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Wellington to Queenstown self drive tour

7 nights, Wellington to Queenstown

Wellington to Queenstown self drive tour

From Wellington take the stunning journey on the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton where you’ll follow the Pacific Ocean coast south through the marine wildlife mecca of Kaikoura to Christchurch.  After 2 nights in Christchurch you’ll cross the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps and Mt. Cook National Park.  The final leg of your travels takes you to the alpine resort of Queenstown.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 8 days / 7 nights from Wellington to Queenstown
  • 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
  • Interislander ferry crossing
Take a kayak tour on Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown & Lake Wakatipu at sunset
Autumnal colours on the drive to Mt Cook
Experience an abundance of wildlife in coastal Kiakora
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Today you'll cross the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. Approaching Picton you'll cruise through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds

Driving distance and time: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.3 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.

Private transfer to Interislander ferry terminal

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the Interislander ferry terminal in time for your ferry check in.

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.

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

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.

Picton to Blenheim

Picton to Blenheim
Picton to Blenheim
Picton to Blenheim
Picton to Blenheim

Only short 30 minute drive, you’ll follow the valley south to arrive in Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough - New Zealand’s largest wine producing region. Go through acres of leafy green vines and marvel at the magnificent ‘dry hills’ of Marlborough in the distance.

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. 

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 2 - Drive to the seaside town of Kaikoura today

Driving distance and time: 110 kms / 68 miles : 1.3 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.

Blenheim to Kaikoura

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

Cross the 'dry hills' of Marlborough and 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 native wildlife. To the east is the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops - but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife - and it's one of the only places in New Zealand you can see whales year round.

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

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Day 3 - Kaikoura to Christchurch City

Driving distance and time: 178 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.

Kaikoura to Christchurch

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

Today you continue down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

Whale Watch Kaikoura - suggested

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: 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

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Day 4 - Explore the ever evolving city of Christchurch

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.

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.

Ko Tane Maori Experience, wildlife park entry and guided kiwi tour - suggested

Ko Tane Maori Experience, wildlife park entry and guided kiwi tour
Ko Tane Maori Experience, wildlife park entry and guided kiwi tour
Ko Tane Maori Experience, wildlife park entry and guided kiwi tour
Ko Tane Maori Experience, wildlife park entry and guided kiwi tour

Get a unique glimpse into the indigenous Maori culture when you visit the Ko Tane Living Maori Village and Willowbank Wildlife reserve. You'll be welcomed by the Karanga - a traditional welcome call - and experience the thrill of Wero, a challenge to visitors as you are brought into the sacred precinct of Tane, Maori God of the Forests.

Take part in a haka performed by the men or a poi dance performed by the women. Be entertained by the Kapa Haka group's songs and games, then enjoy a four course hangi dinner. Following the meal you'll be taken on a guided tour through the wildlife reserve to view the New Zealand native kiwi.

Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

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

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Day 5 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

Driving distance and time: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 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.

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

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

Today you’ll cross the vast Canterbury plains into the heart of the South Island. Stretch your legs in Geraldine before continuing into Mackenzie Country. Climbing Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and see the spectacular Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village.

Choose to view the Mt Cook National Park by a ski plane, or land on one of the glaciers in a helicopter. Find your sense of adventure and Kayak on a glacial lake or test your legs on one of the many walking tracks in and around the village. Before leaving, a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must do.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook - suggested

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Tasman Valley 4WD Tour - suggested

Tasman Valley 4WD Tour
Tasman Valley 4WD Tour
Tasman Valley 4WD Tour
Tasman Valley 4WD Tour

A rugged back road 4WD adventure accessing awe inspiring views over the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine wall. You will get to stop at several vantage points and have the opportunity to walk up to the top of the Tasman Glacier moraine wall to view some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities within the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Your professional guide has a wealth of knowledge of the Aoraki/Mt Cook area. Learn about the area, its unique geology, local flora and fauna and get an entertaining insight into the rich pioneering history and stories of the past 150 years.

Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Accommodation features

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

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Day 6 - Follow the dry lands to Lindis Pass which leads into Central Otago, then through the Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 257 kms / 159 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.

Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama - the gliding capital of New Zealand. Continue on over the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand's highest roads with a summit of 971 metres. Arrive in the quaint village of Tarras, then continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago's original gold mining settlements.

Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

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 7 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Queenstown may be New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ but it offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday.  On the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the soaring Remarkables Mountain Range, this small town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head through Gibbston Valley to sample some of the region’s best wine. We recommend stopping at the Chard Farm cellar door, visiting the architecturally award winning Peregrine vineyard or taking a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship -  the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

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!

Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride - suggested

Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride
Skyline Gondola and 1 Luge Ride

450 metres above the heart of Queenstown in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. Hop aboard the gondola for awe-inspiring views of the city surrounds and award winning cuisine with view. Ride the 800 metre luge track, then for added thrill, tandem paraglide back to base.

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

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Day 8 - Depart Queenstown today

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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