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New Zealand's South Island self-drive

18 days from $6,490pp

What is tailor made? 100% custom | Exceptional experiences | Hand-picked guides | Lodging with character | Designed to your schedule, budget & interests

    Places visited:

  • Christchurch
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Nelson
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Hokitika
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Wanaka
  • Te Anau
  • Invercargill
  • Stewart Island
  • Dunedin
  • Stroll along surf beaches around Christchurch - New Brighton and Sumner - then enjoy the view from a nearby coffee shop.

  • Experience the golden sands and turquoise waters of the Abel Tasman National Park.

  • Enjoy the scenic drive all the way down the west coast - from Westport to Haast, where the forest meets the ocean - this rugged coastline is atmospheric and beautiful.

Great Barrier Reef

What our specialists say...

The ocean is the essence of New Zealand, pounding the shores on all sides and being an integral part of most Kiwi life. This itinerary hugs the coastline of the South Island - from the long, sweeping stretches of beach on the east coast, to the golden sands of the Abel Tasman, to the rugged, driftwood strewn scenery of the west coast; experience first hand how the sea has shaped the country.

We recommend this trip for:

  • Christchurch
  • Hanmer Springs
  • Nelson
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Nelson
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Hokitika
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Wanaka
  • Te Anau
  • Invercargill
  • Stewart Island
  • Invercargill
  • Dunedin
  • Christchurch

Itinerary idea in detail

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Ask us if you would also like us to arrange your international flights at our preferred rates.

Day 1 Christchurch

Christchurch

Arrive in Christchurch today where you will be welcomed by one of our representatives and transferred to your accommodation for the next two nights. Relax, unwind and recover from your flight, there is plenty to do in Christchurch within an easy stroll of your accommodation.

Accommodation options

Day 2 Christchurch

Christchurch

Enjoy the day at leisure in Christchurch. The nearby beach suburbs of New Brighton and Sumner are well worth a visit - here you can enjoy a coffee whilst watching the surf roll in.

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Day 3 Hanmer Springs

Christchurch , Hanmer Springs

Take a taxi to the airport to collect your car this morning and make your way north from the city today and inland to Hanmer Springs. Enjoy an afternoon soak in the famous and therapeutic hot pools here.

Accommodation

Day 4 Nelson

Hanmer Springs , Nelson

Today you take a scenic drive along the Lewis Pass then north through Murchison to Motueka, close to the Abel Tasman region.

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Day 5 Nelson

Abel Tasman National Park , Nelson

Today you get to explore this pristine area from the water and on foot. Start with a kayaking trip around the edges of the National Park, paddling gently with the breeze. Then, enjoy a cruise along the coast to a beautiful beach where you are dropped off to enjoy a short walk on one of the tracks here.

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Day 6 Hokitika

Abel Tasman National Park , Hokitika

You start your journey down the west coast today and make your way to Hokitika. This is a long drive so we suggest making a day of it and stopping of at sights along the way. You might like to stop at the Pancake Rocks, near Punakaiki.

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Day 7 Franz Josef Glacier

Hokitika , Franz Josef Glacier

Make your way south along the wild West Coast to Franz Josef, the scenery on this drive is fabulous! The rest of the day is at leisure, perhaps visit Te Koha Gallery where you can try your hand at jade carving.

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Day 8 Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

Today is at leisure to explore Franz Josef, yu might like to visit Lake Matheson for stunning views of nearby Fox Glacier and Mount cook, take a glacier valley walk up to the Franz Josef Glacier or arrange for a helicopter or light aircraft flight over the glaciers.

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Day 9 Wanaka

Franz Josef Glacier , Wanaka

Another stunning drive down the coast and inland to Lake Wanaka. There are lots of lovely spots to stop and go for short walks; each with something fascinating to see and photograph, along the way.

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Day 10 Wanaka

Wanaka

Today you join a delightful 4WD eco-tour to a privately owned high country station. You will see deer, sheep and cattle, learn a little about the station and take in some of the most magnificent views that Wanaka has to offer. To top it off you'll enjoy a lovely cup of tea served on top of one of Wanaka's wild hills with probably one of the most beautiful views in New Zealand.

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Day 11 Te Anau

Wanaka , Te Anau

You make your way to Te Anau today, where you will spend the night before embarking on your overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound. Do stop in and visit Queenstown as you pass through. Arrowtown is also a lovely little town you will reach before Queenstown and well worth a visit.

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Day 12

Te Anau

A wonderful experience awaits as you embark on a magical journey to Doubtful Sound, you will spend the night here, and wake up as some of only a few people to experience the Sound first thing in the morning. Keep a sharp eye out for wildlife such as Penguins, Otters, Dolphins, Seals and Albatross.

Day 13 Stewart Island

Te Anau , Invercargill , Stewart Island

You will be dropped off at Te Anau this lunchtime, collect your car and drive down to Invercargill where you will catch a short 20 minute light aircraft flight over to Stewart Island.

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Day 14 Stewart Island

Stewart Island

Today you will enjoy a half day tour of Stewart Island and Ulva Island, learning all about the abundant birdlife and botany of these unique places. If you wish, you can extend this to a full day tour, just let your specialist know.

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Day 15 Dunedin

Stewart Island , Invercargill , Dunedin

A short 20 minute hop on the small plane back to Invercargill this morning and you'll drive on up to Dunedin, where you will spend the next two nights at leisure.

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Day 16 Dunedin

Dunedin

Dunedin is a beautiufl city to explore, in addition to the architecture, you might like to arrange for a boat tour around the Otago peninsula, to see some of the native penguins.

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Day 17 Christchurch

Dunedin , Christchurch

A long drive up to Christchurch tosday, so we suggest making a day of it and stopping at Oamaru and Timaru to see the sights along the way. You will spend your last night in Christchurch tonight. Why not go for one last dinner on board the Tramway restaurant, which trundles around the ciity as you dine on fine New Zealand cuisine.

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Day 18 Return home

Christchurch

Today you will meet your international flight home.

Audley Travel specialist Amanda
blue mountains

Contact a specialist

The specialist who designs your trip to New Zealand will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip. Your dedicated specialist will take the time to understand your preferences and build them into an itinerary to match, working to your budget. He or she will keep perfecting it until you’re completely happy and ready to book.

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When to go

Drag the slider to see monthly temperature and rainfall for this itinerary

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily Max Temperature Monthly Rainfall
Christchurch
 
 
 
Hanmer Springs
 
 
 
Nelson
 
 
 
Abel Tasman National Park
 
 
 
Hokitika
 
 
 
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
 
 
 
Lake Wanaka
 
 
 
Te Anau & Manapouri
 
 
 
Stewart & Ulva Islands
 
 
 
Dunedin
 
 
 

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