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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza 

21 days from Queenstown to Queenstown

This tour is a celebration of the beautiful places, natural wonders and outstanding lodge retreats that the South Island is home to.  In remote and unspoilt locations you’ll discover what makes this part of the world so special and why our luxury lodges are so well regarded.  With many amazing inclusions from breath-taking flights to glaciers and cruises through the azure blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park, you’ll have something to look forward to every day.  In the evenings you’ll dine and relax at welcoming lodges situated in unique and wondrous locations.

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 21 days/20 nights from Queenstown to Queenstown
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Luxury Lodges & hotels (Can be customised? YES )
 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers
 Tour pack: Includes detailed driving instructions, maps, guide books and much more
 This tour can be customised to suit you precisely - just request here
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Lake Matheson, West Coast, New Zealand
Rocky Beach, Kaiteriteri
 

21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown
Accommodation: Matakauri Lodge

Day 2: Relax this morning, then delight in a picnic in your own private paradise
Accommodation: Matakauri Lodge

Day 3: You car is delivered this morning, then drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka
Accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 4: Spend some time exploring Wanaka, then the afternoon discover the Central Otago pinot noir
Accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge

Day 5: Allow plenty of time for photo stops during your drive to the West Coast
Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 6: Get a bird's eye view of the breath-taking Westland National Park and glaciers
Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Day 7: Head north along the rugged coast, then inland to Arthur's Pass National Park
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 8: Explore the many great walks within Arthur's Pass National park
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge

Day 9: Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura with time for a wildlife encounter if you choose
Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.5 hours

Day 10: Kaikoura to Blenheim home to the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards
Accommodation: Timara Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 11: Leave the vineyards behind and travel to the Abel Tasman area
Accommodation: Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 12: Discover the beautiful aqua bays and playful seals of Abel Tasman National Park
Accommodation: Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte

Day 13: Today journey south along the West Coast Road to Punakaiki
Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 14: A short drive to Greymouth where you board the TranzAlpine scenic train to Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 42 kms / 26 miles : 0.6 hours

Day 15: Journey south to Mount Cook National Park and an amazing iceberg encounter
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 16: Follow the Waitaki River to the coast then south past the Moeraki Boulders to Dunedin
Accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 17: Discover the fascinating wildlife that resides on the peninsula
Accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

Day 18: From Dunedin take the Catlins coastal road to Te Anau
Accommodation: Fiordland Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 449 kms / 279 miles : 5.5 hours

Day 19: A magnificent day trip to Milford Sound for your nature cruise
Accommodation: Fiordland Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 20: Return to Queenstown for a relaxing evening at Matakauri Lodge
Accommodation: Matakauri Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 21: Depart Queenstown

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 1 kms / 1 miles : 0.0 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 1

Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown

Transfer from Queenstown Airport to your accommodation

Welcome to the Adventure Capital of Queenstown.  You will be met at the airport and driven to your accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities 'Queenstown' is synonymous with adventure. Nestled below soaring vistas of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this small alpine town is parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston valley wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Matakauri Lodge

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning panoramic views of the Remarkables, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just a short seven minute drive for the centre of Queenstown, Matakauri Lodge is a relaxing alpine retreat tucked into one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. The main lodge consists of a spacious lounge, dining and living areas complimented by large open fires. It also has a large patio, library and courtyard - all comfortable spaces to relax in. You can also take a swim in the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi, both offering spectacular views of the lake and mountainside.

Your accommodation: Matakauri Lodge

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.

Meals included: Dinner

Matakauri Lodge

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 2

Day 2 - Relax this morning, then delight in a picnic in your own private paradise

Experience the wonders of Queenstown

Renowned as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ Queenstown is not just an action destination. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the (truly remarkable) Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is a melting pot of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Follow the vines through Gibbston Valley as you sample the region’s best wine. Stop at the Chard Farm cellar door, visit the award-winning Peregrine vineyard or take a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship - the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

Ultimate Paradise Picnic Scenic Helicopter Flight with Heliworks

Relax and enjoy the beauty of Queenstown, as you are flown to a beautiful location on Cecil Peak for a gourmet picnic accompanied by wine or bubbles. The perfect opportunity to indulge!

Your accommodation: Matakauri Lodge

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Matakauri Lodge

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 3

Day 3 - You car is delivered this morning, then drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

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.

Queenstown to Wanaka

Leaving Queenstown you'll drive over New Zealand's highest sealed road, the Crown Range before arriving into the resort town of Wanaka.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - The Blast Adventure Combo

Oxbow The Adventure Company is located in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps, and is proud to exist as a passionate provider of one hundred percent super-charged, pure Kiwi fun - all set in a private paradise. During The Blast combo you will take a ride in the River Jet Boat, the Ultimate Off Roader and shoot some targets at the Oxbow Gun Club.

The River Jet Boat ride is a scenic tour with a difference. With it's notoriously swift and crystal clear glacial blue waters churning effortlessly around the banks of Oxbow Estate, the mighty Clutha River is a true sight to behold. Oxbow's experienced driver will take you and your crew jet boating, whilst comfortably seated in a 400 Horse Power custom designed River Jet boat. This is a ride that's guaranteed to make you smile - but don't expect to stay dry!

The Ultimate Off-Roader is a one-of a kind, custom built all-terrain vehicle that goes everywhere. This is Oxbow's most unique adventure experience. Creek jumping, rock hopping and cliff climbing around a specially designed course of steep gullies, boulders and some ridiculous angles, is all in a day's work for this Beast. Prepare to be totally unprepared!

Become an honorary guest at the exclusive Oxbow Gun Club! You can enjoy a spot of healthy competition pelting clays against one of New Zealand's most magnificent rural backdrops, whilst enjoying the unique atmosphere of Oxbow's purpose built Gun Club. Enjoy one-on-one guidance in clay target shooting from an experienced instructor to ensure no clay gets away alive.

Your accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge

Set on a ten acre estate just outside Lake Wanaka, Lime Tree Lodge offers luxury boutique accommodation with stunning 360-degree uninterrupted mountain views.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Lime Tree Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 4

Day 4 - Spend some time exploring Wanaka, then the afternoon discover the Central Otago pinot noir

Wanaka Wine Tours Boutique Central Otago Wine Trail

This small group wine tour (maximum 8) offers a relaxed and personal introduction to the wines and scenery of the Central Otago region. This tour is a great way to explore award-winning vineyards hidden amongst the rugged landscape of Central Otago. Visit and enjoy tastings at 4 Central Otago vineyards including a gourmet canape matched tasting.  You'll also discover the history of the region with a visit to Old Cromwell Town, a charming heritage precinct that has been revitalised into a boutique arts and crafts village.

Your accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge

Set on a ten acre estate just outside Lake Wanaka, Lime Tree Lodge offers luxury boutique accommodation with stunning 360-degree uninterrupted mountain views.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Lime Tree Lodge

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 5

Day 5 - Allow plenty of time for photo stops during your drive to the West Coast

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the village of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The Blue Pools, just outside Makarora, are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes. A great way to experience the glaciers is with a scenic flight or glacier hike.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Siberia Experience

The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Leaving from Makarora at the head of Lake Wanaka you will enjoy some of New Zealand's untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, alpine lakes, rain forest, waterfalls and more - this is your chance to see it all. This unique adventure incorporates a 25 minute unforgettable scenic flight with Southern Alps Air, a 2 1/2 hour walk beginning in the remote Siberia Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park and a 30 minute exciting Jet Boat ride with Wilkin River Jets.

Your accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 6

Day 6 - Get a bird's eye view of the breath-taking Westland National Park and glaciers

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.

Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Your accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 7

Day 7 - Head north along the rugged coast, then inland to Arthur's Pass National Park

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular - even in the rain - and there is pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush clad hillsides it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made tier seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.

The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the worlds only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.

Arthur's Pass Township is bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass is on its own 3,000 hectare nature reserve/merino sheep farm and surrounded by the mountains of Arthur's Pass National Park. Join nature guides to walk, canoe and discover kea parrots, giant buttercups, pygmy forests, alpine flower gardens and waterfalls.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Wilderness Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 8

Day 8 - Explore the many great walks within Arthur's Pass National park

Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity

Within the Arthur's Pass there are many short walks to suit all ages and abilities. Located in the Arthur's Pass Village is a Department of Conservation information centre where you can get updates on track conditions and track suitability as well as learning about the natural history of the area and its people.

Listed below are a selection of short walks.

1. Millennium Walk - Time: 10 minutes return
2. Devils Punchbowl Waterfall Walk - Time: One hour return
3. Arthur's Pass Walking Track - Time: One hour 20 minutes (one way)
4. Dobson Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
5. Old Coach Road Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
6. Cockayne Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass is on its own 3,000 hectare nature reserve/merino sheep farm and surrounded by the mountains of Arthur's Pass National Park. Join nature guides to walk, canoe and discover kea parrots, giant buttercups, pygmy forests, alpine flower gardens and waterfalls.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Wilderness Lodge

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 9

Day 9 - Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura with time for a wildlife encounter if you choose

Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura

Travelling from the Southern Alps to the Coast, this drive offers spectacular views of braided river valleys. You’ll travel through Castle Hill Scenic Reserve, dotted with remarkable rocky outcrops  - popular for hiking.

Descending on to the Canterbury Plains, you’ll travel through the rich farmland surrounding Christchurch before turning North through the small towns of Rangiora and Oxford. You’ll then travel on State Highway 1 through the Waipara Valley. If you have plenty of time be sure to stop at Hanmer Springs for a soak in the hot mineral pools.

The road hugs the coast for the final stretch of this drive, before arriving into your destination, Kaikoura. Keep a lookout for dolphins as they are often seen swimming just off the coastline as well as New Zealand fur seals basking by the roadside.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company, Whale Watch Kaikoura offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the giant sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, is sometimes seen.
You'll be taken out in modern catamarans specifically designed for whale watching - featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Your accommodation: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Hapuku Lodge was built to give guests a great night's sleep in one the most beautiful places in the world. The Lodge sits tight between the mountains and the ocean, on a deer stud and olive farm.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.5 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 10

Day 10 - Kaikoura to Blenheim home to the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards

Kaikoura to Blenheim

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. One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted). 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 - Sounds Connection Gourmet Wine Tour

The ultimate food and wine experience, the Sounds Connection Gourmet Wine Tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at several renowned Marlborough wineries including Hans Herzog Estate, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Johanneshof Cellars, as well as a stop at the Makana Chocolate Factory (Wineries visited on this tour can vary due to availability). Meet the makers behind these world-renowned wines and gain a fascinating insight into the wine-making process.

Your accommodation: Timara Lodge

Hidden away in New Zealand's most prestigious wine region, which is endowed with magnificent beauty and crystal clear Sounds, Timara Lodge offers a haven of peace, tranquility and relaxation. Nestled in 600 acres including a romantic lake and a beautiful English style park with sweeping lawns. Each room is completely private with spectacular views of the grounds.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Timara Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 11

Day 11 - Leave the vineyards behind and travel to the Abel Tasman area

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. A bustling seaside destination, Picton is well equipped with shops, cafes - and is also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. 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. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks - the most popular - a 30 minute loop through beech, rimu, and totara forest. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Your accommodation: Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte

Luxury accommodation nestled in a tranquil, natural waterfront setting on Nelson’s historic Bronte Peninsula. Surrounded by extensive mature gardens, orchards and vineyard, the elegant spacious suites have their own private patio and spa bath for relaxing. In the main garden enjoy the heated pool, tennis and petanque or explore further afield by bike or canoe.

Meals included: Breakfast

Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 12

Day 12 - Discover the beautiful aqua bays and playful seals of Abel Tasman National Park

Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch

Experience the best of Abel Tasman on this combined beach cruise and walk tour. You will first take a cruise into the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, where you will pause to watch the antics of the Resident Fur Seal Colony. After landing at the historic Tonga Quarry Beach, take a two hour, fifteen minute walk over forested land and around the spectacular Bark Bay Estuary - renowned for its cascading waterfalls. You will then region the cruise at the sheltered golden cove on Medlands Beach.

Your accommodation: Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte

Luxury accommodation nestled in a tranquil, natural waterfront setting on Nelson’s historic Bronte Peninsula. Surrounded by extensive mature gardens, orchards and vineyard, the elegant spacious suites have their own private patio and spa bath for relaxing. In the main garden enjoy the heated pool, tennis and petanque or explore further afield by bike or canoe.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Te Koi, the Lodge at Bronte

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 13

Day 13 - Today journey south along the West Coast Road to Punakaiki

Abel Tasman to Punakaiki

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. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, kayaking, 4WD trips and some great trout fishing.
The first major town (by this regions standard) is Inangahua and a small museum tells of the earthquake that hit the region in 1968 leaving 70% of the buildings damaged or inhabitable. 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 and once on the other side there are short bush walks, jet boat rides and some of the historic gold mining remnants.
The port town of Westport is the largest on the Northern West Coast. A history of gold mining, logging, fishing coal mining gives the town a hard working feeling. And to reward the hard workers the town has an extraordinary amount of pubs.
There are plenty of activities here such as caving, bush walks and surfing but one of the most popular is to take a trip to Tauranga bay and the seal colony. Just 15 kilometres south at Cape Foulwind (named by Captain Cook for the difficult sailing conditions and not the smell of the seals!), you will find a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. A well marked and easy 10 minute walking track takes you to colony where you can see the creatures lazing around or swimming in the ocean.
The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki where a walk along the paths around the pancake rocks is a must. Please note there is no supermarket facilities in Punakaiki.

Your accommodation: Punakaiki Resort

The Punakaiki Resort is a modern, award-winning hotel complex, architecturally designed to harmonise with the local environment. Nestled in the foothills of Papaproa National Park the resort has spectacular views of the Wild West Coast beaches while all rooms have rainforest and/or ocean views.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Punakaiki Resort

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.6 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 14

Day 14 - A short drive to Greymouth where you board the TranzAlpine scenic train to Christchurch

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. Just south of the town of Greymouth is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear and a great place to spend a few hours.  Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before checking in for your train journey at 1:15pm.

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

Crossing the south from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine is considered one of the worlds greatest train journeys. You'll travel from east to the west of the south island 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: The George Hotel, Christchurch

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

The George Hotel, Christchurch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 42 kms / 26 miles : 0.6 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 15

Day 15 - Journey south to Mount Cook National Park and an amazing iceberg encounter

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Drive through the heart of the South Island today, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Stop for a breather in Geraldine before continuing into Mackenzie Country. As you head over Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, renowned for its incredible turquoise hue. Skirt the lake edge to arrive at your final destination Mt Cook Village.

 

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.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 16

Day 16 - Follow the Waitaki River to the coast then south past the Moeraki Boulders to Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

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 - gliding capital of New Zealand - but be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.

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.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house, situated 500m from Larnach Castle. The house is built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate offers total privacy, with entry to Larnach Castle and grounds included.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 17

Day 17 - Discover the fascinating wildlife that resides on the peninsula

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle

This premier package gets you closer to our unique southern ocean wildlife. See the worlds= only mainland nesting place for the Northern Royal Albatross. NZ fur seals also breed here and the impressive NZ Sealions may be seen on sandy beaches. Often seen are other albatross species, petrels, penguins, dolphins and more. You will also take a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks where the expert guides take you on a journey back in time; into the rich, turbulent and scandalous lives of the Larnach family. Enjoy the history and superb craftsmanship of New Zealand's only castle. Climb to the parapets for 360 degree views of the Otago Peninsula and explore the stunning gardens of international significance.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house, situated 500m from Larnach Castle. The house is built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate offers total privacy, with entry to Larnach Castle and grounds included.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 18

Day 18 - From Dunedin take the Catlins coastal road to Te Anau

Dunedin to Kaka Point (The Catlins)

The journey between Dunedin and Invercargill travelling via The Catlins is one that should not be rushed. Taking the eastern half of the Southern Scenic Route the road offers some great Southland and coastal scenery and some fantastic walking opportunities. Kaka Point is located on Molyneux Bay. Nugget Point, just a short drive along the coast road offers spectacular Southern Ocean views with fur seals and sea lions basking on rocks, while Cannibal Bay, just a few kilometers from the main road is a great place to walk the secluded beach and to look for hooker sea lions. There are countless opportunities for short walks to interesting places and all are well signposted.

Catlins (Kaka Pt) to Te Anau

The drive to Te Anau takes you along the beautiful Southern Scenic Route.  First stop along the way is the township of Owaka which hosts a museum telling the history of the region while just a short detour from the main road and an easy 20 minute walk will deliver you to the Purakaunui Falls , a popular photo stop. Curio Bay (well signposted from the main road) is home to one of the worlds most extensive and best preserved examples of a Jurassic fossilised forest (best viewed at low tide). There is also a small population of the rare and endangered yellow eyed penguins here and occasionally the rare hectors dolphins can also be spotted. Take your time on this drive to explore the many bays, beaches and wonderful scenery. Continue along to Invercargill, capital city of the Southland Region. The drive from Invercargill to Te Anau passes through some wonderful and often overlooked regions of Southland. Riverton is Southland's oldest community established by whalers in the 1830's and many of the original cottages have survived throughout the town. The Riverton Early Settlers Museum tells the story well. Orepuki on the coast was once 'almost' a gold town but the fine dust proved too hard to extract commercially. You can still sometimes see gold dust in the beach sand at Monkey Bay. The early sawmilling settlement of Tautapere is next, known as the 'hole in the bush' the town features an attractive domain.  A little further north is the Clifden suspension bridge which dates back to 1899. The Blackmount Road offers some great side trips if you have the time and one in particular is the 50 kilometre round trip to Lake Haruoko, New Zealand's deepest lake. The Blackmount Road continues to the small township Te Anau which is the gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Fiordland Lodge

Set on a superb site with commanding views out across Lake Te Anau this is a rural setting with rolling grass lands surrounding the Lodge, Lake Te Anau being a mere ten minute walk away. Across the lake to the west lie the mountains of Fiordland National Park, an area of over three million acres of untouched wilderness and part of the much larger South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Dining at Fiordland Lodge

The enjoyment of food and wine is integral to the experience on offer at Fiordland Lodge and the use of quality ingredients being seasonal and regional and largely organic are fundamental to their cuisine philosophy.  Food is a focal point at you'll be hard pressed to find something on the menu that isn't homemade or locally grown. Every item on the menu hails from the surrounding land, as an example within five minutes of the lodge there are at least 10 rivers that have fresh watercress sprouting and wild black berries. Items such as the breakfast jams will have been plucked from the onsite garden, venison and rabbit sourced from the local hunters themselves. Fresh organic vegetables, greens, herbs and eggs are harvested daily from the huge onsite vegetable garden so each season nature offers a new palette for the kitchen team to create dishes. Chef Loughnane is dedicated to sourcing the freshest of ingredients, creating relationships with local farmers and smaller producers and saturating the dishes he creates with local Fiordland and Southland ingredients.  A changing evening menu also means that guests get to experience as much of New Zealand’s wonderful food as possible.

Activities available from Fiordland Lodge – enquire for current pricing

Guided Fly Fishing - Fiordland is world renowned for the quality of its fly fishing in New Zealand. The crystal clear unpolluted waters are managed as a wild fishery producing good stocks of large Brown and Rainbow trout. Fiordland Guides specialise in upstream sight fishing and all fishing is catch and release. Over 40 uncrowded rivers and streams are within 1.5 hours drive of the Lodge.

Guided Nature Walks -there are a wide choice of scheduled trips available from half day walks every day of the week to interesting local areas, some of which are rich in local history, to hikes of a number of days or more into the remoter regions of Fiordland.

Conservation Gold Sponsor - donations of $400 or more towards the Kepler Peninsula conservation project.  Beginning with the ‘box seat’ in an early morning helicopter ride, you will join a local volunteer for a day on the Kepler Peninsula checking the pest trap line. You will be required to assist as a scribe, noting any wildlife along the way.  This is a unique full day experience walking the 8km track through pristine native beech forest, checking traps along the way.  The walking is leisurely with frequent stops.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Lodge

Set in a World Heritage area Fiordland Lodge offers the discerning traveller comfort and privacy. The elegance and splendour of the Lodge is mirrored in the breathtaking views of Lake Te Anau and Fiordland. Private and serene, the Lodge is perfect for relaxation, or as a base for your Fiordland experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Fiordland Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 449 kms / 279 miles : 5.5 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 19

Day 19 - A magnificent day trip to Milford Sound for your nature cruise

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Today, see some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country when you take the road to Milford Sound. With crystal clear lakes, towering mountains and lush glacier formed meadows, this area is abundant with picture perfect scenes and countless photo opportunities. Take the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see several powerful waterfalls. Continue on through the Homer Tunnel, an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford, you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord.

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. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Lodge

Set in a World Heritage area Fiordland Lodge offers the discerning traveller comfort and privacy. The elegance and splendour of the Lodge is mirrored in the breathtaking views of Lake Te Anau and Fiordland. Private and serene, the Lodge is perfect for relaxation, or as a base for your Fiordland experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Fiordland Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

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21 Day Essential Southern Extravaganza - Day 20

Day 20 - Return to Queenstown for a relaxing evening at Matakauri Lodge

Te Anau to Queenstown

Today make your way to Queenstown across vast tussocklands. Head through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through rolling southland countryside. Soon the road skirts the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range makes for an impressive welcome to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Matakauri Lodge

Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Just seven minutes from Queenstown the lodge provides an alpine lakeside retreat nestled in one of the world’s most serenely beautiful landscapes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Matakauri Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

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Day 21 - Depart Queenstown

Depart Queenstown today

Drop your rental car at the Queenstown airport today and farewell New Zealand.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 1 kms / 1 miles : 0.0 hours

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