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A Taste of the South self drive tour 

8 days from Christchurch to Christchurch

This 8 day scenic route will give you a wonderful 'taste' of the South Island’s beauty and diversity. Visit its two largest cities, Christchurch and Dunedin, Mt Cook National Park and Te Anau the gateway to Fiordland National Park. You then experience the excitement of Queenstown before heading north to the unique West Coast Glacier region. The finale to this tour is crossing the Southern Alps on board the TranzAlpine Scenic Train as you return to Christchurch.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 8 days/7 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Hotel 3 star (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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Nugget Point in the Southland
Craigieburn Straight, Tranzalpine Scenic train
 

A Taste of the South self drive tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive into the 'Garden City' of Christchurch
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Day 2: Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 415 kms / 258 miles : 4.8 hours

Day 3: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 4: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 5: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 6: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 321 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 7: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 197 kms / 122 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 8: Depart Christchurch today

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive into the 'Garden City' of Christchurch

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

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

Known as New Zealand's garden city, Christchurch is a vibrant metro area. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights, or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is just minutes walk to boutique shopping at Merivale and Hagley Park. The distinctive architecture of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold reflects Christchurch's image as the most English of cities outside of England.
Heartland Hotel Cotswold

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 2

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

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.

Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route, Geraldine offers an ideal stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. Enjoy the magnificent views from the shore, boat or air by taking a scenic flight. On arriving at Lake Pukaki, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular views of Mt Cook, towering over the lake. Driving along the lake, you'll find your destination, Mt. Cook Village. Enjoy Mt Cook National Park by having a glacier landing with ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake or by walking one of the many tracks. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must see. Return along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Twizel, your base for the evening.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

The Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre pays tribute to one of New Zealand's greatest characters - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers. Showcasing 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. this informative experience is one to remember.

Your accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Located in the heart of the Mackenzie region the hotel's natural stone architecture compliments the mountains and rivers of New Zealand's Southern Alps. With 108 well equipped rooms the hotel can offer every facility needed for a comfortable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 415 kms / 258 miles : 4.8 hours

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 3

Day 3 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin

Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Larnach Castle and Gardens

Larnach is New Zealand's only Castle, built in 1871 by politician and merchant, William Larnach, a man of great vision who helped shape New Zealands early history. It was built for William's beloved first wife Eliza, it took 200 workmen three years to build the shell and a further twelve years were spent by master craftsman to embellish the interior. It's located high up on the Otago Peninsula and looks down on Dunedin city giving beautiful views. The gardens have International Garden of Significance status and have a unique collection of specialised areas for you to explore. The Ballroom cafe is a fantastic place to rest and reflect on all you have seen while enjoying a delicious range of refreshments. As with the entire castle, the ballroom had an interesting and varied history prior to its beautiful restoration, uses ranged from a lunatic asylum, antique sales room to the penning of sheep.

Your accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

The 55 room international standard hotel, of five stories, has panoramic views over the heart of Dunedin city including city icons and nearby countryside.

Meals included: Breakfast

Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

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

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland

Dunedin to Te Anau

Go through classic Southland farming scenery as you make your way to Te-Anau. Follow the coastline instead of the inland route for a more scenic drive. Pass the The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point for a spectacular view of majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Bypass Invercargill en-route to Riverton and Colac Bay, 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.
You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

The perfect base for all your Fiordland travel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable accommodation right in the heart of Te Anau.

Meals included: Breakfast

Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 5

Day 5 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover River

Take a ride on ‘Big Red’ through the spectacular canyon walls of the upper Shotover River.  Shotover Jet Boat is the only company allowed to operate in this remarkable location and their skilled drivers will take you on a wet and wild ride you’ll never forget.

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

Hop aboard the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw for an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the local scenery as you cruise Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, a working sheep farm. On your arrival at Walter Peak you'll stroll through its stunning lakeside gardens to the homestead for a gourmet barbeque dinner. Watch your chef prepare your meal from a delicious seasonal menu and choose from a tempting selection of New Zealand meat and local produce. Complete your meal with an indulgent dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. Following dinner enjoy an entertaining demonstration of life on a high country farm. The return cruise offers a chance to enjoy a singalong with the ship’s pianist or simply breathe in the crisp night air on the moonlit decks as the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

The Heartland Hotel Queenstown is the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to all the action of Queenstowns main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Queenstown

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

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 6

Day 6 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in the country - you'll pass through the alpine town of Wanaka. Following the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll enter the township of Makarora, gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  Stretch your legs on a walk to Blue Pools - a ten minute stroll through lush rainforest. Marvel at the native beech and countless waterfalls as you continue toward the West Coast.

Crossing the Haast River you are now truly in the wild west - a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. Continue on to arrive in Fox Glacier, your destination for the night. Home to the largest glacier on the west coast, Fox is 13 kilometres long and ends in rainforest only 250 metres above sea level. 

 

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

Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. A 30 minute flight with snow landing. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

The Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier is nestled at the base of the majestic Southern Alps in the Westland World Heritage Park. Originally built in 1928 it has been refurbished to retain its charming atmosphere.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 321 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

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A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station

The drive north from Fox and Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika, a great place to explore the craft stores, in particular the jade or greenstone. The largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth is also the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.  Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building.

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: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is just minutes walk to boutique shopping at Merivale and Hagley Park. The distinctive architecture of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold reflects Christchurch's image as the most English of cities outside of England.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 197 kms / 122 miles : 2.5 hours

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Day 8 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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