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Top of the South self drive tour 

13 days from Christchurch to Christchurch

Visit the less explored upper South Island, home to amazing wildlife, including whales in Kaikoura and the delightful seal colony in Abel Tasman National Park.  In Blenheim, you’ll sample the region’s best known export, the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc before heading south to the West Coast.  Your journey takes you down to Franz Josef where you’ll have a once in a lifetime glacier adventure, then over to Arthur’s Pass National Park where you stay at the Wilderness Lodge an amazing place to discover natural New Zealand and experience life on a high country station.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 13 days/12 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Boutique 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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Wine Tasting Marlborough
Abel Tasman National Park
 

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

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch today
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Day 2: Enjoy a day exploring the ever-changing city of Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Day 3: Head up through North Canterbury to the wildlife mecca of Kaikoura
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 4: Explore Kaikoura and enjoy a close encounter of the whale variety
Accommodation: Manakau Lodge

Day 5: Departing Kaikoura you'll travel towards Blenheim via the coastal road
Accommodation: The Peppertree
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 6: A short drive along the beautiful Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson
Accommodation: Wairepo House
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 127 kms / 79 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 7: Explore Abel Tasman National Park on a kayak and walking adventure
Accommodation: Wairepo House

Day 8: Pass the pristine Nelson Lakes National Park as you journey to the rugged West Coast
Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 250 kms / 155 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 9: Head south with the Southern Alps on your left and the thundering Tasman Sea on your right
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 212 kms / 131 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 10: Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Day 11: Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park including the remarkable Otira Viaduct
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 12: Explore the natural wonder of Arthur's Pass and experience life on a high country station
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge

Day 13: Depart Christchurch today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 128 kms / 80 miles : 1.6 hours

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch today

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.

Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.
Orari Bed and Breakfast

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 2

Day 2 - Enjoy a day exploring the ever-changing city of Christchurch

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.

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 - Ko Tāne Māori Experience and Guided Kiwi Tour

Get a unique glimpse into the indigenous Māori culture when you visit the Ko Tāne Living Māori Village and Willowbank Wildlife reserve. This activity begins with a guided kiwi tour of the reserve with one of Willowbank's experienced guides. Following this enjoy the Māori cultural performance, you will be enterntained with a kapahaka performance which includes action songs, poi dances, haka, stick games and weapons displays. The performance also gives you, an opportunity to learn the poi and the haka, then enjoy a four course hāngī dinner.

Your accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 3

Day 3 - Head up through North Canterbury to the wildlife mecca of 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.

Your accommodation: Manakau Lodge

This brand new purpose built lodge is located in the foothills of the Kaikoura ranges a few minutes drive from the township. All rooms have verandahs with either mountain or ocean views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Manakau Lodge

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

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Explore Kaikoura and enjoy a close encounter of the whale variety

Kaikoura

The Kaikoura Coast is renowned for its abundant marine life, and this is huge visitor drawcard. Due to the teeming food supply in its icy seas, whales, seals and dolphins are frequently spotted year round in the area. Observe the fur seal colony basking in the sun at the tip of the peninsula and be sure to take a trip by boat to view the whales.

If you prefer, hop aboard a 30 minute scenic flight and see the coast by air. But if you're feeling really adventurous take a dip with the resident seal population on either a land or boat based trip. Kaikoura township has a charming feel and after a day of marine adventures is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat. not to be missed is a meal of fresh crayfish - the town's signature dish. Before you leave, visit historic Fyffe House for insight into the region’s Whaling Past.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dolphin Encounter Swimming with the Dolphins

Experience a magical swimming encounter with dusky dolphins off the coast Kaikoura. You’ll be taken out in the catamaran and have the chance to swim in the water with these wild mammals in an completely natural environment. The dusky dolphin inhabits the waters around Kaikoura for most of the year - making it one of the only places in the world where dolphins can be encountered every day.

Your accommodation: Manakau Lodge

This brand new purpose built lodge is located in the foothills of the Kaikoura ranges a few minutes drive from the township. All rooms have verandahs with either mountain or ocean views.

Meals included: Breakfast

Manakau Lodge

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 5

Day 5 - Departing Kaikoura you'll travel towards Blenheim via the coastal road

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.

Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

Your accommodation: The Peppertree

The Peppertree is situated in the midst of an extensive country garden a boutique vineyard and an olive grove. Choose from one of the five spacious suites, each of which reflects a different character. Days at The Peppertree begin with a delicious breakfast, served in the Dining Room or on the verandah.

Meals included: Breakfast

The Peppertree

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

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 6

Day 6 - A short drive along the beautiful Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson

Blenheim to Nelson via Queen Charlotte Drive

A short drive from Blenheim to the busy port town of Picton, and its here from that the Interislander ferries arrive and depart. The town centre is quite small with plenty of shops and cafes and the waterfront area is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours watching the activity of the ships. The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre on the wharf is worth a visit with the star attraction being the vessel the Edwin Fox, reputably the 9th oldest ship in the world. Its also the starting point the for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk.
Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline between Picton and Havelock. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. If you can spare the time take the narrow windy road to Portage along Mahau Sound and Kenepuru Sound with their bush clad hillsides and secluded sandy coves.
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. The highway between Nelson and Picton also crosses the Pelorus River and just at this junction is the famous and historic Pelorus Bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks with the most popular the 30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest to the swing-bridge.
Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wine and Artisans Tour

Can't decide between the wineries and studios? Do it all and appreciate the artistic life of Nelson as your explore studios and wineries - glass, pottery, beads, and woodturning, complemented by breathtaking scenery and award-winning wines. Immerse yourself in the world-class creative centre that is Nelson. Visit top studio potters and the famed Bead Gallery, visit a glass gallery, and choose irresistible gifts. You will be taken to view original and ingenious art works that will stimulate your imagination and offer the chance to enrich your collection. Nelson's happy blend of climate and landscape has produced ideal grape-growing conditions for elegant whites and warm reds, which you'll sample as you visit 2 vineyards in the Waimea Plains region.

Your accommodation: Wairepo House

Set amongst apple orchards this charming house is ideally located halfway between Nelson City and Abel Tasman National Park.

Meals included: Breakfast

Wairepo House

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 127 kms / 79 miles : 1.9 hours

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park on a kayak and walking adventure

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals  - fur seals and dolphins.
 

Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip Including Picnic Lunch

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you'll meet your guide and join the 9.30am Vista Cruise along the magnificent coastline to Torrent Bay. You'll then arrive at Torrent Bay Lodge and complete a full training session and safety briefing before moving on to the water in kayaks to discover beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers.
Stop for a picnic lunch in a sheltered cove and take some time to swim, explore or sunbathe on the sand. On your return trip, if the winds are favourable, sails will be hoisted and you'll sail back via Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony there - if you're lucky, you may even see some resident blue penguins at the same time. Arriving back at Torrent Bay Lodge, freshen up with a hot shower and re-join the vista cruise back to Kaiteriteri, arriving at 4.10 pm.
During the summer there is the option to enjoy an unguided two hour coastal bush walk after the kayaking trip. Walk around the picturesque Torrent Bay Lagoon - via Cleopatra's Pool - to anchorage where you will re-join the boat back to Kaiteriteri.

Your accommodation: Wairepo House

Set amongst apple orchards this charming house is ideally located halfway between Nelson City and Abel Tasman National Park.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Wairepo House

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 8

Day 8 - Pass the pristine Nelson Lakes National Park as you journey to the rugged West Coast

Nelson to Punakaiki

Leaving Nelson City you will pass through the suburb of Richmond. Moving on you will pass through the Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Park region. Trees, rivers and valleys accompany you now as you head towards the town of Murchison. Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, jet boating, gold panning, kayaking, 4WD trips and excellent trout fishing. Heading South towards Westport you will drive along the Buller Gorge, enjoy some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river. Further along the river from the west coast turn off 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. Continuing on your journey 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. Heading south a worthwhile divert is to Cape Foulwind just south of Westport. Home to a seal colony and the short walk provides some spectacular scenery. Continuing south on the road to Punakaiki you will pass through Paparoa National Park. On arrival to Punakaiki you may want to visit Pancake rocks. Pancake rocks are open to the public free of charge all year round. These are awesome natural blow holes and rock formations, the name says it all. The west coast is very rugged, mountains meet sea and the coast is covered with beautiful fauna and flora including nikau palms.

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

Punakaiki Resort

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 250 kms / 155 miles : 3.0 hours

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 9

Day 9 - Head south with the Southern Alps on your left and the thundering Tasman Sea on your right

Punakaiki to Franz Josef Glacier

The drive South on State Highway 6 takes you through many West Coast towns. The first is Greymouth, the commercial centre for the West Coast. Just south of the town is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear.
The next town is Hokitika and this is a great place to explore the craft and gift stores. The Jade or Greenstone on offer in Hokitika is probably some of the best you will see in the country. The Hokitika Gorge, off the beaten track and inland a little is a spectacular detour. Turquoise waters flowing through a narrow gorge. A great short walk will deliver you to this piece of paradise.
Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings and workings remain. In fact Ross is still home to one of the few working gold mines left in New Zealand and the local information centre offers you the chance to pan for gold.
Continuing south 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.
Whataroa, a small township on the main road is where you would head off to see one of the worlds rarest birds. The entire population (somewhere between 150 and 200 birds) of the New Zealand white heron or kotuku nest at the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve and guided tours from October to March will take you there.
Arriving in to the Glacier region you catch your first glimpse of Franz Josef Glacier from a few kilometres out as it flows from the Southern Alps. Franz Josef township is a lively place with a great atmosphere, plenty of choice to dine out and some wonderful activities to enjoy.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 212 kms / 131 miles : 2.6 hours

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 10

Day 10 - Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Located in In the heart of the West Coast, Franz Josef is small but lively town. Known for its 12 km long glacier and surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains, the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To get close to the ice, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 11

Day 11 - Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park including the remarkable Otira Viaduct

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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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 12

Day 12 - Explore the natural wonder of Arthur's Pass and experience life on a high country station

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Christchurch and the West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass offers stylish accommodation, great food and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting.

Set on a 4000 acre working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, a daily programme of guided activities will be the highlight of your visit. Join naturalist and farmer guides to hike alpine trails, kayak wildlife refuge lakes and experience life on a working farm.

Complimentary Guided Activities

Twice daily complimentary guided trips provide a wonderful introduction to the wildlife, landscapes and history of the Southern Alps. Some of the trips include:

  • Sheep Farm Discovery: Join a guide to watch sheep dogs in action, handfeed lambs, see traditional blade shearing and learn about growing merino wool for the fashion industry. This trip happens every second afternoon and is a highlight for many guests
  • Birds and Special Plants of the Mountain Beech Forest: Explore with a naturalist guide and learn the secrets of these remarkable moss forests surrounding the lodge
  • McKay Moa Forest Hike: Visit a special nature reserve on the Wilderness Lodge farm. Take in spectacular mountain scenery, see bizarre ‘moa plants’ and learn their fascinating history.
  • Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A gentle stroll after dinner to see the starry night sky. Identify planets, satellites and constellations including the Southern Cross.

Longer Charged Guided Activities

  • Upper Otira Glacier Adventure: A superb challenging summer hike. Climb high into a glacial basin and enjoy mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston.
  • Limestone Castles & Easy Kayaking:  A relaxed guided tour/walk to a landscape made famous by the Narnia film 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe'. Paddle a gentle mountain lake and enjoy lunch amongst natural limestone castles.
  • Southern Alps Mountain Hike: Traverse beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm, now Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Wonderful Waterfalls of Arthur's Pass: A special trip for waterfall and photography enthusiasts. Visit waterfalls and cascades throughout Arthur's Pass National Park and explore 'bonsai' mountain beech forests. Picnic beside a mountain stream.

Self-Guided Activity Options

  • Explore a 30km network of forest, farm and mountain walking trails. You hosts can provide maps and suggestions and you may like to order a picnic lunch
  • Explore neighbouring Arthur’s Pass National Park on your own.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and take in the spectacular mountain scenery

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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Top of the South self drive tour - Day 13

Day 13 - Depart Christchurch today

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Descending into the valleys of the Waimakariri this drive offers some spectacular views of the braided river valleys. Castle Hill Scenic Reserve sits in limestone country and the area is dotted with remarkable rock outcrops. A popular place with climbers it was also an important place for Maori in past years as they provided shelter on their seasonal journeys between the coasts. There is a network of walking paths allowing you to explore.
Descending onto the Canterbury Plains the rich farmland that attracted and helped settlers prosper becomes apparent as you head into the city of Christchurch.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 128 kms / 80 miles : 1.6 hours

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