Step off the beaten track and explore remote corners of New Zealand's South Island with this weeklong luxury tour. On this self-drive adventure, travel from Christchurch to Queenstown, staying at far-flung, 5-star lodges where gourmet cuisine, heli-tours, and hot tubs beneath the stars await. Discover natural gems like Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, the Mackenzie Region, and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi by air, 4WD, and boat, traveling as far as the country's highest-altitude whisky hut.


  • Stay at secluded Lindis Lodge for fly-fishing, horseback riding, and hiking
  • Take a scenic flight over Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
  • Enjoy a private 4WD tour of the remote Mackenzie Region 
  • Savor stargazing, heli-tours, and hot tubs at 5-star Minaret Lodge
  • Discover Milford Sound / Piopiotahi by plane and boat cruise

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch, Explore the City's English Heritage Christchurch
Day 2 Drive to Ōmarama, Scenic Flight, 4WD Tour & Whisky Hut Ōmarama
Day 3 Free Day to Explore the Luxurious Lindis Lodge Ōmarama
Day 4 Drive to Wānaka, Fly to the Exclusive Minaret Station Wānaka
Day 5 Sightseeing or Outdoor Activities at Minaret Station Wānaka
Day 6 Drive to Queenstown, Discover Milford Sound / Piopiotahi by Air & Water Queenstown
Day 7 Depart Queenstown  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch, Explore the City's English Heritage

Stay just outside Christchurch in Taitapu, in an elegant lodge dating back to 1895 (photo courtesy of Otahuna Lodge)

Welcome to New Zealand! Touch down in the country's second-largest city, Christchurch, and pick up a rental car in preparation for your South Island 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. Picture 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 Ōmarama, Scenic Flight, 4WD Tour & Whisky Hut

Sip a dram of whisky at The Bad Decision Hut

This morning, drive 3.5 hours south to the small town of Ōmarama in the Mackenzie Basin, home to glistening lakes, glaciers, and ice-topped mountains. You'll stay at the secluded Lindis Lodge, which lies on the border of a dark sky reserve in the Ahuriri Valley. The wood-roofed property blends into the landscape, with rooms featuring glass walls that draw mountain and valley views inside. 

After settling in, you'll join a small group for a scenic flight over the mountain-studded landscape of Aoraki / Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks. Soar over 124 miles (200 km) of New Zealand's most astounding scenery, from topaz lakes to winding rivers and deep glacial valleys. As you venture down the wild west coast, admire the country's highest mountains and largest glaciers, including Tasman, Franz Josef / Waiau, and Fox Glaciers

Continue with a private tour of the unspoiled Mackenzie Region in a 4WD. You'll journey through this landscape of rolling, lake-spotted hills and jagged mountains, passing the high country Glenmore Station, one of the country's finest merino wool providers. Visit Lake Tekapo, its township, and the 1935 shorefront Church of the Good Shepherd; the water here is colored milky-turquoise due to its high concentration of rock flour. 

End the day with a private helicopter flight from Lake Tekapo, taking in bird's-eye views of the Southern Alps and glittering glaciers, to The Bad Decision Hut. This tiny alpine shelter, perched on a mountain saddle at 6,800 feet (2,072 m), is the world's highest-altitude whisky hut. Marvel at the 360-degree scenery as you savor a dram or two from the bar's extensive selection before returning via helicopter for a relaxing evening at your lakeside sanctuary.

Day 3: Free Day to Explore the Luxurious Lindis Lodge

Explore the Lindis Lodge surroundings or relax in the Mackenzie wilderness (photo courtesy of Lindis Lodge)

Today is yours to enjoy the facilities and landscape surrounding Lindis Lodge. If you're feeling active, explore the 6,500-acre (2,630 ha) property on horseback, bike, or e-bike, passing merino sheep who dot the landscape. Head to the Ahuriri River to fly fish for trout or ask staff to arrange a gourmet picnic in the wilderness. Follow walking trails or book sightseeing flights; you can even try your hand at archery. 

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Dine in the spotted-gum paneled Great Hall on fine local cuisine featuring Fiordland venison and foraged porcini mushrooms paired with New Zealand wines. Afterward, retire to your outdoor Jacuzzi to soak beneath a sky full of stars, thanks to the lodge's dark sky reserve location. Keen stargazers can book a special nighttime experience with a guide and cutting-edge telescope.

Day 4: Drive to Wānaka, Fly to the Exclusive Minaret Station

Stop at Lake Wānaka en route to snap a photo of the famous Wānaka Tree

Say goodbye to Ōmarama this morning and drive 1.5 hours south to the resort town of Wānaka, known for its thriving winter ski scene and the gnarled tree that rises from its glassy lake. On the way, you'll traverse the Lindis Pass, one of the country's highest roads, which reaches a summit of 3,185 feet (971 m). Watch the scenery transform from the golden tussock fields of the Mackenzie Basin to the rugged Central Otago with its rural villages. 

Drop your car at the heliport in Wānaka and fly above mountain valleys to your next exclusive lodge, Minaret Station, which is only accessible by helicopter. Set on a 50,000-acre (20,234 ha) high country farm with herds of deer, sheep, and cattle, the property is surrounded by snowy mountains and borders UNESCO-listed Mount Aspiring National Park and sparkling Lake Wānaka

Minaret Station has four private chalets connected to a central lodge via wooden boardwalks. Here, you'll find a cozy lounge with a flagstone fireplace, a bar and dining area, plus a reading room heated with a wood-burning stove. Check into your chalet, which features alpine decor with French doors leading to a deck with a hot tub. Spend the rest of the day settling into your one-of-a-kind accommodation. 

Day 5: Sightseeing or Outdoor Activities at Minaret Station

Choose activities such as mountain biking, hiking, and backcountry fishing (photo courtesy of Minaret Station)

Immerse yourself in Minaret Station's array of activities today. Your stay includes a helicopter excursion that will whisk you over Fiordland and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, to the expansive glaciers of Mount Aspiring National Park, and finally to the rainforest-covered west coast of New Zealand. You can also choose from various activities, from backcountry fishing and deer and elk hunting to winter heli-skiing.

Guided hikes and mountain biking tours will take you across the windswept grounds of Minaret Station, combined with Champagne picnics and farm tours. The on-site Mountain Kitchen serves up multicourse gourmet meals paired with New Zealand wines and fiery whiskies, with meat and produce sourced directly from Minaret's farm and local area. End the evening curled up with a book by the fire or in your bubbling hot tub, admiring the star-filled skies.

Day 6: Drive to Queenstown, Discover Milford Sound / Piopiotahi by Air & Water

Cruise across the "Eighth Wonder of the World" at Milford Sound / Piopiotahi 

Drive 1.5 hours south today to New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown. The town is the birthplace of AJ Hackett Bungy, the world's first commercial bungee-jumping company. Other adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown include sky diving, jet boating, and whitewater rafting, but if you prefer something tamer, there are plenty of hiking and cycling paths. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has a backdrop of The Remarkables.

Check into the lakeside Blanket Bay, 40 minutes from Queenstown in the shadow of the Richardson Mountains. Expect stone-and-timber architecture, plush rugs, fireplaces, huge windows, and a wine cave. Take some time to enjoy the 5-star facilities, including an outdoor heated pool and canoes to explore the lake, as well as an award-winning five-course dinner menu at the restaurant. 

End the day with a private tour of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling, complete with morning tea. Take a 45-minute flight to and from the sound, soaring over UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park. Next, board a boat to cruise the 10-mile-long (16 km) sound, surrounded by mountains. You'll pass crashing waterfalls and spot seals, Fiordland crested penguins, and dolphins.

Day 7: Depart Queenstown

Say goodbye to Blanket Bay and Queenstown as you catch your onward flight (photo courtesy of Blanket Bay)
Your luxury New Zealand road trip comes to an end today. Drop off your rental car at Queenstown airport in time for your homebound flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Off-the-Beaten-Track Luxury in New Zealand’s South Island - 7 Days
Map of Off-the-Beaten-Track Luxury in New Zealand’s South Island - 7 Days