Dart River, Glenorchy, New Zealand

Classic South Island

Starting in Christchurch, travelling into Mackenzie county to Lake Tekapo. You will pass Lake Pukaki with views of Mt Cook on route to Queenstown.  Your first night in Queenstown you'll cruise Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Station for a farm show and gourmet BBQ.  From Queenstown you will enjoy a spectacular flight to Milford Sound.  Once in Milford sound you will take a scenic nature cruise, before flying off to Mt Aspiring National Park for the amazing Dart River Safari. Next day you will be travelling north stopping at Franz Josef before heading back to Christchurch via the Tranz Alpine Train.

About this NZ Road Trip

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,482 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

7 days/6 nights

Motels

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 33 times in the last 7 days

Tour map
Canterbury Plains, Christchurch, New Zealand
Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
Detailed itinerary for this New Zealand Road Trip

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

Classic South Island - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

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

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Christchurch City

On arrival into Christchurch airport you will be met from your flight and a transfer will deliver you to your accommodation.
The rest of the day is yours to explore at your leisure. Christchurch City is the largest city in the South Island. Often referred to as the Garden City it boasts one of the largest public parks in the country and the city centre is full of very impressive stone buildings reminiscent of the English university towns.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country to the lakeside village of Tekapo

Classic South Island - Day 2
Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV's.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.
Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

Tekapo Springs offers three adjoining main Hot Pools for you to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself while looking out to the beautiful Two Thumb range and stunning Lake Tekapo. Pool temperatures range from forty degrees celsius to thirty-six degrees celsius and each pool offers something different - massage jets to assist in taking away any aches and pains and fountains to splash under.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dark Sky Project Summit Experience

Earth and Sky Stargazing tour departs nightly from the office in the Lake Tekapo township. Travel to the Mt John observatory high above the village where you will explore features of the majestic Southern Sky. Earth and Sky provide the equipment and the guidance, all you need to bring are keen eyes, warm clothes and a desire to see, learn, and experience.
Navigating your way through the Southern Sky using various telescopes and the naked eye, you will see amazing sights such as our own Milky Way Galaxy, the Southern Cross, Alpha-Centauri - our closest neighbouring star at only 4.3 light years away, and Sirius - the brightest star in our sky.
Behold and learn about our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, which grace our night sky along with constellations such as Orion the Hunter and Scorpius.
You may also have the opportunity to see star clusters like the beautiful Jewel Box; awe inspiring planets; nebulae, immense clouds of gas and dust; and distant galaxies which test the limits of human imagination.

Your accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo

Just a few metres walk from the lakefront and a few minutes from the small township of Tekapo, Mantra Lake Tekapo provides spacious fully equipped apartment style luxury accommodation.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 247 kms / 153 miles : 2.9 hours

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Day 3 - Pass the turquoise waters of the glacier lakes, then over the Lindis Pass to Central Otago where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Queenstown

Classic South Island - Day 3
Lake Tekapo to Queenstown

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes drive from Lake Tekapo and as you approach the lake you are often rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. At 3754 metres Aoraki Mt. Cook is New Zealand highest mountain and the peak can often be seen from the visitor centre at the southern end of Lake Pukaki. Twizel, just south of Mt. Cook was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand. Wrinkly Rams is a local cafe and also offers an informative sheep shearing demonstration. The Lindis Pass is one of New Zealand's highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres. The tussock covered hills offer an unusual contrast as you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago.
Bendigo
, just off the main highway, was one of Otago's original gold mining settlements and well marked paths will guide you to explore the remains of stone cottages and other buildings from this bygone era.
Cromwell
sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Cromwell old town has restored buildings from before the valley was flooded to create Lake Dunstan for the hydro systems. The sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge guide you towards Queenstown and the Gibbston Valley is one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. At the famous historic Kawarau Bridge you can take a bungy jump or just watch others if you would rather. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the alpine resort town of Queenstown, the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only way to experience the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. See their beauty and feel their power on the world’s most exciting jet boat ride. A unique combination of beauty and power, it’s an experience like no other. Blending pristine natural landscape with wall to wall canyon action from start to finish!
Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - Hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

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. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming 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.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

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Day 4 - Today you're taken on a fantastic adventure. First fly to Milford Sound for a nature cruise, then return for a spectacular Dart River jet boat trip

Classic South Island - Day 4
Milford Fly, Cruise, Fly & Jetboat Combo with Milford Sound Scenic Flights

Enjoy the uninterrupted viewing of this inspiring region from above as you fly from Queenstown, over the Southern Alps, to magnificent Milford Sound. Home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, these striking views can only truly be appreciated from above. Upon landing in Milford Sound, you'll connect to your Mitre Peak Cruises vessel and travel the full length of the fiord out into the Tasman Sea. As you are cruising, keep an eye out for wildlife, as New Zealand fur seals and dolphins are often spotted from the boat. After your cruise, you will fly over two spectacular national parks; Fiordland and Mt Aspiring as you make your way to Glenorchy. The adventure continues with a thrilling jet boat ride through the heart of Real Middle Earth, offering a combination of magic views in an untouched wilderness as well as an exciting adrenaline rush to finish off the day.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 5 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Classic South Island - Day 5
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 1 hour return 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

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

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

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Day 6 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Classic South Island - Day 6
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.
 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

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.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

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

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

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Day 7 - Depart Christchurch today

Classic South Island - Day 7
Private transfer to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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