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Mountains and Lakes South Island Family Tour

6 nights, Christchurch to Queenstown

Mountains and Lakes South Island Family Tour

Traverse the mountains and alpine lakes of the South Island on this family tour from Christchurch to the adventure capital of Queenstown. Get the whole family excited with highlights along the way including a close up encounter with the rare yellow eyed penguins in Dunedin. When you reach Queenstown you'll journey up the Skyline Gondola for a bird's eye view of the mountains and lake, while you're there, try out some fast-action fun on the Skyline Luge! The next day cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Station for a kiwi style BBQ lunch and farm tour - meet the farm dogs and get up close with some highland cattle!

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Church of the Good Shepherd, Te Anau at dusk
The road to Mount Cook with Mount Cook in the backgrounf
The Queenstown Skyline at dusk
Profile of the Oamaru Grain Store
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

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.

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.

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: Amore Motor Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Amore Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Amore Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Amore Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Amore Motor Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Journey through the MacKenzie Country to the alpine village of Lake Tekapo

Driving distance and time: 247 kms / 153 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.

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.

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
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.

Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

Tekapo Springs Hot Pools
Tekapo Springs Hot Pools
Tekapo Springs Hot Pools
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.

Accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo

Accommodation type: Luxury apartments

Accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo
Accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo
Accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo
Accommodation: Mantra Lake Tekapo

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: On site paid access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Swimming pool
  • 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: 314 kms / 195 miles : 3.7 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.

Lake Tekapo to Dunedin

Lake Tekapo to Dunedin
Lake Tekapo to Dunedin
Lake Tekapo to Dunedin
Lake Tekapo to Dunedin

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes drive from Lake Tekapo and 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. It is just a quick 30 minute drive from the main road into Mt Cook Village itself (allow a couple of hours though to drive both ways and spend a little while here). Mt. Cook National Park offers the visitor a huge range of activities. Mt. Cook Ski Planes operate scenic flights that include a unique ski landing on a glacier. At around 15 kilometres long the Tasman Glacier is New Zealand's longest and a glacier explorers tour will show you these unique features. There are many short hikes in and around the park and these are well marked and there is something for almost every ability.

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 café and also offers an informative sheep shearing demonstration. Heading down the Waitaki valley you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.
The town of Oamaru is most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Explore the old quarter or if you don't mind a late arrival into Dunedin then stay around to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk. 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 and city centre.

Dunedin's museums - suggested activity

Dunedin's museums - suggested activity
Dunedin's museums - suggested activity
Dunedin's museums - suggested activity
Dunedin's museums - suggested activity

Otago Museum

Discover rare objects, special exhibitions and a live butterfly rainforest experience at the Otago Museum. Through the galleries you'll discover the unique culture, heritage and wildlife of the Otago region. Highlights include the Tangata Whenua gallery which tells the story of the Southern Maori life and mythology. The Discovery World Tropical Forest is fun for young and old, you'll enter a rainforest filled with hundreds of beautiful butterflies. The special exhibitions are always fascinating and when you're ready for a break there's a great cafe to relax at. The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily, except Christmas Day. For information on current exhibitions and admission fees for exhibitions and the Discovery World Tropical Forest visit the Otago Museum.

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Encounter history at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Learn about the people whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion, and transport shaped New Zealand's First Great City - Dunedin. In the galleries you can trace the fascinating journeys from the earliest settlers, Kai Tahu and their ancestors, to the most recent arrivals. The themed galleries weave the stories of past and present with future thinking, featuring interactive displays with stunning visuals and powerful narratives. Admission is free and the museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 4pm April to September, 10am to 5pm October to March and Thursdays until 8pm. For more information visit the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum website.

Accommodation: Motel on York

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York

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
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Discover the unique wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour

Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour

Learn about the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin when you visit Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve dedicated to ensuring the survival of this unique species. The project is entirely funded by guided tours which allows the conservation team to engage in habitat restoration, predator control, a research program and on-site rehabilitation care for the sick starving and wounded birds.
When you take a tour, you will learn about the issues the Yellow Eyed Penguin faces , their life cycle and how the project is carried out. You'll take a short bus trip over the reserve and be led on foot by your guide through a system of covered trenches to viewing hides which allow access to the living and breeding grounds of this very shy bird without disturbing them.

Accommodation: Motel on York

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York

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Day 5 - Pass through historic gold mining towns and bountiful orchards to the 'Adventure Capital' of Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 270 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 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 Queenstown

Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown

This drive takes you through the heart of the historical Otago Goldfields . The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra - once booming mining towns in the late 1800's gold rush - now sleepy sun-traps bearing the little resemblance to their bustling past. However, some buildings do remain as do the original shafts and workings. In more recent times Alexandra has become the 'stone fruit capital' of New Zealand -  with the ideal climate for the trees. It is also a great place to buy some of the local produce. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy before passing through the Gibbston Wine Valley to arrive at your destination today, Queenstown.  
 

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere - and take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and Coronet Peak - one of Queenstown's Ski field.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Today you'll cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the historic TSS Earnslaw steamship for a farm tour and BBQ lunch

TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch

TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience - a delicious barbeque lunch and farm tour in a stunning lakeside setting. First take a scenic cruise from Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm on board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw - one of the last remaining fully functional coal-fired passenger ships in the southern hemisphere. The vintage steamship was originally built in Dunedin and once completed it was dismantled, shipped by rail to Kingston and then reassembled before being launched onto the lake where it has been transporting goods and passengers since 1912.

Disembark and take in the picturesque shores of the Station. Relax on the lakeside terrace at the Colonel's Homestead Restaurant and savour the aromas of the best local produce being cooked the grill. The seasonal menu has plenty to choose from - salads, vegetables and succulent meat. If you're vegetarian, you will be well catered for also. Finish your meal with a scrumptious dessert before joining an entertaining farm demonstration or exploring the beautiful lakeside gardens.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 7 - Explore more of Queenstown's scenery and activities before departing for your onward journey

Driving distance and time: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 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.

Depart Queenstown today

Explore more of Queenstown before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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