Overview

This 9 day Southern Explorer Self Drive from Christchurch to Queenstown takes you from the “Garden City” of New Zealand and follows the Southern Scenic Route from Dunedin to Fiordland.

Visit Dunedin, explore the majestic Larnach Castle on the nearby Otago Peninsula, and enjoy dinner at the Speights Alehouse. Drive further south to Invercargill, passing by seals, sealions, dolphins, and penguins on the road. Spend a night on the Milford Sound Mariner, taking in the beautiful scenery of Fiordland National Park. Explore the breathtaking resort town of Queenstown for a couple of days before you say goodbye.

Christchurch - Dunedin - Invercargill - Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

Map of 9 Day Southern Explorer Self Drive Christchurch to Queenstown
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
Arrive Christchurch
Christchurch to Dunedin
Explore Dunedin
Dunedin to Invercargill
Invercargill to Te Anau
Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise
Milford Sound to Queenstown
Explore Queenstown
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Christchurch

Day 2

Christchurch to Dunedin

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 361 kms

Day 3

Explore Dunedin

Day 4

Dunedin to Invercargill

Travel Time: 2 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 205 kms

Day 5

Invercargill to Te Anau

Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 188 kms

Day 6

Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

Travel Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Distance: 117 kms

Day 7

Milford Sound to Queenstown

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 286 kms

Day 8

Explore Queenstown

Day 9

Depart Queenstown

Collect your rental car from the airport on arrival into Christchurch, the gateway to New Zealand’s South Island and Canterbury region. Depending on when you touch down, you may wish to explore the city known as the ‘garden city’ for it’s beautiful Hagley Park with the Avon River meandering through it. Watch punters on the Avon, tour the Botanical Gardens or board the tramway for a short sightseeing tour of the city, hopping on and off as you please at locations that catch your eye. Tonight,dine at one of the new cafes or restaurants or board the unique tramcar Restaurant and enjoy dinner whilst seeing Christchurch come alive at night.

Stay 1 night Christchurch

This morning, you begin your journey south. We recommend stopping in at Oamaru to admire the thriving Victorian Precinct. Have a bite to eat at one of the restaurants or cafes for lunch then take the time to wander the cobbled streets and visit the art galleries. Continue your journey south. Before arriving into Dunedin make a quick visit to the Moeraki Boulders. These are spherical shaped boulders that dot the Koekohe Beach, a very unique sight to see.

Stay 2 nights Dunedin

Today, explore the Otago Peninsula including a visit to Larnach Castle. The peninsula is a haven for seabirds and other marine life, including little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and albatross. Or you may wish to stroll around the city admiring the Edwardian structures including the well photographed Dunedin Railway Station. Tonight, enjoy a tour of Speights Alehouse followed by a dinner.

This morning head for New Zealand’s most southern most city, Invercargill. Drive through Balclutha which has a distinctive arched concrete bridge and a museum where you can see historic farming and household implements. Explore the Catlins which lies between Kaka Point and Fortrose. The winding road will take you to see seals and sealions, Hector’s dolphins, several species of penguin and the petrified forest in Curio Bay. Wilderness beaches, waterfalls, walkways, lakes and rivers provide non-stop scenery along the way. If you have time this afternoon, take the half hour drive to Bluff which is a fishing port well known for its seafood, especially the famous Bluff Oysters or explore Invercargill.

Stay 1 night Invercargill

Today you head for the gateway to Fiordland National Park, Te Anau. You have a choice of two routes to reach Te Anau. One route takes you along the coast where you can stop in at Riverton, one of New Zealand's first settlements. You will drive through Tuatapere and Clifden where you can investigate caves and discover the historic suspension bridge. Drive along the shores of Lake Manapouri before arriving into Te Anau. Alternatively, take the inland route and travel through Gore and Lumsden. On arrival into Te Anau, take a tour of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, a subterranean world of limestone tunnels sculpted over thousands of years by the river that runs through them. Admire the galaxies of glowworms overhead as you float by on the silent waters.

Stay 1 night Te Anau

A trip to Te Anau wouldn’t be complete without seeing the majestic Milford Sound. The drive into Milford Sound is absolutely spectacular and is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world. On arrival, embark on a magical journey aboard the Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise. As you cruise the fiord, marvel at the soaring peaks above and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner.

Stay overnight Milford Mariner

This morning, wake up to one of the world’s most beautiful places. After disembarking from your cruise, drive to the popular tourist city of Queenstown. With so many activities on offer, it is hard to make a decision on what to do. You do have a whole day to explore tomorrow as well! Tonight, enjoy dinner at one of the award-winning restaurants Queenstown has on offer.

Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Enjoy a relaxing day in Queenstown today. There is an array of activities to do to fill in your day. Take a ride on the Shotover Jetboat, embark on the TSS Earnslaw steamship cruise or soak in the Onsen Hot Pools. Tonight, enjoy a trip on the Skyline Gondola to enjoy a buffet dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant to finish your trip with a delicious dining experience overlooking the town, lake and mountains beyond.

Today you bid farewell to Queenstown and return your rental car to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Day 1, Arrive Christchurch

Arrive Christchurch

Collect your rental car from the airport on arrival into Christchurch, the gateway to New Zealand’s South Island and Canterbury region. Depending on when you touch down, you may wish to explore the city known as the ‘garden city’ for it’s beautiful Hagley Park with the Avon River meandering through it. Watch punters on the Avon, tour the Botanical Gardens or board the tramway for a short sightseeing tour of the city, hopping on and off as you please at locations that catch your eye. Tonight,dine at one of the new cafes or restaurants or board the unique tramcar Restaurant and enjoy dinner whilst seeing Christchurch come alive at night.

Stay 1 night Christchurch

Day 2, Christchurch to Dunedin

Christchurch to Dunedin

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 361 kms

This morning, you begin your journey south. We recommend stopping in at Oamaru to admire the thriving Victorian Precinct. Have a bite to eat at one of the restaurants or cafes for lunch then take the time to wander the cobbled streets and visit the art galleries. Continue your journey south. Before arriving into Dunedin make a quick visit to the Moeraki Boulders. These are spherical shaped boulders that dot the Koekohe Beach, a very unique sight to see.

Stay 2 nights Dunedin

Day 3, Explore Dunedin

Explore Dunedin

Today, explore the Otago Peninsula including a visit to Larnach Castle. The peninsula is a haven for seabirds and other marine life, including little blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and albatross. Or you may wish to stroll around the city admiring the Edwardian structures including the well photographed Dunedin Railway Station. Tonight, enjoy a tour of Speights Alehouse followed by a dinner.

Day 4, Dunedin to Invercargill

Dunedin to Invercargill

Travel Time: 2 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 205 kms

This morning head for New Zealand’s most southern most city, Invercargill. Drive through Balclutha which has a distinctive arched concrete bridge and a museum where you can see historic farming and household implements. Explore the Catlins which lies between Kaka Point and Fortrose. The winding road will take you to see seals and sealions, Hector’s dolphins, several species of penguin and the petrified forest in Curio Bay. Wilderness beaches, waterfalls, walkways, lakes and rivers provide non-stop scenery along the way. If you have time this afternoon, take the half hour drive to Bluff which is a fishing port well known for its seafood, especially the famous Bluff Oysters or explore Invercargill.

Stay 1 night Invercargill

Day 5, Invercargill to Te Anau

Invercargill to Te Anau

Travel Time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Distance: 188 kms

Today you head for the gateway to Fiordland National Park, Te Anau. You have a choice of two routes to reach Te Anau. One route takes you along the coast where you can stop in at Riverton, one of New Zealand's first settlements. You will drive through Tuatapere and Clifden where you can investigate caves and discover the historic suspension bridge. Drive along the shores of Lake Manapouri before arriving into Te Anau. Alternatively, take the inland route and travel through Gore and Lumsden. On arrival into Te Anau, take a tour of the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, a subterranean world of limestone tunnels sculpted over thousands of years by the river that runs through them. Admire the galaxies of glowworms overhead as you float by on the silent waters.

Stay 1 night Te Anau

Day 6, Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

Travel Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Distance: 117 kms

A trip to Te Anau wouldn’t be complete without seeing the majestic Milford Sound. The drive into Milford Sound is absolutely spectacular and is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world. On arrival, embark on a magical journey aboard the Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise. As you cruise the fiord, marvel at the soaring peaks above and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner.

Stay overnight Milford Mariner

Day 7, Milford Sound to Queenstown

Milford Sound to Queenstown

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 286 kms

This morning, wake up to one of the world’s most beautiful places. After disembarking from your cruise, drive to the popular tourist city of Queenstown. With so many activities on offer, it is hard to make a decision on what to do. You do have a whole day to explore tomorrow as well! Tonight, enjoy dinner at one of the award-winning restaurants Queenstown has on offer.

Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Day 8, Explore Queenstown

Explore Queenstown

Enjoy a relaxing day in Queenstown today. There is an array of activities to do to fill in your day. Take a ride on the Shotover Jetboat, embark on the TSS Earnslaw steamship cruise or soak in the Onsen Hot Pools. Tonight, enjoy a trip on the Skyline Gondola to enjoy a buffet dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant to finish your trip with a delicious dining experience overlooking the town, lake and mountains beyond.

Day 9, Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown

Today you bid farewell to Queenstown and return your rental car to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 May to September 2019

 Twin/Double
Standard Accommodation from AU$3,840* per person

 * PLEASE NOTE

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.

Car Rental

  • Car hire excess fees of up to NZ$3500 + GST applies. This will be imprinted on a credit card upon collecting the vehicle. Excess reduction options are available at an additional cost per day. 
  • Airport/Ferry pick up fee applies in some locations. This must be paid direct in New Zealand. 
  • Car parking fees may apply in some locations.

Payment

  • Deposit: $200 per person within 7 days of booking
  • Full Payment: 60 Days before travel
  • Airfares (if applicable): Paid in full no more than 6 days after 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:

8 nights accommodation

  • 1 night Christchurch
  • 2 nights Dunedin
  • 1 night Invercargill
  • 1 night Te Anau
  • 1 night Milford Sound
  • 2 nights Queenstown

9 days car rental (excess applies)

Private airport transfers

Larnach Castle and Gardens

Speights Alehouse Tour and Dinner

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

Skyline Gondola and Dinner

Options

Itineraries

All itineraries can be amended or combined with other itineraries. Please advise amendments when requesting a quote.

Travel Insurance

If you are going overseas, then travel insurance is a necessity. Compare rates and polices online and get a free travel insurance quote.

Accommodation

There is a choice of accommodation available on all packages, which depending on locations, includes motels, 3 star hotels, 4 star hotels, boutique lodges & hotels and luxury lodges and hotels. We are happy to quote on alternate accommodation requests.

Airfares

International flights can be included from Australia for all Australian residents.

Optional Extras

Explore Christchurch

Christchurch Tramway

These beautifully restored trams follow a 2.5 kilometre loop around central Christchurch taking in some of the most interesting sites including Cathedral Square, Aquarium of Discovery, The Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum, Punting on the Avon, Victoria Square, and New Regent Street to name just a few. Using the All Day pass you can hop on and off at any of the nine stops around the inner city tram loop and experience the inner city sights and attractions at your leisure.

Punting on the Avon

Experience life the way it should be - relaxed, tranquil and thoroughly enjoyable! Sink back into the velvet cushions of your boat as the Edwardian punter gently glides you down the Avon River, through the beautiful historic inner city of Christchurch. 

Explore Dunedin

Natures Wonders Otago Peninsula

A one hour nature and wildlife tour that is not to be missed. See at extremely close quarters the very rare yellow eyed penguin, New Zealand Fur Seals and colonies of Cormorants and other unique bird life. Add to this, spectacular views of the rugged coastline and ocean as you drive across a working farm in a unique 8 wheel drive Argo.

Cadbury World Tour

This tour is essential for all Chocoholics. This is a smell, sight and sound sensation with a guided tour of the chocolate factory, where you learn of the processes and see your favourite products being made. Hear fascinating stories supported by visual and interactive displays and sample various products. Visit the Cadbury World retail store where special products and merchandise are available for purchase. 

Explore Queenstown

Shotover Jet

Shotover Jet is New Zealand’s most popular and instantly identified visitor activity. Nothing you have experienced will have you prepared for the excitement of a Shotover Jet ride. From the moment the accelerator hits the floor your adrenaline hits the roof as you speed through the towering, rocky canyons of the famous Shotover River. Your driver skillfully whips the boat past rocky outcrops, and skims around crags and boulders, rock faces blur in your peripheral vision, white crystals of water spray with every turn, you grip the safety rail for reassurance and let out a whoop of excitement as the driver spins the boat around in its own length and you experience the 'trademark' Shotover Jet 360° spin.

TSS Earnslaw Cruise and Walter Peak Station

Take a TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm - join a fascinating farm tour and enjoy a delicious morning or afternoon tea.

Highlights

Christchurch - Dunedin - Invercargill - Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

Larnach Castle and Gardens

Located on the Otago Peninsula, with its exciting, sometimes scandalous and tragic history, magnificent carved ceilings, New Zealand antiques and breathtaking views, Larnach Castle offers you a vision of the past and present. Today, the Castle is the home of the Barker family, who have spent over forty years lovingly restoring the building and recreating the beauty of the 14 hectares of gardens and grounds.

Speights Alehouse Tour and Dinner

“Pride of the South”, Speights Brewery has a 125 year history of producing quality beverages that enjoy legendary status in New Zealand along with the “Southern Man” advertising branding which is equally well regarded. The tour takes you through a working brewery, its sights and smells, outlining the history of brewing, interactive displays giving an understanding of the processes and what goes into a world class beer, finishing with a tasting opportunity and to purchase limited edition products.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Your Te Anau Glowworm Cave adventure begins with a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau to the western side of the lake. Upon arrival at Cavern House our friendly guides invite you to accompany them underground in small groups. As you explore by path and small boat, your senses will be overwhelmed. Observe how the rushing water sculpts the rock formations, before gliding through silent darkness to the glowworm grotto. The delicate incandescence of thousands of tiny glowworms is a magical site.

Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

What better way to enjoy the "eighth wonder of the world" than an overnight cruise. Milford's character changes as darkness approaches and you wake next morning in a pristine world of towering bush clad mountains and distant glaciers. Without doubt this will be a unique and memorable highlight of your New Zealand holiday. The Milford Mariner brings a high degree of comfort to overnight cruising whilst maintaining Real Journeys informal and relaxed atmosphere. The perfect combinations to best enjoy Milford Sound. Accommodating only 60 passengers in twin or double ensuite cabins the vessel offers spacious viewing decks, observation lounge and dining saloon. In addition to a leisurely cruise the full length of Milford Sound there are opportunities for sea kayaking, exploring onshore and excursions in the tender vessels with an overnight anchorage in Harrison Cove. Dinner is a generous buffet with a hearty cooked breakfast in the morning.

Skyline Gondola and Dinner

An essential inclusion on your Queenstown schedule. Travel by gondola to Bob’s Peak high above the township and lake where the unsurpassed views are matched only by a range of activity options that may require a day rather than an hour or two. The views stretch from Coronet Peak to the left, over the town and Remarkable Mountains, along Lake Wakatipu’s southern arm toward Kingston and to your right, across the lake, Cecil and Walter Peaks and the Earnslaw plying its waters as well. Taste of “New Zealand Buffet Dinner”. This is a legendary meal which includes soup selections, a range of hot entrees; from the carvery, four roasts with complementary sauces; a selection of mouth-watering seafood’s, a salad bar and to follow, tempting desserts, New Zealand cheeseboard and tea/coffee.

Book now, pay later No credit card required

9 Day Southern Explorer Self Drive Christchurch to Queenstown

Fields marked with * are required

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

Your Details

(e.g +44 208 123456)

Additional Extras

Accommodation & Transport

Flights

Other Passengers

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

General Information

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