Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights
South Island Self Drive from Queenstown to Queenstown
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights

Starting and finishing in the 'adventure capital' of Queenstown This comprehensive South Island itinerary visits every South Island must see location including Milford Sound, Mt Cook National Park, Christchurch and Akaroa, Kaikoura, Abel Tasman National Park and Nelson, Hanmer Springs and the West Coast Glaciers.

Tour summary and feature

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,023 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Queenstown, finishes in Queenstown

16 days/15 nights

Motels

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 22 times in the last 7 days

Private train station transfers

Private airport transfers

Tour at a glance

At a glance - Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown. Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 2: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown. Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 3: Follow Lake Wakatipu as it leads south then you're in the rural heart of Southland for your journey to Te Anau. Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your spectacular cruise on the fiord. Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 5: Back towards Queenstown where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Central Otago, before you cross the Lindis Pass towards the MacKenzie Country. Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 419 kms / 260 miles : 4.8 hours

Day 6: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through the MacKenzie Country and the Canterbury Plains. Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 7: Cross the Bank's Peninsula to Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 8: Head up through North Canterbury country to the coastline that leads to Kaikoura. Accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 9: Travel from the Pacific Ocean to Tasman Bay and Nelson via Blenheim. Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 10: Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals. Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

Day 11: Pass between national parks and forests to reach the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs. Accommodation: Hanmer Inn Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 283 kms / 176 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 12: Pass through Waipara Valley and rural Canterbury to reach Christchurch. Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 122 kms / 76 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 13: This morning board the scenic TranzAlpine train to Greymouth, then drive the beautiful road trip to Franz Josef. Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 167 kms / 104 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 14: Allow plenty of time for today's drive as there are some amazing photo stops especially in the Haast Pass. Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 344 kms / 213 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 15: Missed something off your Queenstown bucket list? Then make sure you tick it off today.. Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 16: Depart Queenstown.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 1 kms / 1 miles : 0.0 hours

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 16 day tour starting in Queenstown

Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown

Private Transfer Queenstown Airport to your Accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Queenstown accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The 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.

Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities Queenstown is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston valley wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

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.

Day 2 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 2
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.

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.

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
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. And 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 Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world-famous Shotover Jet full 360-degree spins!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Skyline Gondola Queenstown and 3 Luge Rides

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Then onto the Luge! The 800 metre luge track offers an exhilarating journey through banked corners, tunnels and dippers.

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

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

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.

Day 3 - Follow Lake Wakatipu as it leads south then you're in the rural heart of Southland for your journey to Te Anau

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 3
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

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 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound for your spectacular cruise on the fiord

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 4
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. Stretch your legs on the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see 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 before back-tracking the way you came.

Milford Sound Cruise with Real Journeys

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely 2 hour cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

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: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 5 - Back towards Queenstown where the Kawerau Gorge leads you to Central Otago, before you cross the Lindis Pass towards the MacKenzie Country

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 5
Te Anau to Mt. Cook National Park

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Following Lake Wakatipu north the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown, before heading east over the historic Kawarau Bridge and if you haven’t already done so you can take a bungy jump from the bridge, or sit back and watch others throw themselves off.  For a more sedate activity, the Gibbston Valley which borders the Kawarau River has many vineyards which are open for tastings. 

The Kawarau Gorge guides you towards Cromwell and for more wine tastings a side trip to Bannockburn is a must, with many award winning vineyards and winery restaurants to enjoy. Cromwell sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the historic old town is well worth the visit, the buildings are now home to quaint shops and cafes. The old town buildings were relocated from the valley that now sits deep under Lake Dunstan. Continue along Lake Dunstan until you reach the historic and scenic Bendigo Reserve, which was one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.  Well marked paths will guide you to the remains of stone cottages and other buildings from this bygone era.

The Lindis Pass is one of New Zealand’s highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres. The tussock covered hills offer an unusual contrast as you pass from Central Otago into the Mackenzie Basin. The towns of Omarama and Twizel are the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mt. Cook Highway along the shores to the village. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available scenic ski plane or helicopter flights with glacier landings to kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

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: 419 kms / 260 miles : 4.8 hours

Day 6 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through the MacKenzie Country and the Canterbury Plains

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 6
Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa

Your first stop today should be the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. As well as a great presentation detailing the formation of the region over thousands of years you are also often rewarded with uninterrupted views of over 50 kilometres to the peak of Mt. Cook.
Lake Tekapo, the northern most of the large Southern Lakes also the reflective quality that Pukaki has making the waters a bright turquoise on certain days. This busy little township is home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.
From here you descend from the high country through Burkes Pass and into rich farmland. Beautiful Valley guides you to the town of Geraldine before you cross the vast Canterbury Plains  towards Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula.
The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife daily on a Black Cat Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. You’ll see the rare, native dolphin – the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. There’s also the chance to spot the world’s smallest penguin, the White Flippered Little Blue Penguin, Fur Seals and other sea birds.
Other cruise highlights are some majestic volcanic cliffs (including the impressive Cathedral Cave) and signs of Akaroa’s fascinating past including early Maori, French and British settlements.

Your accommodation: Criterion Motel

The Criterion Motel offers studio apartments with spectacular views over Akaroa Harbour. You're also just a short walk from the fantastic cafes and restaurants that Akaroa offers.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 7 - Cross the Bank's Peninsula to Christchurch

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 7
Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)

Head to Christchurch today crossing the hills with spectacular views of the harbour. We recommend taking the slightly longer but much more scenic route around Lyttelton Harbour.  Just turn at Gebbies Pass Road and follow the road as it passes by the bays named after the areas naval past such as Corsair and Governors Bay. Take the tunnel into the 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

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: 85 kms / 53 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 8 - Head up through North Canterbury country to the coastline that leads to Kaikoura

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 8
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer 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, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on 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.

Your accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Set on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 9 - Travel from the Pacific Ocean to Tasman Bay and Nelson via Blenheim

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 9
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.

Blenheim to Nelson

A short drive north from Blenheim to you reach Havelock.  The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so plan your journey to arrive in time for lunch.  Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half Day Guided Kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds

The half day guided sea kayak trip is an ideal opportunity to fit a little kayaking adventure into a busy holiday itinerary. After a short safety briefing you'll be in the water, allowing you maximum time to enjoy the tranquil waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound. Starting at Ngakuta Bay you then paddle out of the bay and into Grove Arm. The sound is surrounded by bush-clad shorelines and sandy beaches. There will be a short stop to enjoy a light refreshment break along the way before returning to Picton.

Your accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 10 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 10
Explore Nelson City

The vibrant Nelson city centre offers an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops and along the waterfront, you will find many fine restaurants specialising in seafood to enjoy. Founded in 1841 by the New Zealand Company the region today still boasts many remarkable buildings from these early days, however it is its close proximity to Abel Tasman National Park that is one of Nelson's greatest advantages to visitors with its pristine waters, beautiful native bush and golden beaches making this an adventure seeker's paradise. Nelson is also famous for its art and crafts and you will find many local offerings - including the world-famous Hoglund Glassworks.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: The Hotel Nelson

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.

Day 11 - Pass between national parks and forests to reach the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 11
Nelson to Hanmer via Nelson Lakes National Park

The drive today takes through the enchanting Nelson Lakes National Park of rugged peaks, forests and glacial lakes. Your journey will take you along the Buller Gorge which 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. Continuing on the drive today takes you along the Lewis Pass, the least travelled of the 3 main routes over the Southern Alps. A scenic journey passing through forests and the famous Maruia Hot Springs. Springs Junction is the starting point of the pass and just after is Lake Daniells Track. If you have time to take this 4 hour return walks you are rewarded with some beautiful native beech forest views and eventually the tranquil Lake Daniells.
Maruia Springs has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort. Outdoor hot pools are a great way to relax.
The alpine village of Hanmer Springs has been a favourite holiday destination for New Zealanders for many years. Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is a major attraction, but the alpine environment with its rivers and mountains make it appealing year round. Gentle pursuits include forest walks, thermal pools, massage therapy, health treatments and golf as well as pure relaxation in the alpine atmosphere.
For more excitement try jet boating on the Waiau River, horse trekking, mountain biking, or bungy from the historic bridge. Hanmer Springs is also surrounded by forests offering over 50km of walking and mountain bike tracks. The seasons bring amazing colours, particularly in autumn and spring, while in winter Hanmer Springs takes advantage of its proximity to Hanmer Springs Ski Area and Mt. Lyford Ski Area.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boating Hanmer Springs

Experience the adrenaline rush of going 80km per hour, skimming the river below!  Cut corners as turquoise snow melt churns out behind you. White knuckles as the landscape spins 360°. Our experienced drivers will twirl the boat around in just milliseconds. Thrillseekers jet boating is the ultimate way to rocket through the beautiful Canterbury plains whilst absorbing adventure. Buckle up your life jacket, strap in to the boat and get ready to feel exhilarated.  Travelling up the stunning Waiau Gorge, there’s no shortage of excitement on this ride. The boat only needs inches of water and the power of the engine thrusts forward. Drama and action are the stuff of movies – until you ride in a jet boat. This is the perfect adventure for those who like a challenge or want to push their limits.

Your accommodation: Hanmer Inn Motel

The Hanmer Inn Motel has 13 modern fully self contained motel units. It is situated only 5 minutes walk to the Hanmer Springs hot pools and also very close to restaurants and all the main attractions in the area.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 283 kms / 176 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 12 - Pass through Waipara Valley and rural Canterbury to reach Christchurch

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 12
Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Today you’ll travel through the Waipara Valley, the fastest wine growing region in New Zealand and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. You’ll pass vast grassy plains and parched farming landscapes as you make your way over the Weka Pass and past small towns such as Amberley and Leithfield before arriving into the largest Port in the South Island, 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: 122 kms / 76 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 13 - This morning board the scenic TranzAlpine train to Greymouth, then drive the beautiful road trip to Franz Josef

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 13
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station

A private driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Christchurch to Greymouth

Your early morning departure is rewarded with incredible scenery today onboard the TranzAlpine Scenic Train, considered one of the world's great train journeys. It travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through the lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.

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.

Greymouth to Franz Josef

Leaving Greymouth today you will head south to Franz Josef and Glacier Country. Pass through Hokitika and be sure to take a detour to the spectacular Hokitika Gorge, a turquoise coloured river surrounded by native bush-clad cliffs.

Continue on through Ross, a historic gold mining town where several buildings still remain intact. As you travel further down the coast you’ll also go through Hari Hari, the town where Guy Menzies, the first person to fly solo over the Tasman crash landed. Follow the coast through several small towns before catching a glimpse of the Franz Josef glacier as you arrive into the town centre.

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: 167 kms / 104 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 14 - Allow plenty of time for today's drive as there are some amazing photo stops especially in the Haast Pass

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 14
Franz Josef to Queenstown (via Wanaka)

Heading south you pass through the second glacier town of Fox Glacier. A short side trip to view the glacier is easy before heading along the coast and more classic West Coast bush scenery. At Knights Point Lookout elephant seals can often be seen basking on the sandy beaches at the far end of the point. Crossing the massive Haast River you turn inland and head into the valley climbing through mountains littered with waterfalls.
The Haast Valley offers a spectacular view of the river and its enormous power. The Blue Pools near Makarora are a great 30 minute walk. Lakes Wanaka and Hawea guide you into the township of Wanaka before you head over New Zealand's highest sealed road, Crown Range Road before dropping into Queenstown. This drive should be planned as a whole day to really enjoy the scenery and to allow time to explore the walks, and many stops en route.

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: 344 kms / 213 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 15 - Missed something off your Queenstown bucket list? Then make sure you tick it off today.

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 15
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
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. And 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 Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dart River Wilderness Jet

The Wilderness Jet journeys deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life. Here, you can experience a unique combination of breath-taking scenery and an exhilarating ride as we follow the braided, glacier-fed rivers by jet boat with exciting 360 degree spins along the way. Your guides give you their authentic touch, talking about the area’s rich history, the Greenstone trail and countless Maori legends. We’ll also take the chance to tie up the boat and let you walk amongst the ancient beech tree forests – an atmosphere you may recognize from The Lord of the Rings films.

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.

Day 16 - Depart Queenstown

Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights - Day 16
Depart Queenstown today

Drop your rental car at the Queenstown airport today and farewell New Zealand.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 1 kms / 1 miles : 0.0 hours

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