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Exploring New Zealand

SOUTH ISLAND LOOP

The South Island of New Zealand makes for some of the best road-tripping on the planet. This three-week loop from Christchurch will give you a taste of everything that New Zealand has to offer; whale watching in Kaikoura, wine touring in Marlborough, kayaking in Abel Tasman, boating on Milford Sound, this self-drive trip gives the opportunity for you to do it all. Accommodation is a mixture of boutique B&Bs and small, friendly hotels. Please note that all of our tours are completely flexible so we can alter this in any way you see fit.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND!

Arriving in Christchurch after a long international flight it is recommended to stretch the legs and breathe in the fresh South Island air. A favourite activity for this is a leisurely stroll in the beautiful Hagley Park.

Day 2 - Christchurch

There is plenty to explore in the vastness of Hagley Park, or city centre which was severely impacted by the 2011 earthquake; the rebuilding is well under way and it is a sobering experience to watch the locals go about their daily business. Excellent examples of their resourcefulness are the Re:Start Container Mall and the Cardboard Cathedral, both of which should not be missed. If you want to get out and about then we can arrange an early pick up of your hire car and a drive up the Port Hills or a little further afield to Akaroa are excellent options.

Day 3 - 4 - Hanmer Springs

If you decided to stay in the city yesterday and not pick your car up then that can be arranged this morning. There is no need to rush, as the destination is less than 2 hours away, which provides a perfect relaxed start to your South Island adventure. Heading north and joining the road towards the Lewis Path you will cross over the Waiau Bridge and enter a magical world. Hanmer Springs is often overlooked by travellers to New Zealand; however, it is a favourite among locals in the know and well worth a visit. The highlight of any excursion to Hanmer is bathing in the natural hot springs and enjoying the pampering of a world-class Spa. The naturally stunning location also allows for extensive mountain biking and walking; and to round out the day you can settle into one of the many great restaurants or gastro-pubs that dot the town centre.

Day 5 - 6 - Kaikoura

The destination today is Kaikoura, a remarkable location hemmed in by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the towering Kaikoura Ranges to the west. Ordinarily this stunning setting would be enough of a draw card; however, the real stars of this small town are the giant sperm whales that call Kaikoura home year-round. Whether it is out on the water or up in the air, seeing these majestic creatures of the deep in their natural environment is something that you will treasure forever.

Day 7 - 8 - Blenheim

Blenheim is in the heart of the Marlborough region, nestled amongst endless vineyards and blessed by one of the warmest and driest climates in the country. The top attraction in the area is wine, wine touring, wine tasting and anything to do with the industry; but to say that is all there is to do would be to sell this delightful region short. Wine tours abound, and they are highly recommended, but if you want a different pace it is but a hop, skip, and a jump over to the Marlborough Sounds for a day on the water, a walk in a National Park, or perhaps a spot of kayaking.

Day 9 - 10 - West Coast

The West Coast of New Zealand is one of the last frontiers in a modern world and as such is a truly unique place. Windswept, rugged, and down to earth there is a myriad of adventures to be had. The tourist draw card is undoubtedly the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki; however, there is much, much more to see and do. The “Coast” road is unforgettable, the Buller River, which, over millennia, has carved the Buller Gorge out of bedrock is a sight to behold and the walking and cycling tracks that criss-cross the area provide a great way of truly exploring New Zealand. There is also a history lesson or two to be had at Shanty Town, which is an exceptional living museum showing how the Coast came to be populated and how New Zealand’s forefathers carved out the country as we know it today.

Day 11 - 12 - Franz Josef

The town of Franz Josef has grown organically with the help of the natural wonder that is the glacier; which can be explored on foot, by plane, or by helicopter (weather permitting). The glacier is not the only attraction in town and the ruggedly beautiful setting provides the perfect backdrop for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking & canoeing, 4WD off-road tours; not to mention an abundance of self-guided walking trails, lakes to explore and a great wildlife centre.

Day 13 - 14 - Wanaka

Arriving over the Southern Alps you will immediately notice the drier, warmer climate of Central Otago. In Wanaka prepare to be greeted by a majestic lake, framed by steep mountains culminating in the sentinel Mount Aspiring standing tall far in the distance. There is plenty to see and do in Wanaka, and whether it be walking or cycling along the lake edge, sampling great local wine in a lively restaurant whilst watching the sunset over Mount Aspiring, or planning to scale the heights of Roy’s Peak it is a truly memorable location and a place that holds the hearts of Kiwis young and old.

Day 15 - 17 - Queenstown

There is not a lot that can be written and said about Queenstown that hasn’t already occurred. The superlatives do not do it justice and it is a place that has to be experienced to be believed. The home of Bungy, the Shotover Jet, the Remarkables mountain range, and the base for innumerable activities including trips to Milford or Doubtful Sound, and let’s not forget the sensational Central Otago vineyards that are close at hand. Your time here will be spent creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Day 18 - 19 - Tekapo

The drive north toward Tekapo will take you over the Lindis Pass and down into Mackenzie Country, a place of incredible natural beauty. Spend your time here marvelling at Mother Nature and what she has created. The view of Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak out over the emerald lakes is truly spectacular. This however is not to be outdone by the Church of the Good Shepherd, cycling along quiet trails, or gazing with astonishment after dark at the only dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere, Mackenzie Region International Dark Sky Reserve. Light pollution is strictly controlled here making it one of the best star gazing locations on the planet.

Day 20 - Christchurch

Having been left spellbound by your experience in Mackenzie Country, it is time to make your way north to the garden city of Christchurch; along the edge of the Southern Alps, through small rural towns, and down onto the fertile Canterbury Plains. Arriving in Christchurch in the early afternoon you will have time to take in anything that you felt you missed when passing through the city when you arrived in the South Island almost three weeks ago or perhaps revisit a favourite location.

Day 21 - INTERNATIONAL RETURN FLIGHT

Make your way to Christchurch airport where you will board a flight to Auckland and then onward to your destination.

What's included?

INCLUDED:
  • Prices start from £2,620 per person
  • Accommodation for 15 nights bed and breakfast and 5 nights room only basis
  • Airport transfers on arrival to New Zealand
  • Car hire (air-conditioned vehicle)
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
Make a booking

The South Island of New Zealand makes for some of the best road-tripping on the planet. This three-week loop from Christchurch will give you a taste of everything that New Zealand has to offer; whale watching in Kaikoura, wine touring in Marlborough, kayaking in Abel Tasman, boating on Milford Sound, this self-drive trip gives the opportunity for you to do it all. Accommodation is a mixture of boutique B&Bs and small, friendly hotels. Please note that all of our tours are completely flexible so we can alter this in any way you see fit.

Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is a coastal area of Northern New Zealand with a collection of over 140 sub-tropical islands ready to be explored. This area is well known for its quiet and beautiful white sand beaches, sparkling emerald seas and abundant marine life. More
Auckland
New Zealand's largest city is a vibrant melting pot of cultures and a thriving hub of arts, music and cuisine. Known as the City of Sails, the beautiful harbour provides the perfect backdrop to this relaxed and easy-going metropolis. The nearby island of Waiheke; well-loved for its wine and food scene is just a short ferry ride away. More
Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula is a favourite getaway for Aucklanders and with good reason. This area is blessed with great weather, fabulous beaches and some fantastic hiking trails in the mountainous, rainforest clad interior. Don't miss Cathedral Cove; one of the most picturesque spots on this beautiful peninsula. More
Rotorua
Rotorua is a hive of geothermal activity with bubbling mud pools, explosive geysers, plumes of steam and natural hot springs perfect for bathing in. It is also a great place for adventure with over 90km of world class mountain biking trails, magical redwood forests and plenty of opportunity for adrenaline with zorbing, zip-lining and luging some of the most popular activities. More
Tongariro National Park
This is New Zealand's oldest national park and home to three active volcanoes surrounded by alpine meadows, hot springs and emerald lakes. The park's most popular activity, and deservedly so, is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a one-day trek that traverses the slopes of all three mountains and takes in steaming craters, old lava flows and thermal lakes. More
Hawke's Bay
This is one of New Zealand's warmest and driest regions which has made it one of the country's leading areas for wine production as well as an abundance of delicious fruit. There are dozens of off-road bike trails which have made wine-touring by bike a favourite pastime with locals and tourists alike. It is also home to the quirky Art Deco town of Napier where 1930s architecture has been beautifully preserved. More
Martinborough
Only an hour drive from Wellington is the sleepy rural village of Martinborough; the centre of the region's wine industry and the home of some of the best pinot noir in New Zealand. Most of the, mainly family-owned, vineyards are within walking or cycling distance from the village centre. More
Wellington
New Zealand's capital is a compact little city full of quirky shops, plenty of street art and a fantastic waterfront area. It's an ideal place for exploring on foot. The craft beer scene and coffee culture are in full swing here and there are plenty of great places to sample both. More
Marlborough
Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine region and there are plenty of vineyards to stop off at here. But it's not all about the wine, the beautiful winding waterways of the Marlborough Sounds make up one fifth of New Zealand's coastline and can be explored on a boat trip, from the air or hiking along the ridges and through lush coastal bush on the Queen Charlotte Track. More
Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman is situated in the sunniest region of New Zealand and is a highlight on any trip. The marine reserve is home to seals, dolphins and native sea birds and best explored on a kayaking or sailing adventure. The picture-perfect, deserted, golden sand beaches are only accessible by boat or hiking through magical, untouched forests. More
Punakaiki
This area is famed for its impressive limestone rock formations. The pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki are the most well visited of these and at high tide, with westerly swells, geysers of sea water shoot skywards creating an impressive display. More
Franz Josef Glacier
The glaciers on the West Coast are some of the most convenient to visit in the world and their low altitude means that you can be on the ice yet still comfortable in just a t-shirt. The glaciers are best explored on a heli-hike or a guided walk on the ice to experience the incredible colours and formations of the frozen landscape. More
Queenstown
Queenstown has it all. A stunning natural setting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu surrounded by dramatic alpine scenery, a plethora of outdoor activities to keep even the most adventurous entertained for weeks plus fantastic restaurants, buzzing nightlife and great shopping. More
Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a remote, breath-taking and spell-binding place where the mountains rise vertically from the dark water and waterfalls plunge hundreds of metres downwards. Explore by boat, kayak or from the air, this place is magical in any weather. More
Mackenzie Country
This area is dotted with remarkable turquoise coloured lakes with a dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps, making it extremely picturesque. At night, the beauty doesn't fade with the sunset as this area is part of an International Dark Sky Reserve which makes it one of the best star gazing spots on the planet. More
Kaikoura
Kaikoura is home to some of the most nutrient rich waters in New Zealand and is a permanent feeding spot for whales, seals and dolphins. There are plenty of boat trips out to visit the wildlife or if you want to get even closer, swimming with the seals or dolphins is a highlight. It is also a great spot to try some of the local delicacy; crayfish. More
Christchurch
Known as the Garden City, Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and is well known for its beautiful parks and award-winning botanical gardens. It is a creative hub with plenty of independent boutiques, pop-up restaurants and modern art. More

Your adventure starts here!

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