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South Island Coastal Self Drive tour

13 nights, Christchurch to Christchurch

South Island Coastal Self Drive tour

You’ll begin this journey with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean as you travel south from Christchurch.  In Dunedin there’s time to explore the Otago Peninsula with its abundant wildlife, then you’ll follow the Catlins coastline to the bottom of the South Island.  On the western side of the island highlights include a nature cruise on the famous Milford Sound, the spectacular West Coast Road edging the Tasman Sea and the remarkable Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.  The top of the South Island brings the calm aqua waters of Abel Tasman National Park and the Marlborough Sounds before you return to the Pacific Ocean.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 14 days / 13 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
  • Accommodation is Motels (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
  • Private airport transfers
  • Real Journeys Milford Sound nature cruise
See seals lounging about the rocks in Kaikora
Abunce of wildlife on the Otago Peninsula
Fun Queenstown activity - skyline luge
Explore Fiordland on the Milford Wanderer
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch today

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

On arrival into Christchurch airport you will be met from your flight and a transfer will deliver you to your accommodation.
The rest of the day is yours to explore at your leisure. Christchurch City is the largest city in the South Island. Often referred to as the Garden City it boasts one of the largest public parks in the country and the city centre is full of very impressive stone buildings reminiscent of the English university towns.

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: Bella Vista Christchurch

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room

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Day 2 - Travel south through the Canterbury Plains where you'll join the coastline which takes you to Dunedin

Driving distance and time: 346 kms / 215 miles : 4.2 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.

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 Dunedin

Christchurch to Dunedin
Christchurch to Dunedin
Christchurch to Dunedin
Christchurch to Dunedin

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains you’ll head South on State Highway one traversing many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. Go over New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia and onwards through Timaru.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the local blue penguins come ashore at dusk. Continue down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature and well worth the look.

As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

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 3 - Explore Dunedin or opt for a wildlife encounter on 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.

Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock - suggested

Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock
Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock
Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock
Monarch Wildlife Cruise from Wellers Rock

An unforgettable experience viewing rare and fascinating wildlife. Board the Monarch Boat and take in the fascinating sight of the Northern Royal Albatross as it comes in to nest on spectacular cliffs of Taiaroa, Otago Peninsula. You'll also see eight other species of birds including sooty shearwaters and petrels as well as sea lions and fur seals - and if you're really lucky - dolphins and whales.

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

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.

Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour - suggested

Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour
Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour
Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour
Royal Albatross Colony 'Albatross Classic' tour

This 60 minute tour focuses on the Royal Albatrosses and wildlife that inhabit Pukekura (Taiaroa Head). Begin with a short film, then enjoy the informative commentary provided by your guide about albatrosses as you visit the observatory to see nesting albatross in their natural habitat.

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: 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 4 - Follow the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins to Invercargill

Driving distance and time: 236 kms / 146 miles : 3.0 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.

Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route

Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route
Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route
Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route
Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route

The scenic route from Dunedin to Invercargill takes you via the Southern Scenic Route. Well signposted from Dunedin the route takes you along the rugged Otago coastline and its many secluded beaches and bays and many are great places to spot New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. At Nugget Point, penguins and elephant seals can also be spotted. Curio Bay is home to a 160 million year old fossilised forest. Get an early start for this drive as you can easily pass the whole day exploring the many attractions along the Southern Scenic Route.

Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel
Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel
Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel
Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel

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
  • 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 5 - Continue on the Southern Scenic Route as it takes you along the southern coastline of the South Island

Driving distance and time: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 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.

Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route

Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route
Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route
Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route
Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route

Taking the Southern Scenic Route the drive from Invercargill to Te Anau passes through some wonderful and often overlooked regions of Southland. Riverton is Southland's oldest community established by whalers in the 1830's and many of the original cottages have survived throughout the town. The Riverton Early Settlers Museum tells the story well. Orepuki on the coast was once 'almost' a gold town but the fine dust proved too hard to extract commercially. You can still sometimes see gold dust in the beach sand at Monkey Bay. The early sawmilling settlement of Tautapere is next. Known as the 'hole in the bush' the town features an attractive domain.  A little further north is the Clifden suspension bridge which dates back to 1899. The Blackmount Road offers some great side trips if you have the time and one in particular is the 50 kilometre round trip to Lake Haruoko, New Zealand's deepest lake. The Blackmount Road continues to the small township of Manapouri, the departure point for cruises to Doubtful Sound. Te Anau the gateway to Milford Sound is just a further 20 kilometres north.

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: Lakefront Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

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
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road for your scenic nature cruise on Milford Sound

Driving distance and time: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 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.

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Travelling to Milford Sound, you’ll see beautiful and iconic scenery. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to glacier formed meadows and lush rainforest, this area is unlike anywhere else. Stop for a stroll through native beech forest on the Chasm Walk, a scenic track to several powerful waterfalls. Continue on through the Homer Tunnel an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford, you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Milford Sound Nature Cruise

A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

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Day 7 - 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: 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 8 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Driving distance and time: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 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.

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Start your journey crossing the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - to Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Passing through both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Visit the Blue Pools only a short walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

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.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef
Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef
Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef
Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 9 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road to Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks

Driving distance and time: 212 kms / 132 miles : 2.6 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.

Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

Just south of Greymouth is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear. Be sure to stop at the supermarket in Greymouth as there is none in Punakaiki. Punakaiki is a highlight of this drive so allow plenty of time to walk the paths and explore the formations.

Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)
Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)
Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)
Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)

Accommodation features

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

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Day 10 - Leave the coast and travel between two expansive national parks to reach the laid back city of Nelson

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.

Punakaiki to Nelson

Punakaiki to Nelson
Punakaiki to Nelson
Punakaiki to Nelson
Punakaiki to Nelson

Heading North a worthwhile divert is to Cape Foulwind just south of Westport. Home to a seal colony and the short walk provides some spectacular scenery. Driving along the Buller Gorge enjoy some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river.
The first major town (by this regions standard) is Inangahua and a small museum tells of the earthquake that hit the region in 1968 leaving 70% of the buildings damaged or inhabitable. Further along the river one of the must stop places is Whites Creek and New Zealand's longest swing bridge. Crossing the river you get magnificent views of the gorge and once on the other side there are short bush walks, jet boat rides and some of the historic gold mining remnants.
The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, kayaking, 4WD trips and some great trout fishing.
Continuing to follow the river you then enter the Kahurangi National Park region and the Nelson Lakes. Trees, rivers and valleys accompany you now as you head into the suburb of Richmond and then Nelson City.

Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 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
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool

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Day 11 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals

Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region
Explore the Nelson and Abel Tasman region

Nelson is a great city to explore on foot. Visit the historic areas, the famous Cathedral or relax and enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many cafes on Trafalgar Street. Nelson is also noted for its many artists, and galleries displaying their work can be enjoyed by following one of the Art trails listed locally. Around 45 minutes drive away is Abel Tasman National Park. The region offers countless opportunities to explore for visitors of every age and capability, from enjoying the golden sand beaches and clear warm waters to guided kayaking trips viewing seals and dolphins, to exploring some of New Zealand's finest walking tracks.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals  - fur seals and dolphins.
 

Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch - suggested

Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch
Seals, Beach Cruise and Walk Including Picnic Lunch

Experience the best of Abel Tasman on this combined beach cruise and walk tour. You will first take a cruise into the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, where you will pause to watch the antics of the Resident Fur Seal Colony. After landing at the historic Tonga Quarry Beach, take a two hour, fifteen minute walk over forested land and around the spectacular Bark Bay Estuary - renowned for its cascading waterfalls. You will then region the cruise at the sheltered golden cove on Medlands Beach.

Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star

Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

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Day 12 - Follow the beautiful Queen Charlotte Drive to the vineyards of Blenheim

Driving distance and time: 131 kms / 82 miles : 2.0 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.

Nelson to Blenheim via Queen Charlotte Drive

Nelson to Blenheim via Queen Charlotte Drive
Nelson to Blenheim via Queen Charlotte Drive
Nelson to Blenheim via Queen Charlotte Drive
Nelson to Blenheim via Queen Charlotte Drive

From city of Nelson you drive along the coast of Tasman Bay towards the Bryant Range. The highway between Nelson and Picton also crosses the Pelorus River and just at this junction is the famous and historic Pelorus Bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks with the most popular the 30 minute loop through beech, rimu and totara forest to the swing-bridge.
Starting in the town of Havelock the Queen Charlotte Drive travels the Marlborough Sounds coastline towards the port town of Picton. Magnificent views of the sounds can be had from many vantage points so allow plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. If you can spare the time take the narrow windy road to Portage along Mahau Sound and Kenepuru Sound with their bush clad hillsides and secluded sandy coves.
Picton the busy port town of Picton, and its here from that the Interislander ferries arrive and depart. The small town centre has plenty of shops and cafes and the waterfront area is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours watching the activity of the ships. The Edwin Fox Maritime Centre on the wharf is worth a visit with the star attraction being the vessel the Edwin Fox, reputably the 9th oldest ship in the world.
Just 30 minutes south is Blenheim siting right at the heart of the New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Marlborough, and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling of the local produce.

Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour - suggested

Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour
Sounds Connection Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

Seafood Odyssea Cruise - suggested

Seafood Odyssea Cruise
Seafood Odyssea Cruise
Seafood Odyssea Cruise
Seafood Odyssea Cruise

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Queen Charlotte Sound with seemingly endless bays and coves to explore and different scenery around each corner. Seafood Odyssea Cruise offers a unique range of sightseeing, birdlife, wildlife and a look at Aquaculture (the growing of fresh seafood). Learn about the Marlborough Sounds area, the local seafoods grown and enjoy a fabulous seafood tasting on board matched to stunning Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge
Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer

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Day 13 - Head South today to Christchurch

Driving distance and time: 294 kms / 182 miles : 3.6 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.

Blenheim to Christchurch

Blenheim to Christchurch
Blenheim to Christchurch
Blenheim to Christchurch
Blenheim to Christchurch

Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east you see the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Go through Kaikoura Township - a bustling place with many cafes and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Another great Kaikoura activity is Swimming with the Seals - highly recommended if you have time.

Continue along the coast before heading inland through North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. You are also introduced to the South Island's most numerous inhabitant, the sheep. Choose to take a 40 minute detour to Hanmer Springs for a relaxing dip in the thermal pools before arriving into Christchurch, your destination for the night.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

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Day 14 - 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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