Call us in NZ (freecall): 1855 979 6659 1855 979 6659 Enquire Now

Top of the South

9 nights, Christchurch to Christchurch

Top of the South

Visit the less explored upper South Island, home to amazing wildlife, including whales in Kaikoura and the delightful seal colony in Abel Tasman National Park.  In Blenheim, you’ll sample the region’s best known export, the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc before heading south to the West Coast and Punakaiki Rocks.  You return to Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass National Park, an amazing place to discover natural New Zealand including the cheeky Kea which is regularly seen in the park.

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 10 days / 9 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
  • Half day Marlborough wine tour
  • Abel Tasman Seals and Beach walk
  • Whale Watch Kaikoura tour
Couple watching whales on a tour from Kaikoura, South Island
A visitor hiking the trails in Abel Tasman National Park
Driving the main highway across Canterbury towards Arthurs Pass
Wine lovers exploring the Nelson and Marlborough Vineyards
 

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

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 Gondola - suggested

Christchurch Gondola
Christchurch Gondola
Christchurch Gondola
Christchurch Gondola

In the Heathcote Valley, just fifteen minutes from the heart of Christchurch city, ride the Christchurch Gondola for nearly a kilometre to the collapsed rim of an extinct volcano - which exploded six million years ago.  Take in the panoramic 360-degree views of the central city, Lyttelton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury Plains and the distant peaks of the Southern Alps.  Wander the summit complex and choose one of many nature walks or visit the Time Tunnel - a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the Port Hills and Christchurch.

Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel
Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel
Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel
Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

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

Page top

Day 2 - Pass through the North Canterbury countryside to Kaikoura

Driving distance and time: 179 kms / 111 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.

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 Kaikoura

Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura

The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Whale Watch Kaikoura

New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company, Whale Watch Kaikoura offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the giant sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, is sometimes seen.
You'll be taken out in modern catamarans specifically designed for whale watching - featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel
Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel
Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel
Accommodation: Anchor Inn Motel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room

Page top

Day 3 - Travel via the coastal road before reaching the vineyards of Blenheim

Driving distance and time: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 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.

Kaikoura to Blenheim

Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim
Kaikoura to Blenheim

Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted). As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

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

Page top

Day 4 - Discover the delightful wines of Marlborough on a half day wine tour

Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour

Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour
Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour
Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour
Sounds Connection half day wine tasting tour

Be immersed in Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through four or five wineries (depending on availability) to taste the award winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of wine making in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through.

Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

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

Page top

Day 5 - Travel via the beautiful Queen Charlotte Drive to the idyllic Abel Tasman National Park

Driving distance and time: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 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.

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the interislander ferry connects with Wellington. A bustling seaside destination, Picton is well equipped with shops, cafes - and is also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant - so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.

Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks - the most popular - a 30 minute loop through beech, rimu, and totara forest. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

Page top

Day 6 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park on a cruise and walking adventure

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

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: Ocean View Chalets

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Page top

Day 7 - Pass between two national parks as you travel to the wild West Coast

Driving distance and time: 286 kms / 177 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.

Abel Tasman to Punakaiki

Abel Tasman  to Punakaiki
Abel Tasman  to Punakaiki
Abel Tasman  to Punakaiki
Abel Tasman  to Punakaiki

The drive today takes you along the Buller Gorge and offers some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river. 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.
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 port town of Westport is the largest on the Northern West Coast. A history of gold mining, logging, fishing coal mining gives the town a hard working feeling. And to reward the hard workers the town has an extraordinary amount of pubs.
There are plenty of activities here such as caving, bush walks and surfing but one of the most popular is to take a trip to Tauranga bay and the seal colony. Just 15 kilometres south at Cape Foulwind (named by Captain Cook for the difficult sailing conditions and not the smell of the seals!), you will find a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. A well marked and easy 10 minute walking track takes you to colony where you can see the creatures lazing around or swimming in the ocean.
The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki where a walk along the paths around the pancake rocks is a must. Please note there is no supermarket facilities in Punakaiki.

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

Page top

Day 8 - Head inland and drive over the Otira Viaduct to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving distance and time: 138 kms / 86 miles : 1.8 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.

Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park

Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park
Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park
Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park
Punakaiki to Arthur's Pass National Park

Today you’ll head south towards Greymouth, before turning onto State Highway 73 as you make your way to Arthur's Pass. Winding your way up and over the Southern Alps, this route takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country - even in the rain when hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the bush clad hillsides.

Originally the road was used as a pass by the Maori as they made their seasonal passage to collect Greenstone in the West Coast mountains. Following the 1800’s gold rush a road and railway was developed through the area. Today, the railway is used predominantly for the world renowned Tranz Alpine Scenic Train, transporting several hundred tourists per day from Christchurch to Greymouth - or the other way round. Continue on through the Otira Gorge, before arriving at your destination for the night, Arthur’s Pass.

Note: If you're feeling like a more leisurely drive, there is the option to take a more scenic route around Lake Brunner. Well signposted, this road begins just before the town of Kumara.

Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • All rooms non smoking

Page top

Day 9 - Explore the many walks within the park or visit the fascinating rock formations of Castle Hill

Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity

Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity
Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity
Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity
Short walks in Arthurs Pass National Park - suggested activity

Within the Arthur's Pass there are many short walks to suit all ages and abilities. Located in the Arthur's Pass Village is a Department of Conservation information centre where you can get updates on track conditions and track suitability as well as learning about the natural history of the area and its people.

Listed below are a selection of short walks.

1. Millennium Walk - Time: 10 minutes return
2. Devils Punchbowl Waterfall Walk - Time: One hour return
3. Arthur's Pass Walking Track - Time: One hour 20 minutes (one way)
4. Dobson Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
5. Old Coach Road Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
6. Cockayne Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return

Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel

Page top

Day 10 - Depart Christchurch today

Driving distance and time: 132 kms / 82 miles : 1.7 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.

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Descending into the valleys of the Waimakariri this drive offers some spectacular views of the braided river valleys. Castle Hill Scenic Reserve sits in limestone country and the area is dotted with remarkable rock outcrops. A popular place with climbers it was also an important place for Maori in past years as they provided shelter on their seasonal journeys between the coasts. There is a network of walking paths allowing you to explore.
Descending onto the Canterbury Plains the rich farmland that attracted and helped settlers prosper becomes apparent as you head into the city of Christchurch.

Depart Christchurch today

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

Page top