Pamper yourself with a weeklong luxury wellness break in New Zealand's South Island. As you drive a scenic route from Christchurch to Nelson, you'll stay at boutique, 5-star retreats where decadent spa sessions, woodland hot tubs, yoga classes, and nature hikes await. Soak in geothermal pools at the award-winning Maruia Hot Springs and sail the idyllic Tasman Bay, pausing to explore isolated golden beaches where you can swim and relax.


  • Soak in healing geothermal forest pools at Maruia Hot Springs
  • Relax at the 5-star Westhaven Retreat with spa sessions and outdoor pursuits
  • Sail the sparkling Tasman Bay, stopping to picnic and swim on remote beaches
  • Enjoy yoga, forest bathing, and woodland hot tubs at the Maruia River Retreat
  • Stay at historic stately homes in Christchurch and Nelson

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch, Explore the Garden City Christchurch
Day 2 Drive to Maruia, Explore & Relax at Maruia River Retreat Murchison
Day 3 Free Day at Maruia River Retreat Murchison
Day 4 Scenic Drive to Collingwood, Settle into Westhaven Retreat Collingwood
Day 5 Free Day to Explore or Relax at Westhaven Retreat Collingwood
Day 6 Drive to Nelson, Abel Tasman Sailing Trip Nelson
Day 7 Depart Nelson  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, Explore the Garden City

Enjoy a leisurely punting trip down the Avon River / Ōtākaro

Welcome to New Zealand! You'll arrive in the country's second-largest city, Christchurch, and pick up a rental car in preparation for your self-drive adventure. Head to your luxury hotel, Otahuna Lodge, which lies 20 minutes from the city in rural Taitapu. Built in 1895, this stately home belonged to Canterbury pioneer Sir Heaton Rhodes and is now a Category One listed building. 

Settle into your elegantly restored suite, which features Queen Anne architecture and fine New Zealand timber. Imagine flickering fireplaces, picture windows with stained glass details, super-king beds, and soaking tubs. Wander the serene grounds with their manicured lawns, woodlands, daffodil fields, and lake. Enjoy a swim in the pool before exploring Christchurch. 

Known as the "Garden City" for its green spaces. Christchurch's English heritage is evident along the Avon River / Ōtākaro, where a guide dressed in Edwardian costume can take you on a punting trip past landmarks like Hagley Park and the Botanical Gardens. Afterward, hop on one of the city's heritage-era trams, which date back to 1882, and stop at 17 key places, such as Cathedral Square and the Canterbury Museum.

Day 2: Drive to Maruia, Explore & Relax at Maruia River Retreat

Drive to Maruia and check into your riverside retreat

Drive 2.5 hours north today to Maruia, known for its healing hot springs, which Māori people and jade traders have used for centuries. European settlers arrived in the late 1800s, and the region is now a hub for wellness seekers. Check into the Maruia River Retreat, set on a 500-acre (202 ha) estate by the topaz Maruia River, covered with gardens and native beech forest shadowed by mountain ranges. 

With just seven luxury villas and a 14-plus age limit, the property oozes peace and privacy. Its yoga-teacher owners, Lasse and Cristina, offer meditation, yoga, and sound healing classes, as well as guided nature walks. Check into your stylish villa, which has a kitchenette and river views, as well as high-end touches such as heated floors and, in the Master Villa, a private Jacuzzi. 

Spend the afternoon indulging in Japanese forest bathing, then detox in the chroma-therapy and dry Finnish sauna. Book a slot to relax in the bubbling hot tub, which sits within the trees overlooking the shimmering ribbon of the river. For the ultimate pamper session, arrange a hot stone massage or body scrub, chased with some gourmet cuisine. You'll enjoy a deep sleep experience in your villa, clad with blackout curtains, a luxury bed and linens, and a pillow menu. 

Day 3: Free Day at Maruia River Retreat

Explore and Relax Maruia Hot Springs
Soak in the geothermal mineral waters of Maruia Hot Pools (photo courtesy of Maruia River Retreat)
Plan your trip to New Zealand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Head to the award-winning Maruia Hot Springs today for more decadent me-time. Immerse yourself in a range of geothermal mineral pools, which spring straight from the earth's core below the Southern Alps. Water is cooled and pumped into pools that range from 99°F (37°C) to 108°F (42°C), set among pristine forest. 

Hop between pools, the rock sauna, and a steam room, closing your pores with thermal showers and a cold plunge pool. Settle down for a foot bath and book a spa treatment, from a full-body massage to a facial. Gentle activities range from nature walks around the unspoiled grounds, which lie in the Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, to meditation sessions. Afterward, return to your river retreat for a final night.

Day 4: Scenic Drive to Collingwood, Settle into Westhaven Retreat

Take in sweeping views across Westhaven Bay from your terrace (photo courtesy of Westhaven Retreat)

Say goodbye to Maruia this morning and continue your road trip north, driving 3.5 hours to Golden Bay. The road into the bay leads over Tākaka Hill, with its hairpin turns and dizzying views of the sandy bay. Famed for its natural beauty and isolation, the area is home to many "The Lord of the Rings" filming locations and the 21-mile-long (34 km) Farewell Spit, a designated bird sanctuary and protected wetland.

Your final destination is Westhaven Retreat, which lies on a 1,000-acre (405 ha) peninsula bordering Kahurangi National Park and a marine and wildlife reserve. This opulent, family-run lodge is the result of a decade-long labor of love, featuring luxury rooms and suites made from recycled Tasmanian oak and teak. You'll have a private terrace overlooking Westhaven Bay and the national park, as well as a super-king bed, lounge area, and hydro-jet shower. 

Spend the day settling into your retreat; swim in the heated indoor pool or visit the hydrotherapy spa and infrared sauna to decompress. Dine this evening on a three-course meal featuring fresh seafood and local produce, with views of the estuary and national park.

Day 5: Free Day to Explore or Relax at Westhaven Retreat

Explore the beautiful beaches of Farewell Spit and Kahurangi National Park

Today is yours to enjoy Westhaven Retreat. If you're feeling active, there's an array of guided activities on offer, from quad biking to coastal fishing and nature tours that provide insight into New Zealand's native flora, fauna, and Māori traditions. On a farm tour, you can also meet the resident sheep, llamas, cows, and goats. For some downtime, head to the cozy library or book a massage or reflexology session; don't miss Westhaven's elegant afternoon tea.

If you're feeling adventurous, head farther afield to explore the area's coastline, private beaches, and rock formations, or delve into the largest nīkau palm forest on the South Island. Kayak through secretive tidal arms and channels, fish on the peninsula, or take a mountain biking tour into the nearby countryside. You can also tour the Farewell Spit, New Zealand's longest sand spit and an internationally-renowned bird sanctuary, or visit Cape Farewell, the South Island's most northerly point.

Day 6: Drive to Nelson, Abel Tasman Sailing Trip

Sail past the famous Split Apple Rock / Tokangawhā in Tasman Bay 

Start the day with a 2.5-hour drive east to Nelson. Facing Tasman Bay, the town is famed for its diverse geography, from long honey-hued beaches to untouched forests and snow-topped mountains. Nelson is a popular base for exploring nearby caving sites, vineyards, and Abel Tasman National Park

Check into the Pihopa Retreat just outside of Nelson. This 5-star boutique property hosts six lavish suites with open-plan living spaces, a kitchenette, and private balconies. Fancy finishes include a Nespresso machine, pillow menu, and rain shower. Decompress among the retreat's 5.5 acres (2.2 ha) of gardens featuring 100-year-old trees in heritage-listed woodland. Once part of the Nelson Diocese Estate, the grounds feature Bishopdale Chapel, which dates back to 1877. 

Explore with a sailing trip around Tasman Bay this afternoon. Board a luxurious vessel to navigate the glittering waters of Abel Tasman National Park, home to wild beaches, forest-covered granite headlands, and an array of wildlife. Stop on Anchorage Beach for lunch, followed by a swim or visit to the caves, then sail back to port, your guide on the lookout for fur seal colonies, bottlenose dolphins, and little blue penguins. 

Day 7: Depart Nelson

Say goodbye to Nelson as you catch your onward flight

Your luxury New Zealand road trip comes to an end today. Drop off your rental car at Nelson airport in time for your homebound flight. Safe travels!

More Great New Zealand Itineraries

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Map of Luxury New Zealand Wellness Escape - 7 Days
Map of Luxury New Zealand Wellness Escape - 7 Days