ATOL protected - Peace of mind for holidaymakers
ABTA - Travel with confidence

Discover the majestic sights of New Zealand’s South Island on this 4 week trip of a lifetime. Travelling in a hire car, towing a caravan, you’ll be able to enjoy the creature comforts by night while having the benefits of a car.

Heading south from Christchurch towards Oamaru, your first must-see is the other-worldly Moeraki Boulders. Next, drop down to Dunedin and the Otago peninsula, then across to Lake Te Anau and the stunning Milford Sound.

You’ll find Queenstown has a real buzz while Wanaka is laid back and the glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef are simply majestic. Head north to the sunny beaches of Nelson and the vineyards of Blenheim, before heading south again on the final stretch, perhaps with a dolphin and whale watching cruise.

Duration: 30 days

Holiday Type:
Independent & Tailor-made

Departure dates:

  • Year round from
    £4,199 per person
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Highlights

  • Experience the sublime beauty of the Southern Alps
  • The epic Fjordland National Park
  • Tick the spectacular Milford Sound off the bucket list
  • The rugged, stark beauty of Haast Pass
  • The classic west coast road, stopping at Fox and Franz Josef glaciers
  • The incredible Hokitika Gorge
  • The bizarre formations of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks
  • The serene, almost tropical, beaches of Abel Tasman
  • The scintillating world class wines of Blenheim and the Marlborough region
  • Take a whale watching excursion in Kaikoura

Route Map

What's Included

  • Flights from London to Christchurch
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • 2 nights in a 4-star hotel, with breakfast, in Christchurch
  • Campsite reservations pre-booked for 24 nights
  • Transfer from hotel to vehicle depot
  • 25 days car hire (Nissan X-Trail or similar)
  • 25 days caravan hire (4 berth) including:
    • Fully equipped kitchen
    • Tools and first aid kit
    • All bed linen, towels, hand towels, bath mat, flannels, tea towels, buckets, pegs, broom and basic cleaning materials

Upgrade?

Ask us if you wish to upgrade to Silver or Gold packs which include BBQ, outdoor chairs, beach towels and TV

Itinerary

Days 1 - 4: UK to Christchurch

Fly to New Zealand from a range of UK airports, arriving on Day 3 (due to international time zones). You’ll be transferred to your Christchurch hotel for two nights so you can experience the city and acclimatise.

This is the largest city on the South Island and you’ll be able to stroll through the delightful Botanic Gardens, take a historic tram ride or a leisurely punt on the leafy river Avon.

Despite the challenges of earthquakes, it is a peaceful city with plenty of old world charm and picturesque architecture. Enjoy the familiar yet very different shopping, the intriguing galleries and the stylish restaurants that are a constant temptation.

Days 5 - 6: Christchurch to Dunedin

Distance: 362km (225miles)

Leaving Christchurch you’ll quickly discover there’s plenty to see as you head to Dunedin. There’s the aviation museum of Ashburton, along with its gorgeous parks and vintage railway. There’s Timar with its craft brewery, Botanic Gardens and Te Ana Rock Art Centre. And there’s Oamaru with perhaps the country’s best preserved 19th century limestone architecture of the Opera House, Forrester Gallery and Victorian Precinct.

The mysterious Moeraki Boulders have sat on the beach for 56 million years and are one of the world’s natural wonders. Perfectly spherical, they are truly surreal as the ebbing tide reveals them.

Dunedin is known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’, with a deep Scottish heritage (the name itself stems from the Gaelic for ‘Edinburgh’). Scottish influences abound and there’s even a Robbie Burns statue in the centre of town.

Visit Lanarch Castle or take the superb Taieri Gorge Railway from Dunedin’s iconic ‘gingerbread’ Victorian station (one of the world’s great rail journeys). This is an old university town, built on the riches of the gold mining heyday, and the Victorian and Edwardian architecture is striking.

Discover the Otago peninsula with its dramatic seascapes and scenic drives along to the albatross sanctuary on the headland, home also to penguin colonies and fur seals.

The drive itself is a magnificent experience with stunning views around every turn – try going out and coming back on different routes to take full advantage.

Days 7 - 9: Dunedin to Invercargill

Distance: 205km (127miles)

Today you head for the Catlins, an area of beautiful forests, bush walks and the small but pretty Matai and Horseshoe waterfalls. These little gems are well tucked away (though signposted) and you’ll need to walk a little way through the lush, temperate rain forest to reach them.

As you pass Lake Waihola it’s a good point to stop for a cuppa before you reach historic Milton. As you reach the wild south coast look out for seals, penguins and dolphins – always a spectacular sight.

If time permits take a ferry boat out to New Zealand’s third island, Rakiura or Stewart Island. It’s a remote spot and you are truly far away from the madding crowd, as well as being in a great place to catch sight of a kiwi in the wild.

Days 10 - 12: Invercargill – Te Anau

Distance: 160km (100miles)

Heading up from Invercargill to Te Anau, one route takes you past Riverton, one of the earliest settlements on the island. Another option is to arrive via Lake Manapouri, whose brooding waters lie on the edge of the Fjordland National Park.

In Te Anau be sure to visit the Glow Worm Caves, an underground world of waterfalls illuminated by countless glow worms.

The scenery all around is sensational. The drive alone to Milford is exceptional, with plenty of chances to stop for photos and admire the temperate rain forest, extraordinary valley views, tumbling waterfalls and the stunning Mirror Lakes.

Watch out for the cheeky Kea birds – feathered hooligans with a penchant for car window seals!

Going through the Homer Tunnel is extraordinary, considering it was begun with manual labour and pick axes. The Milford Sound cruise is always astonishing for its array of wildlife and towering scenery on all sides. It will inevitably be a highlight of your trip.

Days 13 - 14: Te Anau to Queenstown

Distance: 173km (108miles)

Today you’ll head to Queenstown, with a stunning drive following the shores up Lake Wakatipu (perhaps take a waterside break at the foot of the lake at Kingston).

The self-styled ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ certainly has plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenalin junkies. Fans of bungee jumping, white water rafting, sky diving, horse trekking and, famously, jet boating will not be disappointed. For many the exhilarating Shotover Jet boats are an unmissable component of your holiday.

It’s a bustling town with a vibrant atmosphere, buzzy bars and pleasant walks along the shore. A popular excursion is on the SS Earnslaw, an elegant 1912 steam ship, or a scenic drive along the lake to Glenorchy and some of the Lord of the Rings locations beyond.

As the sun sets, take the cable car gondola up to Bob’s Peak for amazing views across the lake to the Remarkables mountain range.

Days 15 - 16: Queenstown – Wanaka

Distance: 67km (42miles)

While in Queenstown, or en route to Wanaka, be sure to stop in Arrowtown, a picturesque old gold mining town. Old mining cottages still exist in this peaceful spot and there’s a slightly retro main street lined with boutiques and restaurants. There are tourists aplenty but it’s still a pleasant place to wander.

The best route to Wanaka is via the Crown Range. It’s craggy and twisting but worth it for the views and a coffee stop at the historic Cadrona hotel. This is New Zealand’s highest public road, after all. A more sedate route takes you along the Shotover River and Lake Dunstan.

Wanaka is relaxed and generally peaceful, a gentle spot on a shimmering lake surrounded by mountains. Stroll along the beach and look for the famous ‘Wanaka tree’ poking out of the water.

Days 17 - 18: Wanaka to Franz Josef

Distance: 286km (178miles)

It’s a stunning road running north from Wanaka along Lake Hawea. The scenery is mesmerising with plenty of places to pull over and soak up the view.

Passing waterfalls and the gorgeous Blue Pools, you eventually reach the Haast Pass, a fifty mile stretch running through Mt Aspiring National Park. The terrain is rugged and dramatic, giving way to rainforest until finally you reach the surf of the Tasman Sea.

The glaciers at Fox and Franz Josef are majestic. Park up and then follow the walking trails up to the glaciers as far as possible (it will change daily according to the weather) and get a real sense of their incredible scale.

Nearby Lake Matheson is a popular detour, with trails through the surrounding rain forest and views across the lake to the Southern Alps: the so-called Reflection of Reflections.

An alternative option is to enjoy a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools, situated among the lush rain forest in the centre of Fox town.

Day 19: Franz Josef to Greymouth

Distance: 173km (108miles)

Leaving the glaciers behind, continue up the west coast, perhaps pausing at Hokitika for provisions. Take the time to visit the Hokitika Gorge for memorable views from the swing bridge over the blue waters and to the ancient forest beyond.

Not far away lies West Coast Treetops Walk where you can explore the tree canopy on aerial boardwalks. And further north is Shantytown, near Greymouth, a replica gold rush town where you can wander the streets and buildings.

Days 20 - 22: Greymouth to Marahau

Distance: 303km (188miles)

Further north still are the Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki. Formed 30 million years ago, and resembling layers of pancakes stacked up on top of eachother, the pounding surf still blasts away, sending plumes and jets high into the air.

After passing Westport, with its unmistakeable feel of the gold rush era, you’ll head for the Buller Gorge, home to New Zealand’s longest swing bridge.

The landscape gradually becomes softer and gentler as you leave the rugged west coast and mountains behind. The rolling hills and forested slopes give way to orchards and fertile fields as you approach Nelson and the north coast.

Abel Tasman National Park enjoys New Zealand’s highest levels of sunshine and the beaches here can have a distinctly Mediterranean fell about them. Enjoy some superb walking trails or take a leisurely water taxi to see the coast from a different perspective.

Days 23 - 24: Marahau to Nelson

Distance: 67km (42miles)

Kaiteriteri, west of Nelson, is a great place for picking up kayaks and taking a paddle around the headland. Why not join a guided excursion to the incredible Split Apple Rock – it looks just like a split apple and has been there in the shallows for 120 million years.

With fine, white sand beaches, palm trees, jauntily painted houses Nelson appears almost subtropical. And with seaside promenades, a bustling marina with bobbing yachts and enticing eateries, you could imagine yourself on the Côte d’Azur.

There are friendly cafés, galleries and lots of arts and crafts, not to mention a selection of rather decent small breweries.

Days 25 - 26: Nelson to Blenheim

Distance: 115km (71miles)

Blenheim is a big name in the wine world, the epicentre of the Marlborough vineyards. Delicious sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs are produced here and dozens of famous vineyards sit cheek by jowl, many offering tastings and even lunch. The best idea is to hire bikes and meander along the lanes between wineries – it’s nice and flat and the traffic is light.

The Aviation Heritage Centre in Omaka, owned by Sir Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) is popular with those interested in vintage fighter planes.

Days 27 - 28: Blenheim to Kaikoura

Distance: 128km (79miles)

From Blenheim, drop down through the stunning Awatere Valley with magnificent seascapes to your left.

At Kaikoura you’ll find a playground of aquatic mammals, feeding in the rich coastal waters. There are whales and dolphins passing close to the shore and often clearly visible from the coastal walkway.

A popular option is to join a whale watching cruise where you have a better chance of getting up close.

Days 29 - 30: Kaikoura to Christchurch to UK

Distance: 181km (112miles)

Drop off your car and caravan, then head to the airport for your flight back home.

Additional Information

Price per person is based on two people sharing, prices for solo travellers are available on request.

Tour Enquiry

Available Vehicles

Duration: 30 days

Holiday Type:
Independent & Tailor-made

Departure dates:

  • Year round from
    £4,199 per person
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