Driver Information
New Zealand ItinerariesTravel distance is approximately 334kms (209 miles).
Allow at least 4.30 hours drive time (not including stops).

This far-reaching self-drive journey starts and finishes in Christchurch city. Leave the tranquillity of the Canterbury Plains as you journey through the high country, with visual highlights such as the stunning turquoise lakes of Aoraki Mt Cook, the towering Southern Alps mountains and the gold towns of Central Otago. This is a great trip to be enjoyed by anyone planning to journey around the South Island.

The first day of your journey departs from the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch. As you leave the famous Canterbury Plains behind you, enjoy the easy driving along the scenic route to Lake Tekapo past small, pretty towns, travelling onwards over the braided Rakaia River into the MacKenzie Country and beyond for your first nights over-night stay in the world-famous Mt Cook region, deep in the heart of the South Island!

Some notable stops along the route to Aoraki Mt Cook include:

Welcome to the Salmon Capital of New Zealand! This rural community is popular for recreational rafting, kayaking, jet-boating and fresh water fishing due to its close proximity to the Rakaia River. A nice place to stretch your legs and enjoy a cup of coffee and something to eat on your journey. Don’t forget to have your photo taken with the giant Salmon!

New Zealand ItinerariesA great place to enjoy a delicious lunch break at one of the many cafes or restaurants in the bustling township. The area also boasts great shopping facilities, craft shops, a nationally recognised art gallery, museum and visitor information centre.

Featuring rugged bush, open sub-alpine tussock lands, historic coalmines, impressive volcanic formations and deep canyons, it is easy to understand why nature enthusiasts enjoy the range of walking tracks on offer in this area. Located in the foothill ranges of the Southern Alps, the area offers a couple of easy walks, including Sharplin Falls (45 minutes) and the Natural Trail (30 minutes).

Located South-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo is one of the most picturesque villages in New Zealand due to its stunning view across a remarkably turquoise coloured lake to the towering mountains of the Southern Alps. A ‘must see’ is the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd located on the shores of the lake. Close by is a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district’s debt to the sheepdog.

Located in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, the alpine village of Mt Cook is a truly remarkable and unique Kiwi place to visit! The village is located at the end of the valley and you will be hard pressed to find alpine scenery more amazing then what is on show here.

The village offers a range of accommodation, including the famous Hermitage Hotel, to motels, backpackers and camping, however we do suggest that you pre-book your accommodation.

As far as dining options go, you will be pleasantly surprised at what is on offer in the village, including some great restaurants and bars in the Hermitage Hotel as well as local restaurants and bars.

Highly recommended Mt Cook tourist attractions include…

Glacier Guided Tour – Enjoy a pleasant trip from Mt Cook Village to the Tasman Valley, followed by a stroll through the National Park before boarding a boat to enjoy the forever-changing face of the Tasman Glacier icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake. Tours run from start of October to end of May and takes approximately 3 hours.

Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre – Showcasing the stunning Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people, this state of the art centre features a spectacular 3D movie, the country’s first full dome digital Planetarium and Museum that presents the pioneering heart of the region and features an impressive Hillary Gallery. The centre is located next to the Hermitage Hotel.

Stargazing – Located in the township, Earth and Sky organise daytime guided tours of Mt John Observatory, they also offer night stargazing tours at Mt Mt Cook National Park. Tours depart from the village to a nearby viewing location where you will navigate through the Southern Sky using a telescope, binoculars and the naked eye.

Wilderness Heliskiing – This is the only heliski operation with access to the awesome backcountry of Mt Cook National Park and boasts the highest heli landings in the country. Runs to suit all heliski/heliboard abilities plus breath-taking views of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the huge glaciers, and the highest peaks of the Southern Alps.

Mount Cook Scenic Flight – Take off from Aoraki Mount Cook Airport for an awe inspiring flight through breathtaking scenery before your ski equipped aircraft lands on a glacier where you can enjoy standing on a glacier before a breath-taking glacier takeoff.

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