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8 day southern experience | back to itineraries index

Day 1: Christchurch - Greymouth
Distance 258km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10 minutes

GreymouthDepart Christchurch travelling east on State Highway 73 through Arthur's Pass National Park, a spectacular trip. The Park has a diverse landscape, with forests, waterfalls, snowy peaks, walkways and trails, and rare wildlife including the endangered and reclusive kiwi and the kea, the cheeky mountain parrot. Travellers may wish to stop and stretch their legs in the Park and choose from a variety of short walks that leave from the vicinity of Arthur's Pass village. Alternatively, take the TranzAlpine scenic train from Christchurch to Greymouth. The train arrives early afternoon and rental cars are available for pick-up in Greymouth. (Suggested Greymouth accommodation)

Day 2: Greymouth - Franz Josef
Distance 179km, approximate drive time 3 hours 10minutes
Depart Greymouth for Franz Josef Glacier. Enroute stop in Hokitika, the third largest centre on the West Coast. Shop at one of the many craft galleries for jade, hand-blown glass, gold nugget jewellery, woodcrafts, and wool products, or visit the glowworm grotto. Continue south to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Stop in Ross, a town that still has working goldmines, including one of the deepest operations in the Southern Hemisphere. Arrive at one of the two Glaciers by early afternoon. Fox and Franz Josef are approximately 45 minutes' drive apart. Either walk to the base of the Glaciers or join one of the guided glacier walks, which accommodate every level of fitness and experience. There are also scenic flights and helicopter excursions for those who wish to view the Glaciers from the air. There are nature walks and other attraction options available to enjoy the area - visit the Franz Josef Glacier Visitor Centre for more information. Overnight at Franz Josef or Fox Glacier village. (Suggested Glacier accommodation)

Day 3: Franz Josef - Wanaka
Distance 287km, approximate drive time 4 hours 30 minutes

WanakaDepart the Glaciers and continue south through Haast Pass to Wanaka. On the drive south to Haast, don't miss Lake Matheson's reflection of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. Call in to the Visitor Centre at Haast Junction for information on other activities and attractions the area offers. The trip through Haast Pass is very rugged and scenic, so take the time to enjoy the scenery and stop along the way. The journey winds around the lakes of Hawea and Wanaka before arriving in Wanaka township mid-afternoon. Visit the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum where you can see a collection of flyable World War II fighter aircrafts, or Puzzling World where you can get lost in a world of jigsaw puzzles and a maze! Overnight in Wanaka. (Suggested Wanaka accommodation)

Day 4: Wanaka - Queenstown
Distance 117km, approximate drive time 1 hour 30 minutes

Drive the short distance on State Highway 6 or over the newly sealed Crown Range road. Stop at the old goldmining village of Arrowtown for morning tea and a look through the shopping area. Spend the rest of the day and evening in Queenstown. There is always something to do in Queenstown, no matter what the season. In the summer as the temperatures rise, Queenstown's numerous waterways come into their own. Explore pristine waterways from a raft, canoe, jet boat, steam boat or sail boat. In autumn when the colours are vivid, Arrowtown throws its annual Autumn Festival. In winter, Queenstown and the surrounding region turn into an alpine playground with skiing and snowboarding opportunities everywhere as well as the annual Winter Festival. Finally in spring, skiers can enjoy spring snow conditions, the sailing is exciting and the Queenstown gardens are in full bloom. (Suggested Queenstown accommodation)

Day 5: Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau
Distance 312km, approximate drive time 7 hours 25 minutes

Milford SoundLeave Queenstown as early as possible - 7am is recommended as the day's journey, although scenic, is long. Travel to Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Area and the largest national park in New Zealand. Milford Sound provides visitors with unequalled experiences of the natural beauty and wilderness of New Zealand. The road to Milford is a wonderful alpine drive. From Te Anau the road winds down the Eglington and Hollyford Valleys, then through the Homer Tunnel before being greeted by Mitre Peak towering from the glassy waters of Milford Sound (approximate driving time from Queenstown - five hours five minutes). Arrive around midday or early afternoon. One of the main activities at Milford Sound is a boat cruise(fiordland tour thumbs) the full length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea, stopping at various points of interest along the way to view waterfalls and marine life. Cruises leave from the main wharf at Milford Sound. (Suggested Te Anau accommodation)

Day 6: Te Anau - Dunedin
Distance 290km, approximate drive time 4 hours 15 minutes

Travel on State Highway 94 until reaching State Highway 1 on the east coast. Travel north on State Highway 1 to Dunedin. Enroute to Dunedin stops could include the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, which reflects the social history of the time of this illicit industry, the Gore Historical Museum, sited in the Hokonui Heritage Centre, the Croydon Aircraft Company at the old Mandeville airfield, which specialises in restoring and repairing vintage planes, and the Gore Airforce Museum and Hokonui Pioneer Park, which capture what life would have been like in earlier years. Overnight in Dunedin. (Suggested Dunedin accommodation)

Day 7: Dunedin
Spend the day in and around Dunedin. The city is renowned for its proximity to incredible wildlife. The Otago Peninsula, a brief drive from the city centre, is home to a colony of the world's rarest penguins, the only mainland breeding colony of the royal albatross, rare New Zealand sea lions and the magnificent Larnach Castle. A world of recreational opportunities awaits the active at heart. In the morning visit the wildlife area on Otago Peninsula - the royal albatross colony or the yellow-eyed penguin colonies. Keep in mind that the wildlife area is a two-hour return journey. Overnight in Dunedin again. (Suggested Dunedin accommodation)

ChristchurchDay 8: Dunedin - Christchurch
Distance 362km, approximate drive time 5 hours

Travel north to Oamaru, only 1.5 hours' drive from Dunedin. Oamaru prospered from the gold discovered in Central Otago, and its restored whitestone historic precinct with Victorian shops and eateries is a perfect place to stop. Arrive in Christchurch late afternoon. On arrival visit the Christchurch & Canterbury Visitor Information Centre in Cathedral Square for evening activity options such as punting on the Avon River. Overnight in Christchurch. (Suggested Christchurch accommodation)


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