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New Zealand

North Island (NI)

South Island (SI)

South Island Car Rental

Your South Island adventure begins here

Planning the ultimate South Island road trip isn't easy. There's far too much to see and do on the 'mainland'. Why not start by catching the ferry across from Wellington, pick up a rental car in Picton and get exploring around the absolutely stunning Marlborough Sounds? This incredible landscape is the jewel in the crown at the South Island's head. With approximately 4,000 km² of channels, islands and peninsulas, visiting the Sounds once is never enough.

The West Coast is definitely worth seeing. Rough, rugged and really, really cool, the coast is full of hidden (and not so hidden) treasures. Major attractions here include the famous pancake rocks and blowholes of Punakaiki, the beauty of the Haast Pass and the grandeur of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. It also provides some fantastic driving – the Lonely Planet listed it as one of the 'Top 10 Coastal Drives of the World'.

On the opposite side of the island the Marlborough and Canterbury regions offer a huge range of sights to see and things to do. Near the top of the island, the flourishing gourmet scene of Blenheim is a highlight. Be sure to stop by some of the excellent wineries, cafes and restaurants. Your belly will thank you.

Further down the coast there's Kaikoura. Translated from Maori, the town's name evokes one of its big draw-cards – crayfish. The seafood delicacy is highly regarded, and Kaikoura has the best. There are bigger attractions in the water too. The whale watching is incredible here and swimming with the dolphins is always popular. 

In Christchurch you'll find a city that has been vastly transformed since 2011, when an earthquake tore through the Garden City. Don't worry – there's still plenty to see and do and, best of all, not a day seems to go by where some new venue or attraction opens. From here you can also easily drive to the French colonial outpost of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, or the wineries of Waipara, or to the Southern Alps for an array of great skiing.

Heading south, the towns of Timaru and Oamaru offer plenty of attractions, the historic town quarter of the latter a great place to stop in. Be sure to check out the bizarre Moeraki boulders and search out some of the hidden culinary gems in the area too.

The second biggest city in the South Island is Dunedin. Here you'll find music, rugby and art – there's an interesting mix in this heritage-infused environment. It's a bit of a student town too. So expect all the vitality and originality that comes with such a local population, along with a great local fashion and café scene.

Be sure to drive further down the road. The towns at the bottom of the South Island provide great old-fashioned hospitality and the Catlins coastline is truly unique and worth visiting.
Next on your trip could well be the 'Adventure Capital of the World'. You'll have probably heard of the resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. If you ever have the need to jump off, speed down, paddle through or bike across this is the place to do it. Adrenalin fuels the lakes, rivers and mountains, and the nightlife offers just as much to do once the sun goes down.

For a more sedate (but no less exciting) journey, travel through the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound and experience pure New Zealand at its very best. Author Rudyard Kipling called this place the eighth Wonder of the World. Just try and deny it once you get there.

The South Island offers plenty of opportunities to get out from behind the wheel and into a pair of good hiking boots, or slip behind a table somewhere for some delicious food, or try something adventurous that you wouldn't normally consider, or quite simply stretch your legs amongst some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Find a deal for your next road trip here.

Car Rental Bookings

If you are travelling around the South Island, be it business or pleasure and need a car, trust Thrifty to provide the best value, convenience and service through one of its 12 car rental locations. For all your car rental bookings get a quote and book online or call us on the telephone at 0800 73 70 70 to find out more about our rates, available vehicles and any current specials.

Convenient Locations

Below is a list of locations you can find Thrifty Car Rental in the South Island:


Blenheim Airport Airport Terminal 03 572 9068
Christchurch Airport         Airport Terminal 03 353 1940
Dunedin Airport Airport Terminal 03 486 2537
Dunedin City 121 Crawford Street 03 479 2693
Greymouth Railway Station 0297770263
Hokitika Airport Airport Terminal (meet & greet)     0297770263
Invercargill Airport     Airport Terminal 03 218 6100
Nelson Airport Airport Terminal 03 547 5563
Picton Interislander Ferry Terminal 03 573 7387
Queenstown Airport     Airport Terminal 03 442 3532
Queenstown City 1 Shotover Street 03 441 3082
Westport Airport     Airport Terminal (meet & greet) 0297770263