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New Zealand South Island Self-Drive

  • Off the beaten track
This itinerary is perfect for the adventurer who likes to get off the beaten track whilst still enjoying the creature comforts of superior accommodations. Hike through National Parks, along stunning coastline, over glaciers and through spectacular mountains. Fly over incredible scenery and then cruise through remote fiords. Enjoy the freedom of having your own vehicle, the best way to be able to e...

This itinerary is perfect for the adventurer who likes to get off the beaten track whilst still enjoying the creature comforts of superior accommodations. Hike through National Parks, along stunning coastline, over glaciers and through spectacular mountains. Fly over incredible scenery and then cruise through remote fiords. Enjoy the freedom of having your own vehicle, the best way to be able to explore the South Island! Stay in unique, boutique properties putting you in touch with local personalities in stunning settings.

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Customisable trip itinerary

This tour idea is fully customisable

The itinerary has been created by our local agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: Arrival in Nelson

Start your adventure in Nelson where you will collect your next rental vehicle and drive to your accommodation. 

Spend the rest of the day at leisure in this region known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, microbreweries and a large creative community of working artists.

Accommodation: Clayridge House - A charming bed and breakfast with views of Tasman Bay and the nearby mountain ranges. The Mt Arthur Suite, looks out towards Mt Arthur in the nearby Kahurangi National Park and to the sea of Tasman Bay. Clayridge House also offers a spacious self-contained cottage. The cottage is situated to make the most of the sun and sea views and has two bedrooms, a separate bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and a large lounge opening on to a private outdoor patio.

Clayridge House and Cottages (Nelson)

Day 2: Abel Tasman National Park 

Today join your catamaran to cruise along the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park’s coastline. Your cruise itinerary is flexible so if there is something to see, like dolphins riding the bow wave or New Zealand fur seals fishing, then you can go take a look. After a light lunch you can swim, snorkel, sea kayak, go ashore for a bush walk, or just relax onboard. 

Clayridge House and Cottages (Nelson)

Day 3: Punakaiki Pancakes

Today drive west and then south along to the rugged West Coast of the South Island. Stop in Punakaiki, home to the famous “pancake rocks”, an intriguing natural wonder and so named because they’ve evolved into strange sedimentary layers which resemble stacks of pancakes. Behind these limestone blowholes is the Paparoa National Park, whilst small it is a gem – excellent options exist for bushwalks and kayaking amongst the gorges, caves and bush. Take a late-afternoon stroll along the beach, to admire the crashing surf and wild beauty of it all. 

Accommodation: Ti Kouka House - A new purpose build Bed & Breakfast. There are three guest rooms, each with ensuite bathroom and its own private deck overlooking the sea. The house is unique in its design and the attention to detail is surprising. Recycled timbers have been used throughout. The comfortable lounge area and fireplace add to the atmosphere. During summer, breakfast will be served on the patio.

Night at Ti Kouka House (Punakaiki)

Day 4: Scenic drive to Franz Josef

After spending the morning enjoying more of the great local Punakaiki short walks, drive further south. Admire the coastline as you go and stop into the wonderful West Coast town of Hokitika until you reach the town of Franz Josef.

Spend the afternoon at leisure, perhaps visit the Glacier Hot Pools for a relaxing soak in these unique rainforets hot springs.

Accommodation: Westwood Lodge- Is set in a beautiful bush garden and offers well-appointed bed and breakfast accommodation with views of the West Coast’s rainforests and the mountains of the Southern Alps. Relax in the Lounge and Bar with an impressive fire and magnificent views or enjoy the outdoors in any weather from within the Conservatory.

PunakaikiFranz Josef
Night at Westwood Lodge (Franz Josef)

Day 5: Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike

Today experience the Franz Josef Glacier with a Heli-Hike. This fly-in, fly-out Heli-Hike combines the excitement of walking on the glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier that is otherwise very difficult to get to. It is here, shunted between two ice falls, that the awesome glacier forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Your professional guide will lead you into the most spectacular icefall terrain that is usually seen only by experienced mountaineers.

Franz Josef
Night at Westwood Lodge (Franz Josef)

Day 6: Exploring Queenstown

Drive south, first hugging the coastline and then heading inland through Haast Pass, where there are bushwalks signposted from the road. Stop in Wanaka with its picture-postcard mountain backdrop, before you reach Queenstown. 

Spend the day at leisure wandering the lively village full of great cafes, restaurants, bars and shops or, for the adrenilin junkies we can arrange zilpining, bugy jumping or sky diving!

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel -A boutique hotel located in the centre of Queenstown. The Dairy is widely regarded as one of Queenstown’s top boutique hotels. Warm, inviting and personal, they have 13 private, stylishly appointed bedrooms, each with it’s own ensuite. The premier rooms have wonderful views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains and the standard rooms take in other vistas of the surrounding alpine scenery.

Franz Josef, Queenstown
Night at The Dairy Private  (Queenstown)

Day 7: Milford Sound Fly & Cruise

This morning return your rental vehicle before joining a small fixed wing flight over spectacular scenery to Milford Sound. On reaching Milford Sound, join a Nature Cruise for an extended cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to view waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. On completion of the cruise, join a small coach to begin your overland tour to Te Anau. Along the way enjoy a series of walks in a range of different environments in this World Hertiage area.

Accommodation: Dunluce Bed & Breakfast -A boutique Bed and Breakfast with panoramic lake and mountain views. Situated in a quiet location in Te Anau, Dunluce is an architecturally designed home with a guest wing. You are guaranteed warmth, relaxation, and privacy.

Queenstown, Milford SoundTe Anau
Dunluce Bed & Breakfast (Te Anau)

Day 8: Doubtful Sound Cruise

Today explore Doubtful Sound, a beautiful fiord, three times longer than Milford Sound, with twisting arms, it has a surface area ten times larger. With its rugged peaks, verdant rainforest and twisting, hidden inlets, Doubtful Sound will take your breath away. There’s no direct road access, so the only way you can to get to Doubtful Sound is a cruise across the picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a trip over Wilmot Pass - New Zealand's most expensive (and majestic) road.  In Doubtful Sound, board a 3 hour cruise through this pristine fiord spotting a varity of wildlife, including dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguin.

Te AnauDoubtful Sound
Dunluce Bed & Breakfast (Te Anau)

Day 9: Last Stop at the Lakes

You will be met at your accommodation by your private guide for your backroad journey to Walter Peak Station. You’ll pass through farmland before reaching the Mavora Conservation land, and the Mavora Lakes, which were used as filming locations in “Lord of the Rings”. Then it’s into the Von Valley and it’s lunar like landscape through Mt Nicholas high country sheep station and then along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak station. Here you will board the TSS Earnslaw, where you can watch the stokers fuelling the fireboxes and hear the sound of the steam engines working as you cruise across the lake to Queenstown.

Night at The Dairy Private  (Queenstown)

Day 10: Depart Queenston

After 10 days adventuring New Zealand’s South Island you might like to enjoy a sleep in this morning before departing for your home country.

Nelson Punakaiki Franz Josef Queenstown Milford Sound Te Anau Doubtful Sound

Price details

This tour idea is fully customisable

The price reflects this specific tour itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Season Price Per Adult
Prices Starting From
January 2020 to December 2020 £2,600

Included in price:

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • In-trip ground transportation
  • Activities according to your customized trip
  • Airport transfers
  • 24/7 local agency support
  • Trip creation with an expert local agent
  • Car rental

Not included in price:

  • Arrival and departure flights
  • Meals and beverages not indicated
  • Personal expenses
  • Service gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
Book your flights to New Zealand
International flights are not included in this trip. Thanks to our partnership with Option Way, you can take advantage of booking your flights directly with your local agent.
Check out the many benefits:
  • Competitive rates
  • All-inclusive prices with no hidden fees
  • Amanda, in New Zealand will inform you of any changes to your flights
For more information or to book your flights directly, head to our partner site.

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