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Southern Alps Self Drive Discovery Tour

New Zealand

Mount Cook


PLEASE NOTE: We can help you add, adjust and tailor the itinerary to suit your requirements.  Each clients itinerary is different. We work to your budget and take advantage of current specials in the marketplace for your time of travel.


  • 1 night Auckland

  • 2 nights Rotorua

  • 1 night Napier

  • 1 night Wellington

  • 2 nights Nelson

  • 1 night Franz Josef Glacier

  • 2 nights Queenstown

  • 1 night Te Anau

  • Milford Sound Cruise

  • 2 nights Dunedin

  • 1 night Mt Cook National Park

  • 1 night Christchurch

  • All transfers (if not self driving)

  • Rental Car if using

  • Coach transport if using

  • Activity transfers where required

  • Breakfast daily


Destinations:     Auckland, Rotorua, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Franz Josef, Queenstown,Te Anau, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Christchurch

Experiences:     Scenery - everything else is up to you.

No. of days:      16 Days/15 Nights

This is a relaxing self-drive itinerary traversing through the Southern Alps over 16 days.  Enjoy the scenery as you make your way to each destination.  You can either do your own thing at each location or pre-book activities based on your interests before you go.  Included is a visit to Milford Sound where you can enjoy a scenic nature cruise of the stunning Milford Sound and then get up close and personal with wildlife on a kayak adventure.  You can make this itinerary as chilled out or as jammed packed as you want.  Pre-booking activities is highly recommended during peak season to ensure availability.  New Zealand is a fantastic destination with plenty of places to explore and enjoy on your holiday.


Day 1:     Arrive in Auckland, pick up your rental car.  Afternoon free in Auckland.

Day 2:     Drive to Rotorua. Optional stop at Waitomo Caves. Evening culture experience at Te Po including dinner and entertainment.

Day 3:     Explore Rotorua. Activity options include a Polynesian spa, Skyline Gondola, Agrodome showcasing New Zealand's sheep breeds and sheep shearing.

Day 4:     Drive from Rotorua to Hawke’s Bay and Napier the Art Deco Capital of NZ.  Take a lot around Napier or enjoy an afternoon wine tour.

Day 5:     Drive from Hawkes Bay to Wellington. Enjoy the Wellington Harbour and surrounding hills.

Day 6:     Journey to the South Island on the Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds.  From the Interislander Ferry drive to Nelson.

Day 7:     Explore Nelson.  Activities can include visiting Able Tasman National Park, walking tracks, kayaking or guided tours.

Day 8:     Leaving Nelson you drive through the Buller Gorge to Westport. Stop at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks on your way through to Franz Josef Glacier. You could take a helicopter ride over the glacier for amazing views.

Day 9:     Drive to Queenstown passing through Wanaka.  Take a look around Wanaka township and lake front before driving through the Kawerau Gorge or over the Crown Range to Queenstown.

Day 10:    Enjoy Queenstown and the many activities on offer. Adventure activities, winery tours or scenic views there’s plenty to do.

Day 11:    Head off to Te Anau and Milford Sound.  Enjoy an included Milford Sound cruise to experience the best of the fiord. Board your Pride of Milford vessel at Milford Sound Visitor Centre to commence a Milford Sound Scenic Cruise and Kayak tour. Cruise and Kayak Milford Sound includes a Milford Sound Cruise, entry to the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory and one hour of kayaking around serene Harrison Cove. Enjoy excellent up close viewing opportunity of wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season, and informative commentary is provided. Following the cruise, disembark at the Milford Discovery Centre and descend 10 metres down 64 steps underwater into a spacious viewing chamber with uninterrupted 360 degree views of the undersea world to view rare black coral and colorful sea creatures such as blue cod and butterfly perch. Then gaze through crystal clear waters as you kayak around Harrison Cove with a specialist kayak and nature guide in an intimate, up close nature experience. Then board a vessel for the return cruise to the Milford wharf.  Drive back to Te Anau for the evening.

Day 12:    Leave Te Anau and drive through to Dunedin.

Day 13:    Enjoy Dunedin’s architecture, scenic and wildlife activity options including a harbor cruise and/or visit the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve or Royal Albatross Center. 

Day 14:    Drive from Dunedin to Mt Cook National Park and experience fantastic scenic beauty.  Hike trails or take a glacier tour.

Day 15:    Enjoy the drive from Mt Cook National Park to Christchurch. Afternoon/evening at leisure in Christchurch.

Day 16:    Drive to airport and catch your flight back home.

TOP ACTIVITIES:   Auckland   |   Rotorua   |   Napier   |   Wellington   |   Nelson   |   Franz Josef   |    Queenstown   |   Milford Sound   |   Dunedin  |   Mt Cook   |   Christchurch    

Customized Itinerary

  • All aspects of this itinerary can be changed to suit your requirements.

  • The itineraries provided are great introductions to your chosen destination.  You can create a travel plan using the itinerary provided or make modifications to destinations, activities and accommodation and create the dream trip you want.

  • Not every traveler is the same, we get that and so that’s why we recommend making changes to suit your needs. In fact, we insist - we want you to have the best trip.

  • If you would like any recommendations for dinner or shopping areas please let us know we are happy to help and make bookings for you where necessary.

Visa requirements:

To travel to Australia you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and we can process an ETA Visa for free for US Citizens.  We will need a copy of your Photo Page of your Passport.  Nationalities of any other countries please enquire with your agent to see if you are eligible for a free ETA Visa or if you need to apply for a Visitor Visa.

To travel to New Zealand you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. More information on the NZeTA application requirements and process can be found on our FAQ page here.

Travel Insurance:

We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment. We will provide a travel insurance quote at the time of booking, and you are free to use our recommended insurance with Travelguard, find your own, or book without insurance.

A product that we can offer is a Cancel For Any Reason policy that will provide you with 80% back in refunds.  If the cancellation is for medical reasons there is a 100% refund..

Additional information:

Downunder Journeys services travel requests from the United States and Canada for travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tahiti.  All pricing on this website is in US Dollars.


All of the sample itineraries on this website do not include airfares as the airfare price changes daily and to ensure you get the best possible price we will work with the best airfares at the time.  If you happen to buy your airfare first and then need a package to fit it, we can certainly help with that as well, just let us know.


As an idea for a 2-week vacation to Australia or New Zealand we recommend a budget of around $8,000-10,000 (including economy airfare), this would be for a 4 star and above itinerary, a little cheaper if we did more moderate accommodations.

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