Overview

Embark on a trip across Cook Strait from the capital city of Wellington all the way down to the “adventure capital” Queenstown on a 8 Day Southern Highlights Wellington to Queenstown Self Drive, and get a sense of the marvellous landscape that New Zealand is famous for. After making the journey across Cook Strait and through the scenic Marlborough Sounds, you land in South Island and get acquainted with the world-class wines of Marlborough. You then carry on to the wildlife haven of Kaikoura for a whale watching encounter before continuing on to the icebergs of Tasman Glacier Lake in Mt. Cook National Park. The final stretch of your journey brings you to the thrills and stunning landscape of Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Itineraries

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

Wellington - Blenheim - Kaikoura - Christchurch - Mt Cook - Queenstown

Map of 8 Day Southern Highlights Wellington to Queenstown Self Drive
View itinerary for day 1
View itinerary for day 2
View itinerary for day 3
View itinerary for day 4
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View itinerary for day 6
View itinerary for day 7
View itinerary for day 8
Arrive Wellington
Wellington to Blenheim
Blenheim to Kaikoura
Kaikoura to Christchurch
Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park
Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown
Explore Queenstown and Surrounds
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Wellington

Day 2

Wellington to Blenheim

Travel Time: 25 mins

Distance: 28 kms

Day 3

Blenheim to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 1 hr 20 mins

Distance: 110 kms

Day 4

Kaikoura to Christchurch

Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 170 kms

Day 5

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs

Distance: 332 kms

Day 6

Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown

Travel Time: 3 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 264 kms

Day 7

Explore Queenstown and Surrounds

Day 8

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 overnight in Wellington

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'. 

Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour 

Be immersed in Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You’ll be collected from your accommodation and taken through four or five wineries (depending on availability) to taste the award winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through.

Stay overnight in Blenheim

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast.

Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

Stay overnight in Kaikoura

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. 

Kaikoura to Christchurch 

Today you continue down the coast before heading inland and arriving into Christchurch, a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

Stay overnight in Christchurch

Today you’ll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains and into the alpine village of 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.

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama. Continue on over the Lindis Pass and arrive in the quaint village of Tarras. Continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.

Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive 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 overnight in Wellington

Day 2, Wellington to Blenheim

Wellington to Blenheim

Travel Time: 25 mins

Distance: 28 kms

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'. 

Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour 

Be immersed in Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You’ll be collected from your accommodation and taken through four or five wineries (depending on availability) to taste the award winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through.

Stay overnight in Blenheim

Day 3, Blenheim to Kaikoura

Blenheim to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 1 hr 20 mins

Distance: 110 kms

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast.

Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

Stay overnight in Kaikoura

Day 4, Kaikoura to Christchurch

Kaikoura to Christchurch

Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 170 kms

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. 

Kaikoura to Christchurch 

Today you continue down the coast before heading inland and arriving into Christchurch, a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

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 and into the alpine village of 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.

Stay overnight at Mt Cook

Day 6, Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown

Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown

Travel Time: 3 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 264 kms

Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama. Continue on over the Lindis Pass and arrive in the quaint village of Tarras. Continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.

Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown

Day 7, 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 8, 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
4-Star Accommodation from NZ$2,620* 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:

7 nights accommodation

  • 1 night Wellington
  • 1 night Blenheim
  • 1 night Kaikoura
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 1 night Mt Cook
  • 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

All breakfasts (4-star accommodation only)

Interislander Ferry

Marlborough half Day Wine Tasting Tour

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Glacier Explorers Tour, Mt Cook

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.

Highlights

Interislander Ferry

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).

Marlborough half Day Wine Tasting Tour

Be immersed in Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through four or five wineries (depending on availability) to taste the award winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of wine making in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through.

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.

Glacier Explorers Tour, Mt Cook

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

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8 Day Southern Highlights Wellington to Queenstown Self Drive

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