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South Island Adventures

New Zealand’s South Island boasts a range of unique experiences that are all within an easy drive of each other; from golden beaches to glacial valleys, thermal springs to thrilling adventure and local wildlife to wineries.

The best way to discover these diverse experiences and landscapes is on a self-drive holiday from Christchurch. To help visitors get the most out of their South Island journey, there are five hero itineraries to choose from, and for those with more time these journeys can be combined.

Itinerary 1 - Top of the South

This is an easy & refreshing journey along stunning coastlines & beaches to award-winning vineyards & national parks.

Need to know

  • Allow 5-6 days travel
  • Total route is 994km

Suggested Sights and Experiences

  • Go Whale Watching in Kaikoura
  • Savour local wines and product in Marlborough
  • Explore the lush coastal paradise of Abel Tasman National Park in Nelson
  • Soak in the natural thermal pools in the alpine resort of Hanmer Springs
topofthesouth
  • Driving Times:
  • CHRISTCHURCH - Kaikoura: 2.50HRS
  • Kaikoura - Marlborough: 1.50HRS
  • Marlborough - Nelson: 1.50HRS
  • Nelson - Abel Tasman: 1.50HRS
  • Nelson - Hanmer Springs: 3.50HRS
  • Hanmer Springs - Christchurch: 1.50HRS

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Itinerary 2 - TranzAlpine Journey

This journey leads to cascading waterfalls, an untouched coastline, native forest, river valleys & glaciers.

Need to know

  • Allow 4-5 days
  • Total route is 771km

Suggested sights and experiences

  • Marvel at the stunning Arthur's Pass waterfalls in Canterbury
  • Visit the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki in the West Coast
  • Explore Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
  • Discover the Mt Aspiring National Park alongside the resort town of Wanaka
Tranzalpine
  • Driving Times:
  • CHRISTCHURCH - GREYMOUTH: 3.20HRS
  • GREYMOUTH - PUNAKAIKI: 0.40HRS
  • GREYMOUTH - FOX GLACIER: 3.15HRS
  • FOX GLACIER - WANAKA: 3.00HRS
  • WANAKA - QUEENSTOWN: 1.00HRS

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Itinerary 3 - Southern Scenic Route

This journey uncovers rare native wildlife, deserted beaches & the scenic beauty of Fiordland before finishing in Queenstown.

Need to know

  • Allow 5-6 days
  • Total route is 915km

Suggested sights and experiences

  • Swim with dolphins at Akaroa, Canterbury
  • Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs on Tunnel Beach in Dunedin
  • Meet the local yellow-eyed penguins along the Otago Coast
  • Discover the Sounds & glow worm caves of Fiordland
3 Southern Scenic
  • Driving Times:
  • Christchurch - Dunedin: 4.50HRS
  • Dunedin - Nugget Point: 1.45HRS
  • Nugget Point - Invercargill: 3.50HRS
  • Invercargill - Te Anau: 2.00HRS
  • Te Anau - Queenstown: 2.25HRS
  • Te Anau - Milford Sound: 1.45HRS

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Itinerary 4 - Nature & Heritage Journey

 

Marvel at coastal landscapes, discover New Zealand’s only castle and immerse yourself in rural townships rich with goldmining history.

Need to know

  • Allow 4-5 days
  • Total route 640km

Suggested sights and experiences

  • Enjoy a punting tour of the Avon River & wander it's famous gardens
  • Cycle the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge Trails  
  • Enjoy a heritage cruise on the Clutha River near Alexandra
  • Enjoy wine tasting at the award winning vineyards in Bannockburn, Cromwell or Gibbston Valley
4 Nature Heritage DEC2017
  • Driving Times:
  • Christchurch - Oamaru: 4.00HRS
  • Oamaru - Dunedin: 2.50HRS
  • Dunedin - Cromwell: 2.75HRS
  • Cromwell - Queenstown: 1.00HRS

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Itinerary 5 - Alpine Lakes Journey

Walk beneath New Zealand’s highest mountain, climb to towering waterfalls and take a thrilling jet boat ride.

Need to know

  • Allow 4-5 days
  • Total route 490km

 

Suggested sights and experiences 

  • Explore Akaroa Harbour & see local dolphins play 
  • Stargaze in the International Dark Sky Reserve at Mt John, Lake Tekapo
  • Mountain bike the cycle trails in Wanaka
  • Ride a jet boat or bungy jump in Queenstown
5 Alpine Lakes
  • Driving Times:
  • Christchurch - Lake Tekapo: 3.00HRS
  • Lake Tekapo - Aoraki Mount Cook: 1.10HRS
  • Aoraki Mount Cook - Wanaka: 2.20HRS
  • Wanaka - Queenstown: 1.00HRS

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