If you have less time, it’s a good idea to focus on either the North or South Island – a range of shorter driving routes that can be enjoyed on their own or combined to create a tailor-made holiday.
Minimum Length: Three weeks
Once you’ve explored Christchurch, head south along Inland Scenic Route 72 to Methven, a skiing Mecca in winter! Journey inland to Lake Tekapo and enjoy the stunning lake. Take to the air for views of Mount Cook before heading to Oamaru, with its architecture and penguins.
More wildlife encounters are on offer on the Otago Peninsula – albatrosses, seals and dolphins are just some of the natives. The region’s main city, Dunedin, offers museums, historic buildings and fashion. From Dunedin, continue southwest to Invercargill. Departing from nearby Bluff are ferries to Stewart Island. Continue north to Te Anau, base for exploring Milford Sound with its waterfalls, wildlife and rainforests.
Drive through mountains and along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, centre of an outdoor playground with activities like bungy jumping. Next, head to Wanaka with its outdoor activities on the lake or in Mount Aspiring National Park.
Travel through Haast Pass to the West Coast and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers; rivers of ice nestled amid rainforest! After exploring the glaciers, enjoy the drive north to Greymouth. Further north, turn inland and drive east to Nelson. Taste local wine and visit art galleries.
From Nelson, travel to Blenheim, the heart of Marlborough wine country. On the coast south of Marlborough is the marine wildlife Mecca of Kaikoura. Stop at Hanmer Springs to soak in the thermal hot pools before arriving back in Christchurch.