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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights 

16 days from Queenstown to Queenstown

Starting and finishing in the 'adventure capital' of Queenstown This comprehensive South Island itinerary visits every South Island must see location including Milford Sound, Mt Cook National Park, Christchurch and Akaroa, Kaikoura, Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson, Hanmer Springs and the West Coast Glaciers.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 16 days/15 nights from Queenstown to Queenstown
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Motels (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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Horse riding Wharariki Beach, Nelson
View from Queenstown Skyline Gondola
 

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 2: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 3: Follow Lake Wakatipu as it leads south then you're in the rural heart of Southland for your journey to Te Anau
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your spectacular cruise on the fiord
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 5: Back towards Queenstown where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Central Otago, before you cross the Lindis Pass towards the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 419 kms / 260 miles : 4.8 hours

Day 6: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through the MacKenzie Country and the Canterbury Plains
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 7: Cross the Bank's Peninsula to Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 8: Head up through North Canterbury country to the coastline that leads to Kaikoura
Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 9: Travel from the Pacific Ocean to Tasman Bay and Nelson via Blenheim
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 10: Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

Day 11: Pass between national parks and forests to reach the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs
Accommodation: Hanmer Inn Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 283 kms / 176 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 12: Pass through Waipara Valley and rural Canterbury to reach Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 122 kms / 76 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 13: This morning board the scenic TranzAlpine train to Greymouth, then drive the beautiful road trip to Franz Josef
Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 167 kms / 104 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 14: Allow plenty of time for today's drive as there are some amazing photo stops especially in the Haast Pass
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 344 kms / 213 miles : 4.3 hours

Day 15: Missed something off your Queenstown bucket list? Then make sure you tick it off today.
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 16: Depart Queenstown

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

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - 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!

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.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 2

Day 2 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

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.

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.

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 - Queenstown Gondola and thrilling luge ride

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. For those keen on a little exertion, choose to hike instead - and take in the lush native bush and pine forest from the ground. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Ride the 800 metre luge track for an exhilarating journey through trees.

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: 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.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 3

Day 3 - Follow Lake Wakatipu as it leads south then you're in the rural heart of Southland for your journey to Te Anau

Queenstown to Te Anau

Skirting the shores of Lake Wakatipu The Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach to the small township of Kingston. Cross the rolling tussock-lands of Mossburn (deer capital of New Zealand) before arriving into Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

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: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Lakefront Lodge

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

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 4

Day 4 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your spectacular cruise on the fiord

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: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Lunch

Lakefront Lodge

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

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 5

Day 5 - Back towards Queenstown where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Central Otago, before you cross the Lindis Pass towards the MacKenzie Country

Te Anau to Mt. Cook National Park

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Following Lake Wakatipu north the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown, before heading east over the historic Kawarau Bridge and if you haven’t already done so you can take a bungy jump from the bridge, or sit back and watch others throw themselves off.  For a more sedate activity, the Gibbston Valley which borders the Kawarau River has many vineyards which are open for tastings. 

The Kawarau Gorge guides you towards Cromwell and for more wine tastings a side trip to Bannockburn is a must, with many award winning vineyards and winery restaurants to enjoy. Cromwell sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the historic old town is well worth the visit, the buildings are now home to quaint shops and cafes. The old town buildings were relocated from the valley that now sits deep under Lake Dunstan. Continue along Lake Dunstan until you reach the historic and scenic Bendigo Reserve, which was one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.  Well marked paths will guide you to the remains of stone cottages and other buildings from this bygone era.

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 Central Otago into the Mackenzie Basin. The towns of Omarama and Twizel are the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mt. Cook Highway along the shores to the village. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available scenic ski plane or helicopter flights with glacier landings to kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.
Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 419 kms / 260 miles : 4.8 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 6

Day 6 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through the MacKenzie Country and the Canterbury Plains

Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa

Your first stop today should be the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. As well as a great presentation detailing the formation of the region over thousands of years you are also often rewarded with uninterrupted views of over 50 kilometres to the peak of Mt. Cook.
Lake Tekapo, the northern most of the large Southern Lakes also the reflective quality that Pukaki has making the waters a bright turquoise on certain days. This busy little township is home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. 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.
From here you descend from the high country through Burkes Pass and into rich farmland. Beautiful Valley guides you to the town of Geraldine before you cross the vast Canterbury Plains  towards Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula.
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.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
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 Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised. 

Your accommodation: Criterion Motel

The Criterion Motel offers studio apartments with spectacular views over Akaroa Harbour. You're also just a short walk from the fantastic cafes and restaurants that Akaroa offers.
Criterion Motel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 7

Day 7 - Cross the Bank's Peninsula to Christchurch

Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)

Head to Christchurch today crossing the hills with spectacular views of the harbour. We recommend taking the slightly longer but much more scenic route around Lyttelton Harbour.  Just turn at Gebbies Pass Road and follow the road as it passes by the bays named after the areas naval past such as Corsair and Governors Bay. Take the tunnel into the city.

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.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens. 

Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for a authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch city, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago.  Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.  Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - International Antarctic Centre General Admission

The International Antarctic Centre aims to recreate the atmosphere and environment of Antarctica, providing visitors with an interactive, fun and educational experience. Feel the full Four Seasons of Antarctica, where you'll experience a custom-built snow and ice experience, then warm up in the Scott Base interior exhibit, a replica Antartic field camp or other informative displays in the gallery. You'll also learn about life in modern day Antarctica, view real little blue penguins and experience a thrilling ride in a Hagglund all terrain vehicle.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.
Bella Vista Christchurch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.5 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 8

Day 8 - Head up through North Canterbury country to the coastline that leads to Kaikoura

Christchurch to Kaikoura

The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.

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: Anchor Inn Motel

The Anchor Inn is a luxury motel superbly located on the Kaikoura waterfront with most rooms enjoying magnificent sea and mountain views.
Anchor Inn Motel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 9

Day 9 - Travel from the Pacific Ocean to Tasman Bay and Nelson via Blenheim

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.

Blenheim to Nelson

A short drive north from Blenheim to you reach Havelock.  The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so plan your journey to arrive in time for lunch.  Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half Day Guided Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds

The half day guided sea kayak trip is an ideal opportunity to fit a little kayaking adventure into a busy holiday itinerary. After a short safety briefing you'll be in the water, allowing you maximum time to enjoy the tranquil waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound. Starting at Ngakuta Bay you then paddle out of the bay and into Grove Arm. The sound is surrounded by bush-clad shorelines and sandy beaches. There will be a short stop to enjoy a light refreshment break along the way before returning to Picton.

Your accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.
The Hotel Nelson

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.8 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 10

Day 10 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals

Nelson City

Nelson City Centre is a vibrant hub of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Along the waterfront you’ll find many fine restaurants, specialising in seafood and fresh produce. Its close proximity to Abel Tasman National Park is one of Nelson's great advantages to visitors, and it’s pristine waters, beautiful native bush and golden beaches make this an adventure seeker's paradise.

The vibrant Nelson City centre offers an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops and along the waterfront you will find many fine restaurants specialising in seafood to enjoy. Founded in 1841 by the New Zealand Company the region today still boasts many remarkable buildings from these early days, however it is its close proximity to Abel Tasman National Park that is one of Nelson's greatest advantages to visitors. The pristine waters, beautiful native bush and golden beaches make this an adventure seeker's paradise. Nelson is also famous for its art and crafts and you will find many local offerings - including the world famous Hoglund glass works.

Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Nelson is a great city to explore on foot. Visit the historic areas, the famous Cathedral or relax and enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many cafes on Trafalgar Street. Nelson is also noted for its many artists, and galleries displaying their work can be enjoyed by following one of the Art trails listed locally. Around 45 minutes drive away is Abel Tasman National Park. The region offers countless opportunities to explore for visitors of every age and capability, from enjoying the golden sand beaches and clear warm waters to guided kayaking trips viewing seals and dolphins, to exploring some of New Zealand's finest walking tracks.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: The Hotel Nelson

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.
The Hotel Nelson

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 11

Day 11 - Pass between national parks and forests to reach the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs

Nelson to Hanmer via Nelson Lakes National Park

The drive today takes through the enchanting Nelson Lakes National Park of rugged peaks, forests and glacial lakes. Your journey will take you along the Buller Gorge which 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. Continuing on the drive today takes you 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. If you have time to take this 4 hour return walks you are rewarded with some beautiful native beech forest views and eventually the tranquil Lake Daniells.
Maruia Springs has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort. Outdoor hot pools are a great way to relax.
The alpine village of Hanmer Springs has been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders for many years. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is a major attraction, but the alpine environment with its rivers and mountains make it appealing year round. Gentle pursuits include forest walks, thermal pools, massage therapy, health treatments and golf as well as pure relaxation in the alpine atmosphere.
For more excitement try jet boating on the Waiau River, horse trekking, mountain biking, or bungy from the historic bridge. Hanmer Springs is also surrounded by forests offering over 50km of walking and mountain bike tracks. The seasons bring amazing colours, particularly in autumn and spring, while in winter Hanmer Springs takes advantage of its proximity to Hanmer Springs Ski Area and Mt. Lyford Ski Area.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: Hanmer Inn Motel

The Hanmer Inn Motel has 13 modern fully self contained motel units. It is situated only 5 minutes walk to the Hanmer Springs hot pools and also very close to restaurants and all the main attractions in the area.
Hanmer Inn Motel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 283 kms / 176 miles : 3.3 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 12

Day 12 - Pass through Waipara Valley and rural Canterbury to reach Christchurch

Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Today you’ll travel through the Waipara Valley, the fastest wine growing region in New Zealand and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. You’ll pass vast grassy plains and parched farming landscapes as you make your way over the Weka Pass and past small towns such as Amberley and Leithfield before arriving into the largest Port in the South Island, Christchurch.

Europcar rental car drop off

This evening leave your rental car keys with the reception at your accommodation. Make sure you take any items such as Kruse, GPS etc with you and that car fuel tank is full.
The next morning Europcar staff will collect the rental car from your accommodation. You will be transferred to the Christchurch Train station.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

The Bella Vista Motel and Apartments, Christchurch, offer accommodation in a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities.
Bella Vista Christchurch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 122 kms / 76 miles : 1.5 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 13

Day 13 - This morning board the scenic TranzAlpine train to Greymouth, then drive the beautiful road trip to Franz Josef

Private transfer hotel to Christchurch train station

A private transfer will collect you this morning and deliver you to Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Christchurch to Greymouth

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.

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.

Greymouth to Franz Josef

Leaving Greymouth today you will head south to Franz Josef and Glacier Country. Pass through Hokitika and be sure to take a detour to the spectacular Hokitika Gorge, a turquoise coloured river surrounded by native bush-clad cliffs.

Continue on through Ross, a historic gold mining town where several buildings still remain intact. As you travel further down the coast you’ll also go through Hari Hari, the town where Guy Menzies, the first person to fly solo over the Tasman crash landed. Follow the coast through several small towns before catching a glimpse of the Franz Josef glacier as you arrive into the town centre.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.
Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 167 kms / 104 miles : 2.0 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 14

Day 14 - Allow plenty of time for today's drive as there are some amazing photo stops especially in the Haast Pass

Franz Josef to Queenstown (via Wanaka)

Heading south you pass through the second glacier town of Fox Glacier. A short side trip to view the glacier is easy before heading along the coast and more classic West Coast bush scenery. At Knights Point Lookout elephant seals can often be seen basking on the sandy beaches at the far end of the point. Crossing the massive Haast River you turn inland and head into the valley climbing through mountains littered with waterfalls.

The Haast Valley offers a spectacular view of the river and its enormous power. The Blue Pools near Makarora are a great 30 minute walk. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea guide you into the township of Wanaka before you head over New Zealand's highest sealed road, Crown Range Road before dropping into Queenstown. This drive should be planned as a whole day to really enjoy the scenery and to allow time to explore the walks, and many stops en route.

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.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 344 kms / 213 miles : 4.3 hours

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Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 15

Day 15 - Missed something off your Queenstown bucket list? Then make sure you tick it off today.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

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.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 16 - 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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