Coast to Coast Tour
13 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
Breadcrumb
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

Coast to Coast Tour

The tour starts in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, sometimes called 'the garden city' of New Zealand, with its beautiful botanic gardens, Hagley Park, and Avon River. After you explore Christchurch, drive through Canterbury, passing crystal-clear lakes Tekapo and Pukaki towards magnificent Mount Cook. Travel through the Southern Lakes region and into the deep South on the East Coast. It is time to discover the historic Dunedin and meet penguins, and albatrosses in the Otago Peninsula before crossing the rich farmland of Southland towards Te Anau and Fiordland National Park. There is a full day to explore breathtaking Milford Sound, including a scenic cruise. Then, you will arrive in Queenstown and stay for two nights to have enough time to relax, soak in the beauty of this place, and enjoy the countless activities here. The West Coast Glaciers are next, and two nights allow time to enjoy one of the many guided walk options or scenic flights. You will then return to Christchurch aboard the world-famous TranzAlpine Scenic Train.

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$3,407 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

13 days/12 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 179 times in the last 7 days

This South Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation
- Shared Transfer from the Railway Station to a City Hotel
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
1 lunch
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Arrive to Christchurch
Accommodation: Quest on Cambridge

Day 2: Explore 'the garden city' of Christchurch
Accommodation: Quest on Cambridge

Day 3: Collect your rental car and enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury towards Mount Cook
Accommodation: Mt Cook Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 4: Leaving the MacKenzie Country, follow the Waitaki River to the east coast, and explore historic Dunedin
Accommodation: Motel on York
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 5: Enjoy free time in Dunedin or experience the wildlife on the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Motel on York

Day 6: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 7: Journey to Milford Sound on one of the most spectacular roads in the world, and enjoy a scenic cruise
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 8: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 9: A day to experience the 'Adventure Capital of New Zealand'
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 10: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling to the stunning West Coast
Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 11: Explore the glacier region on foot, or take a scenic flight for the best views
Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Day 12: Travel to Greymounth and take a scenic TranzAlpine Train back to Christchurch
Accommodation: Quest on Cambridge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 13: Farewell Christchurch

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
Coast to Coast Tour - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation

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

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.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens - suggested activity

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.

Art in Christchurch

Christchurch is a city that's alive with everything art, from exhibitions and galleries, to street art all around the city. Take some time while you're here to explore what's on offer, starting with the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. This has something for everyone, where the art on display ranges from old masters to modern art. They also run regular events including talks, museum tours and film evenings. Make sure you also visit The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, which is a hub for arts, culture, education, creativity and entrepreneurship in Christchurch. This collection of heritage buildings are home to museums, as well as boutique art galleries, eateries, retailers and offices. Away from the more conventional galleries and exhibitions, there is all the street art to be seen around the city. With a vibrant and growing arts scene, Christchurch has earned a strong reputation as the home of street art. Exploration of the inner city reveals colourful artworks from a range of inspiring artists. Be sure to keep an eye out for the ever-evolving murals in the city too! Notable street art to check out includes the Riverside Mural, Rauora Park and it's Spray Cans, and the urban aesthetics of the YMCA building.

Your accommodation: Quest on Cambridge

Quest on Cambridge serviced apartment-style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Christchurch accommodation experience. Each room has an open-plan living area, a fully equipped kitchen, and natural light. Quest on Cambridge is a short walk from the south shopping center and only a short walk to the Botanic Gardens.

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 2
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, or head to Oxford Terrace in the city to find a great spot to eat or drink.
Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for an authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.  

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa Day Tour and Harbour Nature Cruise with Leisure Tours

Enjoy a full day tour to Akaroa with Canterbury Leisure Tours. You will travel the scenic route to Akaroa via Governors Bay, Gebbies Pass, Lake Forsyth and Little River. Stop for spectacular views over the Akaroa Harbour. You'll then take a two hour cruise through Akaroa Harbour for a chance to see this quaint french settlement from the sea as well as dolphins, penguins and seals. On the return journey to Christchurch you will visit the cheese factory at Barry's Bay and sample some of New Zealand's finest cheese.
Lunch at the popular waterfront restaurant 'Bully Hayes' is included offering a wide choice of New Zealand cuisine.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

Experience three of Christchurch's iconic attractions in one day: the Christchurch Tram, Christchurch Gondola, and Punting on the Avon River. The historic tram is a delightful way to explore the evolving inner city, taking in the various sights with the hop-on hop-off pass and learning about the city from the live commentary. You'll also enjoy a bird's eye view of Christchurch and the Canterbury region including the distant peaks of the Southern Alps when you ride the gondola cableway to the top of the Port Hills in Heathcote Valley. Punting on the Avon River takes you through the city's green belt: a relaxing way to explore what is affectionately known as the 'Garden City'.

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 Antarctic 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wine Matched Dinner Onboard the Christchurch Restaurant Tram

A truly unique dining experience in the heart of Christchurch. You'll board New Zealand's only dining tram for an unforgettable moving four-course restaurant experience. Enjoy a curated fine dining-style menu with matching wines while taking in the city sights on your journey through the streets of central Christchurch. Lasting two to two and a half hours, you'll complete 2.5 circuits of the city tram route passing New Regent Street, the Avon River, High Street, and Victoria Square.

Your accommodation: Quest on Cambridge

Quest on Cambridge serviced apartment-style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Christchurch accommodation experience. Each room has an open-plan living area, a fully equipped kitchen, and natural light. Quest on Cambridge is a short walk from the south shopping center and only a short walk to the Botanic Gardens.

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 3
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 Aoraki 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 colour. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.
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.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Highlights - Scenic Flight with Glacier Landing

Take in the spectacular Southern Alps, including New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki Mount Cook and the constantly changing glacial landscape. See the Hochstetter Icefall as you fly beneath the face of Mount Cook then along the length of the Tasman glacier before landing on the glacier itself. Experience the silence of the mountains, broken only by the rumbling of an avalanche and creaking of the snow and ice beneath your feet. You'll take off again for another incredible flight over peaks, ice falls, alpine lakes and climbing huts. This flight offers fantastic close up views of Aoraki Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and the Southern Alps from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Motel

Mt Cook Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views.

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

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 4
Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand, be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a quirky local cafe and souvenir store. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.
Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre The Octagon.

Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ NZ’s premier Steampunk experience is a museum and workshop situated in the historic Victorian precinct of Oamaru. It is crazy, quirky and unique; unlike any other visitor attraction in this universe!
Outside of the imposing free-standing Oamaru stone building, "steampunk" engine SP001 greets visitors by belching flames, smoke and eyrie sounds; whilst inside, a museum of two large darkened rooms and a basement presents a theme of a dark post-apocalyptic vision of a future "as it might have been". You can find out more about Steampunk HQ including opening hours and pricing here.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dunedin Botanic Gardens

The Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand's first botanic garden and is also a Garden of International Significance. It is home to more than 6,800 plant species and is spread across both rolling hills and flatlands. Wild native bellbirds, wood pigeons and tui can be heard on most days. The garden occupies 30.4 hectares in North Dunedin.  Its varying range of floriculture and horticultural includes roses, herbaceous and perennial borders, a rock garden, New Zealand native plants and four hectares of Rhododendron Dell. It also houses a New Zealand Native plant collection including cultivation of rare and endangered native plant species.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 5
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Explore Otago Peninsula

The Otago Peninsula, stretches almost from the city on the southern side of the Otago harbour. Just a few minutes drive from the city centre will have you passing scenic bays and farmland. The Otago Peninsula is one of New Zealand's most renowned eco tourism areas and its most famous residents are the Royal albatross. At the tip of the peninsular is Taiaroa Head and here you will find the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Tour Including Wildlife Cruise with Monarch

A small-group bus tour from Dunedin. Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You'll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems. Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Wellers Rock Wharf, for a Monarch Wildlife Cruise. You'll travel out of the harbour, around Taiaroa Head, and out to sea. Watch royal albatross glide across the water and return to their breeding colony. Beneath a historic lighthouse is a colony of playful fur seals. You'll spot other rare seabirds and maybe blue penguins or other marine mammals. You are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with you. Snacks and drinks can be purchased whilst aboard the MV Monarch. We recommend having a good-sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin. The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You'll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world's rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin.

Walking tracks on the Otago Peninsula

There are a number of short walks to enjoy on the Peninsular. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation.

Sandfly Bay
Walking Time: 1 hr return walk from carpark

Getting there - drive is approximately 25 minutes from the centre of Dunedin.

Turn off Highcliff Road onto Sandymount Road, then right onto Seal Point Road. The carpark is at the end of this road. A path crosses farmland to the top of the sand dunes. Go down the sand hill - which can be rather testing on the return, uphill journey - and walk about a kilometre along the beach. Near the southern end a marked track leads up to a hide to view the locals, yellow-eyed penguins. Please keep at least 10 metres away from sleeping sea lions, 20 metres from active animals and if you are in a group don't surround them. With penguins, please don't linger on the beach below the hide, or anywhere else where they may come ashore. If you encounter a penguin on the beach keep well away and crouch down. If they feel threatened they will not come ashore.

Tunnel Beach

Walking Time: 1 hour / 2km return walk from carpark

Getting there - drive is approximately 15 minutes south from the centre of Dunedin.

Tunnel Beach is to the south of Dunedin. Start at the car park on Tunnel Beach Road, signposted off Blackhead Road. This short walk goes through an excavated tunnel kids will love, to a secluded beach and a spectacular, rocky coastline.

Sandymount

Walking Time: Lovers Leap 50 min return walk from carpark or Sandymount Circuit 1 hr return walk from carpark

Getting there - drive is approximately 30 minutes from the centre of Dunedin.

Turn off Highcliff Road onto Sandymount Road and the carpark is at the end of the road. The loop track begins at the carpark at the end of Sandymount Road. This walk via The Chasm and Lovers Leap - with a side track to Sandymount summit - gives spectacular views of Otago Peninsula's coastline and cliff tops. Another marked route provides alternative access to Sandfly Bay. The Lovers Leap and Chasm tracks are closed for lambing, 1 August - 31 October.

Allans Beach

Walking Time: 5 min walk to the beach from carpark

Getting there - drive is approximately 40 minutes from the centre of Dunedin.

From Portobello turn onto Allans Beach Road. The carpark is at the end of the road.

Special wildlife such as sea lions and penguins frequent this wild ocean beach. Please respect their needs by keeping at least 10 metres away from sleeping sea lions, and 20 metres from active animals. Do not linger on beaches where penguins may come ashore.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Blue Penguins 90 minute Experience with Blue Penguins Pukekura

At dusk, enjoy close up viewing of little penguins returning from a day at sea within the Takiharuru Pilots Beach nature reserve. Watch penguins just a few metres from you as they scurry up the beach to their cliff-face burrows, often stopping just metres away, allowing for awesome viewing and photography of these birds in their natural habitat.
The tour includes a special “behind the scenes” walk through the reserve prior to the penguins emerging from the sea to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Learn about the endemic plants, their use by early Māori, and see the restoration work of the habitat that benefits penguins and other wildlife. Blue Penguins Pukekura tours are hosted by local expert wildlife guides who share the rich cultural history of the area while also sharing biological knowledge of endemic flora and fauna.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Albatross Classic Tour with Royal Albatross Centre

This 60 minute tour focuses on the Royal Albatrosses and wildlife that inhabit Pukekura (Taiaroa Head). Begin with a short film, then enjoy the informative commentary provided by your guide about albatrosses as you visit the observatory to see nesting albatross in their natural habitat.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 6
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound, renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glowworm Caves with RealNZ

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.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 7
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. Stretch your legs on 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 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 before back-tracking the way you came.
Please note: Make sure to allow 2.5hrs to Milford Sound, this takes into account the current road works on the Milford Road.

Milford Sound Cruise with RealNZ

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Milford Premium Cruise with RealNZ

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord abroad the M.V Sinbad, an exclusive vessel for a premium experience. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. With a glass of bubbles on arrival and canapes provided throughout the journey, this is the perfect way to explore Milford Sound. At a capped capacity of 40 people and a roaming nature guide providing informative commentary throughout the extended cruise, this experience allows guests to enjoy the Fiord at a relaxing pace.

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

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

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 8
Te Anau to Queenstown

Today make your way to Queenstown across vast tussocklands. Head through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through rolling southland countryside. Soon the road skirts the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range makes for an impressive welcome to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Queenstown

Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is home to many adrenaline-inducing activities. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this alpine town is surrounded by towering mountains. Each of the seasons has its own special vibe, and most adrenaline-filled activities can be accessed year-round. Queenstown is home to jet boating, bungy jumping, rafting, skydiving, paragliding, and even indoor thrills. If you want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon Swing, or Zip line the Gondola. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. If you’re looking for a slightly slower pace, there are plenty of recreational activities, including hiking and biking trails to explore, guided tours, boat cruises, scenic flights, or spa and wellness options to help you get away. Head to the lakefront, eat at one of the al fresco eateries, and soak up the local vibes; catch a ride on the iconic 100-year-old steamship the TSS Earnslaw; or take the Skyline Gondola and enjoy bird's-eye views of the Remarkables mountain ranges and Lake Wakatipu. Pack a picnic and go for a hike, only 20 minutes from Central Queenston, Coronet Peak opens for summer sightseeing. You can ride the Peak Gondola to the top for panoramic views and hike the trails, or go for a bike ride on many excellent biking trails. In winter, Queenstown becomes a world-class winter resort, with four ski areas and a range of activities, bars, restaurants, and ways to relax and unwind. A must-visit spot in Queenstown, Fergburger is famous for its mouthwatering gourmet burgers. Expect long queues, but the wait is definitely worth it for their delicious and generously sized burgers. Located on the waterfront, Botswana Butchery offers a sophisticated dining experience with a focus on premium meats and seafood. Enjoy stunning views of Lake Wakatipu while indulging in their expertly crafted dishes.If you're looking for something quick and tasty, stop by Fergbaker, an extension of Fergburger. Indulge in their delectable selection of pies, pastries, and sweet treats, perfect for a snack on the go. Mrs Ferg Gelateria is a great spot to sample some delicious homemade gelato. 

Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu zig-zag's it's way from Glenorchy to Kingston via Queenstown. A phenomenon known as transverse seiche gives the impression that the lake is tidal, but the changing water levels are due to atmospheric conditions. Today the lake provides enjoyment to sailors, fishermen and divers and with Queenstown sitting on its shores, pleasure cruising and adventure seekers all make use of these beautiful waters. At 293 square kilometres the lake is the second largest of the southern lakes and drops to a depth of 378 metres.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 9
Explore Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. If you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.
Finally, if you're lucky enough to visit in winter (July-September) there are four ski resorts close by. You can head up to Coronet Peak and the Remarkables close to Queenstown, or head to Wanaka for Cardrona and Treble Cone.

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 - Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump with AJ Hackett

Queenstown is where bungy jumping was pioneered by AJ Hackett and the first commercial jump started in 1988 at the Kawarau Bridge (on the main road into Queenstown from the east). If a bungy jump is on your 'to do' list them Queenstown is the place and the Kawarau Bridge  is a 43 metre jump from an historic bridge with an optional 'dip' in the Kawarau River.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Canyon Swing

The Shotover Canyon Swing is the world’s highest cliff jump. Located in the heart of the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, the Shotover Canyon Swing is 109 metres (360 feet) high above the Shotover River and the most adventurous thing you can do in this adrenaline-filled place!

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information please see here.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 10
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier via Wanaka

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range, the highest sealed road in New Zealand to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a 1-hour return walk through the native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast highway you pass through ancient temperate rainforests while getting sneak peeks of the wild coast beaches occasionally. Paringa Salmon Farm is worth a stop to stretch your legs, feed the fish, and stop for lunch and refreshments. Keep heading North and be sure to enjoy the view of the ever-changing towering snowcapped Southern Alps Mountain Range. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night Franz Josef township.

Franz Josef

Franz Josef is the name of the local village and the nearby glacier, the Maori name being Ko Roimata o Hine Hukatere which translates to The Tears of the Ice Maiden,
The main attraction is the rare glacier which is one of three in the world that transcends from alpine into temperate rainforest and almost sea level, New Zealand is home to two, the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, these are also some of the most accessible in the world which is why they are so popular. The best way to see the glacier is either a scenic flight or for the more adventurous a Heli Hike, you are able to view the glacier by a short 5-minute drive south out of the village and a short easy walk to a viewing platform
As amazing as the glacier is, Franz Josef has plenty more to offer visitors, including adventure activities, an abundance of forest and alpine walking tracks

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Walking tracks in and around Franz Josef

There are many walks and hikes in and around Franz Josef. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation. Located in Franz Josef village is a Department of Conservation information centre and you can get updates on track conditions and suitability plus you can learn about the area, its natural history and its people. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions  first.

Douglas Walk
The Douglas Walk is an easy one-hour forest walk that passes by the Peters Pool viewpoint and crosses several moraines before descending to the bridge across Dolly Creek on the way back to the road.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr return

Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere Walk
The 40-minute walk to the terminal face of the Franz Josef Glacier follows a rocky path over riverbed. Only experienced and prepared visitors should attempt climbing on the glacier.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 30 min return

Lake Wombat Track
The Lake Wombat Track leads you through a lush rimu forest to the idyllic Lake Wombat.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 30 min

Okarito walking tracks
North of the Franz Josef Township sits the coastal settlement of Okarito and the Okarito Lagoon. The lagoon is home to more than 76 species of native birds including the kōtuku/white heron and royal spoonbills.
Category:  Walking track.

Peters Pool Walk
The spectacular view at Peters Pool includes Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, and the Fritz Range, including Mt Moltke and Mt Roon.
Category:  Easy access walk. Completion Time:  25 min

Sentinel Rock Walk
Just a short distance south of the Franz Josef Township you will come to the Glacier and Sentinel Rock walks. The Sentinel Rock Lookout offers impressive views of the glacier, the valley and Waiho River.
Category:  Short walk. Completion Time:  20 min

Tatare Tunnels Walk
The 80-minute return Tatare Tunnels Walk follows an old 4WD road to a junction with the Callery/Waiho Walk. From there follow the track to the old water tunnels.
Category:  Walking track. Completion Time:  1 hr 20 min return

Terrace Walk
Follow the Terrace Walk as it winds through forest and goes by remnants of past gold mining operations.
Category:  Short walk. Completion Time:  30 min

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - West Coast Wildlife Centre

Meet and discover New Zealand's rarest kiwi, the Rowi at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. This is a unique and interactive experience that brings together nature, conservation, and wildlife all under one roof. This all-weather attraction is fun for all ages to explore and takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Franz Josef Glacier.

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.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 11
Explore Franz Josef

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the viewpoint below the terminal face. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

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

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Cruise & Nature Walk with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours

Take a cruise on Lake Mapourika, the largest lake in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Journey across the Lake and enjoy exclusive access to the private rainforest trail through the kiwi sanctuary. Step off the boat & into another world of Jurassic rainforest and meet curious native bird-life. The nature walk follows a track thoughtfully carved by your skipper Dale and his team, ensuring minimal impact on the area. Experience the pristine beauty of old-growth rainforest, untouched and preserved in its natural state. This haven is home to abundant birdlife, including the graceful white herons and New Zealand’s native bush birds.

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information please see here.

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.

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 12
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today head north along the mighty West Coast highway you pass through ancient temperate rainforests while getting sneak peeks of the wild coast beach occasionally. Whataroa is the next town where you can see one of the world's rarest birds, 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. 
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 center offers you the chance to pan for gold.
Hokitika is a great place to explore craft and gift stores and head to the coast and take in the endless sea views. The Jade or Greenstone on offer in Hokitika is probably some of the best you will see in the country. The Hokitika Gorge is located 45 minutes inland and offers turquoise waters flowing through a narrow gorge. A great short walk will deliver you to this piece of paradise.
Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located at the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

Return Car to City Depot

Spend some time exploring before returning your rental car to the city depot.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Crossing the south from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine is considered one of the worlds greatest train journeys. You'll travel from east to the west of the south island through Arthur's Pass National Park.
From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Shared Transfer from the Railway Station to a City Hotel with Christchurch Touring

On arrival at the Christchurch railway station, you will be met by a driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TranzAlpine Scenic Plus Addon - KiwiRail

Feel like luxurious service, exclusive meals, inclusive drinks and priority check in and boarding? The Scenic Plus add-on option is for you. Enjoy personal service with panoramic windows, spacious carriages and comfortable seating. The exclusive open-air viewing carriage is available if you feel like capturing the ultimate photo or simply wish to experience the great outdoors whilst travelling through the Southern Alps. Your food is prepared exclusively in a kitchen carriage, with paired drinks and a paddock to plate regionally inspired food menu all your senses will be fully engaged on this journey.

Your accommodation: Quest on Cambridge

Quest on Cambridge serviced apartment-style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Christchurch accommodation experience. Each room has an open-plan living area, a fully equipped kitchen, and natural light. Quest on Cambridge is a short walk from the south shopping center and only a short walk to the Botanic Gardens.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Back to top

Coast to Coast Tour - Day 13
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.

Back to top

Tour quick quote rework
Get an Instant Quote or Book this Tour
Coast to Coast Tour
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

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