The Centre of the South
8 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Queenstown
Breadcrumb
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

The Centre of the South

Take to the skies on this south island adventure. You'll be treated to stunning vistas wherever you look from the bustling CBD of Christchurch where you begin your tour to the adventure capital, Queenstown. The opportunity to visit the west coast glaciers is even on the cards when you take a scenic flight with Mackenzie helicopters from Lake Tekapo. If you like hiking or adventure there are ample opportunities to get outside and explore but each destination also makes the perfect backdrop for sitting with a good book, something for everyone! Whilst your based in Queenstown maximise time and fly back from Milford to enjoy a sumptuous meal overlooking Queenstown.
In just 8 days you can really do it all!

Currency selector
Select your currency to view indicative pricing
Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$5,532 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Queenstown

8 days/7 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Rental car included

 Viewed 16 times in the last 7 days

This South Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
6 breakfasts, 4 dinners
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch and get your bearings on a city centre tram ride
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Day 2: Pick up your hire car this morning and start your journey south
Accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 247 kms / 153 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 3: Expereince the skies by day today and hopefully capture a look at Mt Cook and the West Coast glaciers
Accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort

Day 4: Take the drive to Aoraki today, you'll want to take pictures so make sure the camera is charged
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 103 kms / 64 miles : 1.1 hours

Day 5: Explore the stunning sights of Aoraki, Mt Cook Village
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Day 6: From Aoraki to Queenstown, maybe visit the salmon farm for some top class sushi on the way
Accommodation: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 7: A day in New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown
Accommodation: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Day 8: Farewell Queenstown and maybe New Zealand as your tour concludes today

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

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
The Centre of the South - Day 1
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.

Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation

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

Christchurch Trams

Trams played an important role in transporting the people of Christchurch until 1954 when they were phased out. In 1995 the city council and Tramway Historical Society brought the beautiful trams back to the city centre for the public to enjoy. Take the delightful journey throughout the central city, including sights such as Riverside Market, the Avon River, the Arts Precinct including the Christchurch Art Gallery and Arts Centre, the Botanic Gardens, and New Regent Street with its Spanish-style buildings and sunny cafes. A commentary is given by the tram driver and you can hop on and off at the various stops as you please throughout the day. It's a great way to see and explore the main city centre attractions.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens - suggestion

Located just 15 minutes from the city centre, Christchurch's 75 acre Botanic Gardens host the finest collection of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand. The impressive collection of plants provide a tranquil oasis, from the spring drifts of daffodils, spectacular summer roses and herbaceous border, stunning autumn leaf display and cosy conservatories to warm up in over winter, there's something to delight in every season. The New Zealand Garden also offers an accessible glimpse into the country’s unique wilderness to lose yourself in throughout the year.

Your accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

This luxury hotel is centrally located in the revitalised Cathedral Square in the heart of the city, a short stroll from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Christchurch Convention Centre.

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 2
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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.

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.
Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

Tekapo Springs offers three adjoining main Hot Pools for you to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself while looking out to the beautiful Two Thumb range and stunning Lake Tekapo. Pool temperatures range from forty degrees celsius to thirty-six degrees celsius and each pool offers something different - massage jets to assist in taking away any aches and pains and fountains to splash under.

Dark Sky Project Summit Experience

Earth and Sky Stargazing tour departs nightly from the office in the Lake Tekapo township. Travel to the Mt John observatory high above the village where you will explore features of the majestic Southern Sky. Earth and Sky provide the equipment and the guidance, all you need to bring are keen eyes, warm clothes and a desire to see, learn, and experience.
Navigating your way through the Southern Sky using various telescopes and the naked eye, you will see amazing sights such as our own Milky Way Galaxy, the Southern Cross, Alpha-Centauri - our closest neighbouring star at only 4.3 light years away, and Sirius - the brightest star in our sky.
Behold and learn about our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, which grace our night sky along with constellations such as Orion the Hunter and Scorpius.
You may also have the opportunity to see star clusters like the beautiful Jewel Box; awe inspiring planets; nebulae, immense clouds of gas and dust; and distant galaxies which test the limits of human imagination.

Your accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort

Peppers Bluewater sits overlooking stunning Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps and is just a short walk to the small towns facilities. Also close by is the Tekapo Springs Day Spa, a great place to relax after a day exploring. Facilities include an on site restaurant and bar.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 247 kms / 153 miles : 2.9 hours

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 3
Mackenzie & Lakes Alpine Excursion - Mackenzie Helicopters

This short scenic flight will take you over spectacular lakes, mountains and glacial valleys. You will see stunning turquoise gem - Lake Tekapo, snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps, golden tussock, rolling hills and deeply glaciated valleys. You will fly over this iconic high country, dramatic landscape of the Mackenzie, the rugged wilderness, landing at a private spot in the mountains for panoramic views of alpine lakes and valleys carved out by ancient glaciers.                                                                                                                                                             

Your accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort

Peppers Bluewater sits overlooking stunning Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps and is just a short walk to the small towns facilities. Also close by is the Tekapo Springs Day Spa, a great place to relax after a day exploring. Facilities include an on site restaurant and bar.
Meals included: Breakfast

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 4
Lake Tekapo to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. In Mt Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see.
Please note: There are no food shops at Mt Cook, and dinner options are limited to one restaurant. If you wish to self-cater, you must stock up before arriving in Mt Cook, or make dinner reservations in advance.

Walking tracks in and around Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park

There are many short scenic walks beginning in and around the Mt Cook Village, suitable for all ages and abilities. Located within the Mount Cook Village is the Department of Conservation information centre, where updates on the track conditions and suitability is available as well as information on the history of the area and its wildlife.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Museum and Theatre Explorer Pass

The Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre pays tribute to one of New Zealand's greatest characters - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers. Showcasing the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium. this informative experience is one to remember.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 103 kms / 64 miles : 1.1 hours

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 5
The Adventurer: Tasman Glacier Heli Hike with Mount Cook Glacier Guiding

The adventure begins with a breathtaking scenic flight, experience the thrill of the helicopter as you look out over Mt Cook and the spectacular views of the Alps surrounding the glaciers. Landing on a remote part of the glacier, your guide will equip you with all the gear ready to explore ice formations in this ever-changing environment at the heart and birthplace of New Zealand mountaineering. Walking through the untouched formations and specially cut steps - You’ll return home with incredible memories of your Tasman Glacier hike in this vast mountain landscape.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 6
Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National park and travel to Queenstown. Go through the lakeside town of Twizel and then pass through the gliding capital of New Zealand Omarama, before ascending the Lindis Pass. Follow the road to Cromwell, located at the at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Continue on towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump, or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities Queenstown is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston 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!

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

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience, a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Queenstown Park Hotel is a boutique hotel with a modern romantic style in the heart of New Zealand’s adventure capital. Set in peaceful parkland, savour views of Queenstown’s majestic mountains. Enjoy easy access to the vibrant town centre where shopping, cafes and nightlife nestled on the shores of spectacular Lake Wakatipu.
Meals included: Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Back to top

The Centre of the South - Day 7
Milford Sound Coach, Cruise and Scenic Flight

Travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. After a short break, the coach continues along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road through impressive, awe-inspiring scenery. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. Considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world your coach driver provides detailed commentaries throughout the trip.
On reaching Milford Sound, join a spectacular one hour 40 minute cruise to the mouth of the fiord with excellent viewing opportunities. Keep a look out for seals basking on the rocks, dolphins and penguins. There are scenic highlights such as Mitre Peak and Pembroke Glacier. Informative commentary from the captain explains the history and highlights points of interest during the cruise.
Following the cruise, you will be transferred to Milford Airport for the return flight to Queenstown (weather permitting). During the scenic flight, take in expansive views of the snow-capped Southern Alps, golden tussocked high country and the upper reaches of Lake Wakatipu. A taxi transfer is provided to your accommodation on arrival at Queenstown airport.

Gondola and Buffet Dinner with Skyline Queenstown

With breathtaking views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the Skyline Complex is a must-do. Catch the fully enclosed gondola to the summit for a remarkable panorama of the city surrounds. Wander the outdoor viewing decks then enjoy a gourmet buffet meal in the Stratosphere Restaurant.

Your accommodation: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel

Queenstown Park Hotel is a boutique hotel with a modern romantic style in the heart of New Zealand’s adventure capital. Set in peaceful parkland, savour views of Queenstown’s majestic mountains. Enjoy easy access to the vibrant town centre where shopping, cafes and nightlife nestled on the shores of spectacular Lake Wakatipu.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Back to top

Depart Queenstown today

Drop your rental car at the Queenstown airport today.

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

Back to top

Tour quick quote rework
Get an Instant Quote or Book this Tour
The Centre of the South
Step 1:
Step 2: Select preferred car type or size
No pricing loaded - please make sure you have selected a car type or contact us
Step 3: Select number of passengers and room configuration
Step 4: Add these options

Day 2 - Tekapo Springs Hot Pools NZD$0

Enter phone number to get a call from a travel planning expert within in 24 hours

Enter email address to receive your instant quote

Tick this box if you do not wish to receive emails about special offers
No pricing loaded - please choose another date or contact us
Your quote for this tour:
Start date:
End date:
Guests:
Rooms:
Car type:
Total cost for ALL guests on this tour package is:
NZD$0
or
This quote is based on vehicles to accommodate your party in the vehicle type. We suggest changing the car type or contacting us for the best options.
The package cost above excludes rental vehicle hire as you are requesting a price for a vehicle outside of our designated season. Please reach out direct for rental vehicle rates.

NOTE: Quotes are subject to the availability of specific accommodations and other inclusions. Our NZ touring experts will contact you if any changes are needed. Costs quoted in currencies other than New Zealand dollars (NZ$) are based on today's exchange rate and are subject to change. Terms and Conditions apply.
If you have chosen to hire a Budget rental car, you may incur a one-way fee if a portion of your hire is under 7 days. Your sales consultant can confirm this on booking.

Remember: we can create this itinerary with any accommodation style or customise it to suit your interests and timeframe.

Contact form
Enquire about this tour

Fields marked * are mandatory

Your contact information
Subscribe to our Regular Newsletter for Inspiring Holiday Ideas
Currency selector
Select your currency to view indicative pricing