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 on offer.
- Search for fur seals and hooker sea lions against the rugged coastline of the Catlins
- Explore the spectacular scenery of Milford Sound
- Soar above Mount Cook and the west coast glaciers on a scenic flight
- Kayak along the Abel Tasman coastline
East Coast - from Christchurch to the Catlins
Spend a night in Christchurch before beginning this self-drive holiday through New Zealand’s South Island. Head inland to the heart of the island and the mountains, lakes and glaciers of Mount Cook National Park to spend a day exploring on foot.
Journey south to Dunedin, passing through iconic Lord of the Rings scenery and the mysterious spherical Moeraki boulders. Take time to explore the rugged coastline around Dunedin and enjoy a trip on the Taieri Gorge Train, through spectacular landscapes, peppered with century-old tunnels and iron viaducts.
Next, the Catlins; a less visited area of craggy coastline with forested interiors dotted with waterfalls, plus some wonderful flora and fauna.
Fiordlands and Lakes
Cross the island to the lakeside town of Te Anau, gateway to the Fiordland National Park. After a night overlooking the lake take the stunningly scenic journey to Milford Sound for a cruise on this iconic fiord before returning to Te Anau.
Journey north to another beautiful lakeside town, Wanaka, travelling via Queenstown and the Remarkable Mountain ranges. Spend two nights at the quirky Tin Tub Lodge exploring this charming alpine village.
Lake Moeraki and Franz Josef Glaciers
Lake Moeraki is located on the west coast and is 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. Further north are the glaciers of Franz Josef and a truly spectacular scenic flight over some of the country’s most incredible scenery.
Arthurs pass and Kaikoura
Travel inland spending a few days exploring the diverse terrain of Arthur’s Pass National Park before crossing back to the east coast and the coastal town of Kaikoura. Stay in a treehouse at Hapuku Lodge and spend your days in search of fur seals, dolphins and whales.
Blenheim and Abel Tasman
The northern part of the South Island is known for its world-class wine and glorious coastline. Drive to Blenheim and onwards via Queen Charlotte Drive, passing panoramic vistas to the beaches and turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park. Kayak along the coastline stopping for a picnic lunch at a sheltered cove.
Punakaiki and the Tranz Alpine Train
Leaving the coastal trails of Abel Tasman behind, drive southwards down the west coast to the limestone rock formations and blowholes of pancake rocks. Board the Tranz Alpine train in Greymouth for a 200-kilometre journey east on one of the world’s most scenic train journeys, ending in Christchurch.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.