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Pancakes Glaciers and Mountains

8 nights, Christchurch to Christchurch

Pancakes Glaciers and Mountains

Ideal for those wanting to get off the beaten track away from the tourist centres. Spectacular scenery in some of the South Islands most picturesque spots! Well, to be honest we could say that about pretty much every tour, the place is that good! Punakaiki to the glaciers, beautiful Wanaka and majestic Aoraki Mt Cook. Stunning New Zealand at its best!

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 9 days / 8 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
  • Accommodation is Hotel 4 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
  • All breakfasts
  • Private airport transfers
The winding roads of the South Island's West Coast
Jet boat taking visitors on a thrill ride along the Haast River
Visitors taking the valley walk to Franz Josef Glacier
Bridge crossing the Waiau River near Hanmer Springs
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch, private transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure

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.

Explore Christchurch City

Explore Christchurch City
Explore Christchurch City
Explore Christchurch City
Explore Christchurch City

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.

Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts - wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens. 

Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for a authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car and then head to the West Coast via the Lewis Pass and Punakaiki

Driving distance and time: 445 kms / 276 miles : 5.3 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.

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 Punakaiki via the Lewis Pass

Christchurch to Punakaiki via the Lewis Pass
Christchurch to Punakaiki via the Lewis Pass
Christchurch to Punakaiki via the Lewis Pass
Christchurch to Punakaiki via the Lewis Pass

The drive north from Christchurch takes you through some fine rolling farmland and North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. You then head inland and over the Lewis Pass where the landscape changes to a sub alpine zone with large forests of red and silver beech. Near the summit a short walking track, the Tarn Nature Walk, is an ideal place to break your journey. Maruia Springs has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort, a great place to stop for a soak if time allows. Reefton sprung to life in the 1870's when gold was discovered (as did many other West Coast towns) but the mining here was so successful and the town became so prosperous that it became the first place in Australasia to have electric lighting. The visitor centre tells a great tale and also has a replica gold mine.

Continuing onto Greymouth and then a short drive along the wild west coast to Punakaiki. Punakaiki is most famous for the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Visitors are often less aware of the great many other experiences available. Located in the heart of the Paparoa National Park, the area offers guided beach, forest and mountain walks, canoeing, wildlife, horse trekking, surfing, gemstone hunting, caving and climbing, heritage sites. There are taverns, cafés and restaurants, and a great range of accommodation. The area also boasts a vibrant arts and crafts community and a cooperative gallery.

Punakaiki to Hokitika

Punakaiki to Hokitika
Punakaiki to Hokitika
Punakaiki to Hokitika
Punakaiki to Hokitika

The drive South on State Highway 6 brings you first to Greymouth, the commercial centre for the West Coast. Just south of the town is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear.  Continue south and you arrive at Kumara Junction and then along the wild surf coast to Hokitika.  Hokitika is a great place to explore, especially the craft stores as the jade or greenstone on offer in Hokitika is probably some of the best you will see in the country. The Hokitika Gorge, off the beaten track and inland a little is a spectacular detour. Turquoise waters flowing through a narrow gorge. A great short walk will deliver you to this piece of paradise.

Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika
Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika
Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika
Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika

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 paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer

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Day 3 - West Coast to Glacier Country

Driving distance and time: 133 kms / 82 miles : 1.6 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.

Hokitika to Franz Josef

Hokitika to Franz Josef
Hokitika to Franz Josef
Hokitika to Franz Josef
Hokitika to Franz Josef

Leaving Hokitika you’ll go through the old gold mining town of Ross where some of the original buildings and workings remain. Ross is also home to one of the few working mines left in New Zealand. Continuing South you’ll pass through Harihari, the township Guy Menzies crash landed in after he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Continue on through Whataroa, a small township, home to some of the world's rarest birds - the New Zealand White Heron and the Kotuku. Arriving into the glacier region you’ll catch your first glimpse of the Franz Josef glacier before coming into the township - a lively place with a great atmosphere.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Glacier Country

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Known for its 12 km long glacier, Franz Josef is a lively town in the heart of the West Coast. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains its township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice up-close, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line - suggested

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. 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 operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

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

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.

Okarito Lagoon Guided Kayak Trip - suggested

Okarito Lagoon Guided Kayak Trip
Okarito Lagoon Guided Kayak Trip
Okarito Lagoon Guided Kayak Trip
Okarito Lagoon Guided Kayak Trip

Kayaking is by far the best way to enjoy the flora, fauna and scenic grandeur of New Zealand's largest unmodified coastal wetland. Previous experience is not necessary. Okarito Lagoon covers more than 3240 hectares of shallow open water and is well known for its outstanding bird life, including white heron and royal spoonbill. Exploring the open water and river channels that lead you deep into the heart of the rainforest is like stepping back in time to pre-European conditions and on a clear day you enjoy fantastic views of Mt. Cook and the Southern Alps. Your guide will take you to their favourite spots where you'll discover the flora, fauna and history of the lagoon over 2 hours.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

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Day 5 - Glacier Country to Wanaka

Driving distance and time: 283 kms / 176 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.

Franz Josef to Wanaka

Franz Josef to Wanaka
Franz Josef to Wanaka
Franz Josef to Wanaka
Franz Josef to Wanaka

Heading south you pass through the small town of Fox Glacier. A short side trip to view the glacier is recommended before heading along the coast and through more classic West Coast bush scenery. At Knights Point Lookout, elephant seals can often be seen basking on the sandy beaches at the far end of the point. Crossing the Haast River you’ll turn inland and through the mountainous valley littered with waterfalls. Continue on past lakes Hawea and Wanaka into the alpine township of Wanaka.

Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Accommodation type: Luxury apartments

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

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
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly

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Day 6 - Wanaka

Wanaka

Wanaka
Wanaka
Wanaka
Wanaka

The alpine village of Wanaka sits on the shores of the third largest lake in the Queenstown Lakes District and is surrounded by the southern alps. Wanaka draws those seeking adventure, spectacular scenery and a relaxed atmosphere.

During winter the town's population more than triples as snow sports enthusiasts flock to the local ski fields of Treble Cone and Cardrona. Known as the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is a walker's paradise of remote wilderness, high mountains and beautiful river valleys. For those seeking an adrenaline rush try skydiving, rock-climbing, jet boating or choose a scenic flight over Wanaka in a historic Tiger Moth aeroplane.

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk - suggested

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.

Siberia Experience - suggested

Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience
Siberia Experience

The Siberia Experience is a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Leaving from Makarora at the head of Lake Wanaka you will enjoy some of New Zealand's untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, alpine lakes, rain forest, waterfalls and more - this is your chance to see it all. This unique adventure incorporates a 25 minute unforgettable scenic flight with Southern Alps Air, a 2 1/2 hour walk beginning in the remote Siberia Valley in Mt. Aspiring National Park and a 30 minute exciting Jet Boat ride with Wilkin River Jets.

Ultimate Wanaka: Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk with Wanaka River Journeys - suggested

Ultimate Wanaka: Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk with Wanaka River Journeys
Ultimate Wanaka: Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk with Wanaka River Journeys
Ultimate Wanaka: Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk with Wanaka River Journeys
Ultimate Wanaka: Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk with Wanaka River Journeys

The Jet Boat and walk is a half day guided trip that begins with a thrilling jet boat tour up the Matukituki Valley. You will watch the stunning alpine scenery pass by, as you speed up the river. The Matukituki Valley is an area made famous by the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. You will be surrounded by beautiful scenery and towering mountains. Speeding along, you will quickly understand why jet boating is one of the must do tourist attractions in New Zealand. Take in the awe-inspiring views of Mount Aspiring and Avalanche Glacier. Stopping at the top of the river, leave the jet boat for a 50 minute guided walk through beautiful New Zealand landscapes. Alpine meadows, forests and waterfalls can all be seen.

Ultimate Wanaka: Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures - suggested

Ultimate Wanaka: Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures
Ultimate Wanaka: Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures
Ultimate Wanaka: Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures
Ultimate Wanaka: Wild Hills 4WD Safari with Ridgeline Adventures

The Wild Hills is an authentic four-wheel drive journey that travels the private back-roads of an iconic West Wanaka Station. This adventure will take you high into the mountains overlooking Lake Wanaka and you will get to view the glaciated snow-capped peaks of the Mt Aspiring National Park. An expert local New Zealand guide will bring the history, heritage, spectacular scenery and in-depth knowledge of farming practices to life for you. Enjoy leisurely nature walks, freshly brewed coffee and home baking at the private mountain-top café. Lend a hand with our predator control programme by helping check a trap line we maintain.

Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

Accommodation type: Luxury apartments

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments
Accommodation: Lakeshore Springs Apartments

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Day 7 - Wanaka to Mackenzie Country

Driving distance and time: 201 kms / 125 miles : 2.2 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.

Wanaka to Mt. Cook National Park

Wanaka to Mt. Cook National Park
Wanaka to Mt. Cook National Park
Wanaka to Mt. Cook National Park
Wanaka to Mt. Cook National Park

Passing through the Clutha River valley you arrive into the quaint village of Tarras, which has a number of boutique stores and a lovely café.  You then traverse the Lindis Pass, 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 Central Otago into the Mackenzie Basin. The towns of Omarama and Twizel are the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mt. Cook Highway along the shores to the village. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from scenic flights with glacier landings, to kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

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: Hermitage Hotel, Wakefield Wing Superior Room

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Wakefield Wing Superior Room
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Wakefield Wing Superior Room
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Wakefield Wing Superior Room
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Wakefield Wing Superior Room

Accommodation features

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

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Day 8 - Mackenzie Country to Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 327 kms / 203 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.

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch
Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch
Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch
Mt. Cook National Park to Christchurch

Leaving Mount Cook national park, travel a short distance before stopping at the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. Learn about the formation of the region and take in the spectacular views of Mt. Cook. Lake Tekapo also displays the same reflective qualities of Lake Pukaki - making the waters a bright turquoise. You’ll go through the small town of Tekapo, home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just marvel at the magnificent views. From here you travel through Burkes Pass and into the rich farming valley that surrounds Geraldine. Continue on across the vast Canterbury Plains to arrive in Christchurch City, your destination for the night.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Christchurch

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Day 9 - Depart Christchurch today

Driving distance and time: 7 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 Christchurch today

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

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