Explore the surrounds of Wellington before taking a ferry across the open ocean to land on the South Island. A trip from the South Island's far north to the vibrant city of Christchurch offers an unbelievable range of sights – from whale watching in Kaikora to the majestic Marlborough Sounds.
Once you cross the Cook Strait and make your way to Marlborough, you're well and truly in wine country – but don't shed your sea legs just yet. Beyond the vines you'll find the stunning Marlborough Sounds, beckoning with boat tours, chartered yachts and sea kayaking adventures.
Spend the afternoon cruising through this picturesque setting, where a rugged forest landscape echoes on the surface of the Sound's crystal-clear waters. The Queen Charlotte Track lets land-lovers appreciate the Sounds on trails that are as well-suited to mountain-biking as they are to a leisurely hike.
With plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy, you'll soon see why the Marlborough region was famous for its Sounds long before its Sauvignon Blanc.
From the Sounds, set off south-west to discover Nelson – a land rich in sunshine with a well-deserved reputation for great wine, craft beer and gourmet food. A great place to stop in and refuel the tanks, plan to spend a few hours at the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum before taking your pick of the local beaches and walking tracks.
Track back toward the east coast to arrive in Kaikoura, a seaside sanctuary where you can embark on whale watching tours, swim with the seals and stroll along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway.
An idyllic destination for those who take their seafood seriously, make sure to tuck in to the town's signature dish of fresh crayfish while you're there. Served up water-side with a squeeze of lemon and sweeping views, you'll want to bring your appetite – and your camera.
Stop on the outskirts of Christchurch and pay a visit to the Orana Wildlife Park – the country's only zoo where animals roam free amongst the spectacular wilderness. Not only home to a comprehensive collection of New Zealand's native flora and fauna, the park also plays host to an array of animals from across the globe, making it well worth the westward detour.
Survey the South Island from the top of the Christchurch Gondola – one of the city's main attractions. Suspended hundreds of metres above the sea, you'll be able to trace your trajectory back up the coast to Kaikoura and the Marlborough Sounds or set your sights on your next stop – the beautiful Banks Peninsula.
Once you've taken in the sweeping views, gaze into the past in the Time Tunnel – an unforgettable virtual journey where you can witness the eruptions that established the island an eternity ago.
End your journey on the Banks Peninsula, where experienced hikers can embark on a 35 kilometre expedition across the peninsula's volcanic ridges, formed millions of years ago by the fault lines that lie sleeping beneath the South Island's surface. An area of volcanic origin that seemingly rolls into the ocean, a trip to this eastern off-shoot rewards travellers with picturesque views at every turn.
Call into the wineries that line the Summit Road before dropping off your car rental in Christchurch, or work your way back to Wellington along the South Island's rugged west coast where an entirely new adventure awaits.
Ready to go? Experience it all from the comfort of your own set of wheels. Rent a car with Europcar New Zealand today.