New Zealand Southern Splendour Self-Drive 

Hit the road to explore some of South Island’s most dramatic scenery.

Take a scenic road trip around New Zealand’s South Island.

Set off on a multi-stop road trip that covers the highlights of New Zealand’s South Island, from the scenery of the Southern Alps to the tranquillity of Fiordland, the adventures of Queenstown, and the fine wines of Marlborough. Topped and tailed with city stays, this is a road trip that you’ll remember forever.

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20 nights
Auckland, Christchurch, Tekapo, Dunedin, Te Anau, Queenstown, Wanaka, Glacier Region, Punakaiki, Picton, Marlborough Sounds, Blenheim, Kaikoura

Getting under the skin of South Island on an unforgettable road trip that checks off South Island’s famous locations.

Recommended itinerary

Days 1-2


Touchdown in Auckland, a city on New Zealand’s North Island. You’ve got two nights and a full day here to explore the city and get into the swing of your new time zone. Stroll around the harbours and ease into Auckland’s coastal lifestyle.

Day 3


A 90-minute flight takes you to South Island. You’ve got a night in Christchurch — just enough time to check off a couple of the highlights, whether you’re keen to explore its renowned botanical gardens or stroll around to see its urban regeneration after the devastating earthquake in 2011.

Day 4

Lake Tekapo

Your road trip begins today. Collect your hire car and head to Lake Tekapo, perhaps visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window perfectly frames the Southern Alps. After nightfall, enjoy a starry spectacle in this UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve from the Mount John Observatory — you may be lucky enough to catch the Southern Lights. Alternatively, you could visit Aoraki (if you’re keen to take an alpine hike) or Twizel (for a spot of fly fishing at the base of Mount Cook).

Days 5-6


A three-and-a-half-hour drive brings you to the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand, where you can visit the world’s smallest penguins or spot northern royal albatross in their natural habitat. Dunedin is also known for its well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture, and a city walk will guide you around some of the finest examples.

Days 7-8

Te Anau

Head west to the gateway to the glacier-carved, waterfall-pounded Milford Sound. Te Anau is a perfect base for an adventure to Fiordland National Park to explore ancient rainforests, thundering waterfalls, and crystalline lakes.

Days 9-11


Spend a few days in the adventure-filled Queenstown, testing your limits on an outdoor escapade or taking an exhilarating hike. If you want the view to come to you, opt for the Queenstown Gondola for effortless vistas of The Remarkables. And when it’s time for some downtime, Queenstown’s wineries, restaurants, and spa scene awaits.

Day 12


Time in Wanaka, a buzzy alpine town, is time well spent. An hour away from Queenstown, there are adventures for thrill seekers on offer here and a great food and wine scene if you fancy a seat with a view in one of the lakeside bars or restaurants.

Day 13

Glacier Region

The adventures continue at either Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier, where your time is spent hiking over the ice and marvelling at the lakes and mountains.

Day 14


A three-hour drive northbound on coastal Highway 6 brings you to Punakaiki. The area’s pancake rocks and blowholes are an incredible spectacle when water columns shoot vertically from stacked rocks at high tide.

Day 15


Drive east on a four-hour journey to the gateway to the Queen Charlotte Sound, spending a little time getting to know the pretty port town of Picton.

Days 16-17

Marlborough Sound

Leave your hire car in Picton and catch the water taxi to the Bay of Many Coves, a luxury resort, to appreciate the tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds. Perhaps you’ll try walking a stretch of the spic Queen Charlotte Track or simply find a quiet spot to soak in the glorious beauty of this region.

Day 18


After collecting your car, you’ll drive a short distance to Blenheim — the hub of the Marlborough wine region. This is your chance to sip the region’s world-famous sauvignon blanc on a vineyard tour on foot or by bike.

Day 19


You’re bound for Kaikoura, following the east coast road, where you can go whale watching, then finish your day with a plateful of the local crayfish

Day 20


A final night in Christchurch completes an incredible tour of New Zealand’s South Island. Return your hire car and spend a last night in the city.