7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise
7 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise

Starting in Christchurch, you’ll travel through the Mackenzie Country to Mt Cook National Park.  Here you’ll get up close to floating icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Lake.  From Mt Cook head south to Te Anau, where you spend a relaxing evening at the exclusive Fiordland Lodge.  The next day you will drive the spectacular Milford Road, where you board the Milford Mariner for your overnight cruise in this untouched wilderness.  Marvel at the waterfalls and the clear night skies.  On returning to land, you’ll drive north to Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.  The next day take the coastal road north to Christchurch.

Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,394 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

7 days/6 nights

Boutique lodges & hotels

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

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

 Viewed 11 times in the last 7 days

Tour feature
Also included with this tour

All breakfasts

3 dinners

Private airport transfers

Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - 7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

Day 2: Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country to Mt Cook
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 3: Cross the Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge towards Southland and your destination of Te Anau
Accommodation: Fiordland Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 421 kms / 261 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 4: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to head of Milford Sound for overnight Fiordland cruise
Accommodation: Milford Mariner
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 117 kms / 73 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 5: Return to land this morning then you'll cross the Southland countryside to Dunedin
Accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 398 kms / 247 miles : 5.1 hours

Day 6: Follow the coastline north to the Canterbury Plains and back to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 346 kms / 215 miles : 4.2 hours

Day 7: Depart Christchurch today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

Detailed itinerary
See a day by day description including activities & accommodation suggestions for this itinerary example
Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 1
Welcome to Christchurch City

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

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

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

Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

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

Your accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

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.
Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country to Mt Cook
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 2
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 Mt. Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village. 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.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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

Day 3 - Cross the Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge towards Southland and your destination of Te Anau
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 3
Mt. Cook National Park to Te Anau

Twizel, just south of Aoraki/Mt. Cook was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand. Wrinkly Rams is a local café and also offers an informative sheep shearing demonstration. The Lindis Pass is one of New Zealand’s highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres. The tussock covered hills offer an unusual contrast as you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. The first Central Otago settlement you reach is the quaint village of Tarras, which has a number of boutique stores and a lovely café.  A short drive, further along, is 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. 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 on through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge as they guide you towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine-growing regions. At the famous historic Kawarau Bridge, you can take a bungy jump or sit back and enjoy the drama as visitors hurtle off the bridge. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range comes into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head south. The lake guides you into Southland through its rich farming pastures and into Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Fiordland Lodge

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

Dining at Fiordland Lodge

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

Activities available from Fiordland Lodge – enquire for current pricing

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

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

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

Your accommodation: Fiordland Lodge

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

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 421 kms / 261 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 4 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to head of Milford Sound for overnight Fiordland cruise
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 4
Te Anau to Milford Sound

The road to Milford Sound has countless photo opportunities and short walks. The Mirror Lakes create perfectly clear reflections of the surrounding mountains and glacier formed meadows.  Further along the road The Chasm Walk includes two walking bridges over the dramatic Cleddau River, while the surrounding ancient native beech forest creates a fascinating landscape. You'll pass through the Homer Tunnel, an incredible feat of engineering at 1219 metres long. Milford Sound is the only sound accessible by road, making it very popular to visit. Coming into the village you'll be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak which rises spectacularly from the waters up to the sky. Real Journey cruises can take you out into the sound where you'll receive a wealth of information on how this magnificent area has been formed and experience first-hand the multitude of waterfalls that line the fiord.

 

Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

The Milford Mariner offers you a very special dinner, bed and breakfast experience on Milford Sound. On board the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. Accompanied by a nature guide you can go exploring in the tender craft and kayaks or simply relax on deck. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.
The vessel itself was designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland's heritage. Departing from the Milford Wharf, the Milford Mariner cruises the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea leisurely exploring on the way many points of interest, There is plenty of time to view the waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife and the experienced nature guide on board will be able to answer any questions you may have. After reaching the open sea, subject to weather and favourable conditions the sails are hoisted for a period. The vessel returns to the calm and shelter of Harrison Cove for your overnight stay.

Your accommodation: Milford Mariner

On board the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 117 kms / 73 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 5 - Return to land this morning then you'll cross the Southland countryside to Dunedin
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 5
Milford Mariner overnight cruise returns to Milford, then drive to Te Anau

Your Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise returns to Milford at 9:15am. Return to Te Anau along the fantastic Milford Road.

Te Anau to Dunedin

The drive from Te Anau to Dunedin  takes you through classic Southland farmland scenery but if you want to spend the whole day exploring a little off the beaten path than taking the Southern Scenic Route through The Catlins is highly recommended. Following the incredible Otago coastline to Invercargill the route passes through Manapouri and onto Tuatapere before Colac Bay and the fishing town of Riverton. From Invercargill the route hugs the coastline and there are many side-trips to secluded and deserted beaches and bays to explore before you arrive into the remarkable Edwardian City of Dunedin.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

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

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 398 kms / 247 miles : 5.1 hours

Day 6 - Follow the coastline north to the Canterbury Plains and back to Christchurch
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 6
Dunedin to Christchurch

Heading north from Dunedin your first stop should be Moeraki to explore the famous and unique Moeraki Boulders strewn on the beach. Following a look at these incredible and unique geological features don't miss a visit to Fleur's Cafe in Moeraki Township for the freshest seafood you'll experience. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Explore the old quarter or if you don't mind a late arrival into Christchurch then stay longer to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk. The port town of Timaru is next and then the vast Canterbury Plains. Crossing New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia you can view some great examples of the South Island's famous braided rivers.  Arriving into Christchurch City puts you close to the airport and the International Antarctic Centre, a visit is highly recommended. Here you can get as close to experiencing life on the frozen continent without actually visiting plus see New Zealand little blue penguins and ride in a Haaglund Tracked vehicle.

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.

Your accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments

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

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 346 kms / 215 miles : 4.2 hours

Day 7 - Depart Christchurch today
7 Day Southern Marvel with Overnight Milford Cruise - Day 7
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: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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