South Island Natural Discovery Self-Drive
14 nights from $3,689 per person
- In resort assistance & 24 hour contact centre
- Car hire throughout
- Tour pack
Spend this 15-day self-drive tour exploring the natural wonders of the South Island. With jaw-dropping sights including Mt Cook, Franz Josef Glacier and the Lord of the Rings scenery of Twizel, you’ll be completely spoiled for fantastic photo opportunities and memories to last you a life time. Along the way you’ll take a cruise on the gorgeous Doubtful Sound and ride the world-famous TranzAlpine train. (NZ)
- Enjoy adventure spots in Queenstown
- Heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier
- Ride the rails on the TranzAlpine train
- Cruise on the Doubtful Sound
When you arrive in Auckland you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation at the heart of the city. Here you can relax or spend your time at leisure before spending the night.
Overnight: The George Hotel, Christchurch
Mt Cook National Park
On day two you’ll pick up your hire car and drive across the Canterbury Plains. Passing some incredibly picturesque scenery you’ll climb Burkes Pass and then skirt by Lake Tekapo. Stop off here to enjoy the scenery from the shore, or opt to take a scenic flight to enjoy a truly unique view of the lake.
You’ll then head onwards past Lake Pukaki where you’ll see the towering figure of Mt Cook, before shortly arriving in Mt Cook village. You’ll spend the remaining part of day two and the whole of day three exploring Mt Cook National Park. You’ve got a number of options including hikes and helicopter flights as well as kayaking. It’s also well worth visiting the Sir Edmund Hillary Center for a fascinating understanding of the area.
Overnight: Hermitage Hotel (Two breakfasts and one lunch included)
Today you’ll head away from Mt Cook towards Twizel. Twizel was one of the principal locations for the Lord of the Rings filming so you won’t be surprised to find otherworldly beauty all around you. It’s also a great destination for fishing and bird-watching as well as more adventurous activities including skydiving and rock climbing. Whilst you’re in the area, it’s a great idea to take the chance to visit the Black Stilt Visitor Hide to view this very rare bird.
You’ll then head on southwards to Omarama where you can stop off for a drink and a bite to eat. Then it’s on to Oamaru, a town famous for its white stone architecture, built out of local stone. It’s also worth knowing that as the sun goes down you’ll be able to see blue penguins coming ashore. You’ll then head on to Moeraki Boulders before arriving in Dunedin.
Overnight: Kaimata Retreat (Breakfast included)
Today you’ll get the chance to see some of the wonderful wildlife that surrounds Dunedin. You’ll take a half day tour including a cruise on Dunedin Harbor and along the side of the Otago shoreline. You’ll also visit The Penguin Place which is a great spot to view the rare yellow-eyed penguin and take a bus tour to bird watch in the wetlands.
Overnight: Kaimata Retreat (Breakfast included)
The drive today takes you through the rolling farmland of Southland as you travel along the wonderfully picturesque Southern Scenic Route. You’ll then head through The Catlins ambling alongside the Otago coastline to Invercargill before you finally reach to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park and the world-famous Milford Sound.
Overnight: Fiordland Lodge (Breakfast and dinner included)
Today is a full-day cruise on the Doubtful Sound. You’ll board the Fiordland Navigator, a ship specially designed for cruising on the fiords. From the deck you’ll be able to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Sound, as well as seeing incredible wildlife including seals, dolphins and, in the right season, penguins.
Overnight Fiordland Navigator (Breakfast and dinner included)
You’ll return to dry land at midday as you depart at Manapouri before traveling onwards through Mossburn, known as the deer capital of New Zealand. You’ll then head northwards past Lake Wakatipu and up to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown. You’ll enjoy wonderful views of the Remarkables on the way.
Day nine is a free day to enjoy some of the activities Queenstown has on offer. Famous for specialising in adventure sports and thrill-seeking activities, you’ll find it in the form of nomad safaris, the Shotover River jet boat ride, skydiving and bungee jumping. If you’d prefer something a little more relaxed you can opt for a wine tour or a visit to some of the Lord of the Rings filming locations.
Overnight: Azur Lodge (Two breakfasts included)
Mt Aspiring National Park/Lake Moeraki
On today’s drive you’ll cross the Crown Range, notable as the highest sealed road in New Zealand. From here you’ll pass the Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before reaching the town of Makarora, which is the gateway to the famous Mt Aspiring National Park. Here you’ll explore the scenery, visiting the blue pools and taking a stroll through the pretty beech forests.
You’ll then cross the Haast Pass through stunning vistas of waterfalls and rivers before you around at Lake Moeraki where you’ll be spending the night. You’ll then spend day 11 exploring the surrounding area with optional guided walks, adventure trips and canoe safaris.
Overnight: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki (Two breakfasts and two dinners include)
Franz Josef Glacier
Today you’ll travel through the west coast and head towards the glacier region. First you’ll see the impressive Fox Glacier and its magnificent mirror lake called Lake Matheson. Then you’ll continue on driving until you reach the wonderful Franz Josef Glacier. Once here you’ve got the chance to relax in a stunning natural environment: head to the Glacier Hot Pools.
On day 13 you’ve got a free day to explore the glaciers. You can take a heli-hike which involves a scenic flight over the glacier before it lands and you go exploring on foot with a guide.
Overnight: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (Two breakfasts and two dinners included)
Today you’ll drop your car off at Greymouth and board the TranzAlpine train which takes you on a stunning scenic journey back to Christchurch, passing the Southern Alps and many other incredible sights. When you arrive in Christchurch you’ll be transferred to your hotel for leisure time.
Overnight: The George Hotel (Breakfast included)
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport and depart Christchurch.