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Llupins, Lake Tekapo

New Zealand – South Island Self-drive

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

25 Days

Prices Start from

£7,300pp (ex. flights)

The most dramatic of New Zealand’s two islands, this self-drive holiday explores the South Island in-depth, taking in the best of the magnificent scenery and wildlife on offer.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand 1

Mount Cook Scenic Flight

Soar above Mount Cook and the west coast glaciers on a scenic flight.

Bullers Albatross, New Zealand 2

The Catlins Wildlife

Search for albatross and hooker sea lions against the rugged coastline of the Catlins.

Kayaking, Abel Tasman, Split Apple Rock, New Zealand 3

Explore Abel Tasman

Kayak or walk the golden beaches and native bush of the Abel Tasman coastline.

Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealands 4

Cruise Milford Sound

Explore the iconic and spectacular scenery of Milford Sound.

Why we like it

The South Island is the most scenically stunning of New Zealand’s two islands and this trip allows you to really take in the best of it. Rather than try to cover both the North and South Island this route allows exploration of the natural south in more depth, at a more relaxed pace. Expect jaw dropping and varied scenery at every turn. The perfect trip if you love scenery, wildlife, wine, lakes and secluded accommodation.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Christchurch

  • Day 2

    Christchurch - Mount Cook Village

  • Day 3

    Mount Cook Village

  • Day 4

    Mount Cook Village - Dunedin

  • Day 5

    Dunedin

  • Day 6

    Dunedin - Catlins

  • Day 7

    Catlins

  • Day 8

    Catlins - Te Anau

  • Day 9

    Te Anau (Milford Sound)

  • Day 10

    Te Anau - Wanaka

  • Day 11

    Wanaka

  • Day 12

    Wanaka - Lake Moeraki

  • Day 13

    Lake Moeraki

  • Day 14

    Lake Moeraki - Franz Josef Glacier

  • Day 15

    Franz Josef Glacier

  • Day 16

    Franz Josef Glacier - Arthur's Pass

  • Day 17

    Arthur's Pass

  • Day 18

    Arthur's Pass - Kaikoura

  • Day 19

    Kaikoura

  • Day 20

    Kaikoura - Blenheim

  • Day 21

    Blenheim - Abel Tasman

  • Day 22

    Abel Tasman

  • Day 23

    Abel Tasman - Punakaiki

  • Day 24

    Punakaiki - Greymouth - Christchurch

  • Day 25

    Christchurch

Day 1

Christchurch

Day 2

Christchurch - Mount Cook Village

Day 3

Mount Cook Village

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Soar above Mount Cook and the west coast glaciers on a scenic flight.

Day 4

Mount Cook Village - Dunedin

Day 5

Dunedin

Day 6

Dunedin - Catlins

Day 7

Catlins

Bullers Albatross, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Search for albatross and hooker sea lions against the rugged coastline of the Catlins.

Day 8

Catlins - Te Anau

Day 9

Te Anau (Milford Sound)

Mitre Peak at Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Explore the iconic and spectacular scenery of Milford Sound.

Day 10

Te Anau - Wanaka

Day 11

Wanaka

Day 12

Wanaka - Lake Moeraki

Day 13

Lake Moeraki

Day 14

Lake Moeraki - Franz Josef Glacier

Day 15

Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Take to the sky for an aerial view of the glaciers or land on them to hike on the icy plateau.

Day 16

Franz Josef Glacier - Arthur's Pass

Day 17

Arthur's Pass

Day 18

Arthur's Pass - Kaikoura

Day 19

Kaikoura

Humpback Whale, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Stay in a treehouse and spend days in search of whales, dolphin and seal.

Day 20

Kaikoura - Blenheim

Day 21

Blenheim - Abel Tasman

Day 22

Abel Tasman

Kayaking, Abel Tasman, Split Apple Rock, New Zealand

Kayak or walk the golden beaches and native bush of the Abel Tasman coastline.

Day 23

Abel Tasman - Punakaiki

Day 24

Punakaiki - Greymouth - Christchurch

Tranzalpine rail journey 2

Board the Tranzalpine train to journey across the south island from west to east.

Day 25

Christchurch

Now for the details

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park

Turquoise Waters of The Abel Tasman

The northern part of the South Island is known for its world-class wine and glorious coastline of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – a 51 kilometre track which can be walked in its entirety over three to five days or followed in part, either on foot or by kayak. Different to anywhere else on the South Island, this coastline of beaches and rainforest interior is stunning. The perfect opportunity to take time to relax on a sheltered beach in solitude.

Little Blue Penguin, Dunedin, New Zealand
Little blue penguin

Wildlife of the South Island

Self-drive the rugged south eastern coastline, from the Otago Peninsula to the Catlins, a less visited area of craggy coast with forested interiors dotted with waterfalls. Walk on secluded beaches where hooker sea lions patrol the shore and colonies of yellow eyed and little blue penguins reside in the sand dunes. Clifftops hide colonies of shags, gannets, gulls and huge albatross – a magical sight as they soar through the skies on their three metre fixed wings.

Hapuku Lodge Treehouses in Kaikoura
Hapuku Lodge

Treetop Living

Stay in a treehouse on the shores of Kaikoura and spend your time searching for fur seals, dolphins and whales. Kaikoura is probably best known for its nutrient rich waters which create the perfect habitat for a range of marine life. There are also some wonderful riding, cycling and hiking trails in the area plus Mangamaunu Bay, a short walk from the lodge and an excellent surfing beach. As well as being a unique place to stay in a special location, Hapuku Lodge is committed to sustainable practices with numerous green initiatives in place which we love.

Lake Moeraki sunrise, New Zealand
Lake Moeraki

Epic Scenery - Fiordlands, Mountains and Lakes

The fiords, mountains and lakes of the South Island have probably created some of New Zealand’s most recognisable images and this trip includes time spent self-driving through this scenically spectacular area. Spend a night overlooking Te Anau Lake, perfectly placed to access the dramatic and iconic fiordland scenery of Milford Sound. Continue via the Remarkable Mountain Ranges to the buzz of Queenstown and picturesque Wanaka.

Further north is Lake Moeraki – located on the west coast and home to spectacular beaches, lowland rainforests, lakes and rivers. Relax and explore on foot or by canoe in search of fur seals and crested penguins.

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View from a train bending round a corner with river gorge on left and rolling green hills.
Taieri gorge train journey

Taieri Gorge Train Journey

Departing from Dunedin, this four hour train journey travels through some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery which is inaccessible by road. Pass through spectacular landscapes, peppered with century-old tunnels and iron viaducts showcasing incredible engineering from a bygone era. The journey has a full commentary and the scenery can be enjoyed from open air platforms or the comfort of heated interiors.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

The George Hotel £££££

  • New Zealand
  • City

Overlooking Hagley Park and the River Avon in central Christchurch, The George Hotel has 53 elegant rooms, most of which make the most of the verdant views from either a balcony or floor to ceiling picture windows. The two restaurants serve award-winning innovative cuisine and the service levels are extremely high.

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Te Waonui Forest Retreat £££££

  • New Zealand

This lodge-style hotel is nestled amid the rainforest on the West Coast of New Zealand. The retreat is nothing short of an eco-friendly accommodation designed with reused native materials and natural hues.

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Hapuku Lodge £££££

  • New Zealand
  • Boutique
  • Unusual

In one of the South Island’s most spectacular settings, sandwiched between the ocean and snow-capped peaks, Hapuku Lodge offers the chance to stay in a treehouse suspended 10 metres up in native Manuka trees. Set in a peaceful location in the heart of the rolling countryside, the 1,600 acres surrounding the property include olive groves and the family’s deer farm.

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The Hermitage £££££

  • New Zealand

Ringed by the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, the Hermitage has been welcoming visitors to Mount Cook National Park since 1884. Interiors are comfortable and modern, and the 164 rooms range from suites to more motel style accommodation. Most rooms, as well as the restaurant, make the most of the fabulous mountain views.

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Fiordland Lodge £££££

  • New Zealand
  • Wilderness

Set on the edge of the Fiordland National Park, a three-million-acre wilderness area of mountains, lakes and rainforest, Fiordland Lodge sits above Lake Te Anau. Built using huge timer logs and river stone the interior is flooded with light through floor to ceiling windows which frame the spectacular views. Each of the ten lodge rooms makes the most of the views and have a private balcony or lawn area plus two self-contained log cabins work well for families or groups.

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01285 601 784

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