Classic Southern Circuit Vacation Itinerary


Welcome to Christchurch

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand. Now you can relax - you are officially on holiday. Everything has been taken care of, we will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodation.

Welcome to Christchurch, relax you are on holiday and everything has been taken care of. We will meet you at the airport and to transfer to your central city accommodation. This South Island Self Drive Itinerary has been designed to make your New Zealand experience as hassle-free as possible.

Some suggested activities around Christchurch

Easygoing Cycling Tour  Punting the Avon River  Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural EveningFrench Akaroa TourSouthern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch GondolaClearwater GolfArthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

Art Centre Christchurch
The Quest Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square in the heart of the commercial, arts and tourist precinct. This purpose built property is on Christchurch's famous inner city Tram Loop and features a mix of new and heritage architecture. Incorporated in the complex are a variety of retail shops, cafes and restaurants. All the serviced Apartments have free Wi-Fi & Fully Equipped Kitchens.
Quest Hotel in Christchurch


Mt Cook National Park

Collect your rental vehicle this morning and drive to Mt Cook National Park, with its 70,000 ha of breathtaking alpine scenery. 

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is part of UNESCO's Te Wāhipounamu (The Place of Greenstone) World Heritage region. Here in Mackenzie Country you'll find Australasia's highest mountain - Aoraki / Mount Cook (3,724m) - nestled in the splendid Southern Alps. Known to Māori as Aoraki or Cloud Piercer, this magnificent mountain is surrounded by over 150 peaks along with countless glaciers, ice and snowfields, mountain lakes, and ranges

Approximate Distance: 326 km | 233 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Mt Cook Village - 2 nights

Mt Cook in South Canterbury
Situated in the iconic Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, Mt Cook Lodge & Motels offers a selection of accommodation types from backpacker styled dorms, cosy chalets to newly refurbished and contemporary self-contained motel units. All rooms include ensuite bathrooms, quality linen, refridgerator and a patio or balcony so you can soak up the stunning mountain views. Chill out in the Chamois Bar & Grill, a favourite of travelers and locals alike.
Mt Cook Lodge & Motels


Tasman Glacier Boat Tour

Discover the wonders of the Mackenzie Region, where you'll find New Zealand's longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. Even more exciting, you can immerse yourself in this natural marvel from the unique vantage point of New Zealand's exclusive glacial boat tour.

Begin your adventure with a leisurely 30-minute stroll through the moraine, followed by the thrilling opportunity to board the custom-designed MAC boats. As you cruise, prepare to be captivated by the majestic Tasman Glacier, its ever-expanding terminal lake, and the awe-inspiring panoramic mountain vistas that surround you.

Mt Cook


Queenstown - our Adventure Capital

The drive to Queenstown is stunning, leading you over the rugged Crown Range on the highest main road in the country. Take your time and enjoy the scenic lookouts en route - your camera will get a workout.

The winding mountain road demands concentration & care, but more conservative drivers can take an alternative route along the Clutha River, Lake Dunstan, and the Shotover River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way.

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting, sophisticated, and fantastically scenic. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure including bungy jumping, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting, and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments, and leisurely games of golf.

Approximate Distance: 255 km | 159 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 15 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

Just 5 minutes’ walk from Lake Wakatipu, Autoline Queenstown Motel offers self-contained accommodation with a spa bath or a private balcony with mountain views. Guests enjoy free WiFi. The air-conditioned apartments have under-floor heating and a well-equipped kitchenette with a stove, a microwave and a refrigerator. Each apartment has a 42-inch flat-screen TV and satellite channels.
Autoline Queenstown


Milford Sound - Coach/Cruise/Fly

For the most engaging way to experience the riches of Fiordland National Park. This option includes three modes of transport (land, sea & air) making this the ‘holy grail’ of combination tours.

Coach: Board a luxury coach for a journey into beautiful Fiordland. The Road to Milford is one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives. The first part is relatively mild farmland, and 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 and through the rough-hewn Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound.

Cruise: Enjoy a scenic cruise of the entire length of Milford Sound viewing the spectacular waterfalls and famous Mitre Peak. Grand, brooding, serene and wild, Milford Sound draws visitors from all over the globe to cruise its length. The purpose-built cruise boat offers excellent viewing of waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, and wildlife with large windows, spacious decks, and comfortable lounges.

Fly: Experience the “Absolutely Stunning” scenery as you fly over Sutherland Falls and over beautiful Milford Sound and lakes Te Anau and Lake Manapouri on your way back to Queenstown.

Milford Sound


Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Wildlife Walk

Today you'll tour the Isle of Mou Waho, one of only five islands to be found in the vastness of Lake Wanaka. Accessible only by a 35-minute boat cruise, Mou Waho is an island nature reserve with a difference. With no predators or pests roaming here, New Zealand's rare & endangered species can live in peace, giving you the opportunity to observe them up close. Walking with a long-time local guide, the well-formed track leads you through the native bush to Tyrwhitt Peak.

Here you will find Arethusa Pool, a beautiful miniature lake with small islands within it. Impress your friends by telling them you have visited an island in a lake, inside an island in a lake, inside an island in the ocean! From Tyrwhitt Peak, you'll be spellbound by the 360-degree views of Lake Wanaka surrounding you, and the mountains beyond. Don't forget your swimwear: on a hot day, it's hard to resist a swim in Mou Waho's cool clear waters.

Approximate Distance: 70 km | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 Night

Mou Waho
Bella Vista Motel Lake Wanaka is located in a quiet street in the heart of Wanaka. The motel is only 150 m away from the lake and within easy walking distance there are many restaurants, cafes and wine bars. Guests enjoy free WiFi. The rooms at the Bella Vista are fully-serviced, with heating and electric blankets. Free off-street parking is available as well as a lock-up garage for motorbikes. Guests have access to laundry facilities. Continental breakfast is available on request.
Bella Vista Wanaka


Glacier Country!

Be transported to the South Island's wild West Coast today on one of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenic drives. The views are impressive all the way, and once over the Haast Pass they change dramatically. There's beauty around every bend, with woodland walks and dramatic waterfalls along the route — perfect for picnic stops.

When the ancient forests and mountain passes give way to coastal views, you'll soon be nearing glacier country. Nestled in a rainforest clearing, Franz Josef Glacier lies at the heart of the Westland National Park.

Welcome to one of the most diverse and beautiful areas of New Zealand.

Approximate Distance: 350 km | 217 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 40 Minutes

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 Nights

Franz Josef Glacier
58 On Cron is located the rainforest, 5 minutes from Franz Josef town centre. The glacier is a 10-minute drive away. The motel offers self-catering accommodation with free on-site parking. Guests enjoy satellite TV in the rooms and a voucher for free Wi-Fi access during their stay.
58 on Cron


Twin Glacier Helicopter Flight – Fox & Franz

Fly over Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier on a spectacular helicopter tour that includes a landing right on the snow. Seeing both glaciers on a single helicopter flight offers an incredible perspective and understanding of New Zealand’s massive ice sheets, and you touch down on one of the glaciers to snap up-close photographs of the frozen terrain.


  • Spectacular aerial views of Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier
  • The live pilot commentary points out landmarks and unique features below
  • Walkout onto the snow after an exciting glacier landing
  • Bring home photographs of the glaciers and the stunning Southern Alps
Glacier Helihike


Punakaiki - Remote Wild West Coast

Journey to Punakaiki on the South Island's rugged and remote West Coast, one of New Zealand's most unspoiled and ancient destinations.

The route takes you inland through diverse landscapes, with farmland giving way to dramatic mountain passes and rushing rivers. Emerging at the coast for the final stretch, you're rewarded with magnificent windswept ocean views on your left and steep, rainforested mountains on your right.

Arriving in Punakaiki, you'll marvel at the Pancake Rocks. The bizarre, flattened rock stacks were sculpted over 30 million years, beaten into shape by the relentless ocean waves. You're in the heart of Paparoa National Park, mystical land of limestone canyons, underground caves, and coastal rainforests bursting with wildlife.

Approximate Distance: 217 km | 155 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 53 mins

Accommodation: Punakaiki  - 1 night

Blow Holes
Nestled in native forest on the edge of Paparoa National Park and just 1.2 kilometers south of the Pancake Rocks, we find Paparoa Park Motel. If you are looking for a self-contained motel accommodation on the West Coast, this Punakaiki motel is perfect with some with spectacular views looking across the bay to the Pancake Rocks/Blowholes others with wonderful New Zealand native bush views. They have a spectacular view of the Pancake Rocks/Blowholes and the wonderful native bush.
Paparoa Park Motel


Inland to Nelson

Heading North, today you'll swap the windswept West Coast for the relative calm of New Zealand's sunniest town: Nelson. Soak up magnificent ocean and rainforest views before heading inland, with dramatic mountain passes and rushing rivers giving way to fertile farmland.


Happily situated on the Northern Coast of the South Island, Nelson is a creative city known for its many galleries and artisan stores. The jeweler who created the One Ring for the Lord of the Rings movies is based here, and you can even buy your own identical replica. At the edge of town, you can climb Botanical Hill to find a lookout right at the geographical centre of New Zealand. Recover your energy with one of Nelson's outstanding craft beers at a local brewery.

Accommodation: Nelson - 2 Nights

Approximate Distance: 264 km | 188 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 

The Palms Motel is a great choice for a comfortable place to stay in Nelson. Relax on the open patio, take a dip in the pool or visit the nearby amenities. Located in the centre of beautiful Nelson, The Palms Motel offers a modern, interior decorated self-contained apartments with full kitchen facilities. Everything you need to have a hassle free time in beautiful Nelson.
The Palms Motel Nelson.


Abel Tasman - Split Apple Rock Kayak

Paddle a safe, sheltered section of the Abel Tasman Bay coastline. See lots of good stuff in a small area including islands, caves, beaches and of course, Split Apple Rock. Loved by families and the cruiser in all of us for the last 18 years. Two hours on the water of guided kayaking.

This trip has a strong emphasis on fun and enjoyment. We don’t just show you the best spots to travel to, you will have a great time with a group of people in a beautiful area. Like all of our short trips we paddle at a relaxed pace and pause often to enjoy views, stories and conversation.

  • No experience necessary.
  • Enjoy the most sheltered part of the Kaiteriteri coastline.
  • A great option for family fun.

For families with younger children we would recommend the morning tour. The afternoon tour can quite offen be breezy due to the sea breeze which picks up around midday.

Abel Tasman


Kaikoura - Whale Watching

Today you'll journey through North Canterbury's beautiful rural scenery to the town of Kaikoura, a marine wonderland where towering mountains meet the sea. Kaikoura's most famous residents are the many whales and dolphins who feast on the abundant seafood in its waters. Sperm whales visit year-round, while the mighty humpback is a regular visitor in June and July.

Kaikoura Whale Watching Tour 

This afternoon brings you closer to these magnificent creatures on a whale watching cruise. Enjoy spotting them as they breach the surface, spouting seawater from their blowholes before diving in search of tasty squid.

End your unforgettable day with freshly caught crayfish at one of Kaikoura's cozy eateries, enjoying one of the glorious sunsets this region is famous for.

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 Night

Approximate Distance:  184 km | 131 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Whale Tail

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura


Christchurch - The Garden City

Your final destination, Christchurch, is New Zealand’s second-largest city and the South Island's capital. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Christchurch is our "Garden City", blessed with beautiful parks and gardens right in the heart of town. English heritage buildings sit side by side with innovative post-earthquake regeneration in this vibrant place.

This afternoon why not relax with a punting trip down the Avon River? Gliding gently along in a flat-bottomed boat, you will take in Christchurch's 'must-see' historic attractions and botanic gardens away from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Make the most of your last night in New Zealand by exploring Christchurch's foodie scene. With everything from relaxed cafes to fine dining on offer, you'll have no trouble finding the perfect spot to mull over your memories of the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Approximate Distance: 185 km | 132 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 29 mins

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

The Quest Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square in the heart of the commercial, arts and tourist precinct. This purpose built property is on Christchurch's famous inner city Tram Loop and features a mix of new and heritage architecture. Incorporated in the complex are a variety of retail shops, cafes and restaurants. All the serviced Apartments have free Wi-Fi & Fully Equipped Kitchens.
Quest Hotel in Christchurch


Bon Voyage

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

Return your rental vehicle at Christchurch Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.

Bon Voyage

What Emma says about this tour: This is a great tour, you get to explore New Zealand's South Island. Highlights include a 4WD experience in Mount Cook National Park, wildlife experience on Lake Wanaka, a helicopter flight over both Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, a spectacular cruise on Milford Sound with a Scenic flight over Fiordland and much much more...
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