Overview

There is plenty to see in South Island, New Zealand and a short 8 Day Southern Highlights Self Drive tour lets you cover enough ground to appreciate its alpine landscape, and wide, untamed spaces.

Over the course of 8 days, you will travel through the countryside of Canterbury, Otago, Southland and the remote West Coast. You’ll encounter alpine lakes, take in wide open views of the Southern Alps, discover the historic city of Dunedin, and journey on one of the world’s most popular train rides, the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.

Itineraries

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

Queenstown - Glaciers - Christchurch - Mt Cook/Twizel - Dunedin - Te Anau - Queenstown

Map of 8 Day Southern Highlights Self Drive
View itinerary for day 1
View itinerary for day 2
View itinerary for day 3
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View itinerary for day 6
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View itinerary for day 8
Arrive Queenstown
Queenstown to Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier or Franz Josef to Christchurch
Christchurch to Mt Cook or Twizel
Twizel or Mt Cook to Dunedin
Dunedin to Te Anau
Te Anau to Queenstown
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Queenstown

Day 2

Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Travel Time: 4 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 327 kms

Day 3

Fox Glacier or Franz Josef to Christchurch

Travel Time: 2 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 196 kms

Day 4

Christchurch to Mt Cook or Twizel

Travel Time: 5 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 427 kms

Day 5

Twizel or Mt Cook to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 253 kms

Day 6

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Day 7

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 171 kms

Day 8

Depart Queenstown

Private transfer Queenstown airport to your hotel 

Welcome to Queenstown 

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities 'Queenstown' is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure 

Stay overnight in Queenstown

This morning collect your rental car 

Queenstown to Fox Glacier 

Crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in the country - you'll pass through the alpine town of Wanaka. Following the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll enter the township of Makarora, gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park. Marvel at the native beech and countless waterfalls as you continue toward the West Coast.

Crossing the Haast River you are now truly in the wild west - a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. Continue on to arrive in Fox Glacier, your destination for the night. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Twin Glacier scenic helicopter flight with Glacier Landing 

Stay overnight in Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station 

The drive north from Fox and Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika. The largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth is also the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. 

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.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation 

Stay overnight in Christchurch

This morning collect your rental car. 

Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park) 

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route, Geraldine offers an ideal stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. On arriving at Lake Pukaki, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular views of Mt Cook, towering over the lake. Driving along the lake, you'll find your destination, Mt. Cook Village. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass 

Stay overnight in Mt Cook Region/Twizel

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock 

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. 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 

Extra Night

If you have the time we recommend having a second night in Te Anau, and then doing a Milford Sound Nature Cruise on your free day.

Stay overnight in Te Anau

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.

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

Stay overnight in Queenstown

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 Queenstown

Arrive Queenstown

Private transfer Queenstown airport to your hotel 

Welcome to Queenstown 

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities 'Queenstown' is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola and Luge 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Canyon River Jet Boat Adventure 

Stay overnight in Queenstown

Day 2, Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Travel Time: 4 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 327 kms

This morning collect your rental car 

Queenstown to Fox Glacier 

Crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in the country - you'll pass through the alpine town of Wanaka. Following the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll enter the township of Makarora, gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park. Marvel at the native beech and countless waterfalls as you continue toward the West Coast.

Crossing the Haast River you are now truly in the wild west - a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. Continue on to arrive in Fox Glacier, your destination for the night. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Twin Glacier scenic helicopter flight with Glacier Landing 

Stay overnight in Fox Glacier

Day 3, Fox Glacier or Franz Josef to Christchurch

Fox Glacier or Franz Josef to Christchurch

Travel Time: 2 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 196 kms

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station 

The drive north from Fox and Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika. The largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth is also the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. 

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.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation 

Stay overnight in Christchurch

Day 4, Christchurch to Mt Cook or Twizel

Christchurch to Mt Cook or Twizel

Travel Time: 5 hrs 10 mins

Distance: 427 kms

This morning collect your rental car. 

Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park) 

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route, Geraldine offers an ideal stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. On arriving at Lake Pukaki, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular views of Mt Cook, towering over the lake. Driving along the lake, you'll find your destination, Mt. Cook Village. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass 

Stay overnight in Mt Cook Region/Twizel

Day 5, Twizel or Mt Cook to Dunedin

Twizel or Mt Cook to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 253 kms

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock 

Stay overnight in Dunedin

Day 6, 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. 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 

Extra Night

If you have the time we recommend having a second night in Te Anau, and then doing a Milford Sound Nature Cruise on your free day.

Stay overnight in Te Anau

Day 7, Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs 10 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.

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

Stay overnight in Queenstown

Day 8, Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown

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
3-Star Accommodation from NZ$1,808* per person
Boutique Lodges and Hotels from NZ$2,356* 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 Queenstown
  • 1 night Fox Glacier
  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 1 night Twizel/Mt Cook
  • 1 night Dunedin
  • 1 night 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 and train station transfers

Tranz Alpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch

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

Glow Worm Caves, Te Anau

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.

Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock, Dunedin

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.

Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Twin Glacier scenic helicopter flight with Glacier Landing

Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. A 30 minute flight with snow landing. 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.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass, Mt Cook

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers - the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Explore 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.

Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour, Greymouth

From humble origins in 1868, the Monteith's family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast's most popular brewery for its strong tasting, full-bodied ale. The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today's Monteith's Brewing Company. In this informative brewery experience, you will learn about the heritage and traditions of the brewing business. Witness the making of a fine beer in open fermenters by coal-fired boilers, using only the finest ingredients. Watch the brewers carefully hand craft the beer in small batches to develop the full natural flavours. When each batch is ready, the brewers employ a brilliant time honoured tradition for quality control - they taste it.

Highlights

Tranz Alpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch

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.

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8 Day Southern Highlights Self Drive

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