8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour
South Island Self Drive from Christchurch to Christchurch
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8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour

Take the family on the trip of a lifetime with this 8 day self drive holiday. This trip is packed full of the best activities on the South Island. Departing from Christchurch, you will stay in comfortable motel accommodation on your journey as you head to New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki /Mt Cook, then the 'Adventure Capital' of Queenstown before continuing to breathtaking Fiordland. Here, you will spend a night aboard the Milford Mariner in Milford Sound, cruising the fiord through its dramatic mountain peaks. Finally, journey up the 'Wild West Coast', witnessing the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers before taking the TranzAlpine Train journey back to Christchurch.

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Tour summary and feature

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,389 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 128 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Collect your car and travel through the Canterbury Plains, deep into the Southern Alps. Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 2: Follow the Southern Alps and cross over the Lindis Pass to the Southern Lakes. Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 3: Take a spin on a jet boat, before travelling along the Devil's Staircase and through lush farmland to Fiordland. Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4: Explore the Milford Road and cruise the magnificent Milford Sound. Accommodation: Overnight Boat in Milford Sound
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 117 kms / 73 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 5: Leave the fiords behind and head back into the mountains to Wanaka. Accommodation: Bella Vista Wanaka
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 338 kms / 210 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 6: Travel across the 'Gates of Haast' to the West Coast. Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 7: Drive north to meet the famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train across alps and viaducts to Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 8: It's time to bid farewell and take home lasting memories.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 8 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Collect your car and travel through the Canterbury Plains, deep into the Southern Alps
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 1
Itinerary information by App & in-country support

Access to our exclusive Touring App. The smartphone app includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts, and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV's.

Christchurch to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mount Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mount Cook Village. 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Big Sky Stargazing

Mount Cook is far from the city lights and therefore has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand - perfect for viewing the night sky! Their fully tra...

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Mount Cook is far from the city lights and therefore has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand - perfect for viewing the night sky! Their fully trained guides are delighted to show you the beautiful southern night sky using the naked eye, state of the art astronomy telescopes and binoculars at the outdoor viewing platform or if the weather is not favourable then there will be an indoor alternative featuring New Zealand's first full dome digital Planetarium - high definition video images on a suspended 9m wide x 4.5m high full dome. Unleash your imagination as you discover the night sky including the Southern Cross, seasonal ecliptic objects, planets, star clusters, moons, distant galaxies and even our very own galaxy, the spectacular Milky Way!

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Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 2 - Follow the Southern Alps and cross over the Lindis Pass to the Southern Lakes
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 2
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown

Leaving the alpine region of Aoraki 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 Gibbston, 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.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience – a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting.
Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambiance of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 257 kms / 159 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 3 - Take a spin on a jet boat, before travelling along the Devil's Staircase and through lush farmland to Fiordland
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 3
25 Minute Queenstown Jet Boat Ride

Experience a thrilling, high-speed 25 minute jet boating adventure from the centre of Queenstown, filled with speed, thrills and those famous 360-degree spins. Hold on tight as you race faster than ever before down Lake Wakatipu. You will get up close and personal with the lakes edge, skimming past trees and any obstacles in your way. Be sure to hold on to your hats as you navigate under not one, but two bridges at speed.

Queenstown to Te Anau

Following the shores of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables mountain range towers over you as you approach township of Kingston. You'll venture into Southland before crossing the rolling tussock-lands of Mossburn (deer capital of New Zealand) and shortly arriving into Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Your accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4 - Explore the Milford Road and cruise the magnificent Milford Sound
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 4
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.

Te Anau to Milford Sound

The road to Milford Sound has countless photo opportunities and short walks. The Mirror Lakes create perfectly clear reflections of the surrounding mountains and glacier formed meadows.  Further along the road The Chasm Walk includes two walking bridges over the dramatic Cleddau River, while the surrounding ancient native beech forest creates a fascinating landscape. You'll pass through the Homer Tunnel, an incredible feat of engineering at 1219 metres long. Milford Sound is the only sound accessible by road, making it very popular to visit. Coming into the village you'll be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak which rises spectacularly from the waters up to the sky. Real Journey cruises can take you out into the sound where you'll receive a wealth of information on how this magnificent area has been formed and experience first-hand the multitude of waterfalls that line the fiord.

 

Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

The Milford Mariner offers you a very special dinner, bed and breakfast experience on Milford Sound. Onboard the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. Accompanied by a nature guide you can go exploring in the tender craft and kayaks or simply relax on deck. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.
The vessel itself was designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland's heritage. Departing from the Milford Wharf, the Milford Mariner cruises the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea leisurely exploring on the way many points of interest, there is plenty of time to view the waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife and the experienced nature guide on board will be able to answer any questions you may have. After reaching the open sea, subject to weather and favourable conditions the sails are hoisted for a period. The vessel returns to the calm and shelter of Harrison Cove for your overnight stay.

Your accommodation: Overnight Boat in Milford Sound

Onboard the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 117 kms / 73 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 5 - Leave the fiords behind and head back into the mountains to Wanaka
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 5
Milford Mariner overnight cruise returns to Milford, then drive to Te Anau

Your Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise returns to Milford at 9:15am. Return to Te Anau along the fantastic Milford Road.

Te Anau to Wanaka

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown. The old gold mining township of Arrowtown is worth a detour (well signposted) before you head over the Crown Range Road. At 1076 metres (3530 feet the Crown Range Road it is the highest sealed road in the country and offers spectacular views over the Wakatipu basin from the many vantage points. Approaching Wanaka the wonderful alpine lake welcomes you to the town. Despite its size Wanaka has a wide variety of activities available. In winter it is without doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close location to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Mt Aspiring National Park sits to western edge of the lake and offers some wonderful walking tracks for all abilities. Fishing, sailing and kitesurfing are popular pastimes on the lake and the many beach access points provide great picnic and relaxing spots.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Lake Wanaka Happy Hour Cruise

Leaving from the Wanaka lakefront, take a gentle cruise around picturesque Lake Wanaka while relaxing with a glass of local wine or beer and a selecti...

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Leaving from the Wanaka lakefront, take a gentle cruise around picturesque Lake Wanaka while relaxing with a glass of local wine or beer and a selection of cheeses. The cruise is fully licensed so further drinks can be purchased on board.
The cruise takes you toward the 'Wanaka Tree' before tracking up to Waterfall Creek and Ruby Island. You then head across to Stevensons Peninsula before returning via Beacon Point and Eely Point.

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Your accommodation: Bella Vista Wanaka

Bella Vista Wanaka is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, wine bars and shops. Walk everywhere and enjoy the magnificent scenery, food and wine that Wanaka has to offer.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 338 kms / 210 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 6 - Travel across the 'Gates of Haast' to the West Coast
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 6
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the village of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The Blue Pools, just outside Makarora, are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes. A great way to experience the glaciers is with a scenic flight or glacier hike.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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 ...

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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.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - West Coast Wildlife Centre

Meet and discover New Zealand's rarest kiwi, the Rowi at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. This is a unique and interactive experience that brings toget...

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Meet and discover New Zealand's rarest kiwi, the Rowi at the West Coast Wildlife Centre. This is a unique and interactive experience that brings together nature, conservation, and wildlife all under one roof. This all-weather attraction is fun for all ages to explore and takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Franz Josef Glacier.

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Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

Day 7 - Drive north to meet the famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train across alps and viaducts to Christchurch
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 7
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 8 - It's time to bid farewell and take home lasting memories
8 Day Milford, Glaciers & Mountains Family Self Drive Tour - Day 8
International Antarctic Centre General Admission

The International Antarctic Centre aims to recreate the atmosphere and environment of Antarctica, providing visitors with an interactive, fun and educational experience. Feel the full Four Seasons of Antarctica, where you'll experience a custom-built snow and ice experience, then warm up in the Scott Base interior exhibit, a replica Antarctic field camp or other informative displays in the gallery. You'll also learn about life in modern day Antarctica, view real little blue penguins and experience a thrilling ride in a Hagglund all terrain vehicle.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Trams

Trams played an important role in transporting the people of Christchurch until 1954 when they were phased out.  In 1995 the Tramway historical s...

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Trams played an important role in transporting the people of Christchurch until 1954 when they were phased out.  In 1995 the Tramway historical society brought the beautiful trams back to the city centre for the public to enjoy.  Take the delightful journey from the top of New Regent Street near the junction with Armagh Street, through the quaint pedestrian-only arcade with it's Spanish style buildings and sunny cafes, and then through Cathedral Junction which is home to several of the city's restored hotels. Turning right at Worcester Street it then heads west through Cathedral Square, across the Avon River, past the Art Gallery and into Worcester Boulevard at the end of which the Arts centre and Botanic Gardens await. A commentary is given by the tram driver and you can hop on and off at the stops as you please throughout the day. It's a great way to explore the main city centre attractions.

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