Day 1 – Christchurch to Lake Tekapo (3.5 hours drive)
Fly into Christchurch Airport and start your journey!
Head south, stopping at the busting rural Canterbury Village of Geraldine. With a coffee culture that flourishes all year round, Geraldine has speciality stores offer exquisite hand-made chocolates, clothing, local wines, fine arts and local crafts.
If you are hungry, we suggest you stop at Verde Café deli or The Country Café, both on Talbot Street.
Head through to Fairlie, known locally as the gateway to the Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region, it provides an almost surreal contrast from its rich, green rolling hills and pastures as they respectfully submit to the grand, open, lands of the Mackenzie Basin.
After this stunning journey from Christchurch you’ll arrive into Lake Tekapo. This is a haven for people who simply love open spaces, mountains and lakes all mixed into one. Be sure to splash out on a “must do” Grand Traverse flight with Air Safaris, relax in the Alpine Spring Waters (specially heated!) of Tekapo Springs and then be blown away by the International Dark Sky Reserve above with a tour from Earth and Sky before chilling out in style at the gorgeous Peppers Bluewater Resort.
Day 2 - Lake Tekapo to Akaroa (3.5 hours drive)
Have a good hearty breakfast before getting back on the road to Akaroa today. If you need a ‘pick me up’ on the way, stop in at Fairlie or Geraldine at one of the places you didn’t get to try on the drive down.
Arrive in Akaroa, the charming French inspired port, about 3.5 hours from Lake Tekapo.
When you arrive, check into some accommodation the Akaroa Village Inn and just take a walk around this stunning seaside village before heading to the Main Wharf to join the crew from Black Cat and go Swimming with Dolphins. Enjoy this incredible experience, swimming with some of the world’s smallest, friendliest and rarest dolphins.
To get into the French boutique spirit, make sure you have dinner at The Little Bistro… serving hearty, locally sourced, seasonal meals in a fantastic 'rustic European' atmosphere.
Day 3 - Akaroa
Spend the morning exploring the seaside village of Akaroa, lined with many galleries, gift shops and cafes. Have an early lunch at the iconic Akaroa Fish and Chips before your kayaking adventure with Pohatu Penguins.
The outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve is spectacular with towering sea cliffs sculpted through the ages by the sea into rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch make an added exciting attraction in settled sea conditions.
Pohatu Marine Reserve also has many marine species such as Penguins, several seal colonies and is often visited by Hectors Dolphins and a great range of sea birds.
Once back, just enjoy the sleepy village atmosphere with a walk along the seafront.
Day 4 - Akaroa to Kaikoura (3.5 hours drive)
Drive from Akaroa to Kaikoura, travelling through Canterbury’s wine region of Waipara Valley and through rural communities, as you wind your way to the rugged coast of Kaikoura.
Taste a piece of Waipara along the way with the award winning Pegasus Bay Wines, nestled within the Waipara Valley, with maximum protection from the Pacific's easterly breezes by the Teviotdale Range.
Get back on the road to Kaikoura, a total of 3.5 drive from Akaroa. Be sure to make a stop in Cheviot too, a small friendly town that occupies the rolling farmland between two of the South Island's magnificent braided rivers and the Pacific Ocean. This is an ideal location to stop for a bite to eat before heading back on the road.
Once in Kaikoura, check into Whale Watch where you can see some of the most majestic animals in the ocean, from Giant Sperm Whales, to Blue and Humpback Whales, Orca, Dolphins, Seals and an array of seabirds… an unforgettable experience!
Get your land legs back, and just before your stop for dinner, walk part of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Drive and follow the signs from town to the peninsula “seal colony”.
Park up and wander around the area, here you will see many large and possibly a few baby seals. Walk part of the Peninsula walkway for stunning views of the coastline, a magical spot.
Day 5 - Kaikoura
Wake up to the fresh coastal air, have some breakfast and get ready to play with Seal Swim Kaikoura. New Zealand’s Fur Seals play in the shallow waters on the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula, and you can enjoy a unique experience of first hand playing with these curious and friendly wild creatures.
For lunch you need to get into the kiwi style of things and enjoy Kaikoura Seafood BBQ - offering outdoor dining in its simplest form with a BBQ right on the beachfront.
Now you have embraced your inner kiwi, you had better learn a bit of our traditional cultural values, so spend the afternoon with Maori Tours. Enjoy a half day tour combining laughter, learning and story-telling, with hands on activities like weaving and a bushwalk to discover traditional uses of trees and plants as food and medicine.
Day 6 - Kaikoura to......?
Start early today with a sunrise Albatross Encounter. You’ll get up close and personal with an array of magnificent seabirds right off the Kaikoura coast. The Albatross Encounter operates boat cruises to the seabirds all year round - from albatross, to petrels, shearwaters, gulls, shags and terns.
Have a yummy breakfast at Encounter Kaikoura when you get back in and then the day is yours! Head back to Christchurch or continue up the coast to Marlborough… the world is your oyster (or maybe after Kaikoura Crayfish will be your seafood of choice!)