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4Days

Wellington to Queenstown

Driving Tour

If you’re on a tight time schedule and you want to fit in as much as you can then getting from Wellington to Queenstown in 4 days is going to be a challenge with so much to do but we’re pretty confident we’ve mapped out a great little adventure for you. No time for hanging around – let’s GO!

Contents

  1. Route map with key locations
  2. Recommended vehicle for this trip
  3. Trip itinerary

Book a vehicle for this trip

We recommend:

Image of the Toyota Corolla Compact auto rental car at GO Rentals

Compact Auto

Toyota Corolla

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Seats
5 seats
Large Bags
2
Small Bags
1
Transmission
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1Wellington

It might be small but New Zealand’s cool capital is jam-packed with things to do and places to see. Once you’ve picked up your GO Rentals car, there’s no hurry to leave so take your first day to explore this diverse and multicultural city.

Museums

Park your car and head for a walk around the waterfront where you’ll find the fascinating Museum of Wellington City and Sea in the old Harbour Board Bond Store, complete with its opulent 1920s board room and a complete teak cabin from an 1879 steamship. It’s not far from New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa – a futuristic multi-storeyed complex that forms one of the largest new museums in the world, with numerous interactive displays.

Amazing Views

Wellington-Mt-VictoriaGO Snap Happy Photo Opportunity

For the best panoramic views of the city and Port Nicholson all the way across to the Hutt Valley, head up to the lookout on Mt Victoria. The historic cannon on the summit was installed in 1877 and was fired each day as a time signal for many years. If you look down below, in the suburbs, you will spot the New Zealand Cricket Museum, located in the Old Grandstand at the Basin Reserve, not far from the Colonial Cottage Museum on the site of one of the original 1840 New Zealand Company Town acres.

Coffee culture

Grab a coffee (Wellington claims to have the best coffee in New Zealand) and visit the cool one-of-a-kind stores along Manners Mall and Cuba Street. When you’re on that street, notice the cool Bucket Fountain that doesn’t actually work the way it’s supposed to (take a close look at it and you’ll see the water doesn’t actually obey the easy bucket system and sometimes misses the buckets altogether).

Treaty of Waitangi

A visit to Archives New Zealand on 10 Mulgrave Street allows you to see the Treaty of Waitangi (the document that is considered the foundation of the country). You can also take a tour of the Beehive, the country’s parliament, if you’re feeling politically-inclined before taking a stroll along the waterfront, decorated with interesting sculptures and populated by numerous bars (including some decent craft beer spots).

Weta workshop

If you have some free time, we suggest a visit to the Weta Workshop, nestled away in the Miramar suburb. Weta is known worldwide for its weird and wonderful creations for film, including creatures, makeup and digital special effects for movies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar and The Chronicles of Narnia among others.

You can take the 45-minute guided tour through the workshop, which provides unique behind-the-scenes glimpses into the work of this award-winning company.

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Now that you’ve explored New Zealand’s capital, it’s time to drive to the ferry terminal and catch the Interislander ferry. Wave goodbye to the North Island as your journey continues to the spectacular south.

2Picton to Christchurch (337km – 4 hours 19 mins)

Marlborough Sounds and the Queen Charlotte Track 15.7km – 44 mins from Picton)

Marlborough-Vineyards
Marlborough is a world famous wine region and it would be rude not to sample some of the local delights on your way through. There are plenty of wineries who will gladly take you through their wide range of vinos from a fruity pinot noir to the flagship wine of the region, Sauvignon Blanc. There are some famous vineyards down here like Cloudy Bay but we recommend sampling some of the more boutique wineries – a great way to get around is on a bike although be careful if you have a few vinos on the way as you may get a bit wobbly! Wine Tour by Bike offer bike hire or guided tours which helps as they will transport you back to Blenheim.

If wine is not your thing, there are also lots of microbreweries in the region so this is the perfect place to stock up for the road trip ahead.

Kaikoura – Swim with the dolphins (172 km – 2 hours 29 mins)

Heading away from Blenheim, take the road south heading towards Christchurch. A great stop off on the way is Kaikoura which is a whale watchers delight. Not only that, this is a great opportunity for you to take a dip and swim with the dolphins at the right time of the year – this must be on a few wish lists so let’s get it ticked off!

Cellar View Café and Restaurant

As you head down from the magnificent wine tasting region of Marlborough you will hit Kaikoura. This is one of New Zealand’s best locations for seeing marine life including whales and dolphins. It is also the home to the Cellar View Cafe and Restaurant. This place serves up some pretty amazing dishes matched only by the stunning views out to the pacific. It’s easy to let an afternoon drift by, enjoying the delicious food and admiring the endless view. Nice.

Swimming with dolphins

GO Play partner Encounter Kaikoura offers a brilliant opportunity to get in the water in the south Pacific and swim with these amazing animals with tours operating three times a day.

Kaikoura Swimming with DolphinsGO Snap Happy Photo Opportunity

It’s not just dolphins that pass through the waters around Kaikoura though and if you time things right, there is also the chance to see various species of whale as well as seals and birds.

10% off

Use your GO Play card here

Black Cat Dolphin Cruise

GO Play Discount Card

From Kaikoura, it’s an easy drive into your resting place for the night – Christchurch (181km – 2 hours 21 minutes)

3Christchurch to Queenstown (483km – 6 hours 37 mins)

After a morning 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.

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Lyttelton (12.4km – 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 (78.8km – 1 hour 29 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 (280km – 4 hours 10 mins from Akaroa)

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).

Mt John Observatory, Lake Tekapo 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.

4Queenstown and around

So you’ve arrived in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world with only 1 day 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:

Adrenaline fuelled adventure

Queenstown bungyGO Snap Happy Photo Opportunity

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 Shotover Canyon is sure to get your pulse racing. The 360 degree spins will get you closer to the wall than you feel comfortable with! Skippers Canyon Jet is also a GO Play partner. Bonus!

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

$10 off

Use your GO Play card here

TSS Earnslaw Heritage Cruise & Farm Tour

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Something a bit more…relaxing

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.
Arrowtown

Nightlife

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.

If you’re looking for more ideas for things to do in Queenstown, make sure you check out our Guide to Queenstown.

Related Blog Posts

Book a vehicle for this trip

We recommend:

Image of the Toyota Corolla Compact auto rental car at GO Rentals

Compact Auto

Toyota Corolla

Get a quote

Seats
5 seats
Large Bags
2
Small Bags
1
Transmission
Auto trans