Road Trip around South Island

Abel Tasman, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef, Queenstown

From £6100 per person in low season
From £7000 per person in high season

based on 11 nights & selected experiences

Price Guide:

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* Pricing is a guideline only and excludes special offers. Travel over peak periods (e.g. Christmas, New Year and other public holidays) can affect prices considerably, as can exchange rates, flight class and room type.

Price includes:

  • Accommodation

  • Car rental

  • Selected experiences

Price based on 2 people sharing.

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At a Glance

  • Adventurous trip covering the mountains, lakes and oceans of New Zealand's South Island

  • Road trip through some of New Zealand's most dramatic scenery

  • Particularly lovely in the New Zealand spring (October) with snow on the mountains and lambs in the fields

  • Outdoors activities including hikes, exploring glaciers, helicopter flights, kayaking

  • Finish with time relaxing in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and nearby wine region

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Best time to Visit

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Average time to visit

The climate in New Zealand is incredibly pleasant, with warm and balmy summers and cold crisp winter months with wonderful clear, blue skies. The warmer high-season months of November to April are perfect for outdoor exploration. The colder months of June to August are the best time to ski.

South Island is drier on the east coast, rather than on the west, where mountain ranges act as a trap for the moisture-rich winds from the Tasman Sea. It is also worth remembering that it is usually a few degrees cooler on the South Island than the North Island and as New Zealand has a maritime climate, the weather can change rapidly.

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Insider's View

If you have more time available, take the ferry from Picton to Wellington to continue your adventure on the North Island.

We've included a helicopter flight around Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, landing on the Tasman glacier - an unforgettable experience and likely to be a real highlight of your trip.

We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 020 3993 8476 to start planning your holiday.


Take a road trip through New Zealand's South Island, travelling from Abel Tasman down the east coast through the towns of Kaikoura and Christchurch before boarding the Tranzalpine train and journeying to the wild west coast, home to glaciers, fiords and adventure galore.

  1. Days 1-3: Marlborough and Nelson

    Begin your South Island road trip in Abel Tasman National Park, the sunniest area of New Zealand and a favourite destination for local kiwis to holiday. Cyclists and hikers will revel in the varied tracks that line the national park or if getting out on the water is your preference a huge variety of water sports from kayaking to snorkelling can be enjoyed. We’ve included a guided days sailing trip around the coastline allowing you to spot native wildlife including dolphins and New Zealand fur seals before enjoying a gourmet picnic lunch in one of the areas sheltered coves. The neighbouring Marlborough region is also regarded as one of the best places in New Zealand to produce Sauvignon Blanc so a must for wine-lovers is a guided tour of the may cellar doors here.

    Accommodation: The Resurgence (2 nights)

  2. Days 3-5: Kaikoura

    Travel through the heart of the Marlborough region as you journey south along the east coast to the marine mecca known as Kaikoura where the rugged and often snow-capped Seaward mountains drop dramatically into the ocean.  Home year-round to a huge variety of marine wildlife from Minke whales to Orca and Dusky dolphins to Sperm whales, we’ve included  a must do whale watching expedition which will see you head out into the abundant Hikurangi Trench in search of these majestic mammals. If your lucky you might witness the oceans giant – the iconic blue whale – a site that will be sure to take your breath away. 

    Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge (2 nights)

  3. Days 5-7: Christchurch

    Continue to Christchurch known as the garden city and your base for the next two nights. Despite still recovering from the ravaging effects of the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is a city on the up. Innovative businesses such as the pop-up mall made entirely out of shipping containers and the awe-inspiring cardboard cathedral – a real life re-construction of the cities renowned cathedral demonstrate the cities resilience and spending a few days here meeting the locals and visiting the entrepreneurial initiatives is a brilliant way to help the city regenerate. An iconic Christchurch experience is a gentle punt through Hagely park along the picturesque Avon River or a day trip to Akaroa, the only French Settlement in New Zealand can be arranged for those wishing to explore the surrounding region.

    Accommodation: The George (2 nights)

  4. Days 7-9: Franz Josef

    Included in this itinerary is a once in a lifetime experience on-board one of the world’s greatest railways – the TranzAlpine. Arguably the most scenic and relaxing way to cross the Southern Alps from the east to the west coast, the TranzAlpine delivers outstanding service and gourmet food but the real highlight is the utterly sensational scenery. From mountain passes to suspended bridges and from tunnels to gorges the TranzAlpine effortlessly crosses the impenetrable Southern Alps on its way to Greymouth, a coastal town on the south islands wild west coast. On arrival collet your hire car and journey south through glacier country to the small alpine village of Franz Josef, home to the renowned Franz Josef glacier and your next adventure. The following morning awake ready to witness this mighty glacier in all its glory. At 11km long, yet receding annually, seeing Franz Josef is a must as due to climatic changes it might not be here in 20 years’ time.  After getting kitted out with crampons, head torches and overhauls board you helicopter and ascend from the glacier base high up over the blue ice. Admire the varied ice formations and blue lakes form above marvelling at the sheer size of the glacier before touching down on the ice. Feel your crampons grip the ice below your feet as you experience walking on a glacier exploring the varied shapes and ice formations. After an hour of so on the ice you will return to the helicopter signalling the end to your inspired heli-glacier landing experience on Franz Josef.

    Accommodation: Westwood Lodge (2 nights)

  5. Days 9-12: Queenstown

    Continue to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Passing through dramatic scenery including mirrored lakes, mountainous landscapes and winding mountain passes this part of the road trip is the most breath-taking and you’ll want to stop at every turn for photo opportunities. After your exhilarating road trip spend a few days here enjoying the huge array of activities. Travel in the footsteps of Frodo and enjoy a guided tour of the neighbouring Lord of the Rings filming locations or throw yourself off one of the worlds highest bungee jumps. Enjoy a scenic cruise along picturesque Lake Wakatipu or during New Zealand’s winter enjoy the wide variety of snow-based activities on offer. Whilst your time here is predominantly at leisure we have included a group tour of Central Otago’s many wineries. Visit both small and large vineyards learning about the processes involved in creating wine and sampling a selection of the regions renowned pinot noir and chardonnay.

    Accommodation: Eichardt’s Private Hotel (3 nights)


Abel Tasman, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef, Queenstown

Speak to our specialists 020 3993 8860

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We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 020 3993 8476 to start planning your holiday.

Start planning now Speak to our specialists on 020 3993 8476 or start planning now Plan your trip

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