This nine-day, self-drive itinerary will give you the chance to tick off Wellington’s city thrills, followed by the dramatic landscapes, wine regions and historic towns that await at Marlborough, Kaikoura and Christchurch. Fly into Wellington International Airport, spend some time getting to know the city, then head further afield.
Day one: arrive in Wellington
Spend your first day in Wellington exploring the city’s highlights at your leisure. You might want to take the Wellington Cable Car to ascend to the Wellington Botanic Gardens, or learn about Wellington’s culture, history and landscapes at the fascinating Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Find out why Lonely Planet dubbed Wellington the ‘coolest little capital’ by exploring downtown’s cafés, museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
Day two: explore Wellington
Continue sightseeing. Drive up Mount Victoria for panoramic views of the city and pay a trip to Zealandia eco-sanctuary, where you can admire New Zealand’s rarest wildlife. Stroll through native bushland at Sanctuary Valley and look out for native species, such as kaka, tuatata, geckos and takahe.
Day three: explore Wellington
Continue the cinematic theme on a full-day Lord of the Rings tour. You’ll explore Middle-earth and be treated to famous sights from The Lord of the Rings movies. The day also includes lunch and a privileged access, behind-the-scenes tour of Weta’s workshop; (Weta is the studio that produced the digital special effects for Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy.)
Day four: drive from Wellington to Picton
Go island-hopping and experience one of the most beautiful ferry cruises in the world (and one of New Zealand’s most iconic tourist experiences). The trip to Picton, on the South Island, will take three and a half hours, including the ferry crossing. The pretty port town of Picton is the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds. Spend some time exploring Picton before you move further afield; there’s an attractive seafront dotted with cafés, restaurants and galleries, plus a floating maritime museum and an aquarium. You could go fishing, dolphin-watching or sea-kayaking, or conquer the Queen Charlotte Track on foot or on a mountain bike. Alternatively, explore the beautiful Sounds on a boat tour or tramping day trip.
Day five: drive from Picton to Blenheim
Before you leave Picton, join a cruise and learn all about salmon-farming, while surrounded by incredible scenery. Sample just-caught seafood and take a wine tour through the region of world-renowned sauvignon blanc. Alternatively, swim with dolphins and enjoy a wealth of recreational water activities. After the day’s adventures, drive to pretty Blenheim, which is just half an hour away by car.
Day six: explore Blenheim
In Blenheim, join the ‘Wine to Vine tour’ at Wither Hill Cellar Door, which promises to take you on a journey from the vineyard to the bottle. Continue to treat your taste buds by paying a trip to the Makana Boutique Chocolate Factory.
Day seven: drive from Blenheim to Kaikoura
Leave Blenheim behind and make the six-hour drive to Kaikoura, a picturesque coastal town that’s perfect for marine life encounters and sampling local crayfish. The region offers amazing whale-watching cruises – the coastline’s rich nutrients attract amazing creatures, including giant sperm whales (which can grow up to 20-metres long). To get to Kaikoura, take the Lewis Pass through Springs Junction (the faster Coastal Road is currently closed).
Day eight: explore Kaikoura
Spend some time having water-world adventures at Kaikoura; get up close with the giants of the Southern Ocean on a whale-watching cruise, or visit the Ohau Point Seal colony and coo over baby seal pups splashing around under a waterfall and swimming around a stream. Join the pretty Ohau Stream Walk, keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife by the waterfalls.
Day nine: drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch
Head off early for your two-and-a-half-hour drive to Christchurch. Once you’re there, spend the day sightseeing: highlights include Hagley Park, the Botanic Gardens, Victoria Square and the peaceful Mona Vale gardens on the banks of the River Avon (yes, New Zealand has one, too…)
Fancy embarking on a longer self-drive adventure? Factor in an additional six days and your road trip could include the dramatic landscapes of Central Otago and Dunedin, Doubtful Sound, Pancake Rocks and Abel Sound…
Fly with Singapore Airlines
Fly with Singapore Airlines
Here are five great reasons to fly with Singapore Airlines:
1) Fly via Singapore and connect onto four weekly flights.
2) Redeem a $20 Changi Dollar Voucher to spend at Singapore Changi Airport.
3) Break your journey in Singapore with a discounted Singapore Stopover Holiday Package.
4) Alternatively, experience a taste of Singapore with a free Singapore Tour if your transit is more than 5.5 hours.
5) Fly with the world’s most awarded airline. Enjoy over 1,000 entertainment options at your finger tips or savour the best of Asian and International cuisine from the comfort of your industry leading seat.