriving at the at the Tonga Island Quarry, disembark and walk the coastal track to Medlands Beach where you region the Vista Cruise back to Kaiteriteri. Time spent kayaking is 2.5 hours including breaks. The unguided walk is 7km and the minimum age is 10 years old.

From Greymouth

Shantytown Heritage Park

Located just 10 kilometres south of Greymouth is one of New Zealand's leading tourist attractions. Shantytown is a faithfully restored replica of an 1860's West Coast gold mining town. It is a living monument to the hardy pioneers who forded the wildly exotic rivers and streams, and scrambled through the rugged subtropical rainforest in search of their fortunes. A 20 minute ride on one of the original bush steam trains takes you deep into gold country. Amongst the collection of pioneer relics and Kiwiana that has come to comprise Shantytown's unique and valuable collection are some true gems. This vast and significant collection is housed in over 30 historic buildings, enabling you to wander your way through the town as interlopers into a bygone era. You'll also get to try your hand at gold-panning under the helpful tuition of the highly experienced gold claim staff.

Highlights

TranzAlpine Scenic train

Considered one of the worlds great train journeys, the Tranz Alpine scenic train trip operates between Christchurch and Greynouth and vice versa. Crossing from the Tasman Sea through Arthur's Pass National Park to the Pacific Ocean. From your carriage enjoy views of the lush rain forest of the West Coast to the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps. Travel through gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

The Fiordland Navigator offers a very special dinner, bed and breakfast wilderness experience. Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight vessel, the Fiordland Navigator, is designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland's heritage. The purpose built vessel accommodates passengers either in private cabins with ensuite bathrooms or in quad-share bunk style compartments with shared bathroom facilities. The vessel has spacious deck areas for viewing the wilderness scenery and wildlife of Doubtful Sound. Of particular interest, if sighted, are fur seals, dolphins, and in season, rare penguins.

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21 Day South Island New Zealand Self Drive

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