Slide background

Commence your New Zealand self-drive adventure in Christchurch before heading north to the whale watching capital of New Zealand, Kaikoura. Continue to the Marlborough Sounds and one of New Zealand’s premier wine growing regions. On to the Nelson region, known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, microbreweries and a large creative community of working artists. End your road trip in Hanmer Springs, the thermal & spa capital of the South Island.


  • Round-trip International Economy airfare from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston or Chicago to Christchurch (addon fares available from your local city)
  • 7 Days medium automatic rental car including insurance & GPS
  • 6 nights’ accommodation in boutique accommodations including breakfast daily
  • Water taxi transfers
  • Hanmer Springs thermal pools & Spa


Customize this itinerary - Contact Us

Day 1 - Depart US
Depart Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston or Chicago for your overnight flight to Auckland (addon fares available from your local airport)

Consider upgrading to Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class, great value:
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip

Day 2 - Cross International Date line

Day 3 - Arrive Christchurch
Collect your medium automatic vehicle

Arrive Auckland & connect with Air New Zealand to Christchurch Collect your medium automatic vehicle at the airport depot and drive the short distance to your accommodation.

Christchurch is set on the expansive Canterbury Plains between the wide sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean, the spectacular snow-capped Southern Alps and the volcanic hills of Banks Peninsula. The city is interwoven by two rivers linking parks, gardens and avenues. Known as ‘The Garden City’, Christchurch is the gateway to the Canterbury region and the spectacular experiences available within the South Island.

Christchurch City has experienced a dramatic change in the city’s landscape and innovations such as the Re START Container Mall, Pop-up Bars, creative ‘Gap Fillers’ and Greening the Rubble showcase the amazing energy of the city. This is a city in a transitional phase, buzzing with creativity and flair as the ‘rebuild’ gets underway. Innovative shops, businesses and buildings are continually popping up as the city rebuilds.

Accommodation: The Classic Villa is a beautifully appointed Italian style historic home, located on a quiet one-way boulevard, directly opposite the Christchurch Art Centre.


Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 4 - Christchurch – Kaikoura - Picton (344 km) - Marlborough Sounds
Travel across broad, braided rivers and the rich patchwork farming landscape of the Canterbury ranges. Continue up the ruggedly beautiful coastline between the surging Pacific Ocean and the steeply rising Kaikoura Ranges to the wine growing region of Marlborough. On arrival in Picton park your car and travel by water taxi to your accommodation.

Recommended Optional Tour: Kaikoura Whale Watching Cruise. Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical tour may encounter fur seals, pods of dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. You may also see Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikoura is home to world’s largest dolphin the Orca and the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin the Hector and has the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand.

Accommodation: The Bay of Many Coves Resort in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, is just 30 minutes by water taxi from Picton. Tucked away on the shores of a bay, the contemporary bungalow apartments, peek through native bush surrounding this special place. Sailing, hiking, kayaking or just relaxing in the hot-tub or by the pool are available.


Image: Bay of Many Coves

Day 5 - Marlborough Sounds
Day at leisure. The South Island's northeast corner is dominated by the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, a half-submerged mountain range revealed as a labyrinth of waterways, inlets, coves, bays and islands. The result is a marvelous recreation area for boating, swimming, and fishing as well as walking and cycling.


Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 6 - Marlborough Sounds – Picton - Nelson (130 km)
Take a water taxi back to Picton today to collect your rental car and make the short journey to Nelson.

The Nelson region is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries, microbreweries and a large creative community of working artists. Add to this locally grown produce, freshly caught seafood, historical streetscapes and waterfront restaurants and you’ll see that it offers a thoroughly pleasurable way of life. Situated in the north-west corner of the South Island, the Nelson region is surrounded by sheltering mountain ranges, giving it a Mediterranean-type climate.

Accommodation: Cambria House bed and breakfast is a gracious colonial homestead with modern facilities combining style, luxury and excellent service with six individually furnished rooms (all with ensuites) and is only five minutes’ walk from the center of Nelson city with its renowned arts and crafts, excellent cafes and restaurants.

Day 7 - Nelson & Abel Tasman National Park
Day at leisure. The Nelson Tasman Region is known for its vibrant coastal towns, full of bustling cafes, charming boutiques and funky art galleries. Rich with spectacular scenery, three national parks are within 90 minutes of the city.

Recommended Optional Tours: Journey north to Abel Tasman National Park or enjoy a wine tour of the surrounding region (additional cost applies):

  • Kayak, Seals & Walk day tour - Abel Tasman National Park
    Morning 'Split Apple Paddle' guided half day kayak trip, explore the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline. Stop on a golden sand beach for a short break. In the afternoon swap the kayak for walking shoes, and cruise to the golden sands of Onetahuti, visiting the fascinating seal colony at Tonga Island on the way.
  • Abel Tasman National Park - Beach Walk
    Calling in at Kaiteriteri before departing for Anchorage, relax on the beach with a picnic or enjoy a one-hour return walk to Te Pukatea Bay, a 1 1/2-hour return walk to Pitt Head to view the lighthouse and panoramic views, or from Anchorage walk to Cleopatra's Pool.
  • Wine Tour - full or half day
    Enjoy a truly exclusive tour of the Nelson Wine Region. Visit wineries both on the plains and the hills where you can meet the owners and winemakers. You’ll also sample wine from the ten classic grapes grown in New Zealand. Taking in pristine scenery will ensure a memorable day – this tour is both fun and informative

Image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 8 - Nelson - Hanmer Springs (300 km)
A beautiful drive today will take you via the Nelson Lakes to Hanmer Springs. Situated in the foothills of the Southern Alps Hanmer Springs is a destination for relaxation and indulgence. Bike rides, bush walks and horse treks are all on offer but by far the most famous and popular activity the town boasts are the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa – to which entrance is included.

Accommodation: Cheltenham House Bed and Breakfast encompasses a mix of modern comfort and traditional elegance. The four suites in the house and two in the extensive gardens are refurbished with the guests' comfort paramount and every need anticipated. All are centrally heated, have quality bedding and furnishings, fridge, freeview television, robes, hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. Free Wi-Fi, towels for Thermal Pools and parking.

Day 9 - Hanmer Springs - Christchurch (134 km)
The return route to Christchurch follows the beautiful Waiau River. Farmland, vineyards and olive groves characterize the Waipara region, which is known for its wine and food. The last leg of your journey takes you past surf beaches to Christchurch where your tour concludes with the return of your rental car to Christchurch Airport depot. Board your return flight to the US via Auckland (arriving the same day) or continue to your next destination.


Request a Quote


Note: Peak Season Dec, Jan & Feb pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability

Note: Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour).


International Economy
State-of-the-art Economy seats have been designed to provide a really comfortable seat for everybody. The armrest disappears right into the back of the seat so you can be more comfortable during our longhaul trips.

As well as the delicious and fresh meals from the kitchen, you can order tasty snacks throughout the flight, at the touch of your screen. No waiting for hours between meals - eat when you want to. And, of course, there's always a superb selection of New Zealand wines from the onboard cellar.

The vast selection of activities on our inflight entertainment will keep even the most fidgety of flyers engaged for the whole flight. Enjoy over 1,700 hours of content - including latest movies, TV box sets, video games, and a dedicated kids section - all on a 10.6” personal touch screen in widescreen format. If you need more, there are always the USB and iPod connections to plug in to.



Upgrade Options
For upgrade costs to Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class please ask as Aspire Expert. (note: the products below are 777-300 experiences. Air New Zealand may operate a different aircraft version on certain flights)




Whether you’re a couple who’d like a bit of extra room, parents with a young child, or a parent with two restless kids, you’ll find our innovative Economy Skycouch the perfect solution.

Read More




Premium Economy

Premium Economy is about creating ample space and privacy. The design of our revolutionary Spaceseat™ means that the person sitting in front of you can’t recline into your personal space.

Read More




Business Class

The luxurious 22" wide leather armchair converts to a fully lie flat 6'7.5" bed - one of the longest in the sky. Even more indulgent with a thicker mattress, fluffy duvet and full size pillows.

Read More



Upgrade Cost
Consider upgrading Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class.
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip

Note: All upgrades are subject to availability, upgrade cost may be higher



Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) travel midweek (Monday - Thursday) from Los Angeles. Supplement of $100 per person each way applies for travel Friday through Sundays. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain blackout dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers - check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.