New Zealand South Island autumn holiday - 10 days self drive itinerary

I have been spending holiday in Europe (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland) for the past few years, it's time to start exploring other places. Early this year I just delivered a young baby and my mum is helping me to take care of my little one. Parenting is definitely not easy and I'm still struggling to adapt it. Despite the new challenge in life, I did not give up travelling. I love travelling and I want to bring my baby along. New Zealand then came into the picture, why not I plan one family friendly self drive holiday to New Zealand? Sounds great isn't it? 

To kick start the planning, I googled to find out New Zealand 2017 school holiday date and 2017 public holiday date. I ruled out the date to travel during summer (December - February) and winter (June - August), I don't like summer and winter weather might not be comfortable for baby. Autumn (March - May) in NZ seems to be very beautiful and weather is also not too harsh (day time 16 degC - 18 degC, night time 6 degC - 8 degC).   

To explore south island, minimum 14 days is needed in my opinion. However I do not have the luxury to spend so many days in NZ. 

Since I can only have 10 days and I'm travelling with young baby and my mother, west coast (Franz Josef glacier, Punakaiki, Greymouth and etc) is excluded from my itinerary. I do not want to rush, so only 4 cities are included in my itinerary. It's still doable to visit west coast in 10 days, I have friends who were travelling with toddlers visited Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Oamaru, Queenstown, Wanaka, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef, Greymouth and Punakaiki in 10 days. It sounds very rush and basically you just pack and unpack your luggage everyday. I don't want to do that. 

I wanted to join glacier hike since I did not manage to do glacier hike when I was in Iceland (click here to see my Iceland itinerary). But I have to skip it again, I'm not allowed to bring my baby along. By the way, baby is also not allowed to go up to hot air balloon, you can pay the operator to babysit your child while you are up there.  

Christchurch - Dunedin - Queenstown (Arrowtown) - Lake Tekapo - Christchurch


  • Farm tour and farm house stay experience
  • Visit to scenic Lake Tekapo
  • Sky diving adventure
  • Hot air balloon or shotover jet adventure
  • Beautiful fall foliage in Arrowtown and Queenstown
  • Dine in Skyline restaurant and enjoy stunning Queenstown night view
  • Milford Sound tour by plane
  • Visit to farmers' market

Day 0
Depart from Singapore Changi airport

Day 1

Arrive Christchurch in the morning
Visit Christchurch Farmers' Market 9am-1pm, explore CHC city centre eg Re:Start Mall (container outdoor mall) and Cashel street / CHC Cathedral and temporarily cathedral 9am-5pm / Quake City (earthquake museum) 10am-5pm NZ$20 / MargretMahy Playground (kid) FOC / Christchurch casino
Stay overnight at Southwark Apartment 2-bedroom apartment NZ$259

Day 2
Check out and proceed to Dunedin. Black Betty café breakfast 8am-4pm
Visit The Octagon (eateries & Dunedin city centre), Dunedin railway station, 1st church of Otago, Cadbury Worldfactory NZ$20 9am-315pm, dinner at The Speight’s Ale House (brewery restaurant)
Stay overnight at airbnb 5BR pent house NZ$585

Day 3
Drive out from Dunedin city centre to Otago Peninsula via Highcliff Road or Portobello Road very scenic (Taiaroa Head, Royal Albatross Centre 10:15am opening tour available, Blue Penguin Pukekura blue penguin night tour NZ$30 adult, Allans Beach Rd – Hoopers Inlet, Larnach Castle NZ30 9am-5pm, Sandfly Bay see seal and penguin if lucky via Seal Point Rd)
Stay overnight at airbnb 5BR pent house NZ$585

Day 4
Check out and proceed to Queenstown
Sky dive Wanaka 12,000 ft NZ$329, OR Walter Peak Farm tour (kid) NZ$57 adult, FOC child under 5, OR Puzzling World (kid) (trick eye museum) NZ20 adult FOC child under 5
Stay overnight at 5BR airbnb NZ$672

Day 5
MilfordSound tour (kid) (Fly/Cruise/Fly) NZ499 adult NZ315 Child aged 4 and above, infant FOC
Stay overnight at 5BR airbnb NZ$672

Day 6
Hot air balloon NZ$545 OR Shotover Jet NZ$135
Side trip to Arrowtown, visit Buckingham street, visit Chinese gold miners village 
Gondola ride and dinner reservation at Stratosfare Queenstown Restaurant NZ$85
Stay overnight at 5BR airbnb NZ$672

Day 7
Check out and proceed to Lake Tekapo
Visit Mount Cook, short hiking (Hooker valley track)
Visit Church of Good Shepherd, dog statue
May consider star gazing Cowan’sobservatory tour NZ$90 adult only, MtJohn observatory tour NZ$145 adult only
Stay overnight at Lake Tekapo Village Motel 2 bedroom apartment NZ$240

Day 8
Check out and proceed to farm house 
Farm tour, sheep shearing
Stay overnight at Pete’s Farm stay, dinner & breakfast, 4 bedroom house NZ$730

Day 9
Check out and proceed to CHC
Visit CHC largest market Riccarton Market 9am-2pm, International Antarctic Centre (kid) 9am-530pm (just beside CHC airport)
Stay overnight at Southwark Apartment 2-bedroom apartment NZ$259

Day 10

Morning flight back to Singapore

Budget/pax (in SGD)
SQ air ticket 1450
Accommodation** 800
Car rental 300
Petrol 250
Meals 300
Tours and activities 1100
Misc 300
Total SGD4500 

** I'm travelling with another family of 4 so there are total 8 pax in our group. 8 of us are staying together in 5-bedroom pent house in Dunedin and 5-bedroom house in Queenstown. 

Interested to visit New Zealand? Check out my itinerary and click here to read day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, day 6, day 7, day 8, day 9 trip report.

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  1. Hello Iva! I am planning a trip to New Zealand in November, and I wanted to know which company did you rent your car from? This is because $300 is quite cheap for car rental in Nz.

    1. Hi the actual cost is actually about $600, that's cost per person in the trip (sharing with my partner). Is $600 consider cheap for a week of rental? Toyota highlander kind. I'm going to book it with Hertz under corporate discount.