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A Taste of the South self drive tour

7 nights, Christchurch to Christchurch

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.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 8 days / 7 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
  • Accommodation is Hotel 3 star (can be customised)
  • A superb range of rental cars to choose from
  • Rental car insurance with full coverage (variable excess/deductible)
  • Unlimited kilometres, GPS navigation, airport and ferry fees
  • Comprehensive tour pack on arrival
  • Can be fully customised to suit you
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Private train station transfers
  • Private airport transfers
  • TranzAlpine Train from Greymouth to Christchurch
Stunning views of Lake Wanaka from Roys Peak
Journey through the mountains aboard the Tranz Alpine train
View over the snow-capped Remarkables
Visit the historic Dunedin railway station
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive into the 'Garden City' of Christchurch

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

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

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch, New Zealand's self proclaimed garden city is a bright and vibrant destination. Known for its large green belt, the wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens make for a calm and relaxing atmosphere. 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 unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket - suggested

Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket
Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

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.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car this morning, then you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

Driving distance and time: 415 kms / 258 miles : 4.8 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

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 Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)

Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)
Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)
Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)
Christchurch to Twizel (via Mt. Cook National Park)

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route, Geraldine offers an ideal stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. Enjoy the magnificent views from the shore, boat or air by taking a scenic flight. On arriving at Lake Pukaki, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular views of Mt Cook, towering over the lake. Driving along the lake, you'll find your destination, Mt. Cook Village. Enjoy Mt Cook National Park by having a glacier landing with ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake or by walking one of the many tracks. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must see. Return along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Twizel, your base for the evening.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass - suggested

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

Located inside the Hermitige Hotel, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre pays tribute to humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers, Sir Edmund Hillary.  The centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel
Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel
Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel
Accommodation: MacKenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin

Driving distance and time: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Twizel to Dunedin

Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Larnach Castle and Gardens - suggested

Larnach Castle and Gardens
Larnach Castle and Gardens
Larnach Castle and Gardens
Larnach Castle and Gardens

Larnach is New Zealand's only Castle, built in 1871 by politician and merchant, William Larnach, a man of great vision who helped shape New Zealands early history. It was built for William's beloved first wife Eliza, it took 200 workmen three years to build the shell and a further twelve years were spent by master craftsman to embellish the interior. It's located high up on the Otago Peninsula and looks down on Dunedin city giving beautiful views. The gardens have International Garden of Significance status and have a unique collection of specialised areas for you to explore. The Ballroom cafe is a fantastic place to rest and reflect on all you have seen while enjoying a delicious range of refreshments. As with the entire castle, the ballroom had an interesting and varied history prior to its beautiful restoration, uses ranged from a lunatic asylum, antique sales room to the penning of sheep.

Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin
Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin
Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin
Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available

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

Driving distance and time: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
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.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves - suggested

Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
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.

Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 5 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Te Anau to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown
Te Anau to Queenstown
Te Anau to Queenstown
Te Anau to Queenstown

Your drive today takes you from Te Anau to Queenstown through vast alpine tussocklands. Pass Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through the southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge. Marvel at the Remarkables mountain range as you begin the final leg of your journey to the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride - suggested

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride - skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour - suggested

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour
TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a scenic cruise from central Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm on board the historic steamship, TSS Earnslaw. On disembarking, you'll be welcomed and escorted through the beautiful lakeside gardens to the Colonel's Homestead for dinner. Here, you’ll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare as you watch. Choose from the  seasonal menu which includes an expansive array of New Zealand meats and produce, followed by a delicious array of desserts, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration offers you a glimpse of life in the high country. On the magical night-time cruise home, you can enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship’s pianist or breathe in the fresh night air on the moonlit decks as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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Day 6 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Driving distance and time: 321 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Queenstown to Fox Glacier
Queenstown to Fox Glacier
Queenstown to Fox Glacier
Queenstown to Fox Glacier

Today you'll head over the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in the country - and pass through the alpine town of Wanaka. Skirt the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, to arrive in Makarora, gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  Stretch your legs on a walk to Blue Pools - a ten minute stroll through lush rainforest. Marvel at the native beech and countless waterfalls as you continue toward the West Coast.

Crossing the Haast River you are now truly in the wild west - a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. Continue on to arrive in Fox Glacier, your destination for the night. Home to the largest glacier on the west coast, Fox is 13 kilometres long and ends in rainforest only 250 metres above sea level.

Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line - suggested

Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line
Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. A 30 minute flight with snow landing. 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.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site

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Day 7 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 197 kms / 122 miles : 2.5 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station

Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station
Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station
Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station
Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station

The drive north from Fox and Franz Josef takes you through the historic gold mining region of Ross and the town of Hokitika, a great place to explore the craft stores, in particular the jade or greenstone. The largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth is also the starting point for the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.  Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch
TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's greatest train journeys, the TranzAlpine scenic train travels both ways from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the vast windswept Canterbury Plains, spectacular gorges, river valleys and native beech rainforest. A highlight for many is the crossing of the Southern Alps, passing through Arthur's Pass National Park, before descending to the Canterbury Plains and arriving in Christchurch.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

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Day 8 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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