Plan your journey

There are many places to begin your journey around the top of the south and to help you out we’ve put together some tips, including where to start and how to make the most of your time here. We’ll also help you uncover some of the region’s hidden gems, so you can craft the trip of a lifetime!

Planning a self-drive trip

The top of the south is a perfect driving route getaway, whether you encompass all of the regions or part. A self-drive holiday enables you to take your time while exploring the region at your own pace and get off the beaten track to uncover some lesser known highlights. 

The two closest international gateways are Christchurch Airport and Wellington Airport. where you can pick up a hire car on arrival. From Christchurch, head north towards Hurunui and from Wellington, jump on one of two car ferries and let your holiday begin. Alternatively you can also hire a car in Picton.


If you want to dive straight in, why not fly directly into the top of the south, with domestic airports located in Nelson, Blenheim and Hokitika with Air New Zealand. Regular scheduled flights are also available through Sounds Air into Picton, Blenheim and Westport.

Group Tours

If you’d prefer to explore the top of the south as part of a large group, go to the ‘how to book’ section on this website to discover what tours are available. When travelling as part of a group tour, you don’t need to worry about anything. Your tour guide will make sure you don’t miss any of the iconic attractions whilst you relax and enjoy meeting the other people on your tour.

How many days?

Five to seven days is recommended if you want to visit each region, with minimal drive time of around three hours a day. You could easily spend longer though - if you don’t want to rush then give yourself a minimum of two days in each region. Allow plenty of time to explore and soak up the scenery as you will discover lots of unique places to stop along the way.

On two wheels

The top of the south is home to some of the New Zealand Cycle Trails – Great Rides. If cycling is your thing then maybe consider one of these great rides:

If you want to explore by bike along the way, there are plenty of excellent bike paths and mountain bike parks to explore. If you prefer cycling in small doses, then there are plenty of opportunities to hire a bike along the way may, including cycling along the Kaikōura coast, exploring the West Coast Wilderness Trail, or doing a wine tour by bike in Marlborough. 

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