With a plethora of thrilling experiences and breathtaking sights awaiting you, New Zealand is a must-visit destination for every avid traveller. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring landscapes, from majestic mountains to pristine lakes, from picturesque towns to stunning coastlines. New Zealand offers an abundance of excitement, whether it's exploring mystical caves, embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures, or indulging in a unique cultural experience. What else are you waiting for? Let’s start planning your trip!
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch
Arrive in Christchurch and car rental pick up (1 hour)
- Once you arrive, head over to the car rental office to pick up your vehicle.
- To self-drive on South Island, book your car rental on Klook for a stress-free trip! You can choose from different brands such as Avis, Budget, Europcar, Ezi Car Rental, Hertz and more.
- You can choose an economy car (for couples), SUV (for a small family), campervan (for a family with kids), and more. Car seats and booster seats are available for a fee.
- For international travellers, you need to provide your passport, an international driver's licence, a credit card and a reservation number to collect your car.
- #HHWT Tip: Remember to bring your international driver's licence and book your vehicle in advance during the busy summer season (December to February)!
- P.S. Christchurch International Airport also has a prayer room that is located next to the domestic baggage reclaim area, which is open to visitors of all faiths.
New Zealand Travel Essentials
- One of the most important things to bring when you’re travelling is a SIM card!
- You’ll need it to stay connected and to post all your wanderlust photos. Get your 5G/4G/3G SIM Card on Klook and you can collect it at the Christchurch International Airport.
- Another travel essential when in New Zealand is the Klook New Zealand Icons Pass! With this pass, you can enjoy up to 25% to some of New Zealand’s iconic attractions such as the Te Anau Glowworm Caves Cruise Tour, Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour, Shotover Jet Boat Ride in Queenstown and many more.
- You’ll need travel insurance for a stress-free trip! Choose from Lite, Essential or Deluxe package that’s perfect for you. The travel insurance will cover accidental death, hospitalisation and most importantly, COVID-19-related issues!
Drive to Kaikōura and check into your accommodation
- Embark on an enchanting 2.5-hour drive heading north from Christchurch, and be captivated by the awe-inspiring rural vistas of North Canterbury as you make your way to the magnificent destination of Kaikoura – renowned as one of the world's premier spots for whale watching.
- There are plenty of accommodation options in Kaikōura ranging from budget to luxurious. We recommend booking your accommodation on Klook for a seamless experience!
- After dropping off your luggage, it’s time to explore Kaikōura!
Lunch: Cooper’s Catch Fish & Chips
Address: 9 West End, Kaikōura 7300, New Zealand
Operating hours: 11am - 8pm (Daily)
Halal status: Muslim-friendly. Do note that alcohol is served. We recommend you dine at your discretion.
Whale-watching cruise (1 hour)
Credit: Tourism New Zealand
- A whale-watching cruise is a must when in New Zealand!
- Climb aboard a beautiful sailboat and set sail on a remarkable journey around Kaikōura, where the sighting of a whale is almost guaranteed.
- In fact, this exceptional whale-watching tour boasts an impressive 95% success rate, ensuring you a truly unforgettable experience.
- In the extremely rare event that you do not have the fortune to encounter a whale during the trip, fear not, as you will be eligible for an 80% refund.
- Keep your camera ready, for the moment when the majestic giant sperm whale gracefully emerges from the depths.
- This is the ultimate whale-watching adventure, where you can immerse yourself in a spectacle that will leave you in awe of nature's grandeur.
Or, try wildlife kayaking in Kaikōura (1 hour)
- Among the many delights that make a holiday in Kaikoura unforgettable, one must not miss the incredible wildlife kayaking activities that await.
- Embark on an exhilarating expedition, paddling your way along the coastline, where delightful fur seals can be spotted lounging and playing in their natural habitat.
- Keep your eyes peeled, as you may also have delightful encounters with dolphins and penguins as you navigate the picturesque waters.
- Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or a complete novice, everyone is welcome to join in on this captivating seal kayaking excursion in Kaikoura, as no prior kayaking experience is necessary.
Dinner: The Craypot Kitchen & Bar Kaikoura
Address: 70 West End, Kaikōura 7300, New Zealand
Operating hours: 11:30 am–2:30 pm, 5–8 pm (Daily)
Halal status: Muslim-friendly. Do note that alcohol is served. We recommend you dine at your discretion.
Day 2: Explore Franz Josef Glacier
Check out hotel and drive to Franz Josef Glacier
Time to check out from your hotel and drive to Franz Josef Glacier (it’s about a 6.5-hour drive).
Make a detour to Greymouth or Hokitika while on your way to the glaciers.
- As the driving journey takes more than 6.5 hours, we suggest you make a pit stop at either Greymouth or Hokitika for a rest.
- You can enjoy lunch here before continuing your journey.
Continue driving to Franz Josef Glacier
- From fiords to glaciers, where else in the world can you find a glacier that descends into a lush rainforest?
- Hike inside an actual glacier (with an experienced guide!) or take a helicopter ride over Franz Josef to revel in the stunning ice formations and enjoy panoramic views.
- Be sure to enjoy a dip in one of the rejuvenating hot pools too!
- Book your accommodation on Klook and stay overnight in Franz Josef.
Dinner: Alice May Restaurant
Address: 30 Cron Street, Franz Josef / Waiau 7886, New Zealand
Operating hours: 4:30–8:30 pm (Daily)
Halal status: Unfortunately, there are no Muslim-friendly restaurants in this area. However, this restaurant has a wide range of vegetarian menus. So, we recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Need more reasons to explore New Zealand? Here are 14 Breathtaking Nature Spots In New Zealand That Are Out Of This World!
Day 3: The Remarkables Ski Resort
Learn how to ski (half day)
- Have you always dreamt of experiencing the thrill of skiing or snowboarding but didn't know where to begin? Look no further than this fantastic beginners package offered at The Remarkables Ski Resort.
- The package includes convenient return mountain transfers, access to the dedicated beginner area at The Remarkables, two two-hour group lessons led by experienced instructors, and rental equipment for skiing or snowboarding.
- Nestled amidst stunning alpine scenery, this world-class destination offers thrilling slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
- Enjoy breathtaking views, diverse terrain, and superb facilities, including terrain parks, freestyle areas, and a dedicated beginners' zone. Unforgettable winter adventures await!
- Once you’ve mastered skiing or snowboarding, drive to Queenstown (about a 40-minute drive) to stay overnight. Book your accommodation in Queenstown on Klook for a stress-free trip!
Dinner: The Taj Indian Kitchen
Address: 75 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Operating hours: 12–2 pm, 5–10 pm (Daily)
Halal status: Muslim-friendly.
Day 4: Queenstown
Bungee jumping or zip ride (1 hour)
- There's something for everyone in Queenstown! World-renowned for its adventure and adrenaline-rushing activities, it’s only right for you to try at least one of them.
- Why not jump into the deep side of the river (literally) and try bungee jumping off the Kawaru Bridge?
- Many adrenaline junkies come to Queenstown specifically for the Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jumping or the Kawarau Zip Ride!
- If jumping off a bridge into a river and letting your dear life depend on a springy rope isn’t what you fancy, try the zip ride instead. It’s for those who are tamer at heart. What’s better, you can go on a zip ride with a friend!
Lunch: Erik’s Fish And Chips (1 hour)
Address: Erik’s Fish And Chips, 13 Earl St, Queenstown 9300
Operating hours: Daily, 12PM-8.30PM
Halal status: Halal-certified
P/S: Need more food options? Here are 10 Halal Food Stops (Near Top Attractions) In New Zealand’s South Island!
Hike up Ben Lomond (3-4 hours)
- You would need a good level of fitness to hike up Ben Lomond.
- But all those huffing and puffing will reward you with a breathtaking view of Mount Earnslaw and Aspiring.
- Whether you’re challenging yourself to a 3-4 hour walk (return) at Ben Lomond Saddle or a 6-8 hour walk (return) at Ben Lomond Summit, every step will take you closer to their natural splendours.
Address: Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve, Ben Lomond 9371
Or, embark on a Queenstown Quad Bike Adventure (1 hour)
- Get ready for an exhilarating adventure on four wheels that guarantees the best kind of fun!
- Kickstart your quad bike tour with convenient hotel pickup, whisking you away to the trail site just a short 15-minute drive from central Queenstown.
- Equipped with a complete set of protective gear and clothing, you'll receive a comprehensive safety briefing and expert instructions from a certified instructor to ensure a smooth ride.
- Over the course of 2.5 hours, soak in breathtaking panoramic views of Queenstown, capturing unforgettable photo opportunities.
- Feel the rush as you zoom through puddles and effortlessly soar over molehills!
Lake Wakatipu cruise and BBQ dinner (1.5 hours)
- Get ready for an absolutely delightful adventure aboard the marvellous TSS Earnslaw Steamship - the one and only steamship sailing its way through the magnificent Southern Hemisphere!
- Prepare yourself for a breathtaking 90-minute voyage across the enchanting turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu.
- Allow yourself to unwind and soak in the beauty as you glide past majestic snow-capped peaks of The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak, all while being embraced by the serene embrace of nature.
- And hey, don't forget to explore the cosy mini-museum and the fascinating engine room on board, where you can delve into the captivating history of this remarkable steamship. It's an experience you absolutely cannot afford to miss!
- The cruise also offers a BBQ dinner. The dishes are not halal-certified but they can cater to a vegetarian menu. Do note that alcohol is served. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Day 5: Milford Sound Day Tour and Cruise (whole day)
Credit: Tourism New Zealand
- Get ready for an absolutely marvellous day exploring the breathtaking wonders of New Zealand's most renowned natural gem, Milford Sound!
- Take a full-day tour of Milford Sound from Queenstown. Pick up and drop off from your hotel is available so you don’t have to worry about the long drive!
- Nestled deep within the awe-inspiring Fiordland National Park, this majestic attraction is an absolute feast for the senses, teeming with towering mountain peaks, mesmerizing ink-dark waters, dramatic cliffs that reach for the heavens, and snow-capped peaks that will leave you breathless.
- As you venture through the majestic mountains, passing through the incredible Homer Tunnel, you'll be transported into the heart of Fiordland National Park.
- Along the way, prepare to be enchanted by the pristine beauty of Mirror Lakes, marvel at the remarkable Knobs Flat, which bears the indelible mark of ancient glaciers, and quench your thirst with a taste of the purest waters in the world at Monkey Creek!
- And then, the moment you've been waiting for arrives – it's time to hop aboard your eco-cruise and embark on a two-hour journey through the park's awe-inspiring highlights.
- Be mesmerised by cascading waterfalls, magnificent land formations that defy imagination, and so much more!
Dinner: Boliwood Indian Restaurant
Address: Boliwood, 62 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300
Operating hours: Daily, 11AM-10.30PM
Halal status: While the restaurant uses Muslim-friendly ingredients, do note that alcoholic beverages are served on the premise. We recommend you dine at your discretion.
Day 6: Te Anau and Glowworm Cave
Glowworm Caves tour (half day)
- Drive to Te Anau and embark on a delightful adventure as you hop aboard a picturesque cruise ship and set sail towards the captivating Glowworm Caves nestled within the magnificent Lake Te Anau of New Zealand.
- Accompanied by a friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guide, immerse yourself in the intricate labyrinth of limestone passages, marvel at the mesmerising whirlpools that adorn the caves, and be awestruck by the thunderous underground waterfall that graces this natural wonder.
- But wait, there's more! The grand finale awaits as you glide through the waters on a boat, leading you to a hidden grotto where an entire galaxy of thousands of glowworms resides.
- Prepare to be absolutely amazed as these unique creatures radiate a natural glow, creating a spectacle, unlike anything you've ever witnessed before!
Lunch: Lokal Kitchen & Bar
Address: 155 Fernhill Road, Fernhill, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Operating hours: 5–8:30 pm
Halal status: Has a wide range of vegetarian menus. Do note that alcohol is served here, so, we recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Onsen Hot Pool (1 hour)
- Time for some R&R!
- Indulge in a truly extraordinary and rejuvenating spa experience at the Onsen Hot Pools.
- Immerse yourself in the warm embrace of the private cedar-lined hot pools, and prepare to be mesmerised by the breathtaking vista of the serene Shotover River.
- Bring your loved ones along, as this is an experience best shared in the company of friends and family.
- Together, revel in the tranquil ambience of the spa, allowing yourselves to unwind and escape the hectic pace of everyday life.
- It's the perfect activity to recharge, rejuvenate, and find solace in the midst of life's hustle and bustle.
Dinner: Turkish Kebabs of Queenstown
Address: 34 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Operating hours: 10.30am - 10pm (Closed on Monday)
Halal status: Muslim-owned
Feeling snacky? Check out these 14 Muslim-Friendly Snacks You’ll Find In A New Zealand Supermarket!
Day 7: Mount Cook Ski Plane and Helicopter Experience
Mount Cook (half day)
- Drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook National Park (approximately a 3-hour drive).
- Embark on an epic alpine adventure and conquer New Zealand's highest peak on a ski plane and helicopter ride!
- Brace yoruself for awe-inspiring vistas as you soar through the skies in a ski plane and helicopter.
- Touch down on the magnificent Tasman Glacier and immerse yourself in the grandeur of the country's largest glacier.
- Prepare to be amazed by the wonders of nature, from the mesmerising Tasman Terminal Lake to the majestic Hochstetter Icefall, and many more.
- This is an experience that will leave you breathless and create memories to last a lifetime!
- Book accommodation on Klook and stay overnight in Mount Cook.
Dark Sky Project-Summit Experience (1.5 hours)
- In the evening, explore the night sky at Dark Sky Project at Mt. John Observatory.
- Expand your knowledge with experienced guides who will introduce you to the wonders of the Southern sky.
- Observe mesmerising deep sky objects using high-powered optical telescopes, some with apertures of up to 16 inches.
- On clear nights, catch sight of the awe-inspiring Milky Way, distant planets, star clusters, solar systems, and even far-off galaxies. It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Dinner: Alpine Restaurant at The Hermitage
Address: 89 Terrace Rd, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand
Operating hours: 5pm - 9pm (Daily)
Halal status: Vegetarian menu available. We recommend you dine at your own discretion.
Day 8: Christchurch
Drive to Christchurch
- After an adventurous week in New Zealand’s South Island, it’s time to head home.
- Drive back to Christchurch (approximately a 4-hour drive).
- Be sure to return your car at the international terminal!
Optional: Day 9: Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves Tour
Credit: Tourism New Zealand
- If you want to extend your New Zealand trip, we recommend driving north to the famous Hobbiton Movie Set!
- However, do note that the drive is about 14 hours so we recommend staying overnight in Wellington. If that’s too long for you, you can fly to Auckland from Christchurch or Queenstown.
- Be sure to take a guided tour of the famousHobbiton Movie Set and explore the Shire.
- From here, you can drive to Auckland and fly home from there.
Did not get enough of the Hobbiton? Here are the 8 Best Middle-Earth Locations In New Zealand Every LOTR Fan Must Visit!
Note: Please check the availability and operating schedules of attractions, as well as road conditions, during the time of your visit. Make sure to allow for flexibility in the itinerary to accommodate any unforeseen changes.
Embarking on an 9D8N adventure through New Zealand's South Island is an experience of a lifetime. From the pristine lakes and majestic mountains to the vibrant cities and charming towns, this itinerary offers a diverse range of attractions and activities. Whether you're exploring the breathtaking fjords, immersing yourself in Maori culture, or indulging in thrilling outdoor adventures, each day will bring new discoveries and unforgettable moments.
With its stunning landscapes, warm hospitality, and rich cultural heritage, the South Island is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. So, pack your bags and get ready to create memories that will be cherished for years to come on this incredible journey through New Zealand's South Island!
This article is brought to you by Tourism New Zealand.