Ocean and Mountain Journey

From Christchurch to Queenstown
  • Canterbury & Upper South Island
  • Otago & Alpine Region
  • Walking and Active
  • Custom
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Your nine-day journey will take you from Coast to Coast of  New Zealand's South Island, self driving will give you the flexibility to explore the stunning surrounds at your own pace.

Start your journey from Christchurch,  head to the Pacific Ocean and explore the charming French settlement of Akaroa. Stroll around the streets, later board a luxury vessel, indulge in some home baking and a drink while cruising past spectacular coastal scenery, looking out for wildlife including the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector dolphin. 

Next it is time to start your scenic drive  to the West Coast, taking Arthur's Pass to arrive at the historic gold rush town of Kumara. Take in the vistas, learn about the local history and at night check out the glow worms, Expect things to be different on the West Coast, the scenery, the weather and roads. Explore the coast as you continue south via Hokitika to Franz Josef.

Ready for an adventure? Lift off by helicopter and gaze over staggering ice formations and mountains. Land on the snowy glacial plains and inhale the mountain air. Continue exploring the rain forest, waterfalls, lakes and hot pools of the region around Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, and take a short walk to get your perfect shot of Lake Matheson.

Traverse the Southern Alps as you drive the Haast Pass and enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Area. Your next few days are spent around Wanaka, surrounded by stunning  lakes, rivers, mountains and vineyards. Journey the pristine waters of the Matukituki River by jet boat, hear stories of the land and walk through moss-covered forests. Check out some of the many beautiful vineyards of Central Otago, the world’s southern-most commercial wine growing region. Make the most of the adventure capital Queenstown before it’s time to leave the dramatic south.

More time? Let us tailor-make the perfect self-drive for you

Viva's Best Bits...

View the Southern Alps from the air and set foot on a glacier during a short guided glacier walk.

“One of my favourite itineraries; unique wildlife, mountains, ocean, rainforest, lakes, rivers, wine and nice food - what else do you need?” Pia, Team Viva

Immerse yourself into New Zealand’s history and nature; the French settlement, Gold Rush times, wildlife and UNESCO World Heritage Areas

Tour Itinerary

Customisable ? This tour can be customised to suit your tastes and timing. Enquire here for more information.
Day 1
Christchurch Akaroa

Upon arrival in Christchurch, pick up your rental car and start the 75km journey to Akaroa. Take your time and enjoy the drive through changing landscapes, maybe stop at Little River or Barry’s Bay where they make some award-winning cheeses. A short drive later you arrive at Akaroa, the French flair is evident with French street names, restaurants and colourful characters reflecting the early French settlement.

Check-in at your Boutique B&B. Then unwind and refuel at one of the local eateries, maybe try some local seafood.

Day 2

After breakfast take a stroll through the charming, historical French settlement of Akaroa.

In the afternoon make your way to the waterfront and embark on your Akaroa Dolphin Cruise. During your two-hour cruise you will spot some amazing sea mammals and bird life, including the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector dolphin. You will also meet the expert dolphin spotting dogs on board, they will help to make your dolphin encounter an unforgettable experience.
Enjoy the rest of your day at your own leisure.

Day 3
Akaroa Kumara

After breakfast start your scenic drive through charming historic towns and dramatic changing landscapes. You travel from one side of the South Island to the other side, over Arthur’s pass. Stop at Castle Hill for a short walk. The village of Arthur’s Pass is the starting point to many short walks. Drive over the extraordinary Otira Viaduct and descend through lush rainforests towards the Westcoast. Overnight in Kumara, the historic gold town and gateway to the West Coast. Experience the gold rush history and at night check out the glow worms just a few steps behind your hotel.

Day 4
Kumara Franz Josef

Enjoy your breakfast and start your drive down the West Coast. Stop in Hokitika where you find galleries specialising in pounamu (greenstone). After 2 hours’ drive arrive at Franz Josef by noon and get ready for your journey into the largely inaccessible heart of the majestic Southern Alps. Your 20 minute Heli flight with a snow landing will be one of the highlights of your trip!
Later check in at your Rainforest Retreat (Deluxe Treehut) and enjoy the evening

Day 5
Franz Josef Wanaka

After breakfast you will start your drive to Fox Glacier, stop at Lake Matheson for the short scenic walk, you have views of mountains reflected on the still waters of the lake.

Continue your scenic drive through breathtaking scenery over Haast Pass. From coastal scrub, rain forest, glaciers and native bush to alpine tussock lands, lakes and mountains, some of the best South Island scenery and all in one day! If you have enough time stop at the Haast Blue Pools for a gentle stroll before you head to Wanaka and check in at your lodge.

Day 6

Enjoy your breakfast and get ready for the most exciting half day Jet Boating adventure in New Zealand. The Matukituki River is perfect to experience river jet boating (1hr). Deep in the mountains and off the beaten track you will enjoy a remote walk in some of the most beautiful and unique landscape (50min-1hr). This is the only tour where you can see Mount Aspiring and the Glaciers. At the end you will enjoy the fast-flowing river trip back (45min).

Day 7
Wanaka Queenstown

After breakfast get ready for a scenic drive over the Crown Range or make the detour to Cromwell and check out a few vineyards. Arrive in Queenstown and settle into your lodge.

Day 8

Enjoy a day at your own leisure in Queenstown. How about a trip to Walter Peak Station? If you prefer something more adventurous head to Kawarau Bridge for a bungy jump. Of course, there is always the Nevis Bungy – for an even bigger adrenaline rush.

Day 9

After breakfast enjoy the day at your own leisure, return the rental car to Queenstown airport and depart.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 8 nights at boutique accommodation
  • Included Copy 31 Upgrades available
  • Included Copy 20 Daily breakfast
  • Included Copy 20 Daily wine tasting in Queenstown
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Half day dolphin cruise
  • Included Copy 20 Heli flight with glacier landing
  • Included Copy 20 Jet boat trip
  • Included Copy 20 Rental car ex Christchurch airport, drop off Queenstown
  • Included Copy 31 Ask us to tailor-make a self-drive itinerary for your interests
  • Included Copy 31 Upgrades in Wanaka to Jet boat & Heli or Packraft or 4WD River Safari if you are more active
Rental Car


  • Included Chance to see the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, Hectors dolphin
  • Included Take a heli flight over a glacier and land on the snow!
  • Included Drive through stunning landscapes, Arthurs Pass and Haast Pass
  • Included Jet boat and walk off the beaten track to see Mount Aspiring
  • Included Go at your own pace, stop to sample cheese, wine and local seafood
  • Included Lots of opportunities for stunning short walks, Castle Hill, Lake Matheson & more
  • Included Time to enjoy Queenstown your way!
  • Included Experience the gold rush history, explore art galleries, see glow worms...
Click here for dates & prices

9 days

Price from

$1,328 USD

Per person, sharing

including GST

Daily Departures