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Similar itineraries

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9 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Lakes, Mountains and Glaciers self drive tour

7 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Hotel 4 star

Wellington to Queenstown classic driving route

8 days starting in Wellington, finishing in Queenstown
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

 

The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit

Queenstown to Queenstown, 9 days 8 nights self drive tour, staying in Boutique lodges & hotels

The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit
The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit
The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit
The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit

Starting and finishing in Queenstown, the alpine adventure capital, this route circumnavigates the Southern Alps and its dramatic peaks, glaciers and lakes.

A classic driving tour on alpine passes, high country roads and not one traffic light to be found!

The approximate total driving distance and time for this itinerary is: 1229 kms / 762 miles, 14.7 hours

You can expect to spend around NZ$143 in fuel cost on this itinerary based on an intermediate sized car.

 

Day 1

Arrive into Queenstown, transfer to your accommodation. Rest of day at leisure.

Arrive into Queenstown and private transfer to your accommodation

Arrive into Queenstown.  A private driver will meet your flight and transfer you to your Queenstown accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. Containing all the documentation you’ll need for the duration of your tour, this comprehensive bag includes a bound version of your itinerary complete with driving instructions and maps for each travel leg. You’ll also receive the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - as well as a New Zealand touring atlas and relevant brochures on the destinations you’ll be visiting. While travelling throughout New Zealand we offer 24 hour support should you need any help at all.

Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities 'Queenstown' is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston valley wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Your accommodation - Hulbert House

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • All rooms non smoking
Hulbert House
Hulbert House
Hulbert House
Hulbert House
 

Day 2

Collect your rental car and cross the Crown Range to the lakeside township of Wanaka

Driving distance and time: 60 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday.  You can choose from an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles, from Europcar, Budget or Hertz.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Queenstown to Wanaka

Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka
Queenstown to Wanaka

Leaving Queenstown you'll drive over New Zealand's highest sealed road, the Crown Range before arriving into the resort town of Wanaka.

Your accommodation - Lime Tree Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Swimming pool
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
 

Day 3

Drive through Mt Aspiring National Park and onto the Wild West Coast and Glacier Country

Driving distance and time: 282 kms / 175 miles : 3.4 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier
Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the village of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park. The Blue Pools, just outside Makarora, are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometer stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes. A great way to experience the glaciers is with a scenic flight or glacier hike.

Your accommodation - Westwood Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
 

Day 4

Head into the Southern Alps and the glorious Arthurs Pass National Park

Driving distance and time: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular - even in the rain - and there is pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush clad hillsides it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made tier seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.

The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the worlds only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.

Arthur's Pass Township is bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
 

Day 5

A full day at Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Christchurch and the West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass offers stylish accommodation, great food and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting.

Set on a 4000 acre working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, a daily program of guided activities will be the highlight of your visit. Join naturalist and farmer guides to hike alpine trails, kayak wildlife refuge lakes and experience life on a working farm.

Complimentary Guided Activities

Twice daily complimentary guided trips provide a wonderful introduction to the wildlife, landscapes and history of the Southern Alps. Some of the trips include:

  • Sheep Farm Discovery: Join a guide to watch sheep dogs in action, handfeed lambs, see traditional blade shearing and learn about growing merino wool for the fashion industry. This trip happens every second afternoon and is a highlight for many guests
  • Birds and Special Plants of the Mountain Beech Forest: Explore with a naturalist guide and learn the secrets of these remarkable moss forests surrounding the lodge
  • McKay Moa Forest Hike: Visit a special nature reserve on the Wilderness Lodge farm. Take in spectacular mountain scenery, see bizarre ‘moa plants’ and learn their fascinating history.
  • Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A gentle stroll after dinner to see the starry night sky. Identify planets, satellites and constellations including the Southern Cross.

Longer Charged Guided Activities

  • Upper Otira Glacier Adventure: A superb challenging summer hike. Climb high into a glacial basin and enjoy mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston.
  • Limestone Castles & Easy Kayaking:  A relaxed guided tour/walk to a landscape made famous by the Narnia film 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe'. Paddle a gentle mountain lake and enjoy lunch amongst natural limestone castles.
  • Southern Alps Mountain Hike: Traverse beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm, now Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Wonderful Waterfalls of Arthur's Pass: A special trip for waterfall and photography enthusiasts. Visit waterfalls and cascades throughout Arthur's Pass National Park and explore 'bonsai' mountain beech forests. Picnic beside a mountain stream.

Self-Guided Activity Options

  • Explore a 30km network of forest, farm and mountain walking trails. You hosts can provide maps and suggestions and you may like to order a picnic lunch
  • Explore neighboring Arthur’s Pass National Park on your own.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and take in the spectacular mountain scenery

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 6

Take the Inland Scenic Route across the foothills to Lake Tekapo

Driving distance and time: 290 kms / 180 miles : 3.4 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo via Inland Scenic Route

Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo via Inland Scenic Route
Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo via Inland Scenic Route
Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo via Inland Scenic Route
Arthurs Pass to Lake Tekapo via Inland Scenic Route

Descending from the Southern Alps onto the vast Canterbury Plains you follow the inland scenic route south passing over the spectacular Rakaia Gorge and through the rural townships of Windwhistle, Glentunnel and Hororata. Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascend Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo.

Your accommodation - Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo

Style: Luxury apartments

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • All rooms non smoking
Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
 

Day 7

A short drive to Mt Cook to overnight

Driving distance and time: 103 kms / 64 miles : 1.1 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park

Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park
Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park
Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park
Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see.

Your accommodation - Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Style: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
 

Day 8

Continue your drive south into Central Otago, through the Gibbston Valley and back to Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 256 kms / 159 miles : 2.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown
Mt. Cook National Park to Queenstown

Leaving the alpine region of Mount Cook, you'll travel through the lakeside town of Twizel, then a little further to Omarama - the gliding capital of New Zealand. Continue on over the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads with a summit of 971 meters. Arrive in the quaint village of Tarras, then continue on a short way to the historic Bendigo Reserve, one of Otago’s original gold mining settlements.

Follow the road to Cromwell, and keep going through the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungy jump or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation - Hulbert House

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 9

Depart Queenstown today

Driving distance and time: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Enjoy your final morning in Queenstown before driving to the airport for your onward flight

Take in the sights of Queenstown one more time before returning your car to the airport and catching your onward flight.

 
 

Testimonials

"Would highly recommend you to anybody looking to travel and do as many activities as we done." see more

price from
NZ$ 3,122.00 pp (small car, low season - details)

This tour includes

  • 8 nights accommodation
  • Your choice of rental car
  • Rental car insurance
  • Unlimited mileage
  • GPS navigation
  • No hidden fees
  • Detailed tour pack
  • 3 dinners
  • All breakfasts
  • Private airport transfers