Wellington - Christchurch

Fly total time: 8 days

Please note: this itinerary has been affected by the recent Kaikoura earthquake. For information on an alternative route, please click here.

This suggested itinerary takes in the culture and cafe's of Wellington. Then head on down the South Island to Nelson, Kaikoura and Christchurch where clients can experience a mixture of wildlife, great shopping and vineyards.

To ensure your clients are well rested after their flight, we recommend they stay a night or two in their arrival city before collecting a rental vehicle. Driving in a new country can be challenging and will be even worse if the driver is tired. The driver should always be well rested, take regular breaks during the journey and plan to drive for only 1-2 hours at a time.

New Zealand has unique road rules and driving conditions that your clients may not be used to. For a safe and enjoyable journey make sure your clients know where to find information on New Zealand’s road rules before they depart for their holiday.

Here are some suggestions:
  • Print out or email your clients the Driving in New Zealand fact sheet.
  • Refer them to the Drive Safe website for comprehensive information about driving in New Zealand.
  • Advise your clients to use the Travel Time and Distance Calculator or GPS to plan their journey, as driving in New Zealand can often take longer than expected due to narrow windy roads.
  • Encourage your clients to take the tourist driving test to ensure a self-drive holiday is the right travel style for them.
  • Day 1 - Arrive Wellington

    Drive Fly

    Your clients arrive in Wellington, the Capital city of New Zealand. They can easily explore this compact and vibrant city by foot.  Let them discover the distinct city areas  with their own personalities and activities:  hip Cuba Street, the bustling Wellington Waterfront, entertainment central at Courtney Place and the sleek cafes and shops on Lambton Quay.

    Recommended activities:

    • Ride the Wellington Cable Car and enjoy magical city views
    • Visit the Carter Observatory and learn about the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere
    • Stroll along Wellington’s waterfront and scenic Oriental Bay
    • Enjoy a meal at one of Wellington’s top quality restaurants or funky eateries
  • Day 2 - Wellington

    Drive Fly

    Your clients can experience this compact city by foot again.  Let them  indulge themselves with a Chocolate Heaven tour for foodies or an artsy quarter walking tour of Wellington’s vibrant arts and crafts scene.  If they prefer they can explore on their own through the Botanic gardens in the heart of the city.  Head indoors to and visit Te Papa  (the national museum) , or take a film tour behind the scenes of the Lord of the Rings.

    Recommended activities:

  • Day 3- Wellington to Picton

    Drive Fly 4 hours (requires ferry) 99 KMS 61 MI
    Head out of Wellington by ferry and enjoy a scenic ride across Cook Strait through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds to Picton.  It takes just over 3- 3.5 hours and seals and dolphins can often be spotted in coves and in the waters along the way.  
     
    Arrive in the picturesque port of Picton with its main street cafes, museums and seaside walks.  
    Thirty minutes south is Blenheim, the heart of the wine-growing district of Marlborough.  It’s foodie heaven with award winning food and wine plus quality craft shops and scenic golf courses.
     
    Fly/drive Wellington to Picton or ferry/drive Wellington to Picton

    Recommended activities:


  • Day 4 Picton - Queen Charlotte Track - Picton

    Drive Fly 5 minutes 2 KMS 1 MI

    Take a day walk on Queen Charlotte Track.  This 71km track is renowned for its stunning views, diverse landscape, historic landmarks, lush native bush and uniquely New Zealand wildlife.  Visitors can walk just a small section of it and still experience many of its natural wonders.

    Recommended activities:

    • Walk or bike a section of Queen Charlotte Track
    • Kayak in Queen Charlotte Sound
    • Go bird watching 
  • Day 5 - Picton - Nelson

    Drive Fly 1 hour 34 minutes 107 KMS 66 MI

    Nelson is one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand with golden beaches on its doorstep and plenty of action packed activities including sailing, sky diving, rock climbing and 4WD biking.  For visitors looking for more relaxing pursuits it’s famous for its creativity attracting artists in every medium and price range.  Browse the galleries and visit the artists’ studios and see them at work.

    Recommended activities:

  • Day 6 - Nelson – Abel Tasman National Park via Kaiteriteri, Marahau

    Drive Fly 2 hours and 40 minutes 180 KMS 111 MI

    Take a trip into stunning Abel Tasman National Park.  Kayak along the coastline, walk along bush clad tracks or take a ride on water taxi out into the Sound.

    Recommended activities:

    • Take a Kayak trip in the park
    • Hike sections of the track
    • Go swimming with the seals in the summer
    • Take a scenic boat cruise or sailing adventure
  • Day 7 - Abel Tasman National Park - Nelson

    Drive Fly 0

    Enjoy another short walk, kayak or boat ride in the morning before heading back into Nelson for the evening.

    Recommended activities:

    • Kayak trip in the Abel Tasman National Park
    • Hike sections of the track
    • In summer go swimming with the seals
    • Take a scenic boat cruise or sailing adventure
  • Day 8 - Nelson to Kaikoura (via Blenheim)

    Drive Fly 3.5 hours 243 KMS 150 MI
    Drive from Nelson to Kaikoura (approximately 3.5 hours). Stop in Blenheim for a tasty vineyard lunch or head on to Kaikoura for fresh seafood straight from the sea.
     
    The coastal town of Kaikoura is rich in marine and bird life. Get close to the action with whale watching or swim with the dolphins or seals.  It’s also rich with Maori culture and local guides offer a unique cultural experience on land and on sea.

    Recommended activities:

    • Go whale watching by boat or air
    • Go swimming with dolphins or seals 
    • Take a tour and see the albatross
    • Take a 4x4 off road adventure through farmland to see beautiful views of Kaikoura
  • Day 9 - Kaikoura - Christchurch

    Drive Fly 2 hours 17 minutes 181 KMS 112 MI
    Drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch, approximate 2 hours 20 minutes.

    Christchurch is framed by the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Southern Alps, there is plenty to see and explore in and around the city including cultural, historical and wildlife experiences.

    Your clients will finish their trip in Christchurch.

    Recommended activities:

    • Visit the International Antarctic Centre or the Willowbank Wildlife Centre for a memorable wildlife experience.
    • Head into central Christchurch for some local history at the beautiful heritage building of the Canterbury Museum
    • Stretch your legs with a leisurely walk through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.  Or punt through the gardens by boat on the beautiful Avon River with Welcome Aboard.
    • Take an inner city bus tour from the museum to look at the rebuild after the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010-11
    • Take a trip on the historic Christchurch Tram
    • Ride the Christchurch Gondola for a view of the city
    • Visit the Airforce Museum at Wigram
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