3 Day Christchurch to Queenstown
Suggested Self-Drive Itinerary by Siobhan Kay.
Arrive early morning on day one if you can or arrive the night before into Christchurch. Snowscene can assist with your flights and accommodation.
On day one, pick up your car hire and start exploring Christchurch city centre before heading off down south. Whilst in Christchurch make sure you check out Little High Eatery. A huge indoor/outdoor marketplace with everything from Caribbean cuisine, Thai curries, and burgers. If you’d prefer to start the day outdoors you can drive approximately 30 minutes out of Christchurch to the Christchurch Gondola. The Gondola is back in action since the 2011 Earthquake and from the top you will enjoy spectacular views of the dramatically changed cityscape.
After enjoying Christchurch jump in the car and drive about 3 hours south to Lake Tekapo.
The scenery is stunning so be prepared to stop along the way for many photo opportunities!
Snowscene highly recommends staying at Peppers Bluewater Resort Lake Tekapo. Rooms and apartments are cosy with free parking. The restaurant serves incredible meals with gorgeous views of snow-capped mountains. Best of all you are only a short walk or drive down to the lake.
On day two, get back on the road after breakfast at your Lake Tekapo Hotel and drive towards Mt Cook. The drive takes just over an hour however again, be prepared to stop along the way for more photo ops. Everywhere you look is just breathtaking.
Once at Mt Cook you can grab a hot chocolate, walk the very easy Hooker Valley Track, or take a spectacular helicopter ride over Mt Cook.
From Mt Cook keep heading down south to Wanaka. The drive is approximately 2 and a half hours, but the drive yet again is incredible, and you’ll want to stop, a lot!
Wanaka has a very laid-back vibe, think Byron Bay 20 years ago. You can opt to stay for one night in Wanaka and then head to Queenstown on day three or stay a few nights and explore Wanaka’s many great restaurants, winery’s, and stunning lake. We love Kika Tapas and Rippon Winery. If you want to get out and explore Wanaka and its surrounds further, make sure you head to the Blue Pools. The Blue Pools are located approx. 1 hours’ drive along State Highway 6 or the “Devil’s Staircase” as its commonly known.
If you happen to have more time up your sleeve, why not ski 3 days at Cardrona basing yourself in Wanaka. Then head on down to Queenstown to continue you journey through the south of New Zealand.
By day three you should arrive at Queenstown (unless you have chosen to extend your time in Wanaka of course). Settle into your apartment or hotel then get out and explore the gorgeous lake side town. With plenty of great restaurants and bars to explore as well as plenty of activities such as the Skyline Gondola and ice skating by the lake, Queenstown is like no other.
When you aren’t skiing The Remarkables or Coronet Peak make sure you try one of the many great activities Queenstown has to offer. There is so many to choose from, for everyone to enjoy. We love, Ziplining, Jet Boating, a day trip to Arrowtown or one of the many amazing wineries, Walter Peak Farm, Kiwi Birdlife Park, or the Onsen Hot Pools. It’s important to remember booking ahead is your best chance at getting the best price and preferred availability during your stay.
For activities and day trips outside of Queenstown you can’t go past Milford Sound. An absolute must when visiting the South Island of New Zealand.
This magical place can be enjoyed a number of ways, as a day trip or an overnight stay.
The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound is approx. 4 hours each way. A day trip from Queenstown is the most popular option to explore the stunning Sound. Day trips depart in the early morning from Queenstown and return late in the evening, same day.
If you have more time or would like to try something different, we suggest the following ways to see Milford Sound.
First option is a Helicopter and/or light plane tour departing Queenstown including a boat cruise. A Heli/light plane tour is a spectacular, once in a lift time way to see Milford Sound from the air and especially great for those who are strapped for time.
If you can spare a night, you can self-drive from Queenstown to Te Anau. Te Anau located about halfway to Milford Sound. The drive to Te Anau is just as scenic and stunning as the Fiord itself and breaks up the long journey. You can stay the night and then join a bus day tour from Te Anau the next morning.
Snowscene can assist you with all of the options and activities mentioned above including all-inclusive ski packages.