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New Zealand's South Island self-drive tour

18 days from $10,115pp

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Tour highlights

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

  • Stroll along surf beaches around Christchurch — New Brighton and Sumner — then enjoy the view from a nearby coffee shop.

  • 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.

18 days from $10,115pp

Price includes:

  • Fully insured vehicle rental
  • All accommodations
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Travel that's shaped around you

We know that travel has the most meaning when it's created individually for you. Our specialists will only start designing your trip once they understand exactly what you want it to be. So, consider this idea simply as inspiration for your own experience.

Itinerary idea in detail

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Take a taxi to the airport to collect your car this morning and make your way north from the city today and head north to the coastal town of Kaikoura. Enjoy an afternoon exploring the mountainous and ocean town of Kaikoura, before making your may to your unique Purepod accommodation.

  • Spend the day around Kaikoura. You can spend the day exploring the mountain trails or the seaside town.

  • Continue north along the coastline to Blenheim, the famous wine region of the South Island, before heading west to the Kaiteriteri, on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. From here you will take a water taxi to your accommodation where you will spend the next three nights.

  • 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.

  • Spend the day at leisure today. We recommend exploring the national park more or relaxing at your accommodation.

  • Once you collect your car, you will head southwest through the highlands before reaching the rugged west coast of the South Island. You will spend one evening in Punakaiki so you can explore the Pancake Rocks.

  • 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.

  • Today is at leisure to explore Franz Josef, you 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.

  • Another mountainous 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. In the afternoon, you will arrive in Wanaka, where you will spend the next three nights.

  • This morning you will collect e-bikes before being transferred to Clutha, where you will start your private biking tour. Your guide will teach you about the region while you spend the next few hours taking in the mountains and biking back to Wanaka.

  • Today you join a delightful 4x4 ecotour 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.

  • Drive to the Milford Sound today, where you will board an overnight cruise. Spend the night exploring the fiord on this peaceful reserve. You will have a chance to take in the large waterfalls and spot local marine wildlife that frequents the area. In the evening, enjoy dinner on the cruise before you head to bed.

  • This morning wake to a filling breakfast on the boat before you disembark and drive to Dunedin. Stay three nights in Dunedin to explore the Otago Peninsula and the birdlife.

  • Spend the morning on a half day tour exploring Dunedin to learn about the city's history and wildlife that surrounds the town. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the town or to relax.

  • Today is at leisure. We recommend driving south to the Catlins to see the rugged coastline and to hike around the variety of rock formations.

  • Today please make your own way to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

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

Audley Travel 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
July is one of the best times to visit
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Christchurch
 
Kaikoura
 
Abel Tasman National Park
 
Punakaiki
 
Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
 
Lake Wanaka
 
Milford Sound
 
Dunedin
 

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