Queenstown | Milford Sound | Invercargill
Duration: 5/6 Days
Journey to some of the most picturesque places in New Zealand over this five or six day scenic tour. Add in spectacular Glenorchy as an additional side trip.
Starting in Queenstown, the outstanding beauty of the alpine ranges set the scene for this well loved visitor destination.
Queenstown's many scenic activities include high adrenaline options of bungy jumping, ziplining and skydiving to the more sedate options of cruising on the 'Lady of the Lake', the TSS Earnslaw, heading up the gondola to take in the views or playing a round of golf at one of the many spectacular golf courses means all options are covered.
Dine at one of the many award winning restaurants, picnic at the lakefront bar or have a more casual dinner at one of the many places in this alpine town.
Leaving Queenstown you will find yourself heading down the road known locally as the ‘Devil's Staircase’ which offers spectacular views and good photo stops along the way. As you wind your way down toward the southern tip of the lake, you will find a town called Kingston. Kingston was once a major transport link between the Whakatipu Districts gold fields and the shipping ports of Dunedin.
The Kingston Flyer is a 19th century steam train that has been returned to its former glory. The train was originally part of the national railway network and ran a passenger service between Kingston and Invercargill. It now offers a round trip excursion to the Fairlight station and back to Kingston, with spectacular views of snow capped mountains, expansive farmland, and Lake Whakatipu.
From here, you will make your way toward Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. Located at the edge of Fiordland National Park and on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the township has a picturesque outlook and some amazing dining options. Pop into the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre to make the most of your time here. With activities ranging from Glow Worm caves to horse trekking, jet boating, hiking, bike riding, helicopter rides and the bird sanctuary viewings, selecting your favourite activity will be a challenge.
Experience the natural beauty, the incredible scale and the often, deafening silence of Milford Sound by taking a cruise deep into the Fiord. There are multiple options for cruises, from a few hours to overnight excursions. There is also the option to depart the boat on the way back and explore New Zealand’s only underwater floating observatory to view the unique environment below the surface.
If you would like to truly enjoy the beauty and to get the full experience, we recommend you travel by coach for this part of the trip or as an alternative, you can take a helicopter and experience Milford Sound by air and sea.
For a slightly quieter, but no less impressive option, Doubtful Sound Patea via Manapouri spans a staggering 40 kilometres from the head of the fiord to the Tasman Sea and is the deepest of the 14 fiords. By spending even, a short amount of time here, you will understand how it got its Maori name, as Patea means 'Place of silence'.
There are tours departing daily, along with overnight cruises or take a scenic flight by fixed wing aeroplane, seaplane (including landing on the fiord) or helicopter.
As you leave Te Anau head south toward Invercargill, drive through picturesque Southland farmland toward the coast. Tuatapere is home to the Hump Ridge Track, which is one of the Great Walks in the Southern Way.
Carry on your drive around the stunning southern coastline, through the seaside village of Riverton, where you can take a surf lesson or visit the Te Hikoi Museum, showcasing Southlands natural and cultural history.
The Seafood Kaimoana is this part of the Southern Way is second to none and each May, the Bluff Oyster Festival takes over. The restaurants pride themselves on the fresh ‘sea to plate’ and delicacies include Crayfish, Stewart Island Salmon, Paua Abalone and Blue Cod.
Drive to Oreti Beach to watch the stunning sunset views and breathtaking starry skies.
From Invercargill. head north, along State Highway one, towards Gore. Gore holds a treasured art collection at the Eastern Southland Gallery, including a large collection of Ralph Hotere artworks. Try your hand fishing for Brown Trout, with local guides available to take you to the best spots.
Continue North through Tapanui and toward the ‘Fruit Bowl’ of New Zealand. The Teviot Valley, with the small towns of Millers Flat, Ettrick and Roxburgh, is home to a variety of fruit orchards. Everything from cherries and apples to stone fruit like apricots and peaches thrive here, due to the incredible climate.
On the side of the road, you will find roadside stalls selling freshly picked fruit and vegetables, coffee and real fruit ice cream. During the season some of these orchards also provide ‘Pick your own’ fruit options, you can’t get much fresher than that!
Head through the incredible vast scenic route to Cromwell, which is known for its exceptional wine including many award winning Pinot Noir's. With an array of cellar doors and winery restaurants, this should be your stop for the night.
As you complete your loop back to Queenstown by heading through the Kawarau gorge, you will, no doubt, have a phone and camera full of beautiful images. If you have some time, take a detour through Arrowtown and experience a gold mining era village with some incredible boutique shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
Optional Extra Side Trip
The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy has been voted one of the most picturesque in the world. The 45 minute scenic drive follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu, weaving through forests and along the cliff edges offering spectacular photo stops along the way.
Once there, immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Glenorchy with an array of exhilarating activities including soaring through native Beech forest on a thrilling zipline, jetboating along glacier-fed rivers, horseback riding and exploring scenic off-road trails on a four-wheel drive tour.
Glenorchy is the starting point for the Routeburn, Greenstone and Caples walking tracks, as well as many well-graded walkways closer to town.
Discover the beauty of Paradise, a nearby settlement renowned for its native Beech forests and breathtaking scenery that served as the backdrop for iconic scenes in the Lord of the Rings films.
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