Top of the South Itinerary

5 DAYS

860 km

Highlights

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

Entfernung

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Discover the top of the South Island, known for its warm mild weather, stunning Abel Tasman National Park, and friendly locals.

Explore diverse Christchurch before heading north to Kaikoura for some dolphin and whale watching. Enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc or two in the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds and explore the artisan haven of Nelson with its 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

Christchurch - Canterbury
Dolphin spotting, Christchurch - Canterbury

Von Sara Orme

Christchurch - Canterbury

KAIKOURA

Get up close to marine wildlife in this coastal town

Entfernung

  • By car: 2 h 40 min | 181 km - SH1
  • By bus: 3 h 40 min | by Intercity

TOP EXPERIENCES IN KAIKOURA

Stunning scenic flights, whale watching and other wildlife encounters

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Start your journey exploring the stunning gardens and parks of New Zealand's "garden city" before heading north to Kaikoura. On the way, enjoy a long lunch in Canterbury’s Waipara Valley, the country’s fastest growing wine region.

Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered in Kaikoura. Take a boat cruise and experience giant sperm whales, playful dolphins and marine birds up close or wander the spectacular Peninsula Walkway to see seals sunbathing on the rocky coast. While you're here, don't forget to taste the local crayfish from which Kaikoura takes its name.

Day 2: Kaikoura to Blenheim

Marlborough
Weinberge, Marlborough

Von Mike Heydon

Marlborough

MARLBOROUGH

From valleys of vines to sheltered waterways

Entfernung

  • By car: 2 h 35 min | 153 km via SH1
  • By : SH1 route is only open 7am - 8.30pm
  • By bus: 2 h 25 min | to Blenheim by Intercity.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN MARLBOROUGH

Discover native wildlife, brilliant hiking trails and scenic waterways.

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Follow the coastline from Kaikoura, north to Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine growing region and home of sauvignon blanc.

This is the perfect place to enjoy world-famous wine and dine on ocean-fresh seafood. Explore the Marlborough Sounds with a walk or bike ride through native forest, or meet the local wildlife on a boat cruise. In Blenheim, the heart of Marlborough, you’ll find a pleasing selection of eateries, pubs, shops and golf courses, along with more than 20 wineries nearby. Character accommodation is another Blenheim delight – everything from homestays to boutique hotels.

Day 3: Blenheim to Nelson

Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson

Von Fraser Clements

Nelson

NELSON 

Long golden beaches and untouched native forests

Entfernung

  • By car: 1 h 35 min | 115 km via SH6
  • By bus: 1 h 45 min | by Intercity

TOP EXPERIENCES IN NELSON

Explore national parks, meet local artists and savour the local wines.

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Next, head over the hills to the sunny Nelson-Tasman region and succumb to Nelson’s creative charms. This seaside city is home to an artistic community of over 300 working artists and a plethora of galleries as well as delicious restaurants, boutique craft breweries and enticing golden-sand beaches.

Beyond the city, you will discover a huge diversity of landscapes and experiences. Nelson-Tasman region is home to three National Parks and a great place to explore by boat, foot or kayak.

Day 4: Nelson to Hanmer Springs

Christchurch - Canterbury
Hanmer Springs, Christchurch - Canterbury

Von Miles Holden

Christchurch - Canterbury

HANMER SPRINGS 

Natural thermal waters in a resort town

Entfernung

  • By car: 4 h | 300 km SH6, SH65 & SH7
  • By bus: 5 h 30 min | by Intercity

TOP EXPERIENCES IN HANMER SPRINGS

Discover a resort town that offers the best of adventure and relaxation.

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There are plenty of things to see and do as you travel from Nelson to the resort town of Hanmer Springs. Get your adrenaline pumping in Murchison with a Buller Canyon jetboat ride, or cross the country's longest swing-bridge and see the raging water below.

The enchanting Victoria Forest Park houses five species of New Zealand beech and a large collection of native birdlife. This is also the perfect place for relaxation and indulgence, soak in natural hot springs and treat yourself to a spa therapy. Or, discover the region's many outdoor activities such as forest walks, mountain biking, horse trekking and trout fishing.

Day 5: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Walking the Port Hills, Christchurch - Canterbury

Von Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury

CHRISTCHURCH - CANTERBURY

Stretches from ocean to the Alps

Entfernung

  • By car: 1 h 50 min | 134 km via SH7 & SH1
  • By bus: 2 h | to Christchurch by Intercity

TOP EXPERIENCES IN CHRISTCHURCH

Enjoy relaxing natural environment and thrilling adventure activities.

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Travel south from Hanmer Springs, back to the vibrant city of Christchurch. As the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch has a fascinating mixture of heritage and innovation.

The tranquil Avon River, meandering through the city is perfect for old-fashioned punting, historic buildings house a lively arts community, and restored trams make it easy to get around. End your journey with a delicious meal at one of the many eatery precincts, High Street, Victoria Street, or Stranges Lane.

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Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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