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Christchurch to Queenstown

Driving Tour

Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city with plenty to see and do. Although you will have just picked up your new GO Rentals hire car, take the time on your first day to explore the ‘Garden City’ and check out some of the beautiful gardens or relax by the river.


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  3. Trip itinerary

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Trip Itinerary

1Christchurch and around


Christchurch has unfortunately made headlines in recent times for a string of earthquakes that caused serious damage to the city – but its charm remains untouched and the city is rebuilding. Check out the several Gap Filler projects that volunteers have created to temporarily “activate” sites left empty by the earthquakes – you’ll be able to see some unique and really creative work that is proof of Christchurch’s charm and resilience.

Related Blog Posts

Garden City

The tree-lined Avon River and Christchurch’s many parks and gardens give the city its reputation as the Garden City so make sure you check out the botanical gardens and the beautiful parks. For something a bit different, why not take a trip down to the picture perfect Antigua boatsheds and try your hand at punting – we bet you have a few crashes if our own experience is anything to go by!

Image of the Antigua Boat sheds in Christchurch where you can go punting on the River Avon

Christchurch Complete Guide

Something a bit different – Kaikoura (180kms – 2 hours 35 mins)

Image of two kayakers with the dolphins in the waters around Kaikoura If you’re itching to give your new GO Rentals car a run out and cities are not your thing, Kaikoura is a fantastic place to go and explore for the day. It’s around a 2.5 hour drive to Kaikoura but it’s well worth it – here are a couple of the highlights:

Cellar View Café and Restaurant  – offers you a pretty unique opportunity to sit down, relax with a glass of wine and some delicious food and do some whale watching.

Swimming with dolphins –Encounter Kaikoura offers a brilliant opportunity to get in the water in the south Pacific and swim with these amazing animals. Even better news is that Encounter are a GO Play partner so will sort you out with a 10% discount. Winner!

2Christchurch to Queenstown (483kms – 6 hour 37 mins)

After a day exploring Christchurch and around, it’s time to hit the road and give your GO Rentals dream machine a run out.

Although Queenstown is your final destination on this four day adventure, the drive down from Christchurch will take you on a journey to some fantastic sights on your way and if you fancy it, you can always break the journey up with a stopover.

Lyttelton (12.4kms – 19 mins from Christchurch)

Heading out of Christchurch, a stop off at Lyttelton is well worth the detour and it’s a great place to grab some breakfast if you’re up bright and early. Hit by the earthquakes, Lyttelton has now rebuilt and is a thriving village with lots of bars and cafes – the road from Christchurch to Lyttelton offers you some fantastic views looking down to the city and the harbour as well as down to the Southern Alps – a great way to start this road trip.

Akaroa (78.8kms – 1 hour 26 mins from Lyttelton)

Located 75km from Christchurch and known by locals as the ‘Riviera of Canterbury’, Akaroa is a great stop off as you head south. This village is located on Banks Peninsula within a harbour of the same name and is considered “the most French town” in New Zealand, as it was the only French settlement in the country. Spend some time exploring the small town and then head to the harbour for the best fish and chips meal of your life (at least that’s Akaroa’s claim so you be the judge and let us know). If you didn’t get the chance to head up to Kaikoura, Black Cat Cruise offer the chance to swim with the very rare Hector dolphins which are only found in these waters and with a GO Play discount of 10%, you’d be a fool not to!

Mt John Observatory/Lake Tekapo (280kms – 4 hours 10 mins from Akaroa)

Image of the observatory on Mt John in Canterbury, New Zealand with views looking out towards Lake Tekapo

Stargazers all over the world know Mt John and Lake Tekapo, in the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region, as one of the absolute best places to look at the stars (and even catch a glimpse of the Southern Lights – Aurora Australis).

Lake Tekapo is also famous for its unique turquoise colour, as well as its beautiful starry nights – it’s a great place for you romantics out there and there have been many ‘wooing’ incidents down at Lake Tekapo. If you can park here for the night, you will not regret it. Mt John, just above the Tekapo township, is considered one of the most accessible observatories in the world, home to 6 telescopes, including New Zealand’s biggest telescope, which can observe 50 million stars each clear night (yes, you read that right).

Lake Tekapo and Mt John are located about 3.5 hour drive north of Queenstown (256km) so if you’ve done enough driving for one day, this could be a great place to stopover and break up the journey.

Queenstown Complete Guide

3Queenstown and around

So you’ve arrived in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world with only 2 days to explore – there’s no time to waste – let’s GO! We’ve carefully selected our top three highlights whether you’re after adventure or relaxation:

Image showing the AJ Hackett, Nevis Bungy Jump near Queenstown, New ZealandGO Snap Happy Photo Opportunity

Adrenaline fuelled adventure

For those who have headed to Queenstown for adrenaline fuelled adventure, these are our highlights of things to do in a day:

1) AJ Hackett Nevis Bungy – Australasia’s highest bungy at 134m, this is not for the feint hearted – 8.5 seconds of freefall will have you screaming like a lunatic!

2) Skipper Canyon Jet – reaching speeds of up to 85mph this ride up the tight Skippers Canyon is sure to get your pulse racing. The 360 degree spins will get you closer to the wall than you feel comfortable with!

3) Coronet Peak ski resort (in season) – fantastic resort for pros and beginners alike, Coronet Peak is a GO Rentals favourite in the winter where lots of fun can be had on and off the slopes

Something a bit more…relaxed

We know that jumping off mountains and flipping jet boats is not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s more to Queenstown than adrenaline fuelled adventure. Here are our top three things for the more laid back traveller:

1) Ben Lommond – a 4 hour walk giving you some awesome views of Queenstown, the lake and surrounding mountains.

2) Skyline gondola – take the gondola up Bob’s Peak and enjoy some award winning cuisine and some amazing views. If you want to get down a bit quicker, the luge is a lot of fun!

3) Arrowtown (22.1km – 22mins) – head out in your new GO Rentals hire car and check out this small town which was at the heart of the NZ gold rush. There are lots of nice shops, bars and places to eat as well as relaxing walks.

Image of the high street in Arrowtown, New Zealand


At the end of a busy day, Queenstown is a great place to unwind with a huge range of bars to suit everyone. Depending on the time of year, you’ll either be welcomed in to a roaring fire or sit out enjoying the sun setting over Lake Wakatipu.

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4Milford Sound (288kms – 4 hours 24 mins)

Described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound is THE MUST DO for anyone visiting the south island. A great chance to give the new GO Rentals hire car a final run out, the 4+ hour drive from Queenstown is well worth the early start to check out the magnificence of this most spectacular fjord carved out by glaciers during the ice age (that’s a long time ago by the way!).

Boat trips and overnight cruises

Hop out of your GO Rentals hire car and straight onto a boat as this is a must once you get down there. With a number of companies offering day or night cruises, you’ll not be short of options for exploring the water when you arrive. Find yourself ‘ooooing’ and ‘ahhhing’ at the spectacular waterfalls, some of which are over 1000 metres high so be sure to pack the camera but also make sure you pack your wet weather gear as inevitably it rains down at Milford Sound. Some say this makes the waterfalls even more spectacular but we’re not too sure about that one!


For those wanting a more hands on experience of Milford Sound, why not give kayaking a go. There’s nothing quite like taking to the open water and paddling yourself out into one of the most inspiring places on planet earth. GO Play partner Real Journeys offer a 4-5 hour trip out on to the water taking in the serene Harrisons Cove and the magnificent Mitre Peak offering some spectacular views up to the Pembroke Glaciers. Snap Happy Photo Opportunity

Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory

Due to its unique underwater environment, Milford Sound is home to species of black coral usually found at depths of 500m or more, including magnificent 300 year old ‘trees’ and the best way to check these old timers out is at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory.
The Discovery Centre will send you on a journey back through the history, geology and wildlife of the Sound where you will also learn about the culture and heritage of this awe-inspiring place from local guides.

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Cruise Milford Sound

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As this is your last day, make sure you leave plenty of time for the drive back to Queenstown as the roads are windy and there can be a number of tour buses making their way back on the same roads adding to the 4.5 hour drive. Alternatively, if you arrived in Queenstown on your second night, you can always fit the Milford trip in on your third day leaving your final day in and around Queenstown. Either way, make sure this trip is on your agenda!

Book a vehicle for this trip

We recommend:

Rent a Toyota Rav 4 from GO Rentals

Intermediate 4×4

Toyota Rav 4

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5 seats
Large Bags
Small Bags
Auto trans