Top of the South Itinerary

Northland & Bay of Islands

Northland & Bay of Islands

Discover subtropical islands, history and wildlife.


  • Marine Wildlife
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Thermal hot springs


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Discover the diversity of Christchurch, just a 3 hour flight from the Australian eastern coast. Then take an easy 2.5-hour drive along the scenic coastline to Kaikoura for some dolphin and whale watching. Next stop, wine country. Linger in the picturesque Marlborough region, enjoy a sauvignon blanc or two, and relax in the Marlborough Sounds waterways. Explore the artisan haven of Nelson and the world-famous Abel Tasman National Park. On the way back to Christchurch unwind in the natural thermal pools and spas of Hanmer Springs.

    Day 1: Christchurch to Kaikoura

    see mighty whales up close
    Christchurch - Canterbury


    Get up close to marine wildlife in this coastal town


    • By car: Christchurch to Kaikoura
    • By car: 2 h 30 min | 181 km

    Recommended experiences in Kaikoura

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    Start your journey exploring the stunning gardens and parks of New Zealand's "garden city" before heading north to Kaikoura. Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered in Kaikoura, take time to experience giant whales, playful dolphins and marine birds up close.

    Day 2: Kaikoura to Marlborough

    Savour wine with a view


    World-famous Sauvignon Blanc


    • By car: Kaikoura to Marlborough
    • By car: 1 h 30 min | 128 km

    Recommended experiences in Marlborough

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    From Kaikoura travel north to the diverse natural beauty of Marlborough. Take time to enjoy the world-famous Sauvignon Blanc, dine on ocean fresh seafood, walk or bike through native forest along coastal ridges and meet the wildlife cruising the stunning Marlborough Sounds.

    Day 3: Marlborough to Nelson

    Refresh Yourself in Nature


    Secluded golden sand beaches and native forest


    • By car: Marlborough to Nelson
    • By car: 1 h 30 min | 118 km

    Recommended experiences in Nelson Tasman

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    Enjoy the coastal drive from Marlborough to the secluded golden sand beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park, and discover the unique artisan culture of Nelson. Explore the stunning landscapes by foot, bike, kayak or boat and refresh yourself in this welcoming enviroment.

    Day 4: Nelson to Hanmer Springs

    Soak up the view
    Christchurch - Canterbury


    Natural thermal waters in a resort town


    • By car: Nelson to Hanmer Springs
    • By car: 3 h 30 min | 300 km

    Recommended experiences in Hanmer Spring

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    Take your time through the Nelson Lakes National Park to Hanmer Springs, a destination for relaxation and refreshment. Soak in the natural hot springs or discover outdoor activities such as forest walks, horse trekking and trout fishing before returning to Christchurch, just 2 hours away.

    Day 5: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

    Discover Christchurch in spring time
    Christchurch - Canterbury

    Christchurch - Canterbury

    New Zealand's "Garden City" – take your time to explore.


    • By car: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
    • By car: 1 h 38 min | 134 km

    Recommended experiences in Christchurch

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    Driving south from Hanmer Springs returning to the vibrant city of Christchurch. Explore a leisurely punt down the Avon river and the famous botanic gardens that gave this city it's name as New Zealand's "garden city". Just a few minutes from the city wander the easily acces

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