Nature and Heritage Itinerary

4 DAYS

654 km

Highlights

  • Lake Tekapo
  • Aoraki Mount Cook
  • Tasman Glacier

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

The scenery on this route is simply mind-blowing. Get ready for towering mountains, turquoise lakes and the sweetest little church you've ever seen - along with friendly, down-to-earth locals and rare wildlife. Stargaze above Lake Tekapo, explore New Zealand's longest glacier and discover Dunedin’s famous Larnach Castle.

Day 1: Spend the day in Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Street art, Christchurch, Christchurch - Canterbury

By ChristchurchNZ

Christchurch - Canterbury

CHRISTCHURCH

Vibrant city with an evolving, creative heart.

Highlights

  • Discover fascinating street art
  • Explore the city onboard a historic tram
  • Visit world-famous Botanic Gardens

TOP EXPERIENCES IN CHRISTCHURCH

Enjoy relaxing, natural environment, fascinating heritage and thrilling adventure activities.

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Your journey begins in the South Island's largest city, Christchurch. Vibrant and ever-evolving, this picturesque city offers a stunning juxtaposition of new architecture against heritage buildings surrounded by a region of natural wonders.

Old English gardens contrast with pop-up bars and innovative precincts in this enduring centre.

Favourite activities include punting down the Avon River, biking in the Port Hills, visiting Sumner Beach, or taking a day trip out to the French colonial settlement of Akaroa.

For a truely magical experience try hot air ballooning over the patchwork Canterbury Plains.

Day 2: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Christchurch - Canterbury
Night sky from Mt John Observatory, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Tourism New Zealand

Highlights

  • Stargaze on Mount John
  • Soak in relaxing hot pools
  • Explore Lake Tekapo's turquoise waters

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h | 228 km via SH1 & SH79
  • By bus: 3 h 30 min | to Tekapo by Intercity
  • By : Visit the Christchurch iSITE for local activities.

EXPLORE LAKE TEKAPO

Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is a must-visit for nature lovers.

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Begin your day with an easy drive from Christchurch through the patchwork fields of the Canterbury Plains to beautiful Lake Tekapo. With its stunning turquoise water, Lake Tekapo offers a magnificent spectacle year round. There are so many ways to enjoy this part of the country – hiking, fishing or relaxing in hot pools while gazing at the lake.

The sheer grandeur of the place truly comes alive at night with clear, remarkably dark skies, making Lake Tekapo a stargazer's dream. Head to the top of Mt John for 360 degree panoramic views of the International Dark Sky Reserve.

Day 3: Lake Tekapo to Omarama via Aoraki Mount Cook

Waitaki
Omarama Hot Tubs, Waitaki

By Julian Apse

Waitaki

WAITAKI

Heritage, unique wildlife and natural wonders.

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h 25 min | 200 km via SH8 & SH80
  • By bus: 1 h | to Omarama by Intercity
  • By : Visit local iSITE for day trips to Mt Cook. 

TOP EXPERIENCES IN WAITAKI & OAMARU

Explore Oamaru & Waitaki's remarkable geological formations, wildlife and unique history.

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From Lake Tekapo take your time to explore this beautiful part of New Zealand. A short detour leads to the foot of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain. Or take the easy walk and discover spectacular views of the country's largest glacier.

In Omarama spend the evening relaxing in heated, pure mountain water surrounded by amazing scenery.

Day 4: Omarama to Dunedin

Dunedin
Larnach Castle, Dunedin

By Miles Holden

Dunedin

DUNEDIN

Historic architecture and eco-adventure await.

Proximity

  • By car: 2 hr 45 min | 226 km via SH83 & SH1
  • By bus: 4 h 50 min | by Intercity via Cromwell

TOP EXPERIENCES IN DUNEDIN

Discover spectacular landscapes, wildlife and local history.

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Head south-east, past the brilliant turquoise waters of the lakes Benmore, Aviemore, and Waitaki towards the coast.

As you journey down the coast to Dunedin, take time to stop and marvel at one of New Zealand’s great natural wonders, the Moeraki Boulders. Just around the corner, at Katiki Point, you’ll find fur seals and yellow-eyed penguin colonies nesting alongside the Moeraki Lighthouse.

End your journey in Dunedin, one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere and home to the the country's only castle, Larnach Castle.

Those travelling by bus will travel inland through the Central Otago towns of Cromwell, Alexandra and Roxburgh

Driving in New Zealand

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

View the route below

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