- Follow the North Canterbury wine trail
- Hike around Mt. Cook Village for glacier sightings and bird-watching
- Ride a gondola or zip line in the Remarkables mountain range
- Jet through rapids on the Shotover River Canyon
|Day 1||Arrive in Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 2||Waipara Valley Wine Trail & Lunch||Christchurch|
|Day 3||Drive to Mt. Cook Village, Hiking & Stargazing||Mount Cook Village|
|Day 4||Drive from Mt. Cook Village to Queenstown, Skyline Queenstown Gondola||Queenstown|
|Day 5||Appellation Wine Tour, Shotover Jet Canyon Boat Ride||Queenstown|
|Day 6||Depart New Zealand|
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch
Welcome to New Zealand! When you arrive in Christchurch, a driver will meet you at the airport for a short ride into the vibrant city center. After you settle into your hotel, venture out to explore the largest city on New Zealand's South Island. You might take a walk through Hagley Park or the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. To learn about the city and the country's natural history, you can visit the Canterbury Museum. Don't miss the food scene known for its global influence and lively ambiance from day to night.
Day 2: Waipara Valley Wine Trail & Lunch
Today you'll explore North Canterbury's wine country with a tasting tour of four boutique wineries. Traveling through the New Zealand countryside, head 45 minutes north of Christchurch to the Waipara Valley. With a warm, dry climate and rich alluvial soils, it's ideal for superior wine production.
Day 3: Drive to Mt. Cook Village, Hiking & Stargazing
Grab a rental car to hit the road and travel through the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury Plains. You'll drive about 200 miles (321 km) to reach your destination—Mt. Cook National Park. You'll also have plenty of time for stops along the way. With few shops and restaurants in Mt. Cook, you'll want to stock up for self-catering for the day as part of your pre-planning.
As you start your journey, you can catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing to Fairlie. After ascending Burkes Pass, you'll see the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo. Views of Aoraki Mt. Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) will also be visible from Lake Pukaki's shores, with its glacier-fed turquoise water. Continue along the lake to reach Mt. Cook Village, the ideal place for scenic walks for all ages and abilities. Visit the village's Department of Conservation information center for trail conditions, difficulty ratings, and background about the area's history and wildlife.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
You'll spend the night in Mt. Cook Village because you don't want to miss the chance to stargaze. With no light pollution, Mt. Cook has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand, and a local guide will show you the southern night sky at a viewing platform. With state-of-the-art telescopes and binoculars, you'll have a chance to discover the Southern Cross, seasonal ecliptic objects, planets, star clusters, moons, distant galaxies, and the Milky Way.
Day 4: Drive from Mt. Cook Village to Queenstown, Skyline Queenstown Gondola
Your road trip continues today, traveling about 157 miles (252 km) from Mt. Cook to Queenstown through the Lindis Pass. Approaching Queenstown, you'll know you are in the adventure capital of New Zealand when you see the Remarkables mountain range.
Thrill seekers have plenty of options here. For a more relaxed activity, walk around Fiordland National Park or ride a 100-year-old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. Adventurers can dive off the Nevis Bungy, free fall on a canyon swing, or use an open ticket on Skyline Gondola—the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere. Riding the cable car, you'll get panoramic views of the Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak, and Lake Wakatipu. End the day in the Gibbston Valley, known for its wines, where you can enjoy a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's Rata.
Day 5: Appellation Wine Tour, Shotover Jet Canyon Boat Ride
Central Otago is a treat for wine lovers. With six viniculture sub-regions surrounded by canyons and mountains, you'll have a day of wine-tasting paired with outdoor adventure. Three wine regions—Gibbston, Bannockburn, and Cromwell—will be the focus, with time to visit four boutique vineyards and taste their cool-climate pinot noirs. You can also pair Otago pinot gris and sparkling wines with fresh local produce and cheese.
After the wine tasting tour, visit the Heritage Precinct of Old Cromwell with reconstructed buildings from the 1800s gold mining era. For adventure seekers, there's the 47-mile (75 km) Shotover River, which is popular with whitewater rafters. You'll also have time for a Shotover Jet Boat Ride, moving at high speeds through the river's canyons.
Day 6: Depart New Zealand
On the last day of your trip, drop your rental car off at the Queenstown airport. Say goodbye to New Zealand until your next adventure.