You will be met at the airport by one of our friendly representatives who will give you your route notes and hand over the keys to your rental vehicle. In the afternoon you could take a Christchurch city tour. Christchurch is known throughout New Zealand as ‘The Garden City’. This city tour could include a visit to ‘The Sign of the Kiwi’, the most panoramic of Christchurch’s viewpoints, a stroll in the botanic gardens and drive around the bays of Christchurch taking in Lyttelton which was the gateway for many of Christchurch and the Canterbury region’s first settlers.
Today you will head north through the wine growing area of Waipara to Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a sea life paradise which boasts whales, seals, albatross and dolphins. There are over 17 species of whale to be found in Kaikoura all within 8 km of the coastline. This afternoon you will take a whale watching tour of 3 hours. Keep a look out for Killer Whales and orcas as well as many species of dolphin. This is an experience not to be missed (included activity).
This morning you have the opportunity to visit a seal colony to view New Zealand’s native fur seal up close. Your drive today takes you through the Southern Alps to Hanmer Springs. This is a thermal alpine village nestled in the mountains. You will get the opportunity to take a dip in the thermal waters and view the mountains from the hot pools. This afternoon you will head through the pass to the South Island’s West Coast known by many as an isolated paradise featuring rugged coastline and native bush. Your stop tonight is Hokitika, known for its array of greenstone, gold and glassblowing shops.
Heading south through the majestic rainforest of the west coast you will encounter coast, beach and mountains all within 15km of each other. Perhaps take the optional trip to Hokitika Gorge today and see the stunning turquoise waters and enjoy the company of our native Fantail. Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world and one of only a few places in the world where you can view rainforest and glacier side by side. This afternoon you will have the option of doing a half day fully guided walk on the glacier, a heli-hike or a helicopter flight with a landing at the top of this majestic glacier (all optional – extra cost). This is a highlight on any New Zealand tour. Tonight you can unwind and soak in the glacier hot pools (optional – extra cost).
One of the prettiest and most dramatic journeys in the country is what you can experience on this tour over the Haast Pass through to Wanaka. En route you will visit Lake Matheson, otherwise known as ‘Mirror Lakes’ where on a clear day it is possible to see the reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain Mt Cook (3754m/12,316ft). The walking possibilities are endless today around Haast and Haast Pass and you can do one of or several walks, some of which feature spectacular waterfalls and deep blue coloured pools where it is possible to see trout swimming. One of our favourite spots at The Road Trip is Ship Creek, an isolated beach featuring native totara trees hugging rugged coastline. Tonight you will stay in Wanaka, one of the most popular kiwi vacation hot spots situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
This morning in Wanaka there are several options. Perhaps enjoy a horse-back ride in the Cardona Valley, hire a paddle boat or kayak on the lake, climb up Mt. Iron for stunning 360 degree views, or try out Puzzling World. After further exploring Wanaka, your South Island tour takes you over The Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest highway to Arrowtown, an important location in the gold rush of Central Otago in the 1860s. Your next potential stop is Amisfield Winery ,where you can taste the area’s finest wines including the trademark Pinot Noir. Arrive in Queenstown where the afternoon is free to spend as you wish (all activities mentioned are optional – extra cost).
Today is free to explore Queenstown at leisure and take part in some of the fantastic activities that this ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ has to offer. Options for the adventurous include: Skydiving, Bungy Jumping, Jet Boating, Canyon Swings, White Water Rafting, Flyboarding and Paragliding. If you feel like taking a more relaxed approach to the day, a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw 100 year old steam ship or a walk through Queenstown’s Botanic Gardens are not to be missed. Perhaps drive out to the head of Lake Wakatipu and experience the breath-taking scenery of the Glenorchy area. A popular option with our clients is a helicopter flight to the top of Coronet Peak, where passengers are able to get out on the snow 365 days a year! (Weather permitting). In the evening, take a trip to the top of the Skyline Gondola to view Queenstown from a 360 degree panoramic viewpoint and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner at Stratosfare Restaurant (included).
You leave Central Otago today through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell where you can make a stop en route and visit a local fruit shop for a chance to try real fruit ice cream and perhaps sample New Zealand famous manuka honey products. From there, cross the Lindis Pass (965m) to the Mackenzie Country, known for its Merino Sheep and wool industry. Weather permitting you can take a short walk at the foot of Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. En route to Lake Tekapo, perhaps take a trip to the top of Mt John to experience the feeling of being on top of the world. This boasts stunning 360 degree views of the Mountains and turquoise coloured lakes (Road open until 5pm – $8 entry fee). Tonight you will stay in the town of Lake Tekapo and enjoy its turquoise coloured waters. On a clear night there will be the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour to Mt John Observatory and its spectacular night sky (optional – extra cost).
This morning you will drive through to Christchurch where the rest of the afternoon can be spent exploring. Options include: The Tannery with its boutique shops, the Canterbury Museum, the Christchurch Art Gallery, a drive around Banks Peninsula or perhaps a visit to Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre (all activities optional – some with an extra cost). Tonight you can enjoy a meal in the central city at one of the many new and exciting restaurants in Christchurch (optional – extra cost).
Today after returning your rental vehicle, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. We trust that you have had a memorable self- drive tour with us.
“We will definitely recommend The Road Trip to our family and friends if they are heading to New Zealand!!”
Betty NG and Group – USA, April 2017