The 9-day Southern Alps self-drive takes you on a glorious ride from the sea to the mountains and back again, culminating in a Milford Sound excursion where the two connect in a perfect finale. Destinations include: Christchurch - West Coast - Glaciers - Queenstown - Milford Sound.
Below is a brief trip summary. For any questions, details on optional activities, driving times, and a quote on this itinerary, please contact one of our Travel Consultants. Pricing includes pre-booked accommodation, rental car and insurance, a Milford Sound coach excursion, other pre-booked activities as selected, and a comprehensive packet of personalized trip notes, road atlas, and more. See Self-drive Tour Pricing on our Dates & Rates page for details.
Day 1: Welcome to New Zealand!
A Black Sheep Touring Co. representative will meet you at the Christchurch airport, assist you with your rental car, and take you through your tour documentation, providing tips on driving and travel in New Zealand. The remainder of the day is free to explore what is described as the most English of New Zealand's cities. Your trip notes will advise on Christchurch highlights so you can make the most of your time there.
Day 2: Christchurch to Punakaiki
Depart Christchurch and drive inland, over the glorious Southern Alps. Cross alpine rivers and wind beneath snow-capped peaks before descending to the wild and woolly West Coast region. Drive along stunning shoreline to your accommodation for the next two nights. Explore hidden tracks and natural features outlined in your trip notes and enjoy the bounty of talented craftspeople here.
Day 3: Taking the Underground
This part of the South Island is honeycombed with intricate cave systems which can be explored in a choice of ways, from scenic caving to adventure caving to New Zealand's renowned and unforgettable cave rafting. Your Black Sheep Travel Consultant can advise on the options for this day, including above-ground alternatives.
Day 4: Punakaiki to the Glaciers
This morning is a spectacular drive to New Zealand's glacier region where you'll be based for the next two nights in comfortable alpine accommodation. Before dinner, stroll beneath a thick canopy of old-growth rainforest on one of the prettiest little walking tracks in New Zealand.
Day 5: Adventures on Ice
Your trip notes recommend the best way to make the most of this spectacular region. Walk along the glacial riverbed to view the impressive terminal face of Fox Glacier and explore additional trails through neighbouring ancient rainforest. Optional activities allow you access to the glacier, including a variety of glacier hikes and a heli-flight that lands you on the neve. Ask your Black Sheep Travel Consultant for details.
Day 6: Queenstown Bound
Walk around a forest-rimmed lake created by retreating glaciers long ago before embarking on a stunning drive to Queenstown. Your trip notes identify sensational hidden walks and scenic stops along the way. Dense rainforest gives way to the stark mountains of the Mt Aspiring National Park as you enter the Otago region, New Zealand's outback and home to its high country sheep stations. Queenstown, resting on beautiful Lake Wakatipu and flanked by the aptly named Remarkables mountain range is a stunning setting in which to stay for your remaining three nights.
Day 7: Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand's adrenalin center. There is a wide range of optional activities available, including jetboating, horse trekking, whitewater rafting, sky diving, four-wheel-drive adventures, and bungy jumping, or more leisurely pursuits such as walking, fishing and wine trails. Talk to your Black Sheep Travel Consultant about available options.
Day 8: Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Today, we have included a coach excursion into spectacular Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. The journey to the fiord is one of the most scenic on which you could hope to travel. Letting someone else do the driving optimizes your ability to take in the scenery and you'll make brief stops along the way to explore nature's wonders. At Milford Sound, board your vessel and cruise the full length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, passing alongside thundering waterfalls and fur seals basking on the rocks. Return by coach to Queenstown this evening or upgrade to a scenic return flight or overnight cruise (commenced on Day 7).
Day 9: Above and Beyond
Depending on your flight schedule, you'll have time to relax and make final purchases before dropping your rental car at Queenstown airport and traveling home or to your next destination--perhaps a Black Sheep North Island adventure? We're confident you'll leave New Zealand with an experience that will enrich your life for years to come.