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New Zealand South Island Driving Tour


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Introduction and Overview
Driving tour of the South Island of New Zealand

A driving tour of the South Island is an excellent way to extend your New Zealand cruise and see some of the interior of the island.

South Island of New Zealand (c) Linda Garrison
New Zealand is a marvelous cruise destination. The country primarily covers just two islands, so cruise travelers often get to visit several different ports of call as their ship circles the islands. However, many of the marvelous natural sites are worthy of more than just a few hours' time on a shore excursion, and others are too far inland to visit from a ship. Since New Zealand is such a long way away from the Americas (over 6,000 miles from California), Asia, and Europe, why not extend your cruise vacation for a few days?

Although many tour operators offer excellent land tours of the country, New Zealand's small size (about the size of the British Isles, Colorado, or Japan) and English-speaking population also make independent travel a good option. My friend Julie and I rented a small car at the Auckland Airport and did an independent driving vacation of New Zealand, spending five days on the North Island and nine days on the South Island. Rather than backtracking to Auckland, we dropped the car off in Queenstown at no extra cost and flew back to Auckland. Although New Zealand drivers have their steering on the right and drive on the left side of the road, it wasn't as difficult as we expected, since the amount of traffic on these lightly-populated islands is much less than we have at home. The people of New Zealand were uniformly friendly and helpful, adding to the pleasure of our holiday. We visited New Zealand the first two weeks of November, which was a good choice since that time of year does not have as many tourists. Traveling in this shoulder season also meant we never had a problem finding a place to spend the night. The spring weather was also warmer and drier than we expected.

This article covers the nine days we spent on the South Island. My friend and I agreed we could have easily spent a month. We did not see all the highlights of the South Island, but did drive over 1,600 miles, compared to the 900+ we drove on the North Island. I guess I'll have to return to see the places we missed!

The pages of this article show some of the marvelous things to do and see on the South Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand - South Island Driving Tour

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