CHRISTCHURCH – DUNEDIN (via Ashburton, Timaru & Oamaru)
Travel distance is approximately 365kms (228 miles).
Allow at least 4.75 hours drive time (not including stops).
This is the ultimate South Island self drive tour that will take you right around the South Island from Christchurch back to Christchurch.
From the vast Canterbury Plains to the rugged natural beauty of the wild West Coast to the spectacular Milford Sounds, from there take in the adventure capital that is Queenstown and then onto stunning Glaciers, vineyards in Marlborough and white sandy beaches in Nelson. This is the jackpot tour for sure!
Some notable stops along the route to Dunedin include:
Welcome to the Salmon Capital of New Zealand where you will be greeted by a giant Salmon statue upon driving into the township. The area has been running an annual salmon fishing competition since 1983, which has grown in popularity with experienced and first time anglers. Hundreds of salmon are frequently caught during the season (November to March).
Just a short detour out of Ashburton is Lake Hood where you can enjoy an international standard rowing and waterskiing course, trout fishing, swimming, pleasure boating or just enjoy the lake views with a picnic.
Located in Ashburton, Trotts Garden has been awarded the prestigious “Garden of National Significance” by the New Zealand Garden Trust, for gardens considered to be outstanding for their horticultural value in plant material, cultivation, design, construction and maintenance. The gardens are truly stunning and incorporate the Woodland Garden, Stream Bog Garden and Pond plus the Formal Garden.
Located adjacent to State Highway One, Ashburton’s main shopping centre has some good country-style shopping on offer as well as cafes, restaurants and craft shops.
Featuring a range of permanent displays and visiting displays, the museum is an interesting place to visit to learn more about the history of the region.
Located in the township of Temuka, Temuka Pottery has become an iconic and trusted New Zealand brand for ceramic cookware in interesting designs. Their factory is open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1pm – 4pm.
Enjoy a coffee or meal at one of the numerous cafes, bars and restaurants located on the striking piazza, with its stunning views that stretch from Caroline Bay across to the snow-clad mountains. There is plenty to see and do in Timaru, such as taking a dolphin cruise, go for a swim or mountain bike, walk through the botanic gardens, visit the South Canterbury Museum, take a stroll along the beach or take in some retail therapy.
Located 40 km’s south of Oamaru you will find strange, huge spherical boulders scattered along the beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and can be up to 2 metres high! The viewing platform, just a few minutes walk through regenerating native forest, offers an excellent view of the boulders.
The city of Dunedin is situated at the head of the spectacular Otago Harbour and is the second largest city in the South Island. The region is famous for Otago University and the city is also considered New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital and offers many historic Victorian and Edwardian buildings that have been lovingly restored to make this city truly unique.
Accommodation is plentiful within the city and surrounding Otago region. Take your pick from quaint B & B’s to luxurious lodges, affordable holiday houses, international hotels, motels, self catering accommodation, backpackers and camping grounds.
When it comes to entertaining your taste buds where do you start? Cheap takeways to first class, award winning dining, its all here for the tasting! Along with the normal choices of fast food options, there are a great range of cafes and restaurants offering some of the best local cuisine.
Highly recommended Dunedin tourist attractions include…
Speight’s Brewery Heritage Tour – The Speight’s Brewery is truly an Otago icon and this 90 minute our of a working brewery and heritage centre is a “must see” for any visitor to the Otago region. Of course at the end of your informative and interactive tour you can enjoy the range of beers in the private Heritage Bar!
Larnach Castle & Gardens – If you love New Zealand antiques, carved ceilings, castles, stunning views and beautiful gardens then a visit to historic Larnach Castle is a must! New Zealand’s only castle boasts spectacular tower views and a Garden of International Significance where you can meander through 9 different gardens before enjoying a refreshment break in the Ballroom cafe.
Dunedin Railway Station – The first official architect for New Zealand Railways, this magnificent station was built in 1904-07 in the Flemish Renaissance style and is worth a look inside to appreciate the amazing architecture.
Otago Peninsula – Take a tour with Elim Wildlife Tours or Monarch Wildlife Cruises to view this spectacular region and wildlife. View the Royal Albatross, penguins, seals and bird life galore!
The Octagon – A well known meeting place with the locals in the heart of the city, this is where you will find plenty of ‘top-notch’ bars and cafes or just sit on the grassy bank and enjoy the bustle of the inner city.
Otago Settlers Museum – Established in 1898, the museum is considered one of the country’s most significant social history museums. Learn about the indigenous Maori, Chinese goldfield workers and other migrant groups. We suggest you pre-arrange a guided tour.
Dunedin Public Art Gallery – Focused on collecting contemporary New Zealand work, the Art Gallery’s collection includes an excellent selection of British and European paintings and many of the major figures in Western art since the 15th century are represented, including paintings by Machiavelli, Claude Lorraine, Rosa, Monet, Pissarro, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner and Burne-Jones. Dedicated to New Zealand art, the gallery is proud to have early works from the 1860’s and notable New Zealand artists are featured within the gallery, including George O’Brien, Petrus van der Velden, C.F. Goldie, Rita Angus, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, Ralph Hotere as well as younger artists like Richard Killeen, Philip Trusttum, Jacqueline Fraser, Peter Robinson and Michael Parekowhai.
Royal Albatross Centre – Located on the tip of the Otago Peninsula at Taiaroa Head, this is the only mainland-breeding colony for any albatross species within the Southern Hemisphere. View the informative wildlife displays and enjoy a guided tour.
New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame – Housed in the historic Dunedin Railway Station, this is where New Zealand’s porting past comes to life with exhibits and displays on sporting champions inducted from more than 30 sports.
St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool – Open during the summer months from Labour Weekend to the end of March, this outdoor pool offers a mix of salt and fresh water which is treated with chlorine, filtered and heated to 28°C. The 25m long pool is located right on the edge of St Clair Beach.
Horse Trekking – Enjoy a relaxing ride with the Qualmark Endorsed Hare Hill Horse Treks. Located close to historic Port Chalmers, Hare Hill offers horse riding suitable for the beginner right through to the more advanced rider.
Dunedin Ice Stadium – Boasting an international ice skating arena and four-lane curling sheet, the Dunedin Ice Stadium is open for public skating year round.
Dunedin Casino – Uniquely different, picture a sweeping grand staircase leading to opulent gaming rooms outfitted in blue damask with impressive gilded light fittings reaching up to the magical glass dome roof and you have entered the elegance and class that is Dunedin Casino.
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch