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Road to Fox Glacier, South Island

Classic New Zealand extended self-drive tour

27 days from $13,200pp

Road to Fox Glacier, South Island
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Tour highlights

  • Time on one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine.

  • Helicopter over the Franz and Fox Glaciers, two valley glaciers that almost reach the ocean.

  • Cruise down the Milford Sound taking in the cascading waterfalls and temperate rainforest.

  • Encounter huge sperm whales and other wildlife in Kaikoura.

  • Experience a traditional Māori cultural performance and hangi dinner.

Price includes:

  • Fully insured vehicle rental
  • All accommodations
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

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

  • Arrive in the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch, where you’ll start your month-long journey. Spend the rest of the day exploring Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens, or check out the city’s vibrant restaurant scene.

  • Depart on one of the world’s greatest train journeys, the TranzAlpine train, and travel across the Southern Alps, over Arthur’s Pass, to the small town of Greymouth. There, you’ll collect your vehicle and make your way south to Franz Josef. Spend two nights exploring the Franz and Fox Glaciers, two large valley glaciers that almost reach the sea.

  • You start the day by boarding a helicopter and soaring high in the sky to get a bird’s-eye view of the Franz and Fox Glaciers. View these two cascading glaciers and the Southern Alps mountain range and, if weather conditions allow, you’ll experience a snow landing. After your helicopter ride, relax at the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, or grab a bite to eat in the small town.

  • Depart Franz Josef, hugging the west coast of the South Island as you travel along a windy road. Along this drive, you can stop at several places, including Lake Matheson, well known for its reflection of the surrounding mountains, before driving through the gates of Haast and the Roaring Billy waterfalls. As you descend into the valley, you’ll come to Lake Wanaka, where you’ll spend the next three nights.

  • Spend the day exploring the small but adventurous town of Wanaka in your own time. It’s worth an earlier start here to go for a day hike to the top of Isthmus Peak or rent bikes and ride to Cardrona along the Cardrona River.

  • This morning, head out on a half-day trip to explore the Mou Waho nature reserve, a small island that sits in the middle of Lake Wanaka. You’ll cruise across the lake and dock at Mou Waho Island, where you’ll hike up to the top of the island. Here, you can take in 360-degree views of Lake Wanaka, the Southern Alps and Mount Alta. You’ll stop for tea and coffee, and if you’re lucky, a resident endemic flightless bird called the weka will come to join you before you head back to Wanaka. Spend the rest of the day exploring Lake Wanaka or go to Puzzling World for some fun brainteaser challenges.

  • Depart Lake Wanaka and make your way toward the Fiordland National Park to a small town called Te Anau. Spend the next two days exploring Fiordland National Park and its numerous glaciers, alpine ranges and unique flora and fauna of the area.

  • Today, you’ll meet your group and be driven to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Milford Sound by your guide, who will share knowledge along the way. You’ll board a boat and begin the cruise down the Milford Sound, viewing cascading waterfalls, the breathtaking fjord, and the temperate rainforest surrounding you. If you are lucky you will get to see seals, dolphins or Fiordland crested penguins. After the cruise, your guide will lead you on a short walk for an hour or two before driving you back to Te Anau. The evening is yours to relax or visit the Fiordland Cinema to see local movies about the surrounding area.

  • Leave Te Anau behind and make your way to Queenstown, the ‘Adventure Capital’ of the world, where you will spend the next three nights. In the afternoon, you can explore the city’s dining culture, go shopping, or take a trip on the luge, which provides iconic views of the area.

  • Head out on a half-day adventure down the Dart River to explore the region. You’ll depart Queenstown on a jet boat and zoom up the Dart River taking steep turns through rugged forested areas and into Mount Aspiring National Park. Once at the top, embrace a short walk around the rainforest to explore and spot the local flora and fauna before being driven back to Queenstown.

  • Spend the day exploring Queenstown in your own time. We recommend taking the Skyline gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak where you'll have panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountains. Alternatively, you can drive to the Gibbston Valley to try some local Pinot Noir wines.

  • Leave Queenstown behind and head northeast over the Lindis Pass and into the MacKenzie Valley, where you’ll see a line of steep snow-covered mountains line an arid valley all the way to Twizel. Spend the next two nights in Twizel exploring the MacKenzie Valley and the Mount Cook region.

  • Early this morning, make your own way to the Mount Cook Village to meet your small boat cruise that explores the base of the Tasman Glacier. On this two-hour tour, your naturalist guide will talk about this mammoth glacier and the history of the area before taking a half-hour walk on the terminal face. In the afternoon, you have the option to hike around the Mount Cook Village or head back to Twizel to relax at your accommodation.

  • Depart the MacKenzie Valley and drive past Christchurch and up the coastline to the small town of Kaikoura. This drive is a bit longer, but there are plenty of places to stop so that you can stretch your legs and take photos of the ever-changing landscape. Arrive in Kaikoura late this afternoon and spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring this small but vibrant town.

  • Take a cruise out of Kaikoura to try and spot large marine life like sperm whales, seals, and dolphins. Kaikoura is known for its nutrient-rich waters, which attract a wide variety of marine animals. It makes for a fun morning of seeing these large animals feed and play along the shore of Kaikoura. You’ll have the remainder of the day to discover the Kaikoura Peninsula walk or sample the local seafood.

  • Leave Kaikoura behind this morning and make your way north along the coast to the wine country. You’ll stay two nights in Blenheim, where you can try the local wine the region is known for. Spend the afternoon relaxing, drive up to Picton for lunch by the water, or visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, where you can learn about World War I and World War II planes and how they were used in the Pacific.

  • Spend the day touring the local wineries with your small group tour. Your guide will drive you from winery to winery, where you’ll have the chance to sample three to five wines from that vineyard. Each of the vineyards has a unique flavor profile due to the climate, which makes each tasting a little different.

  • This morning, drive from Blenheim to Picton and drop off your rental car in time to catch the ferry to Wellington, which snakes its way through the Marlborough Sounds. Upon arrival in Wellington, you can catch a taxi to your city hotel, where you will stay for the next two nights.

  • Spend the day exploring the Te Papa Museum and taking a tour to see the ancient relics and tools that the Māori used and found culturally significant. You’ll learn about historical and contemporary taonga from your Māori guide, and delve deep into New Zealand’s diverse environment and proud Māori heritage, and the natural environment and how people interact with it.

  • Collect your rental car this morning and leave Wellington behind as you drive northwest to the Hawke’s Bay region, known for its variety of wines and fresh produce. Spend the next two days exploring the Art Deco architecture of Napier and wine tasting throughout the Hawke’s Bay region.

  • This morning, make your way to Napier to experience a city tour. During this tour, you will be guided around in a classic car to learn about the earthquake that destroyed Napier in the 1930s and how the city rebuilt itself to reflect the architecture of the time. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the surrounding vineyards or take a cultural tour.

  • From Napier, you’ll drive north to Rotorua, a town famed for its geothermal terrain and prominent Māori culture. Before you reach Rotorua, we recommend visiting Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to view a range of features, including the champagne pool, the Lady Knox Geyser, and sinter terrace formations.

  • You have the day to explore Rotorua or perhaps drive to Taupō for lunch. We recommend walking through the Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest or relaxing at one of the spas in Rotorua before encountering a traditional Māori cultural performance and hangi dinner this evening.

  • Today head north from Rotorua through the Waikato region, which is also home to Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton. Along your drive, we recommend making a stop in Matamata to take a guided one-hour tour of the Hobbiton film set, where part of the film Lord of the Rings was filmed. After the tour, continue north onto the Coromandel Peninsula where you will spend the next two nights.

  • This morning, head out to explore the coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula by foot with your experienced guide, learning about the area's history, flora, and fauna. If the tide permits, view areas such as historic gold-mining caves sparkling with glowworms, ancient Māori pa sites, and Hot Water Beach. At the end of a busy day, relax at your accommodation.

  • Make your way from the South Coromandel Peninsula to Auckland. When you arrive, you’ll drop your vehicle at the city car depot and stay two nights in central Auckland, the ‘City of Sails.’ Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the city or the surrounding islands, like Waiheke Island.

  • Spend your last full day in Auckland learning about the history and culture of the All Blacks team. Then, explore the city’s dining culture or take in 360-degree views at the top of the Sky Tower. You may choose to spend the rest of the day exploring Britomart and the bay, too.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodations, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Audley specialist Haley
Contact a New Zealand 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.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°F) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
Lake Wanaka
Te Anau & Manapouri
Mount Cook National Park
Coromandel Peninsula

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