- Bungee jump off the historic Kawarau Bridge in the Gibbston Valley
- Explore the breathtaking sights from 'Lord of the Rings' surrounding Queenstown
- Go skiing and whale watching on the same day near Christchurch
- Experience a unique four-course meal on a colonial tram in Christchurch
|Day 1||Arrive in Christchurch City||Christchurch|
|Day 2||Drive From Christchurch to Mount Cook Village||Mount Cook Village|
|Day 3||Drive From Mount Cook Village to Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 4||Explore Queenstown & Surrounds||Queenstown|
|Day 5||Drive From Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier||Franz Josef Glacier|
|Day 6||Cross the Southern Alps to Christchurch on the TranzAlpine Train||Christchurch|
|Day 7||Christchurch Free Day with Dinner on Board the Christchurch Tram||Christchurch|
|Day 8||Depart Christchurch|
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch City
Welcome to New Zealand! On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation. Known as New Zealand's garden city, Christchurch is a vibrant metro area. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree-lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the local double-decker hop-on/hop-off bus for an easy way to see the sights, or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the Cardboard Transitional Cathedral.
Day 2: Drive From Christchurch to Mount Cook Village
Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury Plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending Burkes Pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.
Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mount Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, known for its glacier-fed turquoise blue color. You can also choose to do the Glacier Explorers tour, where you'll experience 500-year-old icebergs up close. Continue along the lake to your final destination for the evening in Mount Cook Village. Another optional activity here is a backroad 4WD tour that gives some great views of the glacier from a professional guide.
Day 3: Drive From Mount Cook Village to Queenstown
Today you'll leave Mount Cook National Park and travel to Queenstown. Go through the lakeside town of Twizel and then pass through the gliding capital of New Zealand—Omarama—before ascending the Lindis Pass. Follow the road to Cromwell, located at the head of the Kawarau Gorge.
Continue towards the Gibbston Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine-growing regions. See the historic Kawarau Bridge where you can bungee jump, or relax and watch others take the plunge. Approaching Queenstown, the Remarkables mountain range comes into view as you arrive in the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Day 4: Explore Queenstown & SurroundsAlthough celebrated as New Zealand's adventure capital, Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic, and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley Wine Trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot, or catch a ride on a 100-year-old steamship to Walter Peak Station for dinner. Ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola for breathtaking views, venture into Fiordland National Park, or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of the Rings country—or for the fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that—if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet River Canyons, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge, or Heli-Ski.
Day 5: Drive From Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier
From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range—the highest sealed road in New Zealand—to arrive in the alpine town of Wanaka, the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Here you can stop at the Blue Pools for a short walk through the native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole.
Continue through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the Wild West Coast—a 373-mile (600 km) stretch of bush and native rainforest. If you're feeling adventurous, the Heli Line is an optional activity to see the glaciers from above in a helicopter. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night—Franz Josef Township. Franz Josef is also home to the Glacier Hot Pools if you're looking to relax and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.
Day 6: Cross the Southern Alps to Christchurch on the TranzAlpine TrainThis morning you'll drop your rental car off at the Greymouth Train Station depot, before boarding your train back to Christchurch. Considered one of the world's great train journeys, this route takes you across the South Island from the west to east coasts, crossing through Arthur's Pass National Park.
Day 7: Christchurch Free Day with Dinner on Board the Christchurch TramFollowing the 2011 earthquake that razed its center and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South Island.
For dinner, you'll board a unique historic colonial-style dining tram for an unforgettable moving four-course restaurant experience. Lasting two and a half hours, you'll take three laps of the tram line passing New Regent Street, the Avon River, High Street, and Victoria Square.
Day 8: Depart ChristchurchToday is your last day to take in the sights and grab some souvenirs for home. A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight. Safe travels home!
More Great 8-Day New Zealand Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to New Zealand? Check out these other 8-day New Zealand itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.