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Driving New Zealand's South Island

Matakauri Lodge, outside Queenstown, which overlooks Lake Wakatipu.

Photo: Courtesy of Matakauri Lodge

Day 6: Otago Peninsula to Queenstown (185 miles)

The tip of the Otago Peninsula is home to the Westpac Royal Albatross Centre (tours from $32), the world’s only mainland breeding colony for the formidable birds, which can live longer than 60 years and have a wingspan of 10 feet or more. Afterward, follow Portobello Road back into Dunedin and to the Octagon, its appealing central plaza—that’s a statue of Robert Burns in front of the cathedral. Grab a quick lunch at the hip Mash Café (lunch for two $23), located under the eaves of the historic Regent Theatre. From here, Queenstown is a leisurely four-hour drive via routes 8 and 6 through the interior of the South Island, passing farms and former gold fields. The Dairy Private Luxury Hotel (doubles from $335) is an unpretentious boutique property and the perfect spot to end your trip (“dairy” is Kiwi for “convenience store,” by the way). From there, the plush and amiable Botswana Butchery (dinner for two $100), one of Queenstown’s hottest tables, is an easy walk for dinner. Dishes include a range of superior steaks, venison, and lamb, as well as seafood dishes—such as Antarctic sea bass with bouillabaisse sauce—direct from the pristine waters you’ve just been admiring.

Anthony Dennis is T+L’s Australia and New Zealand correspondent.

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