The south island of New Zealand has to be one of the most fascinating locations on Earth for a Driving Adventure. The scenery, roads, food and wine are all stunning, combine this with truely magnificent hotels and you have all the ingredients of an amazing holiday. We have done our best to distill the very best of the island into a 9 day adventure that you will remember for years to come.
Our Tour starts and finishes in Christchurch to take advantage of the frequent and cheap airfares on offer from Australian cities. This also allows us to tap into a greater range of hire cars for you to choose for the tour, including a number of Mazda MX5’s that have been reserved for our tour.
The Tour Schedule
Friday 3 February
The tour gathers in Christchurch. The plan is to catch a flight in any time during the day or evening and meet at our nearby hotel.
Saturday 4 February
Christchurch – Franz Josef Glacier
This is a great start to our Adventure. Leaving Christchurch we head west across the Canterbury Plain and some of the richest farming country anywhere. As we head west you are aware of the Alps looming ahead, our road over them is the famous and spectacular Arthur’s Pass before plunging down to the West Coast. Our 1st stop along the coast is the greenstone centre of Hokitika. Continuing south the road is pinched between the coast and the mountains and provides some amazing scenery. Franz Josef is a small outpost at the foot of the 12 km long glacier.
Sunday 5 February
Franz Josef – Arrowtown
Mountains and waterfalls are on the agenda as we continue south along the coast, past Fox Glacier and like Franz Josef this is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world. It maybe in retreat at the moment but is still a sight not to be missed. Our route continues south to Haast before turning into the Alps. The road eventually drops down to the twin lakes of Hawea and Wanaka, home of more car commercials than you realise until you see the road, Brilliant. Wanaka is the start of the Cardrona Valley Road and the wonderful Crown Range where from the lookout you can look down on Queenstown and at the right time of day view the commercial jets from Australia flying down the valley underneath you. Our accommodation for the night is at the beautiful Millbrook Lodge with it’s famous golf course.
Monday 6 February
Arrowtown – Milford Sound – Te Anau
Probably my favourite day of the tour. The run out of Queenstown is through some beautiful scenery and out onto the valley floor and lovely farmland. Te Anau is a pretty little town on the shores of a lake and our home for the night but 1st there is the real star of the day, 120 kmof what has been rated the best alpine road in the world. It starts along the shore of Lake Te Anau before winding into a glacial valley. The scenery is straight out of Lord of The Rings with some great photo opportunities, particularly at the exit of the 1.2 km Honer Tunnel where the road snakes away towards the coast. Milford Sound itself is everything you have heard. There is time for a cruise before heading back to Te Anau and that road.
Tuesday 7 February
Te Anau – Invercargill
A slower day today with a drive through some beautiful empty country to the far south coast west of Riverton to Bluff the southern most point of the south island but that is not why we are there. Bluff is the home of the famous Bluff Oyster which just happen to be in season during our visit. Once we have had our fill we back-track to Invercargill, the home of Burt Munroe and his world’s fastest Indian.
Wednesday 8 February
Invercargill – Dunedin
Today’s drive loosely follows the coast through the Catlins to Dunedin. The Catlins are the great secret of the South Island, even many of the locals haven’t been there. There is time for a few side-trips to visit, seal colonies, caves, waterfalls a fossilised forest. We are staying on the edge of the Octagon, the centre of Dunedin, a surprisingly beautiful university city, packed with colonial buildings, boutique shops and good restaurants.
Thursday 9 February
Dunedin – Arrowtown
Another contender for my favourite day of the tour. We head out of Dunedin along the harbour shore to Port Chalmers and onto the amazing Blueskin Road. We rejoin the highway before heading north to Palmerston then climb wonderful, empty roads to the Central Otago Highlands. Picture open under-populated, undulating plains ringed by serious mountains. Then the day gets even better as we get close to Cromwell and the centre of the Central Otago Wine District, home to some of the best Pinot Noir on the planet. It is then down the hill and back to Hillbrook Lodge in Arrowtown, yes, it is that good.
Friday 10 February
Rest day might not be the most accurate description for today. No doubt the golfers will take advantage of staying on a world class course. If golf is not your game we are only 20 Km from Queenstown, the adrenalin capital of the world or travel 40 Km up the hill to Tony Quinn’s Highland Motorsport Park in Cromwell. From Cromwell it is only 4 Km to the brilliant restaurant at Mt Difficulty Wines. I am sure that no matter what your tastes, this will be a good day.
Saturday 11 February
Arrowtown – Lake Tekapo
A reasonable short drive today, the golfers probably have time for one last round. Once underway we head up the Crown Range towards Wanaka before hitting the main highway and over Lindis Pass and on towards Omarama and Twizel. There are some great views of Mount Cook as we pass Lake Pukaki on our way to the Peppers Resort overlooking Lake Tekapo. A fitting location for our final dinner together,
Sunday 12 February
Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
Our final day’s drive takes us over Burke Pass and back onto the Canterbury Plain where our Driving Adventures began, but before we hand back the keys we skirt the base of the mountains past Methven and Mt Hutt before arriving at the airport in time for a flight home.
Driving Adventures is David Thomas. David has been passionate about driving since he was old enough to hold a steering wheel. He has driven from London to Sydney, through the Andes and much of South and Central America, across deserts and deep into rainforests. He has won rally stages in the Himalayas. Raced successfully at Bathurst and taught thousands of people advanced driving skills through his own school and as head of the NSW Police Driver Training School. He has driven in movies and videos and has been organising and conducting tours since 1990. If anyone can show you how to have a good time in a car, it is David.
As Driving Adventures he has organised an annual 3 week tour of Europe every year since 2011 as well as highly successful tours of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. The best recommendation comes from the great number of clients who keep re-booking new Driving Adventures on a regular basis.
The idea of shipping our own cars to New Zealand is highly desirable but expensive. I have secured the use of a number of Mazda MX5’s for tour members to hire. Let me know of you would like to reserve one and I will make it happen. If you want something a little larger, Christchurch was selected as our start point as it has the best range of rental cars on the South Island.
The cost of the tour is $6,000/car/2 people. this includes your accommodation for 9 nights, a cooked breakfast on 7 mornings, a comprehensive road-book to guide you through your Driving Adventures and a guide to smooth the way for you and ensure that you have a memorable holiday.
Places are limited to 10 cars only and will be allocated on a 1st come basis. You can secure your place on tour with a $2,000 non-refundable deposit with the final payment of $4,000 being due before 1 January 2017.
To book your place or if you have any questions please contact;
+61 418 473 916