SELF DRIVE TOUR
CHRISTCHURCH | TRANZALPINE TRAIN | FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER | QUEENSTOWN | MILFORD SOUND DUNEDIN | LAKE TEKAPO | MOUNT COOK | WELLINGTON | TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK | TAUPO ROTORUA | AUCKLAND
Spectacular scenery, stunning rail journeys, icy blue glaciers cascading through verdant rainforest; stunning lakes reflecting amazing mountain peaks, powder puff clouds and clear blue skies. Silent fiords with cascading waterfalls and playful marine life, vineyards producing the crispest wines; bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers, sparkling glow worms and verdant fields. Magical cities and wonderful people, amazing food and a relaxed way of life – you’ll experience all this and more on this spectacular adventure.
This tour is also available in reverse commencing in Auckland and ending in Christchurch
Day 1 : Arrive Christchurch
Arrive into Christchurch and transfer independently to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore. Christchurch is one of the world’s most unique destinations, combining urban regeneration and innovation with heritage, culture and exhilarating activity. Perhaps you’ll visit one of the city’s new restaurants, see vibrant street art or check out the amazing retail areas. Overnight in Christchurch.
Day 2 : Christchurch - West Coast Glaciers (190 kms + rail)
Early this morning board the TranzAlpine Train, New Zealand’s premier alpine rail journey, and travel across the Canterbury Plains to Arthur’s Pass. After exiting the Otira Tunnel and the forests of the West Coast reach Greymouth, a town with a history of jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods. Pick up your car at Greymouth Rail Station and drive south to the West Coast Glaciers.
Day 3 : Franz Josef - Queenstown (410 kms)
Drive south past tranquil lakes and towering mountains with cascading waterfalls. Leave the West Coast rainforest for the arid Central Otago, journey past the shores of Lake Wanaka. Nestled below towering mountains, Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. Continue your journey to Queenstown.
Day 4 : Milford Sound (595 kms)
This morning you’ll head through spectacular scenery to Milford Sound and join a cruise along this magnificent fiord. Marvel at the waterfalls tumbling thousands of feet down sheer rock faces to the sea below, at the bird and marine life that is so prevalent and at the sheer primeval beauty of the region.
This drive is a long one, with considerable distances on narrowing alpine roads. If you are unsure about driving in such conditions and for long periods of time, you may want to consider upgrading todays trip to a coach inclusive one and let someone else take the strain whilst you enjoy the scenery. See price panel for details.
Day 5 : Queenstown
Today is free to explore this alpine resort. We have included a ride on the Skyline Gondola. Sit back and relax as you’re taken 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you’ll enjoy the best views When you get to the top, choose your own pace from the host of activities on offer (not included).Maybe you’ll have a relaxing evening with some of the best of New Zealand and international cuisine, or head back to the city centre to explore.
Day 6 : Queenstown - Dunedin (290 kms)
Today drive east through the Kawarau Gorge; its towering cliffs and rugged hillsides takes you through the heart of one of New Zealand’s most historic gold mining regions. Continue on past the Clyde High Dam and follow the peaceful scenery of the Clutha River towards the coast and Dunedin.
Day 7 : Dunedin - Lake Tekapo / Mount Cook (290 kms)
This morning drive to the end of Otago Peninsula, home of the Royal Albatross colony. The tour incudes a presentation on the amazing life of these giants of the Southern Ocean. Afterwards continue north and follow the Waitaki River inland to the aqua blue Lake Tekapo.
Day 8 : Lake Tekapo - Christchurch (320 kms)
Drive over Burkes Pass to the small farming village of Geraldine. Geraldine is a pretty country town with an artistic streak. Shop for arts and crafts, refresh at a friendly café and take a stroll around the historic trail. Cross the Canterbury Plains; a patchwork quilt made with every shade of green lay serenely between the mountains and the sea. On arrival into Christchurch return your car to the Budget rental office.
Day 9 : Christchurch - Wellington
Board the Coastal Pacific Train and skirt the South Pacific Ocean to Kaikoura, before journeying north through the Wairau Valley to Blenheim, Marlborough’s wine capital and on to Picton in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds. Board the Interislander ferry for a cruise through the tranquil Marlborough Sounds and on to Wellington. On arrival in Wellington collect your car at the ferry terminal and drive to the hotel.
Day 10 : Wellington
Today is free for you to explore Wellington. Nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, New Zealand’s capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage, culture and native beauty and sits between rolling hills and stunning coastline. Friendly and compact, Wellington is easily explored on foot and is home to a great cafes and restaurants. Relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the many museums, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbour and surrounding hills. Try the stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top. On the waterfront itself you’ll find Te Papa Tongarewa Museum. New Zealand’s national museum. Te Papa, as it’s colloquially known, means ‘our place’ and is one of the best interactive museums in the world.
Day 11 : Wellington - Tongariro National Park (350 kms)
Journey north through the pastures of Manawatu and on to the Volcanic Plateau in the centre of the Island. Skirt Mt Ruapehu to Whakapapa Village located at its western foot.
Day 12 : Tongariro National Park - Taupo (120 kms)
Take some time this morning to explore this unique alpine region. The Tongariro National Park is home to the three mountains of Ruapehu; the largest mountain in the north island, Ngauruhoe the youngest volcano and Tongariro, whose landscape has developed over the last 300,000 years. A number of gentle short walks are available or drive up the mountain to the “Top of the Bruce”, a scenic viewpoint. Afterwards enjoy a leisurely drive as you descend from the Volcanic Plateau to the shores of Lake Taupo.
Day 13 : Taupo - Rotorua (100 kms)
This morning explore the beautiful Lake Taupo before heading north. Perhaps call at Taupo’s “tropical prawn park” where a constant supply of thermally heated water helps produce 32 tons of prawns a year. Continue on through the world’s largest man made forest to the geothermal city of Rotorua. Set at the heart of the North Islands’ geothermal activity it’s a centre of smouldering lakes, bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers and an area of rich Maori culture.
Day 14 : Rotorua
Enjoy a day of sightseeing incorporating Rotorua’s best attractions. From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and explosive geysers, Rotorua has it all. A guided tour of Te Puia and the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute to see roaring geysers and boiling mud pools, Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park, the Agrodome Leisure Park famous for its entertaining sheep show, a gondola cable car to the Skyline complex and Polynesian Spa, New Zealand’s leading international day spa and hot mineral baths (mineral bath admission only included). This evening attend a traditional Maori Hangi meal and Cultural Show set in a replica Maori village.
Day 15 : Rotorua - Auckland (360 kms)
This morning leave Rotorua and drive over the Mamaku Ranges to the Waitomo Caves. Carved by centuries of water, the Glow Worm Grotto is illuminated by the light from millions of tiny glow worms (caves entrance cost is included). Afterwards head north through Hamilton to Auckland, where the rest of the day is free. You’ll find shopping galore, restaurants that serve food to die for and a thriving night-scene too; and everywhere you’ll find happy people and a relaxed laid back atmosphere; no wonder it’s one of the best places to live in the world.
Day 16 : End of Tour
Your tour ends with checkout from your hotel this morning; depending on your plans, perhaps make a trip to Waiheke Island, home to some of the best vineyards and wineries around before returning your car at the airport and taking your onward flight.
This tour is also available in reverse commencing in Auckland and ending in Christchurch.