Go into the wild with a journey of exploration on New Zealand's west coast. See iconic natural sights such as Franz Josef Glacier, Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, before finishing on the end of the world at Bluff – New Zealand's oldest European settlement.
Pick up a Christchurch car rental and begin your journey down the Great Coast Road – check out some of the must-see destinations on one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world.
30 million years in the making, the Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki are one of the most visited natural attractions on the West Coast – and for good reason. The columns of thinly layered limestone soar from the sea below, adorned with a fascinating pattern of flat horizontal lines that has earned them their name.
The walking track around the rocks is easy for all and will take you up close to the region's blow holes, a famous natural phenomenon best viewed at high tide. A unique intersection where multiple marvels of nature meet, Punakaiki's Pancake Rocks are an ideal spot to witness the earth's wonders at work.
Discover the Franz Josef Glacier – a place that offers visitors the rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment. Keen travellers can actually set foot on the ice field in the company of an experienced guide who'll take you through a variety of tours – from easy walks across the slippery shelf to ascending vertical ice walls.
If you're short on time, there are plenty of lookouts a short walk away from the carpark, so there's no reason to miss out on the sweeping vistas across the glacier to the Waiho River below.
Deep within the Fiordland National Park is Milford Sound, a pristine wilderness emblematic of the South Island's beauty. Getting there is an adventure unto itself, with a stunning alpine drive, an abundance of viewing spots and plenty of short walking tracks along the way.
When the sun's out, hit the water on a scenic boat cruise or kayak tour, keeping your eyes peeled for friendly seals along the water's surface. If by chance it starts to rain – don't panic. Milford Sound's many waterfalls surge to life when showers form overhead, making it a perfect place to visit any time of the year.
Famous for its dramatic landscapes, abundant wildlife and empty shingle beaches, Haast is a once lost world that has since become a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore and enjoy the rugged scenery of this world heritage area with a wealth of outdoor activities like jet boating, fly fishing and deep sea fishing or see a bird's-eye view of the surrounds in a scenic helicopter flight.
While you're in the area, be sure to drive the Haast Pass, one of New Zealand's most beautiful drives, set amongst waterfalls and mountain ranges.
Home to a combination of city life, cultural attractions and nature parks, New Zealand's southernmost city is a great place to get away from it all.
Boasting all the benefits of city life without the trappings of a major metropolis, Invercargill embodies an elusive sweet spot between relaxing rural life and urban convenience. Take your time to explore the many museums and galleries, crawl the local cafes and simply take in the peaceful atmosphere of southern New Zealand.
One of the first ports of call for European settlers arriving on the shores of New Zealand, Bluff is a rugged town at the end of the world where you can come to enjoy the salty scent of the ocean.
Home to the legendary Bluff oysters – reputed to be the best in the world – be sure to indulge an a dozen (or two) near the water's edge before ending your journey of the South Island at Stirling Point, where panoramic views go as far as the eye can see.
All of this and more is at your fingertips with a car rental from Christchurch, so get your hands on the wheel – New Zealand's wild south-west is waiting.