New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive

Duration : 9 Days


Journey through New Zealand's stunning south island on this incredible nine-day Self-Drive tour. Begin your tour in Christchurch, admiring its natural beauty and resilience. After passing through gorgeous countryside and rolling hills, arrive at Lake Tekapo, with views of Mount Cook, and travel onto relaxing Lake Wanaka. Discover Queenstown's amazing views, fascinating wildlife, and many adventure activities on the shores of Lake Wakatipu as you travel through historic Arrowtown. Milford Sound Fjord and the jaw-dropping Fox Glacier are both accessible from here. The tour concludes with a drive back to Christchurch via the spectacular Arthur's Pass.

Tour Highlights

  • Christchurch Garden City
  • Mackenzie High Country
  • AWD Alpine Safari
  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound
  • Franz Josef Glacier

What’s Included

  • 8 nights in Deluxe accommodations
  • 9 Meals: 8 Breakfasts, 1 Picnic Lunch
  • Sightseeing tours, as listed in the itinerary, including entrance fees
  • Rental car includes unlimited mileage, standard insurance, all prevailing taxes
  • GST and room taxes

What’s Excluded

  • International & domestic flights
  • Gratuities & travel insurance
  • Meals not listed in the itinerary
  • GPS and zero excess insurance
  • Expenditures of a personal nature, such as drinks, souvenirs, and laundry



Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport, meet our local representative for a city orientation tour and transfer to your Christchurch City hotel in a luxury vehicle. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the 'Garden City' as Christchurch is known.

Accommodation: The George Christchurch (Premium room)


After breakfast, pick up your rental car from a nearby station.

Today, you will experience one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. Leave Christchurch on the "Scenic Inland Route" on State Highway 73 & 77 via Waddington to Windwhistle. Here, you travel through rich pastures of the crop, dairy, and sheep farming land–the patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains. After Windwhistle, cross the Rakaia River and through the scenic Rakaia Gorge. Make sure to stop for a coffee or lunch in quaint Geraldine, with its art and craft shops and home to one of New Zealand's best cheeseries. Continue on State Highway 79 towards Fairlie. After Fairlie, turn right onto State Highway 8 toward Lake Tekapo. From here, the landscape changes as you ascend towards Mackenzie High Country, home to some of the most evocative hill countries in the world. The Mackenzie High Country differs from any other region in New Zealand. Unique weather patterns dry out the soil and grasslands, creating their desert-like landscape. This is a unique and mystical place of outstanding natural beauty and breathtaking backcountry wilderness, surrounded by the majestic Southern Alps. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure in Tekapo.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Ranginui At Lake Tekapo (Suite)


From the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, follow State Highway 8 towards Queenstown & Wanaka. You will soon spot the distinctive milky blue waters of Lake Pukaki. Sir Peter Jackson chose this part of the Southern Alps as the setting for 'Lake Town' in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' and a backdrop for major location scenes in all Lord of the Rings Hobbit movies. Time permitting, turn off State Highway 8 just after the Visitor Center at Lake Pukaki onto State Highway 80 towards Mt Cook. Stop at "Peter's lookout" for magnificent views of Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain at 12,217 feet. Return to State Highway 8 and turn right towards Queenstown. Stop at Omarama to visit the famous Omarama Clay Cliffs (private land, donations appreciated). These otherworldly formations are made up of layers of gravel and silt, initially formed by the flow from ancient glaciers over a million years ago. From Omarama, the road ascends through the Lindis Valley towards Lindis Pass, one of four major alpine crossings in New Zealand. Descending on the other side, you arrive in Central Otago, and you will notice a change in scenery and vegetation. Central Otago is known for its vibrant sky colors, hot and dry summers, and cold winters. After the small historic settlement of Tarras, turn right onto State Highway 8A and travel along Clutha River. Rejoin State Highway 6 just before Wanaka Airport. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure in Wanaka.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lime Tree Lodge Wanaka (Linden Suite)


This morning, join a local expert guide, climb aboard a comfortable all-terrain 4WD vehicle, and experience a taste of Wanaka's spectacular lakeside scenery and insight into authentic farming life. West Wanaka Station (=high country farm) is a 30'000 acres property, otherwise not accessible to the public, and offers some of the finest scenery in New Zealand with a fascinating human and natural history. Enjoy the glorious views of the snow-capped peaks and glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka. You can feed alpacas, sheep, and horses, see Red Deer Angus in their natural environment, and listen to your local guide's storytelling. In the afternoon, continue towards Queenstown (we recommend the scenic Crown Range Road, weather conditions permitting). 

The Crown Range Road, a scenic alternative to State Highway 6, winds its way from Wanaka through Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown. Follow this road to the quaint Cardrona, a mere 15.5 miles south of Wanaka, where gold was discovered in 1862, leaving a rich historical legacy. It is also one of New Zealand's prime skiing fields. From here, the road ascends through bald, mica-studded hills to the high tussock country of Central Otago. At the 3,530-foot pass, an excellent viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu before the road descends towards State Highway 6 to Queenstown. Don't miss a stop in Arrowtown, a beautifully restored historic town and the best-preserved of New Zealand's Chinese communities, which sprung up when gold was found in 1862, adding a layer of intrigue to its charm.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to savor in the vibrant city of Queenstown. Explore its bustling streets, indulge in its culinary delights, or simply relax and take in the breathtaking views. The choice is yours, and the possibilities are endless.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Rees Queenstown (1 Bedroom Lake View Apartment)


Get ready for an adventure as your luxury coach picks you up from your central Queenstown hotel early. View evolving landscapes, from windswept alpine plains and turquoise lakes to vast mountain peaks and lovely lakeside towns. Highlight stops include Lake Te Anau, Eglinton Valley, Lake Marian, and Mirror Lakes before traversing the Homer Tunnel. In Milford Sound, you take to the water for a 1.45-hour boat cruise to marvel at towering cliffs and peaks, including the iconic Mitre Peak. Get close to waterfalls and vibrant rainforests, and keep your eyes peeled for a variety of wildlife, including fur seals, dolphins, and yellow-crested penguins. We have chosen one of the smaller and family-run vessels for you to maximize your experience in this truly stunning part of New Zealand. Weather permitting, you can fly back to Queenstown by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft and take in the grandeur of this unique landscape from above (cost on request). Return to Queenstown around 6:00 pm.

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch

Accommodation: The Rees Queenstown (1 Bedroom Lake View Apartment)


Today is a free day at leisure in Queenstown. Optional recommended activities are available.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Rees Queenstown (1 Bedroom Lake View Apartment)


Following State Highway, you will soon enter Gibbston Valley, known for some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. From here, you pass through the scenic and narrow Kawarau Gorge before arriving in historic Cromwell. We continue on State Highway 6 until just before you reach Wanaka. Turn right and follow State Highway 6 in the 'West Coast direction. Your next pass is "The Neck," a land formation separating two of New Zealand's great South Lake, Lake Hawea on your right and Lake Wanaka on your left. North of Makarora is the World Heritage list Mount Aspiring National Park. Experience the Blue Pools Walk, a world-renowned 30-minute loop walk through native silver fern to a series of crystal-clear pools carved out of rocks by centuries of erosion. From here, proceed towards Haast, where you reach the South Island's wild and remote West Coast. Haast is one of the most remote settlements in New Zealand, with a population of just 84. The road leads through the thick native rainforest and rich dairy pastures, passing several scenic bridges over alpine rivers before reaching Knights Point lookout, offering spending views over the Tasman Sea. Next up is Bruce Bay, with stunning views over the empty beaches and the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, an ideal spot to stretch your legs for a short stroll. The road reaches inland from Bruce Bay, and you soon arrive in Glacier Country. Enjoy the evening at leisure in Franz Josef.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (Deluxe room)


After breakfast, board your helicopter, and adrenaline levels start to spike as you fly over the jaw-dropping landscape–an opportunity to take in the full panoramic majesty of some of New Zealand's highest mountain peaks. After landing on the glacial ice, your highly trained mountain guide will find the safest and most spectacular route available on the glacier. Because the glacier is so fast-moving, its features are constantly changing–you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue ice tunnels, hanging out in the ice caves, or witnessing the glacier calving. During your hike, your guide will share the story of Ka Roimata and Hine Hukatere, their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding area, and insight into what makes Franz Josef Glacier unique. A short scenic helicopter flight will bring you back to the helipad. An average fitness level for all participants is required. No Mountain climbing experience is required. Hiking equipment will be provided. The total duration is about three hours, with 2.5 hours on the glacier. Admission to public hot pools after your tour is included. The remainder of the day is free at leisure in Franz Josef.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (Deluxe room)


Following State Highway 6 north towards Greymouth, you will pass idyllic small lakes like Lake Wahapo and Lake Mapourika. From here, you are now leaving Glacier Country. Here the scenery changes to rich dairy pasture farms and a series of small settlements – Ross, Pukekura, and Harihari. Cross the Arahua River, the birthplace of the precious New Zealand jade, which early Maori settlers were searching for long before the gold rush came to the West Coast. Continue your journey towards Hokitika up the rugged and wild West Coast. Hokitika is an old gold mining settlement. Today, New Zealand's Center for Jade Trade and Carving (New Zealand Green Stone or Pounamu in Maori) and a decent selection of handicraft shops and restaurants are ideal for a lunch stop.


Time permitting, we recommend a short detour to Hokitika Gorge, famous for its magnificent green and blue waters and a recently upgraded 40-minute loop track. Time permitting, we recommend a short detour via idyllic Lake Brunner before heading east toward Christchurch. Soon, the landscape changes from the lush greens of the West Coast's rainforests to dry high-country bush as you ascend towards Arthur's Pass. Before reaching the peak, the road climbs steeply across the Otira Viaduct, a vast concrete gash completed in 1990 to span the tumbling river below. Side streams carry so much water that one is diverted over the roadway in an artificial waterfall, and a small lookout provides the best views. At 2,953 feet above sea level, Arthurs Pass is the most dramatic of the three Southern Alps crossings linking Christchurch with the South Island's West Coast. Before Castle Hill, the road slowly descends with gentle turns before you arrive in the Canterbury region, where you travel through rich pastures of the crop, dairy, and sheep farming land. Travel through the patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains with long stretches of entirely straight and primarily quiet roads before you reach Christchurch. Return your rental car at Christchurch Airport before boarding your flight to your onward destination.

Meals: Breakfast

Dates & Prices

Departure Dates Tour Cost More Info  
04 Oct 24 - 12 Oct 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
18 Oct 24 - 26 Oct 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
08 Nov 24 - 16 Nov 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
22 Nov 24 - 30 Nov 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
06 Dec 24 - 14 Dec 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
13 Dec 24 - 21 Dec 24 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
10 Jan 25 - 18 Jan 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
24 Jan 25 - 01 Feb 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
07 Feb 25 - 15 Feb 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
21 Feb 25 - 01 Mar 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
07 Mar 25 - 15 Mar 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW
21 Mar 25 - 29 Mar 25 USD $3999 New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive BOOK NOW


Can I add airfare to the land package?
Yes, you can add airfare to a package. Let us know at the time of your reservation. Please note pricing and availability is always subject to change Prior to ticket issuance.
Can I change my reservation if I've made a mistake?
There is a $75 change fee (per person, per change) for any changes made to a reservation after it has been confirmed.  Any passenger name change made to a booking reservation after it has been confirmed will result in a $100 per person per name change fee and is subject to availability, additional airline change, and/or cancellation fees. Additional fees may apply.  For more details, please contact us.
Can I extend or modify my trip?
We will do our best to accommodate your request. Any modification must be arranged before the deposit is made and subject to availability.
Can I opt-out of certain activities on the trip?
While any unused portion of the trip is non-refundable, you can opt-out of certain included activities if you do not wish to participate in them. Please be sure to notify us prior to your departure date and notify your tour guide upon arrival. You will be responsible for any expenses incurred should you deviate from the tour during the scheduled tour itinerary. If you choose to deviate from the tour group on a day we are transiting from one city to another. You will also be responsible for your own transportation and expenses incurred. 
Can I request adjoining rooms?
We can request adjoining rooms, however, requests cannot be guaranteed as it is based on hotel availability.
Can I select my seats on my flight during the booking process?
Seat assignments on your flight can be done directly via the airline. You can either select your seats at the airline check-in counter on the day of your flight, or after we issue your tickets, you may call the airline directly and pay the fee for pre-assign seats.
Can we book a triple room?
Triple rooms are available upon request for select tours. Please note hotels will provide a rollaway bed for the third traveler in a double room. 
Do you offer and/or suggest travel insurance?
We recommend you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected.  
Do you work with Travel Agents?
To be one of our partner agents, please email We welcome the opportunity to serve you.
How do I make a reservation?
Click the “Book Now” button on our website, or you may send us an email to
How much time will I get to myself?
Each program is different. Whenever possible, we offer to modify the program to fit your requirements.
I am a solo traveler, can you match me with other solo travelers on my tour?
For privacy reasons, we do not pair solo travelers with one another.  A single supplement fee will apply for solo travelers.
I have special dietary requirements, can you accommodate them?
Meals provided during your tour are based on local cuisine and menus. We can generally assist guests in communicating special meal requests to airlines, hotels, and restaurants but please be aware that they are not guaranteed. Please let us know at the time of booking your trip. We will notify our tour guides of any food allergies, but please note meal alternatives are subject to confirmation as they are based on the availability of the providing restaurant. For those with strict dietary needs, we recommend bringing pre-packaged food alternatives for your trip.
My outbound flight has been cancelled by the airline; what do I do now?
If your flight has been canceled, please liaise with the airline directly to book the next available flight. If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the alternate flight offered by the airline and decide to book a new outbound flight on your own, please note that the original return flight(s) will automatically be canceled if you are a no-show on your original outbound flight.
My package includes the arrival transfer, how do I know when/where to meet up with my driver?
Information on how /where to meet up with your driver is included in your travel documents. On arrival at the airport, please collect your luggage, make your way through customs, and enter the arrivals hall, where the driver will be waiting for you. Should luggage be very slow coming through, or should you have any issues with damaged or lost luggage, please make sure that you complete the necessary documentation within the luggage area. ONE MEMBER of the party should go through customs and into the arrivals hall to advise the driver of the delay. Please note that this person will not be allowed access back into the luggage area. You could also contact our local representative. Extra costs may apply if meeting your driver is delayed more than one hour following your scheduled flight arrival time.  
What are the visa requirements?
Visa requirements for each destination are indicated in our Essential Travel Information on our website. Information is also available at the US Department of State website at It is the responsibility of travelers to obtain proper visas in a timely manner prior to the trip departure date.  
What does Land Only means?
Land-only is a package tour without International and local airfare.
What does per person, double occupancy mean?
Per person, double occupancy means the price each guest pays when sharing a room.
What if I miss my flight or my flight is delayed, and I miss the beginning of my trip?
If your flight is delayed or you miss your flight, please notify us or our local representative (contact information is included in your travel documents) as soon as possible so we may inform our local representative of your updated arrival. Additional costs for airport transfer service may apply if you arrive later than the scheduled arrival date/time.  If you arrive later in the itinerary and the group has moved to a different destination, it will be your responsibility to catch up and meet the group at that destination.  We will provide you with the most up-to-date meeting information.  Please note that Globotours cannot reimburse you for any unused portion of the trip.
What is included in your pricing?
Included features are specified in each tour.
What is not included in your pricing?
Anything that is not mentioned in the included features.
What is single supplement surcharge?
Single supplement is the additional cost to occupy the room alone.
What is your payment schedule?
Most packages require a non-refundable deposit, as indicated in the program to confirm the reservation, which will be applied towards the cost of your package. Your account balance is due 60-75 days prior to the trip departure date. Certain tours may require an additional non-refundable airline deposit at the time of booking. This is indicated during the booking process. More information can be found in our Terms and Conditions.  
What level of physical fitness is required for the tour?
Depending on the program, expect a decent amount of walking and an occasional flight of stairs or some steps. We recommend you carefully consider your ability to meet the tour's physical demands. If you have any questions or concerns about your ability to meet the trip's requirements, we urge you to consult your medical practitioner.
What types of payments do you accept?
We accept Mastercard and Visa, bank transfers, and personal checks. When paying your balance by personal check, all checks must be received in full prior to the due date. Please make the check payable to Globotours and mail the check to the below address before your balance due date. Globotours 2705 S. Diamond Bar Blvd., Suite 228, Diamond Bar, CA 91765
What’s the cancellation and refund policy?

Fees will be assessed per person when you cancel your reservation. More information can be found in our Terms and Conditions.

When do I receive my travel documents and what it will include?
Travel documents will be mailed or e-mailed to you approximately 21 days prior to the trip departure date. It usually takes about 7 – 10 business days. You may access your booking confirmation page anytime by logging into your Globotours account on our website.

New Zealand Essential South Island Self-Drive


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