Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound
7 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
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Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound

Starting in Christchurch, travelling into Mackenzie county to Lake Tekapo. You will pass Lake Pukaki with views of Mt Cook on route to Queenstown.  Your first night in Queenstown you'll cruise Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Station for a farm show and gourmet BBQ.  From Queenstown you will enjoy a spectacular flight to Milford Sound.  Once in Milford sound you will take a scenic nature cruise, before flying off to Mt Aspiring National Park for the amazing Dart River Safari. Next day you will be travelling north stopping at Franz Josef before heading back to Christchurch via the Tranz Alpine Train.

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Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,433 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

7 days/6 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 8 times in the last 7 days

This South Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
- Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
1 special dinner
Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

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

Day 3: Pass the turquoise waters of the glacier lakes, then over the Lindis Pass to Central Otago where the Kawerau Gorge leads you 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: The ultimate southern experience, a flight to Milford Sound and a cruise through the fiord
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: Aspen Court 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: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments
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 - Welcome to Christchurch
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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

After checking into your accommodation, the rest of the day is yours to explore at your leisure. Christchurch City is the largest city on 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: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.
Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country to the lakeside village of Tekapo
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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 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.

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.

Your accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo

Just a few metres walk from the lakefront and a few minutes from the small township of Tekapo, Mantra Lake Tekapo provides spacious fully equipped apartment style luxury accommodation.

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

Day 3 - Pass the turquoise waters of the glacier lakes, then over the Lindis Pass to Central Otago where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Queenstown
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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 Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. At 3754 metres Aoraki Mount 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 Mount 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 Gibbston - 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.

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: 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.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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

Day 4 - The ultimate southern experience, a flight to Milford Sound and a cruise through the fiord
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - Day 4
Milford Sound Fly, Cruise, Fly with Milford Sound Scenic Flights

Fly above the rugged backcountry of Central Otago. Witness what the power of nature has created over the years, as you journey over Mt Aspiring National Park and the world heritage listed Fiordland National Park. Then, take to the water on a cruise through the iconic Milford Sound before flying back over even more stunning landscapes.

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
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.

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
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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

Day 7 - Depart Christchurch today
Southern Highlights Tour including Milford Sound - 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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