Murchison self-drive holiday

Departing from Wellington, our three-day self-drive package will take you from the coolest little capital to a historic gold rush town and an undiscovered outdoor paradise

Winter at Lake Rotoiti 1000x680

Remoteness and luxury combined!

Enquire today for pricing

2 nights, based on share twin


Enjoy a self-drive break taking your own vehicle (or we can arrange a rental car at in Picton for you) to the stunningly remote Murchison region.

Depart Wellington aboard an Interislander ferry en route to Picton for your self-drive holiday (if you don't have a vehicle we can arrange a rental for you in Picton) you'll be provided with vouchers for enjoying the wide selection of food and beverages available at the on-board outlets as you travel across the Cook Strait. As you cruise through the Sounds in the late morning, you can even enjoy a taste of Marlborough, with our selection of local wine or beer.


Aratere in the Tory Channel
Taking pictures of Oriental Parade from the Interislander
Entering Ocean View Eatery on Kaitaki


After arriving in Picton, you will be all set for your roadie (if you're collecting a rental car as part of this package please follow the instructions in our booking confirmation).

Situated in the upper half of the South Island, Murchison is an undiscovered outdoor paradise waiting to be fully discovered. It's rural charm, natural beauty, and truly unique and stunning outdoor adventures are a must experience.

Murchison is also nicely placed between two beautiful national parks, the Kahurangi National Park and the Nelson Lakes National Park. Add to this the historic former gold mine town is also the start of the beautifully scenic drive down the Buller Gorge.

Whatever you choose to do you'll be in for a treat, whether you follow our itinerary or create your own and discover new things along the way.


Day 1

Departing from Wellington Interislander Terminal, the first leg of your great escape is a voyage of discovery. While cruising through Wellington Harbour, you'll take in the famous sights of Oriental Parade, Matui Island, Eastbourne, and the historic Pencarrow lighthouses.

Heading out onto Cook Strait, you'll be travelling north to where two seas meet. On a clear day, you'll see Cloudy Bay and Blenheim on the far shore with the Kaikoura mountains rising in the distance. On the Wellington side, you'll see the wild hills of Cape Terawhiti.

The hour-long passage through Cook Strait is an ideal opportunity to enjoy our range of food and beverages. During the morning sailing, both cooked and continental breakfasts are available with juices, teas and coffees. There is also a selection of cakes, pastries, hot and cold food available if you're looking for something other than breakfast.

The final chapter of an incredible voyage is spent sailing through the sheltered the Marlborough Sounds - a safe-haven for marine and birdlife. As you cruise through the Tory Channel, there is an excellent chance of seeing dolphins and several native bird species, along with the awe-inspiring scenery of Marlborough.

After a sharp turn around Dieffenbach Point, you will be on the broad Queen Charlotte Sound (known locally as Totaranui) and soon the twinkling town of Picton will be visible in the distance.


Lake Rotoiti


Once in Picton you’ll be all set to start your roadie to Murchison. Follow the signs towards Blenheim and then State highway 65 towards the alpine village of St Arnaud which sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti against a stunning backdrop of mountains. It's the perfect base for exploring the Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand's second-largest national park. There are magnificent hiking trails - short and long. There's also a range of outdoor adventure opportunities here including kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, horse trekking, and 4WD motorbiking.

Our tip - Lake Rotoiti is at the very edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park and a quick walk from St Arnaud. As you head down to the large car park the stunning views of the lake appear. Have your photo taken at the end of the jetty. You’ll see the same picture in many places – it’s like the passport stamp that you’ve “been there and done that”. The views are some of the most amazing you’ll see in the South Island.

From St Arnaud it's around a 45-minute drive to Murchison. On arrival into Murchison, head to your accommodation at Maruia River Retreat and check-in.

Dinner is at Maruia River Retreat. A real treat with their two-course gourmet dinner, where many of the ingredients have come fresh straight from their garden.

Finish off the day in the outdoor private bath with a stoked hot tub and Finnish sauna.


Day 2: 

Start your day with a continental or cooked breakfast. You can then arrange a complimentary class of yoga before heading out to explore some of the sights.

Jump in the car and head towards the Buller Gorge and New Zealand’s longest swingbridge. At 110m long, the Buller Gorge swingbridge is suspended 19 metres high above the impressive Buller River. A small charge applies to cross the bridge.

While there you can experience nature, explore the history, or even extend yourself with a thrill-seeking adventure at the Adventure and Heritage Park on the far side of the bridge.

From 10 minutes to 2 hours or even a whole day, Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park has attractions for everyone.


Murchison Swingbridge
Buller Gorge Swingbridge
Buller Gorge Swingbridge


Our tip - Take a ride high above the Buller River on a high-speed 160m flying fox or zip line ride. Suitable for all ‘young at heart’ ages. You’ll be comfortably seated and safely strapped in, a great way to let your hair down while seeing more of this magnificent spot.

Once back at the Maruia River Retreat, if you enjoy yoga, book yourself in for a class after breakfast tomorrow. 

Dinner is at Maruia River Retreat.


Day 3: 

Enjoy a continental or cooked breakfast to kick-start your day. Take in some yoga and then begin your drive back towards Picton.

Head to the stunning Nelson Lakes National Park for a walk. There are plenty of tracks to enjoy. You’ll experience the glacial lakes on one side and the beech forest on the other. Listen out for the calls of two popular NZ birds the Bellbird and Tui. Information boards throughout provide lots of interesting information and facts as you go along.


Picton Waterfront
Walking Lake Rotoiti Track
Whisky Falls at Lake Rotoiti


Our tip – If you enjoy a walk and the weather is ok, head off early from Maruia River Retreat and take the Lakeside track to Whisky Falls at Nelson Lakes National Park. The walk is around 11km from the carpark. You'll be well rewarded with the 40-metre high waterfall surrounded by thick walls of moss and ferns a great sight to see.

Early afternoon, you’ll begin your journey back to Picton for your return sailing home.

The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the heart of the Marlborough Sounds and a great place to take a stroll around the attractive waterfront. A relaxed small town with a selection of cafés, restaurants, and various types of galleries. There’s also a floating maritime museum and an aquarium.


Picton Waterfront
Picton Waterfront
Picton Memorial Steps


Late afternoon board the Interislander ferry for your return journey. We have included some vouchers so you can enjoy some of the delicious food and range of beverages served up on-board (with the option to upgrade to our Plus Lounge with its complimentary food and beverages).

Then sit back and relax as you cruise through the Marlborough Sounds and across the Cook Strait back to Wellington.

**Additional nights can be added at Lochmara. Accommodation can also be added pre and post your package journey, ask our Packages Consultant when booking this package**



View out front of Maruia River Retreat
Maruia River Retreat Stoked Hot Tub
Maruia River Retreat LuxeVilla Room


Maruia River Retreat, Murchison

Maruia River Retreat is the perfect base to explore the South Island. Maruia River Retreat offers peace, tranquillity and relaxed luxury accommodations within a 500-acre nature estate with its own nature walks, access to the Maruia River for swimming and fishing, and within easy drives to the nearby West Coast, Nelson, Kaikoura, and Christchurch.

The Retreat offers forest bathing experiences in its outdoor hot tub, Finnish sauna, and massage treatments at its Wellness Spa. The newly refurbished villas are beautifully appointed with luxury linen, idyllic views of the rivers and mountains within meters from your doorstep.

Adventure activities can also be organised for white water rafting, nature walks, and guided tours, private yoga classes, and even cooking classes with the Resident Chef. It is the ideal place for rest, relaxation, and reconnection with nature.

Room type: Luxe Villa Room



Package available from 23 September 2020 to 23 May 2021. 

Room upgrades are available at a surcharge (subject to availability). During times of high demand, if the advertised package hotel is not available, a substitution of a similar standard hotel may be made to complete the package. A surcharge may apply.

Package Overview

What's included:

  • Return Interislander travel (INCLUDING CAR)
  • Return Interislander FOOD AND BEVERAGE VOUCHERS
  • Two nights accommodation IN murchison
  • Continental Breakfast and Cooked Breakfast*
  • 2-course gourmet dinner*
  • Unlimited Coffee and Tea
  • Sparkling Water on tap
  • Daily Yoga Classes
  • Use of wellness centre facilities
  • 3 days group E (Holden Commodore or similar) rental car hire (can be added at an additional cost if required)

    *3-Course Dinners and Cooked Breakfasts are available Wednesday – Sundays. Full Continental Breakfast spread and Gourmet Pizza Dinners are available Mondays and Tuesdays.



All enquiries

0800 802 802

Overseas:  +64 4498 3302

Option 3 •  Mon-Fri •  08:00 - 17:00

Interislander T&C •  Packages T&C

Add a hotel in Wellington

Extend your holiday by adding one of these great Wellington hotels before or after your self-drive holiday.


Wellington Rydges 730x504

Rydges Wellington

4.5-Star | Relax in style at Wellington's biggest hotel with its stunning Portlander Bar & Grill
Find out more
Oaks Wellington Hotel Lobby Entrance 730x504

Oaks Wellington Hotel

4-Star | Providing modern accommodation in the heart of Wellington’s entertainment precinct.
Find out more
c hotel wellington front 730x504

Naumi Hotel Wellington

3-Star | Stay in the buzzing heart of Wellington at the amazingly restored C Hotel on Cuba Street
Find out more

Discover more...

Contact us 730x504

Bookings & Enquiries

Book now over the phone, ask a question, or use our online form to request availability and pricing
Find out more
Any Questions Christine Nuthall 730x504

Any questions?

Need to know more? Try reading our extensive FAQ's or downloading our full Terms and Conditions
Find out more
Destinations West Coast Punukaiki 730x504

Package | Discover West Coast (2 nights)

Departing Christchurch, let us take you on a journey to New Zealand's wild West Coast, where you'll discover an untamed world
Find out more
Lochmara aerial view 730x504

Package | Lochmara Marlborough

Departing Wellington aboard Interislander, you'll travel through the magical Marlborough Sounds to Picton, before heading on to Lochmara Lodge for 3 days of blissful relaxation
Find out more
Trafalgar Street Church Steps and Cathedral credit Barry Peck 730x504

Package | Nelson self-drive

Departing from Wellington, our three-day self-drive package will take you from the sparkling capital to the sunniest region in New Zealand where you'll discover a thriving local art and cultural scene in Nelson.
Find out more
Destinations Christchurch tram on New Regent Street 1000x680 2

Package | Escape to the Garden City

Departing Greymouth, traverse the breathtaking terrain of the Southern Alps in comfort. Let us take you from one coast of New Zealand to the other as you journey to the charming city of Christchurch.
Find out more
Furneaux Lodge Howden Lodge and lawn 730x504

Package | Furneaux Lodge

Departing Wellington, you'll head to the outer reaches of the stunning Marlborough Sounds to Furneaux Lodge for a perfect retreat away for a few days
Find out more
Bay of Many Coves 730x504

Package | Bay of Many Coves

Departing Wellington, this five-star escape into the magical beauty of Bay of Many Coves will take your breath away as you enjoy true luxury in the Sounds.
Find out more
Vineyard Biking 730x504

Package | Blenheim self-drive

Departing from Wellington, this three-day self-drive package will take you from the coolest little capital to the largest and most famous wine region in New Zealand where you'll quench your thirst and delight your tastebuds.
Find out more
Punga Cove Resort sunny beach 730x504

Package | Picturesque Punga Cove

Departing Wellington, this blissful escape into the magical beauty of Endeavour Inlet will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated
Find out more
Winter at Lake Rotoiti 730x504

Package | Murchison self-drive

Departing from Wellington, our three-day self-drive package will take you from the coolest little capital to a historic gold rush town and an undiscovered outdoor paradise
Find out more