A Taste of the South self drive tour
8 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
Breadcrumb
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

A Taste of the South self drive tour

This 8 day scenic route will give you a wonderful 'taste' of the South Island’s beauty and diversity. Visit its two largest cities, Christchurch and Dunedin, Mt Cook National Park and Te Anau the gateway to Fiordland National Park. You then experience the excitement of Queenstown before heading north to the unique West Coast Glacier region. The finale to this tour is crossing the Southern Alps on board the TranzAlpine Scenic Train as you return to Christchurch.  Along the way you will stay at boutique properties offering personalised service.

Currency selector
All prices are in
Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,352 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Boutique lodges & hotels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 25 times in the last 7 days

This South Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation
- Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
7 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - A Taste of the South self drive tour

Day 1: Arrive into 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
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 3: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 4: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Dunluce Bed and Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 5: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel by Naumi
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 6: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 7: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari & Orari Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 8: Depart Christchurch today

Detailed itinerary
See a day by day description including activities & accommodation suggestions for this itinerary example
Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

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

Itinerary information by App & in-country support

Access to our exclusive Touring App. The smart phone 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.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Pass

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

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
A Taste of the South self drive tour - 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.

GPS navigation

Navigating New Zealand can be done easily in two ways. If you have a smartphone, you will be able to connect it to the USB of your rental car and your maps and other apps will display on the screen in the centre console of your vehicle, with the sound coming through the car speakers.
If you don't have a smartphone, chat to us to ensure we book you a car with a portable GPS system. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface, with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions, which announces street names.  The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Aoraki Mount 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 Mount 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 Mount 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.

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 - Big Sky Stargazing

Mount Cook is far from the city lights and therefore has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand - perfect for viewing the night sky! Their fully trained guides are delighted to show you the beautiful southern night sky using the naked eye, state of the art astronomy telescopes and binoculars at the outdoor viewing platform or if the weather is not favourable then there will be an indoor alternative featuring New Zealand's first full dome digital Planetarium - high definition video images on a suspended 9m wide x 4.5m high full dome. Unleash your imagination as you discover the night sky including the Southern Cross, seasonal ecliptic objects, planets, star clusters, moons, distant galaxies and even our very own galaxy, the spectacular Milky Way!

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

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

Day 3 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 3
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama - gliding capital of New Zealand - but be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour

Founded in 1876, the Speights Brewery still occupies its original Dunedin site - with several of its buildings dating back to the late 1800's. One of the only remaining 'gravity breweries' in the world, this 60-minute tour explains its inner workings. There is an opportunity to taste six different beers as well as bottle, cap and brew your own personal Speights Gold Medal Ale - the brewery's flagship beer.

Dinner at Camp Estate, Larnach Castle

Dinner is offered in a Castle Dining Room, and is only available to Camp Estate guests. They do not operate a conventional restaurant, but in keeping with the historic setting of Larnach Castle, offer a three-course table d’hôte menu served house party style to all guests at one sitting – a chance to meet our other guests.

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, Dinner

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

Day 4 - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 4
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

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: Dunluce Bed and Breakfast

Dunluce offers boutique Bed and Breakfast accommodation with panoramic lake and mountain views. Situated in a quiet location Dunluce is an architecturally designed home with a private guest wing.

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 5 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 5
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.

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 - 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 ambiance 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: The Dairy Private Hotel by Naumi

The Dairy Private Hotel – a unique blend of exquisite design, rich history and warm hospitality in the city centre. Beginning as Queenstown’s original ‘dairy’ (corner store) in 1920, it has now transformed into an interiors masterpiece after an exquisite refurbishment that features wallpapers from British luxury interiors brand House of Hackney.

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 6 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 6
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 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 - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

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.

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

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

Day 7 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 7
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. 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 inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

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.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

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

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 8 - Depart Christchurch today
A Taste of the South self drive tour - Day 8
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.

Send us an enquiry about this New Zealand self drive tour idea here
Contact form

Fields marked * are mandatory

Your contact information
Currency selector
All prices are in
Tour quick quote
Get an instant quote or book for this self drive tour
Step 1: Choose a start date for this itinerary
Step 2: Choose a preferred car type for travelling New Zealand
Step 3: How many guests
Select number of adult per room type
Single occupancy (based on 1 adult in one room)
Double room (based on 2 adults in 1 room, 1 bed)
Twin room (based on 2 adults sharing 1 room with 2 beds)
No pricing loaded - please choose another date or contact us
Your self drive quote details
Start date:
End date:
Guests:
Rooms:
Car type
Total cost for this tour package is:
0
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.
Save and send a copy of this quote to
or

NOTE: Quotes are subject to availability of specific accommodation and other inclusions. Our NZ touring experts will be in touch with you regarding this if any changes are needed but we do guarantee that any replacement items are of equal or higher quality and standard at no additional cost to you. Costs quoted in currencies other than New Zealand dollars (NZ$) are based on todays exchange rate and is subject to change.Terms and Conditions apply

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