Southern Sensations - A Luxury Self Drive Tour Itinerary


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Welcome to Christchurch

Christchurch is the city of exploration, where urban regeneration and heritage thrive. The city is constantly evolving, always giving locals and visitors something new to explore. Expect street art and innovative projects, a bustling hospitality scene and established green spaces. Christchurch is the newest city in the world, and it's time the world rediscovered its secrets.

The central city is filled with cutting-edge architecture alongside some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand. The Avon River intersects the city, bringing a natural landscape to the urban environment.

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

The George, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is located in the heart of Christchurch overlooking the picturesque Hagley Park and river Avon and just steps from the cultural precinct and key attractions. The George will offer you a supreme comfort, with personalised stay and attentive staff. The hotel is located in the heart of Christchurch, and its just steps away from cultural precinct and key attractions.
The George - Christchurch


Drive to Mackenzie Country

Today head westwards through the Canterbury plains - you will find a superb location for some great photos at Lake Tekapo. Tekapo is one of three significant, neighboring lakes that border the Mackenzie Valley in New Zealand's South Island. Golden tussock grass carpets the surrounding hillside and roll away into the distance where the Southern Alps frame the horizon. The charming 'Church of the Good Shepherd' sits alone on its shores and the views to our highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook are remarkable. 

Approximate Distance: 290 kms | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 45 mins

Accommodation: Twizel - 2 nights

The luxurious 2 bedroom villa has a fireplace, a hot tub, a sauna, a fitness room and a massage room. Located within the main farmhouse, each of the heated suites offers high wooden ceilings, sandstone floors and an elegant bathroom.
Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat


Tasman Glacier Adventure - Mt Cook National Park

Tasman Glacier Boat Trip

Experience the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake and its icebergs, in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. A unique guided experience departing Aoraki/Mount Cook village by bus to the beautiful Tasman Valley followed by a 1/2hr gentle alpine walk. Board our MAC boat, and explore the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake, where you will discover the ever-changing ice face of the Glacier and icebergs, making each trip different from the last due to changing winds and currents. 

Knowledgeable guides, enhance your experience with their expertise and passion for this amazing alpine environment.  Have you ever been alongside, discovered, or touched an iceberg?

Approximate Distance: 65 km | 40 miles  Total Driving Time: 44 mins


Drive to Queenstown

Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps, is New Zealand’s most celebrated destination.  Offering a wealth of experiences to be enjoyed – from adrenaline activities through to superb golf, gourmet food, and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning.

Approximate Distance: 255 km | 159 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

Situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers luxury suites and villas, each with a private terrace featuring unspoilt mountain and lake views. Accommodation includes pre-dinner drinks with hors d'oeuvres, gourmet dinner, full breakfast and complimentary in-room minibar including domestic beers
Matakauri Lodge


Queenstown at Leisure

This alpine resort town of Queenstown sits on the shore of the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu set against the dramatic Southern Alps. The surrounding area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards and the natural landscape with wild rivers, high peaks and deep canyons has allowed Queenstown to developed an exciting array of outdoor adventure activities.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Day Walk

   Highest Bungey Jump    Explore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

   Biking Skippers Canyon          Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise      Dart River Jetboat Safari      

   Gibbston Valley Wine Trail


Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland

Te Anau is another area of breathtaking natural beauty, and several key Lord of The Rings movie scenes were filmed amid the unspoiled forests and lakes of this region. Immerse yourselves in the gorgeous surroundings: flight-seeing, fly fishing, kayaking, sailing and horse riding are all on offer and are great ways to get up close to nature. 

Approximate Distance: 171 km | 106 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 29 minutes

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 Nights


Welcome to Fiordland Lodge, a 5 star Luxury Lodge with the comfort and charm of a Fishing Lodge super sized, set in a World Heritage Area for the discerning traveller. The rooms are comfortable and you will want to enjoy the roaring log fire in the main lounge. Accommodation includes a very high standard of breakfast and dinner complete with pre-dinner canapes, and an excellent wine list to peruse. Fiordland Lodge is the perfect stepping off point to explore the World Heritage status Fiordland areas including Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Fiordland Lodge


Milford Sound Coach, Walk and Cruise

The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, then you’ll ease into a beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park.

Look for the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and the Mirror Lakes. The rough-hewn Homer Tunnel brings you into Milford Sound, an amazing 22km-long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak. A cruise on Milford Sound will be an essential component of your time in Fiordland. Tall waterfalls, vertical rock faces, and seals are some of the things you’ll remember. An underwater observatory is an option with most cruises.

Then embark on a walk on the Milford Track return from Sandfly Point to giants Gate Falls.


Drive to Wanaka - Fly to Minaret Station (Ranch)

Minaret Station operates New Zealand's first and finest luxurious Alpine Lodge set at the head of a picturesque glacial valley near Wanaka within the untouched landscapes and beauty of the Southern Alps - this unique property is reached by helicopter.

With premium mountain experience providing guests the opportunity of exploring the wilderness of New Zealand's South Island through many unique products including heli-adventures, guided fishing, hiking and other alpine activities. Minaret Station is also a working high country farm, home to deer, sheep and cattle raised for supply to premium export and domestic markets.

Approximate Distance: 226 km | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 47 minutes

Accommodation: Wanaka Back Country - 2 Nights

Accessible only by helicopter, Minaret Station treats guests to an exclusive and authentic alpine experience. Minaret Station Alpine Lodge is the epitome of comfort and luxury in the wilds of the Southern Alps. Guests are hosted exclusively, or as part of a group, in one of just four luxuriously appointed Chalets. The individual Chalets are separately positioned amongst native alpine grasses and herb fields, each harnessing unique vistas of the valley and surrounds.

 Each chalet offers privacy, warmth and the comfort of tasteful, high country design.
Minaret Station


Minaret Lodge at leisure

Minaret Station’s many Heli-Adventure experiences allow guests to discover otherwise inaccessible wilderness areas of the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring National Park.

Backcountry Adventures at Minaret Station
The wide range of adventures on offer from Minaret Station ensures that there is something special for everyone from families to honeymooners. Discerning hunters and anglers are spoiled for trophy opportunities — though you may struggle to keep your eyes on the target instead of the dramatic mountain scenery.
The Station's pilots can take you heli-hiking, heli-skiing, heli-picnics, heli mountain-biking... you name it, they can probably helicopter you to it!

Some suggested activities and outings.
Scenic Flights/Picnics
Guided Fishing
Guided Heli Skiing Guided Mountain Biking
Fiordland Experience
Guided Heli Hiking Guided Hunting
Guided Farm Tour
Jet Boating


Wanaka on to Glacier Country

Following the road to Cromwell, the fabulous scenery keeps on coming and during the stone fruit season, you can pick up bags of delicious cherries, apricots, and nectarines at any of the roadside stalls.

For a slice of paradise, drive past a trio of fantastic lakes including Lake Dunstan, Hawea, and Wanaka before traversing the Haast Pass where the Thunder Creek Falls makes for some more great photos. A short stroll amongst emerald rainforest refreshes prior to your arrival at Franz Josef - the world's most accessible glacier.

Approximate Distance: 350 km | 217 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 55 mins

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 Nights

Te Waonui is the only luxury property of its kind in the area. The retreat is nestled in the lush bush with views of the natural environment at almost every turn. Located in Franz Josef, the retreat offers easy access to the many natural wonders of the South West World Heritage Area. Mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastline, and native flora and fauna all lie in wait at the doorstep for visitors to admire and explore.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat - Franz Josef


Franz Josef Heli Hike

Simply the ultimate Glacier experience! Take in the Franz Josef Glacier by helicopter before descending onto the ice itself for an adventure like no other. From the crevasses and ice caves to the splendour of the clean blue ice, immerse yourself in the unique surroundings and touch the ice, breath the fresh air and enjoy one of the world's most exhilarating experiences.

Franz Josef Glacier is 12km (7.45mi) long and fed by a massive 20 square km (7.7 sq mi) snowfield at the top of the Southern Alps. It features ice pinnacles as high as multi-story buildings, deep crevasses and stunning, pristine blue ice. It's all on show and the most dynamic glacier in New Zealand is accessible to you via one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world.


Tranz Alpine Train Journey

Travel to Greymouth where you leave your rental car and board the TranzAlpine. This rail journey is truly something special. Ranked among the world’s top 6 train journeys, these tracks flow through some of New Zealand's most splendid countryside from the Southern Alps to Christchurch. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see natural grandeur on such a scale. 

Approximate Distance: 173 kms | 107 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 25 mins

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

The George, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is located in the heart of Christchurch overlooking the picturesque Hagley Park and river Avon and just steps from the cultural precinct and key attractions. The George will offer you a supreme comfort, with personalised stay and attentive staff. The hotel is located in the heart of Christchurch, and its just steps away from cultural precinct and key attractions.
The George - Christchurch


Bon Voyage

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

We take care of your transfer to Christchurch Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.

Some suggested activities if you have time

Easygoing Cycling Tour   Punting the Avon River   Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural Evening French Akaroa Tour Southern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch Gondola Clearwater Golf Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Profile picture for user Steve
What Steve says about this tour: I highly recommend this trip to lovers of remote locations and experiences that are off the beaten track - whether that be exploring the Marlborough or Milford Sounds, or getting close to the ice flows at the Tasman Glacier - these are all quality experiences. Staying at high quality accommodation this trip is really magnificent.
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