7 Day Christchurch to Queenstown Self-drive

7 day New Zealand Self Drive includes 5 days car hire & tranzalpine train

Snowy mountain peaks, deep glacial lakes, beautiful beaches, golden grasslands and so much in between; New Zealand’s South Island is home to some of the most captivating landscapes on earth. But don’t just take our word for it. Put yourself in the picture on this amazing seven day South Island self drive and rail tour - complete with rental car hire, quality accommodation and more. Taking in diverse sights from Christchurch to Queenstown, Lake Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier and Milford Sound, this self drive tour is a chance to travel at your own pace… and sit back and relax too. After a night at leisure in vibrant Christchurch, you’ll witness breathtaking views aboard the famous TranzAlpine as its makes its travels 223 kilometres along the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and the Southern Alps to Greymouth. From there, collect your car hire and let your self drive adventure begin. Breathe in the wonders of Franz Josef and Westland National Park; stop for a photo at the famous Wanaka Tree; embrace your spirit of adventure in Queenstown; and embark on an unforgettable cruise on Milford Sound! Sound like a dream holiday? Make it a reality today.

Highlights (TL/DR):

Explore the stunning landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island
Travel at your own pace on a self guided experience
Explore Franz Josef Glacier and Westland National Park
Enjoy time at leisure in beautiful Queenstown and Christchurch
Cruise the iconic Milford Sound on a full day tour from Queenstown
Admire breathtaking views on the Tranzalpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth
Keep an eye out for an abundance of native wildlife

7 Day Christchurch to Queenstown Self-drive - Tour itinerary - Days

Arrival day Christchurch
Day Day 1: Arrival day Christchurch

Upon arrival into Christchurch, please make your own way to the hotel.

Please note: check-in time is from 2:00pm. However, if you arrive earlier, you can store your luggage with reception and head out and discover the city.

Christchurch is a city reimagined from the ground up - a cultural hub that has embraced change yet refuses to lose its identity. Spend your afternoon exploring all this vibrant city has to offer by foot, tram or hop-on/hop-off bus.

Your accommodation tonight is located in the heart of the CBD near Manchester and Hereford Streets. You’re in good company, surrounded by trendy cafes, restaurants or bars. Please make sure to re-confirm your takeaway breakfast for tomorrow morning.

Overnight: BreakFree on Cashel Christchurch
Meals included: None

Christchurch - Franz Josef
Day Day 2 : Christchurch - Franz Josef

After collecting your takeaway box breakfast, make your own way to Christchurch Train Station to check-in for your TranzAlpine train prior to 7:45am. The Christchurch Railway Station is located a short 4.5km or 15-20minute taxi ride from your accommodation. It is recommended that you enquire about pre-ordering your taxi or shuttle upon check-in on day 1.

Check in: 07:45am
Departs Christchurch: 08:15am
Arrives Greymouth: 01:05pm

The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great scenic train trips from one coast to another through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christchurch, cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury plains, follow the Waimakariri River, climbing into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts. Then, after stopping at Arthur's Pass, emerge from the long Otira Tunnel and descend through sub-tropical rain forest past beautiful Lake Brunner and on to Greymouth.

On arrival at Greymouth Train Station, make your way to the Thrifty Car Rental desk to collect your car and continue your journey south to glacier country, where you will find this evening’s motel accommodation in Franz Josef Glacier Village. The drive to Franz Josef is approx. 2.15 hours, however there are many spots along the way you might like to stop.

Hokitika,a short 30 minutes from Greymouth is a perfect stop for afternoon tea. This small artistic town boasts incredible Greenstone (Pounamu) and Glass Blowing studios where you can see artists at work. It also hosts many galleries featuring local and New Zealand artists. Don’t leave before checking out the driftwood strewn beach and snapping a photo of the Hokitika driftwood sign.

Overnight: Punga Grove Motel and Suites, Franz Josef
Meals included: Breakfast

Free Day Franz Josef
Day Day 3: Free Day Franz Josef

Today is yours to admire the pristine beauty of Franz Josef Glacier and Westland National Park.

Points of interest: Glacier scenic flights, nature tours, spas & hot pools (all not included), and local self-guided walks.

Walking opportunities: Franz Josef Walk, the carpark 4km from Franz Josef township is access to this 5.4km return walk to view the glacier terminal (subject to track conditions), Lake Matheson, 30min by car, this lake, famous for its mirror views of Aoraki and Mount Tasman, offers 40 minute and 1:30 hours walks.

Overnight: Punga Grove Motel and Suites, Franz Josef
Meals included: Breakfast

Franz Josef to Queenstown
Day Day 4: Franz Josef to Queenstown

We recommend an early start today as you make your way further south to Queenstown. You will wind your way through lush forest before reaching the coast again at the town of Haast. From here you will again head for the mountains and the spectacular Haast pass with some more stunning bush scenery, emerging at the top of Lake Wanaka you will then drive along beside the lesser known but just as beautiful Lake Hawera.

Depending on how many short walk and photo stops you have taken along the way, you may choose to take a break in the Lakeside town of Wanaka before continuing on the last 1:30hr drive to Queenstown. Unless you are familiar with New Zealand mountain roads it is recommended that you take the slightly longer route to Queenstown via State Highway 6.

Drive Franz Josef to Queenstown (5 hours non stop drive time)
Points of interest: Blue Pools walk, Wanaka

Your accommodation for the next three nights is at Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown, located on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu, just a five minute flat walk along the lake to the town centre of Queenstown.

Overnight: Rydges Lakeland Resort, Queenstown
Meals included: Breakfast

Free Day Queenstown
Day Day 5: Free Day Queenstown

After your long driving day yesterday, today is free to explore at your own pace. Whether you like to indulge your inner explorer or simply relax and enjoy the finer things in life, you will be sure to find something to suit.

Activities: Jetboat, Whitewater Rafting, Bungy Jumping, Scenic Flights (not included)

For a quieter pace day, take a trip on the Skyline Gondola (not included) and take in the stunning views, or a leisurely drive to a winery for lunch or to the picturesque settlement of Arrowtown which sits alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River and is just 20 minutes from Queenstown (not included). A special highlight is the Chinese settlement at the edge of the river. Built by Chinese miners from 1868, this area of restored shelters and buildings paints a picture of earlier times.

Enjoy a night out in Queenstown dining in one of its many excellent restaurants. For something a little different visit the Minus 5º Ice Bar, or line up for a ‘famous Fergburger’ (not included).

Overnight: Rydges Lakeland Resort, Queenstown
Meals included: Breakfast

Milford Sound Day Trip
Day Day 6: Milford Sound Day Trip

This morning after collecting your breakfast box you will board your coach for an unforgettable Milford Sound experience. The road to Milford Sound is as much a scenic experience as the fiord itself, so make sure you have your camera ready as there will be photo stops and short walks along this incredible route.

Once in Milford you will join the original Nature Cruise to explore the 8th wonder of the world. This cruise will get you so close to this famous fjord you can reach out and touch the sheer rock walls, there will be plenty of opportunities to view amazing geology and occasional wildlife.

Overnight: Rydges Lakeland Resort, Queenstown
Meals included: Breakfast;Lunch

Queenstown - Free Morning
Day Day 7: Queenstown - Free Morning

After your breakfast this morning, spend the rest of your time exploring Queenstown before dropping your car back at Queenstown Airport at 1:30pm.

Meals included: Breakfast

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