Milford Sound Highlights tour
7 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
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Milford Sound Highlights tour

Leaving Christchurch you will journey into the Mackenzie county and the alpine village of Lake Tekapo. The following day you will pass Lake Pukaki with views of Mt Cook on route to the ‘adventure capital’ of Queenstown.  From Queenstown you will take a luxury coach to Milford Sound, where you’ll enjoy a scenic nature cruise in the pristine fiord. You then travel north stopping at Franz Josef for a night to explore the glacier, before heading back to Christchurch via the Tranz Alpine Train.

Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,679 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

7 days/6 nights

Motels

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

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

 Viewed 10 times in the last 7 days

Tour feature
Also included with this tour

Private train station transfers

Private airport transfers

Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - Milford Sound Highlights tour

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 2: Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 247 kms / 153 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 3: Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 4: Milford Sound cruise day trip from Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 5: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 6: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 7: 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
Milford Sound Highlights 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

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You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

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.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Milford Sound Highlights 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.  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 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 - 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.

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.

Your accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo

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.

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

Day 3 - Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown
Milford Sound Highlights tour - Day 3
Lake Tekapo to Queenstown

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes drive from Lake Tekapo and as you approach the lake you are often rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. At 3754 metres Aoraki Mt. Cook is New Zealand highest mountain and the peak can often be seen from the visitor centre at the southern end of Lake Pukaki. Twizel, just south of 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 cafe 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.
Bendigo
, just off the main highway, was one of Otago's original gold mining settlements and well marked paths will guide you to explore the remains of stone cottages and other buildings from this bygone era.
Cromwell
sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Cromwell old town has restored buildings from before the valley was flooded to create Lake Dunstan for the hydro systems. The sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge guide you towards Queenstown and the Gibbston Valley is one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. At the famous historic Kawarau Bridge you can take a bungy jump or just watch others if you would rather. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the alpine resort town of Queenstown, the adventure and activity 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

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 4 - Milford Sound cruise day trip from Queenstown
Milford Sound Highlights tour - Day 4
Milford Sound Cruise and coach tour from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with a 1 hour 40 minute Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown or Te Anau, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the modern, spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise in the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and the wildlife. During the cruise your friendly crew provide commentaries in several languages and point out the sights such as Mitre Peak and the Pembroke Glacier.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Day 5 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Milford Sound Highlights tour - Day 5
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: Bella Vista Franz Josef

From the moment you arrive at Bella Vista Franz Josef, you'll enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to shops, restaurants and other activities, as well as being a short walk to the Glacier Hot Pools. Franz Josef village is the perfect place to stay when exploring New Zealand’s glaciers.

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

Day 6 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Milford Sound Highlights tour - Day 6
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: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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

Day 7 - Depart Christchurch today
Milford Sound Highlights tour - Day 7
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.

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