New Zealand's South Island in Classic Style

Christchurch, Kaikoura & Canterbury District, Otago & The Southern Alps, West Coast & Abel Tasman National Park

Duration: 13 nights

Price: From £5,700 per person in low season based on two adults travelling together and including all flights in economy class, accommodation, some meals, car hire and taxes

Discover the highlights of New Zealand’s South Island on this action-packed holiday, which crams in glaciers, mountains and lakes as well as the buzzing cities of Christchurch and Queenstown, and all the adrenaline-fuelled activities you have the stomach for. This self-drive trip also enables you to enjoy some of New Zealand’s most breath-taking scenery along the way.
Perfect forThose looking for an exciting, varied self-drive adventure around the South Island.
In the knowExtending your stay to visit the North Island, from cosmopolitan Auckland to the sweeping beaches of the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Best for

  • Landscapes & Scenery
  • Couples
  • First-timers
  • Road Trip

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Itinerary details



Christchurch is a lovely city with a distinctively English vibe – including pretty green spaces such as the renowned Botanic Gardens, galleries that are well worth a visit, and even punting on the Avon River! Hidden streets reveal beautiful boutiques and restaurants, and there are also wildlife parks where you can see animals such as tigers, gorillas, rhinos and giraffes, as well as the New Zealand national emblem, the kiwi, and other native birds. Christchurch is reviving and regenerating itself following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and is rebuilding itself in inventive ways, such as housing trendy shops in shipping containers and building a cardboard cathedral to replace the original cathedral, which was destroyed. Stay at Otahuna Lodge, which occupies a Victorian mansion and is set in 20 acres of beautiful gardens just outside the city.
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After picking up your car, drive to the scenic Arthur’s Pass in the Southern Alps, which climbs to more than 900 metres as it winds its way through Arthur’s Pass National Park, the South Island’s first national park. Experience high bridges, viaducts, deep valleys, rivers and waterfalls, as well as wide riverbeds and expansive beech forests. This is a good spot for hiking as well as driving – keep an eye out for the kea, an alpine parrot. Your base, the aptly-named Wilderness Lodge, is set on a sheep farm and nature reserve, and is surrounded by mountains.
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It’s time to experience Glacier Country. Named after an Austrian emperor, Franz Josef is one of the South Island’s most majestic glaciers, towering over the landscape. It is also handily accessible to explore: strap on some crampons, grab a walking stick and hike from the base and around its lower slopes, or try a thrilling ice climb or enjoy a heli-hike to the top to traverse pristine ice, travel through naturally carved ice tunnels and enjoy amazing views over the peaks and beyond. The Te Waonui Forest Retreat borders lush green rainforest on the west coast – reward yourself after exploring the glacier with a relaxing visit to the thermal pods.
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3 nightsWANAKA

In a country awash with adrenaline-fuelled, thrill-seeking sports, Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s top spots for skydiving, thanks to the dazzlingly blue Lake Wanaka and its spectacular mountain backdrop. Despite being a skydiving magnet, it manages to retain a relaxed vibe and has a wide choice of fantastic bars and restaurants, as well as hotels, making it a pleasant place to spend a few days. Wanaka Haven is our choice of accommodation here, a luxury boutique hotel with just five plush rooms. We also recommend a scenic flight over the glacial valleys and rugged wilderness of nearby Mount Aspiring National Park – but if you prefer to stay closer to the ground, enjoy swimming or boating around the lakes, or borrow one of the hotel’s mountain bikes and take advantage of the walking and cycling tracks on the doorstep.
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Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world), and with good reason – every activity you can imagine is on offer here, from jetboating to bungee jumping. It also has a spectacular setting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps – the skyline gondola is a great way to soak up the views, or head out on the lake in style on a vintage steamship. For a change of scene, go trekking (or tramping, as the Kiwis call it) in Glenorchy, which sits at the northern end of the lake. Queenstown is also known for its thriving arts scene and its fabulous food and wine. It’s worth venturing out of the city too, to visit rolling vineyards and historic mining towns. The Spire is an elegant hotel right in the centre of the city, putting you in the heart of the action – and its floor-to-ceiling windows ensure you don’t miss out on any of Queenstown’s quintessential views either.
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Best time to go

Best time to travel

Good time to travel (but some limitations)

Travel is possible (but it’s not the best time)

Travel is not recommended

  • Jan
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