Nature and Heritage Itinerary

4-5 DAYS

839 km


  • Gold mining heritage
  • Larnach Castle
  • Award-winning vineyards


The scenery on this route is simply mind-blowing. Get ready for towering mountains and turquoise lakes along with friendly, down-to-earth locals and rare wildlife. See Dunedin’s ornate mansions and Gothic churches then drive to Central Otago for gold mining legacy set among stunning landscapes and award-winning vineyards. Or head to the vibrant Queenstown for some cosmopolitan hospitality and a leisurely cycle alongside one of their many beautiful lakes and waterways.

Day 1: Spend the day in Christchurch

Vibrant creativity meets heritage
Christchurch - Canterbury
Street art, Christchurch, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury


Vibrant city with an evolving creative heart


  • Street art trail
  • Historic tram ride
  • World-famous Botanic Gardens

Recommended experiences in Christchurch

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Your journey begins in the South Island's largest city, Christchurch, which is brimming with innovation and creativity. Check out the pop-up bars and cafes, container-based shopping malls and the transitional cathedral made of cardboard.

Christchurch is no. 2 on The New York Times' 52 Places to Go and the gateway to the South Island. Vibrant and ever-evolving, this picturesque city offers a stunning juxtaposition of new architecture against heritage buildings surrounded by a region of natural wonders.

Day 2: Christchurch to Oamaru

encounter playful wildlife
Blue Penguins, Oamaru, Waitaki

By Chris Stephenson



Heritage, unique wildlife and natural wonders.


  • By car: Christchurch to Oamaru
  • By car: 3 h 20 min | 250 km

Recommended experiences in Waitaki

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From Christchurch take your time to discover this beautiful part of New Zealand. Explore Oamaru's Victorian precinct and visit the fascinating Steampunk Playground and Museum. In the evening, as the sun sets, watch the world's smallest penguin come ashore to nest at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.

Day 3: Oamaru to Dunedin

Come closer and experience New Zealand's rich history
Lanarch Castle, Dunedin

By Miles Holden



Historic architecture and eco-adventure await you


  • By car: Omarama to Dunedin
  • By car: 2 h 30 min | 227 km

Recommended experiences in Dunedin

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Head south towards Dunedin, past the brilliant turquoise waters of the lakes to the coast. Then take time to marvel at one of New Zealand’s great natural wonders, the Moeraki Boulders before arriving in Dunedin, one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 4: Dunedin to Queenstown via Central Otago

Award-winning wines and charming historic towns
Central Otago
Queenstown Trail, Central Otago

By Miles Holden



Gold mining heritage meets adventure


  • By car: Dunedin to Queenstown
  • By car: 3 h | 285 km

Recommended experiences in Queenstown

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From Dunedin travel through Central Otago, a picturesque region filled with rich gold mining heritage and charming historic towns surrounded by award-winning vineyards, on your way to Queenstown, an exciting and fantastically scenic alpine resort.

No trip to Queenstown is complete without visiting one of the 75 wineries in the area. Queenstown's premier winery, Amisfield, is the perfect spot for a long lunch or dinner with friends. Set back from Lake Hayes, surrounded by mountains, the unique scene set here is one you won't forget.

Alternatively, take the slow route through Central Otago by exploring the Otago Central Rail Trail - an epic cycle following old railway lines through beautiful, big-sky country.

Explore other South Island itineraries

TranzAlpine Itinerary →

Top of the South Itinerary →

Southern Scenic Itinerary →

Alpine Lakes Itinerary →