So you’ve arrived in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world with only 4 days to get to Christchurch – so what are you going to fit into that time? Let’s start by picking up your lovely GO Rentals hire car and heading straight for Queenstown and let the fun commence. Let’s GO! If you’re still in the planning stage of your trip, make sure you check out the great deals on car rental in Queenstown or our hire cars in Christchurch – we’re not New Zealand’s favourite rental car company for no reason!
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1Queenstown and around
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) Skippers 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.
Queenstown Complete Guide
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.
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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2Milford Sound (288kms – 4 hour 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 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!).
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 on the water with spectacular views up to the Pembroke Glaciers.
Milford Discovery 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.
3Queenstown to Christchurch (483kms – 6 hours 37 mins)
After a very busy couple of days in and around Queenstown, it’s time to hit the road and head north to your final destination of Christchurch. There is plenty so see and do along the way making this journey a day out in itself and ensuring you arrive in Christchurch feeling like you’ve had a real South Island adventure.
Mt John Observatory/Lake Tekapo (256kms – 3 hours 26 mins)
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 – a perfect spot for you romantics out there as Lake Tekapo has been the scene of many a wooing! 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).
Located 75km from Christchurch and known by locals as the ‘Riviera of Canterbury’, Akaroa is a great stop off as you head towards the big city. 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). 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!
Lyttelton (78.8kms – 1 hour 29 mins from Akaroa)
Heading into Christchurch, a stop off at Lyttelton is well worth the detour and it’s a great place to grab some dinner if you’re arriving late. Hit by the earthquakes, Lyttelton has now rebuilt and is a thriving village with lots of bars and cafes – leaving Lyttelton and heading to Christchurch, there’s a great road which 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 end this road trip.
It’s a short 12.4km into Christchurch CBD from here which will take you around 20 mins.
4Christchurch and around
Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city with plenty to see and do. Take the time on your final day to explore the ‘Garden City’ and check out some of the beautiful gardens or relax by the river.
Christchurch Complete Guide
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.
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!
Kaikoura (180kms – 2 hours 35 mins)
If you still fancy a drive out on your last day 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 -The Dolphin Encounter 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!
From Kaikoura, it’s a relatively short drive back to Christchurch where you can head off to catch a plane or head home!
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- 5 seats
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- Small Bags
- Auto trans