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).
Today you have a full day to explore the glacier area and the many great nature walks on offer in the area. Perhaps take an excursion to Okarito beach and enjoy the beauty and isolation of this stunning scenic area.
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 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. Perhaps browse the preserved Chinese gold mining village or wander the boutique shops the town has on offer. Your next stop is Amisfield Winery where you will enjoy a 3 course ‘trust the chef’ lunch with 4 matching wines, including the trademark Pinot Noir which this region is famous for (lunch and wine tasting included). This afternoon you will drive a further 2.5 hours to Te Anau. This evening in Te Anau you will take a tour by boat across Lake Te Anau to the glow worm caves to view the shimmering light of thousands of luminous glow-worms in a 12,000 year old grotto (included).
Be prepared for one of the jewels of the New Zealand landscape. The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most spectacular in the world and certainly a highlight on any New Zealand tour. En route you will see spectacular valleys, breath taking mountains and hopefully spot the cheeky Kea (New Zealand’s mountain parrot). This morning you will experience all that the fjords have to offer with a 1.5 hour boat cruise featuring pristine waterfalls and towering mountains plunging into the Tasman Sea (included activity). Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and the Fiordland crested Penguin. On your trip back to Te Anau there is the opportunity to take some short walks in the Fiordland National Park. We will point out the must-sees for you.
This morning you will head to Queenstown, ‘New Zealand’s adventure capital of the world’. Skirting your way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography and you will be amazed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the most famous back drops for Lord of the Rings. The afternoon is free to spend as you wish in Queenstown, and there is plenty to see and do!
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).
Today is a further day to enjoy the sights and adventure of Queenstown at leisure.
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.