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The Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand

Spirit of the South Island

17-day tailor-made self-drive from £4,660 pp incl. flights


Short description

Stay in some of New Zealand’s finest boutique hotels as you take in the amazing sights of the South Island under your own steam

Our Flexibility Promise

Book with condidence. Find out more about our Flexibility Promise, available on holidays booked by 31st October 2021.


  • Take in the magnificent attractions of the South Island, getting intimate with the Southern Alps
  • Stay in southern New Zealand’s most elegant boutique hotels
  • Enjoy thrilling excursions including whale watching, a TranzAlpine train journey and a spectacular twin glacier helicopter tour

In Brief

  • 1 Night Wellington
  • 2 Nights Marlborough
  • 2 Nights Nelson
  • 2 Nights Kaikoura
  • 1 Night Christchurch
  • 1 Night Franz Josef Glacier
  • 2 Nights Wanaka
  • 4 Nights Queenstown


Recommended for:
Food & wine | Mountains | Natural world | Photography | Self-drive

From the rolling hills of the world-renowned wine regions of Marlborough and Nelson and the neighbouring Abel Tasman coastal national park to the high peaks and spectacular glaciers of the Southern Alps, New Zealand’s South Island is a huge magnet for nature lovers. There’s no better way to explore its attractions than by car, pausing as often as you fancy to immerse yourself in the magnificent scenery. Flying into Wellington, you’ll navigate Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds on the Interislander ferry before setting off to explore the pristine beaches and majestic cliffs of the northwest coast. Next, head south for the whale-watching capital Kaikoura, via a vineyard tour or two in Marlborough. Then, from the Garden City of Christchurch, take the TranzAlpine over the Canterbury Plains and through the Southern Alps before winding down beside Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu.

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-2

Fly from the UK to Wellington, arriving on day three.

Day 3

Arrive in Wellington refreshed and transfer to your city-centre hotel. Then, spend the day exploring New Zealand's vibrant capital city.

Stay: The InterContinental Wellington (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 4-5

Cross to the South Island on the Interislander ferry, navigating Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, where you pick up a water taxi to the Bay of Many Coves. Enjoy a seafood cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound, tucking into the clams, mussels and fish that have made it famous the culinary world over.

Stay: Bay of Many Coves, Marlborough Sounds (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 6-7

Pick up your hire car in Picton and head out on the twisting, super-scenic Queen Charlotte Drive towards Nelson, your base for exploring the natural and adventure attractions of coastal Abel Tasman National Park. Here, a network of forest hiking trails are hidden behind idyllic beaches and secret coves.

Stay: Atholwood, Nelson and Abel Tasman (Superior)

Meals: B

Days 8-9

Head south to Kaikoura via the wine country around Blenheim, picking up the spectacular Coastal Highway 1. The next day enjoy a whale-watching cruise, with a high chance of spotting these huge cetaceans year round. 

Stay: Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses, Kaikoura (Deluxe)

Meals: B D

Day 10

Follow the coast down to the Garden City of Christchurch, gateway to the Canterbury region, and spend the evening at leisure. New Zealand’s English City is famed for its river punting and world-class Botanic Gardens.

Stay: The Classic Villa, Christchurch (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 11
Franz Josef

Take the TranzAlpine for one of the world’s great train journeys across the Canterbury Plains and through the mighty Southern Alps. From Greymouth, take the west coast road to the rainforests sprawling below Franz Josef Glacier.

Stay: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (Deluxe)

Meals: B D

Days 12-13

Take an amazing Twin Glacier helicopter ride over Fox and Franz Josef, landing at the head of one of the ice giants. Then, pick up the coast road and journey inland through Mount Aspiring National Park and the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawee to central Otago.

Stay: Lime Tree Lodge, Wanaka (Deluxe)

Meals: B

Days 14-15

Next is a short drive to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Satisfy your lust for adventure with a 4WD heritage tour to Skippers Canyon and the long-abandoned gold-prospecting township.

Stay: Browns Boutique Hotel

Meals: B

Days 16-17

Drop your car at the airport and board your flight home, arriving in the UK on day 17.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Deluxe

17-day tailor-made self-drive from £4,660 pp incl. flights


Low Season

from £4,660 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £5,260 pp. incl. flights

  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return flights between London, Wellington and Queenstown
  • Private transfers in Wellington
  • 12 days Medium car hire including GPS
  • Inter-islander ferry with premium service, water taxi to Bay of Many Coves, Tranz Alpine train
  • 13 nights accommodation staying in 5* (Deluxe) hotels on a B&B basis, with dinner as specified
  • Touring highlights include a Seafood Odyssey cruise of the Marlborough Sounds, Whale watching in Kaikoura, Glacier Heli-ride in Franz Josef and 4WD tour in Queenstown

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

Meet our experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614

Meet the team

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

Expert advice & support

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Let our travel specialists curate the perfect holiday:

  • Inspirational ideas based on experience
  • Established for over 50 years
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Every step of the way

Every step of the way

Our services are with you from start to finish:

  • Dedicated personal consultants
  • Free airport lounges on qualifying bookings
  • Care and guidance pre, post and during holiday
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