On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.
The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.
Christchurch, New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore is to take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights - or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.
Collect your rental car - Europcar Ford Escape 2WD (SFAR) or similar (Europcar)
The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours
Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer a once-in-a-lifetime, up close encounter with the giant Sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on modern catamarans, specifically designed for whale watching - Featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.
Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted). As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours
Surrounded by row upon row of vines, Blenheim sits at the heart of the Marlborough Wine region. A compact town centred on an old fashioned market place, Blenheim is a great place to soak up the country atmosphere. A great choice of cafes, restaurants and shops will help you while away an afternoon.
Of course the region is most famous for its world class wines and a visit would not be complete without sampling the vintages at the many wineries.
A short drive north from Blenheim to you reach Havelock. The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so it's a great place to stop for lunch.
Join the world famous Pelorus Mail Run in the Marlborough Sounds and visit isolated homesteads nestled in quiet secluded bays, delivering crucial supplies and mail the same way it has been done for decades. View mussel farms and see why Pelorus Sound is the mussel capital of the world. Old timers row out in dinghies to meet the boat, while some receive their supplies on tiny, unspoilt beaches. Mail was first delivered to the Marlborough Sounds by Government Steamer in 1912. The Steamer put the mail ashore at various small Post Offices throughout the area and the residents had to row to these points to pick their mail up. In 1925 the Government decided to put the Service out to Private Operators and the Mail Run, as it is today, was born. In the early years most of the goods carried were farming supplies and a few tourists. These days as most of the farms have ceased operating, tourists are the only passengers as well as the mail.
From Havelock you follow the valley south towards Blenheim and wine growing region of Marlborough. The town of Blenheim sits right at the heart of the New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Marlborough, and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.
The ultimate food and wine experience, the Sounds Connection Gourmet Wine Tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at several renowned Marlborough wineries including Hans Herzog Estate, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Johanneshof Cellars, as well as a stop at the Makana Chocolate Factory (Wineries visited on this tour can vary due to availability). Meet the makers behind these world-renowned wines and gain a fascinating insight into the wine-making process.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 74 kms / 46 miles : 0.9 hours
A short drive north from Blenheim to you reach Havelock. The small port town of Havelock has a great variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from so plan your journey to arrive in time for lunch. Crossing the Bryant Range you arrive onto Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson.
Nelson is well known for its award-winning local wines and Craft Beer. It is New Zealand's only hop growing area and on this tour, you will travel through the beautiful grape growing, hop growing, berry growing and orchard areas to visit the tasting locations.
We visit two award-winning wineries for a wine tasting then a scenic drive to NZ's Oldest Pub (built in 1850 by early German settler Cordt Bensemann). There, you can enjoy a tray of local craft brews and ciders OR if you prefer, a glass of beautiful Moutere wine grown in the Moutere clays. You will also visit at least one other boutique brewery/cidery or add another wine stop on the way home. Wine Brews and definitely a lot of Views!
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 109 kms / 68 miles : 1.4 hours
Leaving Nelson you will pass through the suburb of Richmond. Moving on you will travel through the Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Park regions. Trees, rivers and valleys accompany you now as you head towards the town of Murchison. Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers paradise with white water rafting, jet boating, gold panning, kayaking, 4WD trips and excellent trout fishing.
From Murchison, you will head south towards Maruia Springs, which has been attracting travellers for years and the natural hot springs are now located within an authentic Japanese themed resort, a great place to stop for a soak if time allows. Head inland over the Lewis Pass where the landscape changes to a sub-alpine zone with large forests of red and silver beech. Near the summit a short walking track, the Tarn Nature Walk, is an ideal place to break your journey.
The drive south to Christchurch takes you through some fine rolling farmland and North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 465 kms / 289 miles : 6.5 hours
Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this driving leg is: 7 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours