Overview

Kick off this comprehensive 21 Day South Island Grand Self Drive Tour of the South Island of New Zealand with the Dart River Safari to prepare you for energetic adventures along the way. Follow a figure 8 loop as you journey across South Island, enjoying the unfolding scenery of soaring mountains, aqua blue lakes, glaciers, white sandy beaches and verdant rainforests.

There are plenty of wildlife encounters and exciting adventures on your own to look forward to – thanks to an exceptional self-catered accommodation, you can bring the entire family with you.

Itineraries

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

Queenstown - Franz Josef - Hanmer Springs - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Abel Tasman National Parks - Punakaiki - Christchurch - Akaroa - Aoraki/Mt. Cook - Dunedin - Te Anau - Queenstown

Map of 21 Day South Island Grand Self Drive
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Arrive Queenstown
Dart River Wilderness Safari
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef to Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura
Explore Kaikoura
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park
Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch
Abel Tasman to Punakaiki
Punakaiki - Greymouth - Tranz Alpine Train - Christchurch
Explore Christchurch City
Christchurch to Akaroa
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Mt. Cook to Dunedin
Otago Peninsula
Dunedin to Te Anau
Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau
Te Anau to Queenstown
Depart Queenstown

Day 1

Arrive Queenstown

Day 2

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Day 3

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

Travel Time: 4 hrs 25 mins

Distance: 344 kms

Day 4

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Day 5

Franz Josef to Hanmer Springs

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 381 kms

Day 6

Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 1hr 45mins

Distance: 127 kms

Day 7

Explore Kaikoura

Day 8

Kaikoura to Blenheim

Travel Time: 1 hr 25 mins

Distance: 116 kms

Day 9

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park

Travel Time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Distance: 184 kms

Day 10

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

Day 11

Abel Tasman to Punakaiki

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 286 kms

Day 12

Punakaiki - Greymouth - Tranz Alpine Train - Christchurch

Travel Time: 40 mins

Distance: 42 kms

Day 13

Explore Christchurch City

Day 14

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 71 kms

Day 15

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 383 kms

Day 16

Mt. Cook to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 318 kms

Day 17

Otago Peninsula

Day 18

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 4 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 387 kms

Day 19

Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 233 kms

Day 20

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 164 kms

Day 21

Depart Queenstown

Welcome to Queenstown. You will be met from your flight and transferred to your Queenstown hotel.

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

Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a  four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Collect your rental car

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
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 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 Franz Josef

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You’ll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand.

The drive north from Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika. You then turn east and travel along the Lewis Pass, the least travelled of the 3 main routes over the Southern Alps. A scenic journey passing through forests and the famous Maruia Hot Springs. Springs Junction is the starting point of the pass and just after is Lake Daniells Track. The alpine village of Hanmer Springs has been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders for many years. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boating Hanmer Springs

Stay 1 night Hanmer Springs

On the drive from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura you will be introduced you to the South Island’s most numerous inhabitant, the sheep. As you head towards the east coast you will travel through North Canterbury’s major wine region, the Waipara Valley.

Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Kaikoura is New Zealand's world famous whale watching destination. Sperm Whales can be seen here year-round while depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.

Stay 2 nights Kaikoura

The Kaikoura Coast is renowned for its abundant marine life, and this is huge visitor drawcard. Due to the teeming food supply in its icy seas, whales, seals and dolphins are frequently spotted year round in the area. 

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.

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. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half day wine tasting tour

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. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Stay 2 nights around Abel Tasman National Park

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. 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.

The drive today takes you along the Buller Gorge and offers some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river. The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. 

The first major town (by this regions standard) is Inangahua. Further along the river one of the must stop places is Whites Creek and New Zealand's longest swing bridge. Crossing the river you get magnificent views of the gorge.

The port town of Westport is the largest on the Northern West Coast. The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki.

Stay 1 night Punakaiki

Punakaiki to Greymouth
You have plenty of time to explore Punakaiki this morning and to enjoy the scenic drive back along the coast to Greymouth to catch the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train 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.

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

Stay 2 nights Christchurch

Collect your rental car

Explore Christchurch City
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Grand Tour

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.

The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise 

Stay 1 night Akaroa

Today you head into the heart of the South Island, Mt. Cook National Park.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
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.

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 and 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

Otago Peninsula Wildlife full day tour including Larnach Castle

Enjoy a scenic Otago Peninsula tour by bus seeing various species of wading birds in their natural habitats. Experience a guided tour at the Royal Albatross This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes either a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin’s great landmarks or a visit to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre with its absorbing display of local sealife.

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Stay 2 nights Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. 

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord.

Today you’ll cross vast tussocklands on your way to Queenstown. Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation. Continue on through the Southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Stay 1 night 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

Welcome to Queenstown. You will be met from your flight and transferred to your Queenstown hotel.

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

Stay 2 nights Queenstown

Day 2, Dart River Wilderness Safari

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a  four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Day 3, Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

Travel Time: 4 hrs 25 mins

Distance: 344 kms

Collect your rental car

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
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 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 Franz Josef

Day 4, Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You’ll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand.

Day 5, Franz Josef to Hanmer Springs

Franz Josef to Hanmer Springs

Travel Time: 4 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 381 kms

The drive north from Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika. You then turn east and travel along the Lewis Pass, the least travelled of the 3 main routes over the Southern Alps. A scenic journey passing through forests and the famous Maruia Hot Springs. Springs Junction is the starting point of the pass and just after is Lake Daniells Track. The alpine village of Hanmer Springs has been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders for many years. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boating Hanmer Springs

Stay 1 night Hanmer Springs

Day 6, Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

Travel Time: 1hr 45mins

Distance: 127 kms

On the drive from Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura you will be introduced you to the South Island’s most numerous inhabitant, the sheep. As you head towards the east coast you will travel through North Canterbury’s major wine region, the Waipara Valley.

Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Kaikoura is New Zealand's world famous whale watching destination. Sperm Whales can be seen here year-round while depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.

Stay 2 nights Kaikoura

Day 7, Explore Kaikoura

Explore Kaikoura

The Kaikoura Coast is renowned for its abundant marine life, and this is huge visitor drawcard. Due to the teeming food supply in its icy seas, whales, seals and dolphins are frequently spotted year round in the area. 

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.

Day 8, 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. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half day wine tasting tour

Day 9, Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park

Travel Time: 2 hrs 50 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. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Stay 2 nights around Abel Tasman National Park

Day 10, Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip including picnic lunch

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. 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.

Day 11, Abel Tasman to Punakaiki

Abel Tasman to Punakaiki

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 286 kms

The drive today takes you along the Buller Gorge and offers some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river. The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. 

The first major town (by this regions standard) is Inangahua. Further along the river one of the must stop places is Whites Creek and New Zealand's longest swing bridge. Crossing the river you get magnificent views of the gorge.

The port town of Westport is the largest on the Northern West Coast. The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki.

Stay 1 night Punakaiki

Day 12, Punakaiki - Greymouth - Tranz Alpine Train - Christchurch

Punakaiki - Greymouth - Tranz Alpine Train - Christchurch

Travel Time: 40 mins

Distance: 42 kms

Punakaiki to Greymouth
You have plenty of time to explore Punakaiki this morning and to enjoy the scenic drive back along the coast to Greymouth to catch the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train 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.

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

Stay 2 nights Christchurch

Day 13, Explore Christchurch City

Explore Christchurch City

Collect your rental car

Explore Christchurch City
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Grand Tour

Day 14, Christchurch to Akaroa

Christchurch to Akaroa

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 71 kms

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.

The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise 

Stay 1 night Akaroa

Day 15, Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Travel Time: 4 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 383 kms

Today you head into the heart of the South Island, Mt. Cook National Park.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Stay 1 night Mt. Cook

Day 16, Mt. Cook to Dunedin

Mt. Cook to Dunedin

Travel Time: 3 hrs 45 mins

Distance: 318 kms

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama and stretch your legs in Oamaru, 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 17, Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula

Otago Peninsula Wildlife full day tour including Larnach Castle

Enjoy a scenic Otago Peninsula tour by bus seeing various species of wading birds in their natural habitats. Experience a guided tour at the Royal Albatross This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes either a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin’s great landmarks or a visit to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre with its absorbing display of local sealife.

Day 18, Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau

Travel Time: 4 hrs 45 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.

Stay 2 nights Te Anau

Day 19, Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Travel Time: 3 hrs 40 mins

Distance: 233 kms

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. 

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord.

Day 20, Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Travel Time: 2 hrs

Distance: 164 kms

Today you’ll cross vast tussocklands on your way to Queenstown. Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation. Continue on through the Southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Stay 1 night Queenstown

Day 21, 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
Motel Accommodation from NZ$5,360* 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 Queenstown
  • 2 nights Franz Josef
  • 1 night Hanmer Springs
  • 2 nights Kaikoura
  • 1 night Blenheim
  • 2 nights Abel Tasman National Park
  • 1 night Punakaiki
  • 2 nights Christchurch
  • 1 night Akaroa
  • 1 night Mt Cook
  • 2 nights Dunedin
  • 2 nights Te Anau
  • 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

Abel Tasman National Park beaches, bays and seals kayak tour

Whale Watch Kaikoura tour

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre explorer pass

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier tour including Larnach Castle

Dart River Wilderness Safari

Milford Sound nature cruise

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

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

Swimming with the dolphins cruise, Akaroa

Akaroa Harbour formed as a result of an extinct volcanic crater being flooded by the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful place with sheer cliffs and the picturesque township of Akaroa at its heart. New Zealand's only native dolphin, Hectors dolphin, makes this sheltered harbour its home and its here you can take a 2 ½ tour to see and if you wish actually swim with these incredible creatures. Following a ½ hour briefing you depart on a 2 hour cruise of which around 1 hour is spent in the water with the dolphins. Black Cat Cruises has been operating since 1985 and their success rate at sighting dolphins is over 98%. Swimming with dolphins is not always possible either due to sea conditions, the dolphins' willingness to stay and play and other environmental reasons such as not swimming when there are babies around. You still manage to swim though on over 80% of their tours.

Half day wine tasting tour, Blenheim

Be immersed in Marlborough wine country with this 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.

Grand Tour, Christchurch

Hop aboard the Grand Tour luxury coach for an interactive guided journey around Christchurch. See the best of this port city including beautiful parks, gardens, seaside suburbs and hills. You will learn about its history and future plans for the well under way multi-billion dollar rebuild following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Included in the tour are four of Christchurch's premier attractions - punting on the Avon, the Caterpillar Botanic Gardens tour, the Christchurch Gondola and a hop-on hop-off ticket for the heritage Tram.

Jet Boating, Hanmer Springs

Experience the adrenaline rush of going 80km per hour, skimming the river below! Cut corners as turquoise snow melt churns out behind you. White knuckles as the landscape spins 360°. Our experienced drivers will twirl the boat around in just milliseconds. Thrillseekers jet boating is the ultimate way to rocket through the beautiful Canterbury plains whilst absorbing adventure. Buckle up your life jacket, strap in to the boat and get ready to feel exhilarated. Travelling up the stunning Waiau Gorge, there’s no shortage of excitement on this ride. The boat only needs inches of water and the power of the engine thrusts forward. Drama and action are the stuff of movies – until you ride in a jet boat. This is the perfect adventure for those who like a challenge or want to push their limits.

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.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour, Queenstown

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 throughthe 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.

On completion, you will receive a tasting a 3 beers of your choice from the tap at the Brewery bar, plus your very own personalised Monteith's 500ml bottle with your name on it - a personalised endorsement from the head brewer himself.

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.

Abel Tasman National Park beaches, bays and seals kayak tour

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.

Whale Watch Kaikoura tour

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.

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.

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier tour including Larnach Castle from Dunedin

This premier package includes the full Otago Harbour and Taiaroa Head wildlife cruise, scenic Otago Peninsula bus tour, and guided tours of the Royal Albatross Colony, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and a visit to wading bird habitats. Also includes a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks.

Dart River Wilderness Safari, Queenstown

Take a one and a half hour jet boat safari through the remote wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park. Home to towering mountains, alpine bush, glacial lakes and icy rivers, this spectacular trip is considered one of the most scenic in the world. Following your boat journey, take a 40 minute walk through ancient beech forests over 80 million years old. Learn about the area and its history before taking a four wheel drive coach on a 50 minute journey to the isolated hamlet of Paradise - home to many Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Milford Sound nature cruise from Te Anau

An extended and leisurely 2½ hour cruise of Milford Sound on board the Milford Mariner, MV Sinbad or Milford Wanderer. These modern vessels, purpose built for operating in a fiord environment, have been designed along the lines of a traditional trading scow, and have real character. These relaxing cruises have special appeal for the independent traveller and an on board nature guide provides detailed interpretation and commentary. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and to view the stunning scenery, including waterfalls, rainforest and the towering peaks. Keep a lookout for dolphins, seals and penguins.

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. 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 operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

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21 Day South Island Grand Self Drive

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