4Days

Queenstown to Dunedin

Driving Tour

Four days is the perfect amount of time for exploring the lower South Island with a little road trip from Queenstown to Dunedin. Kicking things off in Queenstown means you will be exploring the adventure capital of New Zealand so strap yourself in for a hectic start to this road trip – from there we start to chill out a little bit, finishing up in historic Dunedin. Let’s get GOing!

Contents

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

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GO Rentals Toyota Corolla 2019

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5 seats
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2
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Trip Itinerary

1Queenstown and around

There are few places in New Zealand that are more exciting than a trip to Queenstown. To put it simply, there’s not much that Queenstown doesn’t offer as a holiday destination. Great scenery, incredible food and wine, adventures, thrills and spills – the list goes on.

There’s only a couple of days in this itinerary to make the most of it however so you’ll have to be selective. That’s why we’ve done the selecting for you with our top highlights that offer a bit of everything for your visit below:

The wild and wondrous

As promised, we’ve chosen to cover a range of experiences from the wild to the wondrous. In most cities, you’d be lucky to get one or the other but Queenstown gives you both!

AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy

1) AJ Hackett Bungy – The pioneers of the Bungy Jump have 3 different locations to choose from (if you’re brave enough). The 3 options are The Kawarau Bridge, The Ledge and Nevis (the highest in NZ at 123 metres). Ooph!

2) Skyline Gondola – For great views (without the thrill) you can’t beat a peaceful ride on the Skyline Gondola looking over the city and the Wakatipu Basin. You’ll reach a summit of 450 metres by the end of the journey, the views from which are simply unforgettable.

3) Skiing (seasonal) – Queenstown has some fantastic slopes all within close proximity to the town centre. This includes the likes of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone. It has a great festive atmosphere during the ski season too which is great to enjoy.

Queenstown Complete Guide

Some alternative activities in Queenstown

Those three were just to get you started and we’ve got three more cracking options below.

4) Queenstown Hill – a 3-hour walk to the peak of Queenstown Hill through an amazing pine forest is a great way to get your fix of nature. There’s also a great sculpture near the summit to grab a few selfies too.

5) Jet Boating – One of the biggest and most successful tourist attractions are the jet boats in Queenstown with a number of operators offering rides at ridiculous speeds with equally ridiculous manoeuvres. Awesome fun!

6) Kiwi Birdlife Park – You can also enjoy amazing animal encounters at the Kiwi Birdlife Park, one of the highest rated places in the city. The Kiwis are the main stars but they also do a great conservation show during the week and have many other native species of bird too.

$5 off

Use your GO Play card here

AJ Hackett Bungy Jump

GO Play Discount Card

Nightlife

Queenstown has a thriving nightlife with over 150 cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from. It’s a great place to be able to unwind, especially given how active you’re likely to be throughout your day of adventuring. Everything from busy clubs to quiet wine bars and late night coffee can be found so you’re completely covered!

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2Wanaka (67kms – 1 hour 6 mins)

Day 2 is a tricky one. If you are still not done with your adventure activities in Queenstown, you can use this second day of your road trip for ticking off everything you wanted to get done. If, however, you are exhausted after a crazy-busy first day, then a little road trip over to Wanaka is a great way to take a step back and chill out. Wanaka is often known as Queenstown’s chilled out little brother – still lots going on but not quite as full-on.

Only an hour’s drive from Queenstown, it’s really easy to get to Wanaka and has a number of great attractions and sights to see when you’re there.

Lake Wanaka

Image of the iconic tree in Lake Wanaka
Iconic tree in Lake Wanaka

One of the reasons Wanaka is so well known in recent times is because of its lake and the iconic and hugely Instagrammed Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka (also known as #ThatWanakaTree). It’s actually a little off the beaten track in the foothills of the Mount Aspiring National Park and wasn’t given too much notice by the locals originally. After a few great snaps, however, the tree has pretty much become immortalised.

Sky Diving

With your GO Play Card you can get some great discounts on some fantastic things in Wanaka including Sky Diving with Sky Dive Wanaka. From 15,000ft you’ll be strapped to a complete (but highly experienced) stranger before taking the ultimate plunge. After reaching 200 kmph a parachute will (hopefully) be deployed and you’ll be able to spend the rest of the journey in the best seat in the house floating gently towards the ground while taking in the unbelievable view. You can then share the news with your parents who will react the way all parents do without doubt.

Kayaking and SUP

If you’d rather keep both feet a bit closer to the ground then there are plenty of on-water activities you can do. Some of the more popular include Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP). The great crew and Paddle Wanaka are fully equipped to sort you out with rentals and they also do guided tours as well. Once again they are a GO Rentals partner which means our customers get a discount with their GO Play cards.

Roys Peak Track

At the top of Roy's Peak in Wanaka
At the top of Roy’s Peak in Wanaka

Another famous Instagrammed sight can be found on the Roys Peak Track, itself a beautiful 3+ hour walk with some amazing wilderness to take in. The views you enjoy of the Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka itself are simply breathtaking. You might have to join a bit of a queue to get a photo at the exact iconic spot but there are other spots you can discover for yourself for photos that’ll be just as good.

Wildwire Wanaka

Another great and unique attraction to try and tick off in Wanaka is rock climbing with Wildwire Wanaka. Although your own inexperience might put you off slightly, Wildwire Wanaka caters for beginners and families just as much as those with experience with different levels of course to choose from. Furthermore, the courses are set up alongside one of the most picturesque sights in Wanaka, the Twin Falls. It’s a great challenge and stern test of the body and mind but the feeling you get afterwards makes it well worth it.

$5 off

Use your GO Play card here

AJ Hackett Bungy Jump

GO Play Discount Card

You can choose to do a stayover in Wanaka but if you have nice accommodation in Queenstown, you might want to head back over there after a spot of dinner ready for day 3 of our road trip.

3Queenstown to Dunedin (282kms – 3 hours 41 mins)

After a little day trip out in your GO Rentals hire car, it’s time to put it to the test today with the longest leg of this 4 day itinerary. It’s still a pretty short drive by New Zealand standards and it’s only just under 4 hours to Dunedin from Queenstown, however we’ve got a day full of great stop offs planned so you can take your time and enjoy some amazing destinations along the way.

Arrowtown (20kms – 22 mins)

The first stop off of the day comes just 20 minutes into the journey. Arrowtown has strong roots from the Gold Rush Era, much of which can still be seen today. The main street of this quaint little town is a great tribute to the period with restored European and Chinese buildings from the time. Autumn is an especially nice time to visit as the tree-lined street turns a beautiful amber courtesy of the leaves all around.

That’s just the beginning of Arrowtown’s offerings which include but are not limited to the historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, Sawpit Gully Trail, Lake District Museum and Art Gallery and the Arrow River in which you can pan for the gold. Who knows, you might even strike it lucky and be able to pay off the whole trip!

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Cromwell (47kms – 39 mins)

I nice photo of Cromwell
Another great little town to discover, just under an hour’s drive from Roxburgh is Cromwell, an iconic former gold mining town that’s since been reinvented as the stone fruit capital of New Zealand. You’ll find no shortage of things to do here including walking through the Heritage Precinct, visiting the Gold Mining Centre, going on an orchard tour or even watching some racing at the Highlands Motorsport Park if dates coincide. The wineries in the region aren’t too shabby either!

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Roxburgh (72kms – 54 mins)

Your final stop off of the day before the drive to Dunedin is Roxburgh – a great place to stretch your legs. That’s because Roxburgh has a number of great walking trails for you to stroll including the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail. It is also home to the Roxburgh Dam, the first hydro dam built on the Clutha River. This has a great lookout point with great views to admire and appreciate. There’s also plenty of places to eat in Roxburgh including Jimmy’s Pies, famous throughout the country.
From Roxburgh, it’s another 152kms to Dunedin which will take you just under 2 hours.

4Dunedin and around

So, the final day of this 4 day road trip has arrived and hopefully you have left plenty of time before your flight out to explore Dunedin as there is heaps to see and do here.

If you’re from overseas you might not realise that Dunedin has strong Scottish roots with its very name meaning “Edinburgh” in Gaelic. The settlers that arrived between the 1850s – 1900s certainly left their mark and you can experience much of it yourself in a number of different ways.

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Toitu Settlers Museum

A good place to start is the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. It’s a museum that chronicles the social history of the city including its people, their relationships, art, fashion, culture, transport and more. It gives you fascinating insight into everything behind what you’ll expect to encounter on your travels here and across the region. Hosted in a recently revamped space it’s a great facility from one end to the other.

Larnach Castle and Dunedin Railway Station

Aerial image of the stunning Larnach Castle and Otago Peninsula
Aerial image of the stunning Larnach Castle and Otago Peninsula

Another way to experience Dunedin’s history is through its architecture and there are two fine examples you have to prioritise. Larnach Castle and the Dunedin Railway Station. Larnach Castle is actually one of the only castles in New Zealand dating back to the 1870s, carefully preserved and restored to the time of its creation. It also has magnificent gardens to explore. The Dunedin Railway Station is one of the most photographed railway stations in the country thanks to its exquisite Flemish styled facade. It also often hosts exhibitions and galleries too.

Otago Peninsula

As well as its fascinating history and architecture, Dunedin is also close to some amazing natural features like the Otago Peninsula. It received world acclaim when CNN named it one of the Top 10 places to propose for marriage in 2011 thanks to its incredible scenery and natural wildlife. The latter, especially with regards to its birdlife, is something that draws people from far and wide. The opportunity to see colonies of Hoiho (Yellow Eyed Penguin) and Royal Albatross can be experienced nowhere else in the world which makes it all the more special.

Dunedin Complete Guide

Something a bit different – Oamaru (112kms – 1 hour 27 mins)

If you’ve already seen the sights of Dunedin in a previous trip and want to spend your first day doing something a bit different then you could do a lot worse than a little excursion to Oamaru, less than 90 minutes’ drive away. Things to see and do there include:
• Steampunk HQ – If you happen to be a fan of popular culture and the alternate genre that is Steampunk, then you’re definitely in for a treat here as Oamaru as an entire museum dedicated to it! With your GO Play card you get a 10% discount too!
• Blue Penguin Colony – Animal lovers are really spoilt for choice in this part of the world as Oamaru has its own Blue Penguin Colony that you can observe and experience. They are among the smallest and most adorable penguins in the world that settled here in the 1900s and have since become the town’s most popular attraction. A 10% discount here too with your GO Play card!

$10 off

Use your GO Play card here

Elm Wildlife Safari

GO Play Discount Card

And so that brings to the end this awesome 4 day itinerary from Queenstown to Dunedin. We hope you have loved your time in the lower South Island and got to see and do everything on your wish list. If there’s anything we missed off our itinerary, make sure you drop us a line on Facebook or Instagram and tell us all about it!

Book a vehicle for this trip

We recommend:

GO Rentals Toyota Corolla 2019

Compact Auto

Toyota Corolla

Get a Quote

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