Ten-Day Self-Drive Itinerary: Touring New Zealand’s South Island


Day 1 & 2: Christchurch and Akaroa

Arrival in Christchurch: Begin your South Island exploration in Christchurch. Stay at The George Hotel, offering comfort and elegance. Explore the Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum. Dine at Twenty Seven Steps for a refined meal featuring local produce.

Day Trip to Akaroa: On the second day, drive to the French-influenced town of Akaroa. Enjoy a harbor cruise with Akaroa Dolphins and spot the rare Hector’s dolphins. Lunch at The Little Bistro in Akaroa offers a charming dining experience.

Day 3 & 4: Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook

Lake Tekapo: Drive to Lake Tekapo and check into Lake Tekapo Village Motel. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and experience stargazing with Earth & Sky at the Mt John Observatory.

Mount Cook: Next day, head to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Stay at The Hermitage Hotel. Enjoy a scenic hike on the Hooker Valley Track. Dine at The Old Mountaineers’ Café with stunning mountain views.

Day 5 & 6: Queenstown

Adventure and Exploration: Travel to Queenstown and stay at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside. Explore the town, take the Skyline Gondola for panoramic views, and enjoy a dinner cruise on the TSS Earnslaw with Walter Peak High Country Farm.

Adventure Activities: Spend your second day in Queenstown trying activities like bungee jumping with AJ Hackett Bungee or jet boating with Shotover Jet. Relax in the evening at Botswana Butchery for a luxurious dining experience.

Day 7: Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound

Milford Sound: Drive to Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most stunning natural attractions. Join a cruise with Southern Discoveries to explore this majestic fjord. Stay at Milford Sound Lodge for a unique wilderness experience.

Day 8: Wanaka

Lakeside Serenity: Journey to Wanaka. Check into Edgewater Hotel, located right on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Visit Puzzling World for some quirky fun, and dine at Bistro Gentil, offering exquisite French cuisine.

Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier

Glacial Wonders: Drive to Franz Josef, a village near the famous Franz Josef Glacier. Stay at Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier. Book a guided glacier walk with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Dine at King Tiger Eastern Eating House & Bar for diverse Asian flavors.

Day 10: Hokitika and Return to Christchurch

West Coast and Return: Drive to Hokitika, known for its greenstone (pounamu) and the Hokitika Gorge. Visit the National Kiwi Centre before heading back to Christchurch. Enjoy a farewell dinner at The Bicycle Thief for authentic Italian dishes.