Spectacular South Island

15 Day Tour

Price on Request

request a quote

Departure dates on request

OVERVIEW

This is a great round trip from Christchurch up the east coast and across to Nelson with whale watching, and winetasting on your way to the beautiful golden sand beaches of Abel Tasman National Park for a day of hiking, sailing or kayaking.

Travel the length of the wild West Coast visiting pancake rocks and glaciers before staying in the lakeside resorts of Wanaka and Queenstown. Spend the night on spectacular Milford or Doubtful Sounds before visiting the Penguins and Albatross near Dunedin. Enjoy a scenic train journey in to the mountains before returning to Christchurch via Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

DAY 1 - ARRIVE IN CHRISTCHURCH

Arrive at Christchurch International Airport where you will be met, and transferred to your Christchurch city accommodation. The balance of the day is free to rest and explore New Zealand's “garden city”.

DAY 2 - IN CHRISTCHURCH

Day at leisure. There is a lot to see and do in and around Christchurch City. Stroll through the city centre to the Canterbury Arts Centre and the Museum, the Botanic Gardens and the gardens in Mona Vale estate are also well worth a visit. The International Antarctic Centre is a “must see” for most visitors. New Zealand’s native bird the Kiwi and a variety of other wildlife can be seen at Willowbank and Wildlife cruises on Lyttelton harbour are another option.
There are also half-day city tours and popular full day trips from Christchurch such as the Tranz Alpine to Arthur’s Pass and tours to Akaroa where the rare Hectors Dolphins can be seen. There is also the opportunity for sporting activities such as golfing, salmon fishing, jet boating, sea kayaking or hot air ballooning.

DAY 3 - CHRISTCHURCH - KAIKOURA - BLENHEIM

This morning travel up the Pacific Coast to Kaikoura for a Whale watch cruise. There are also pods of playful Dusky Dolphins, Seals, Penguins and occasionally Orca can be seen. Afterwards visit a Seal colony where the Fur Seals may be viewed at close quarters. Then drive up the Pacific Coast to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine district. (312 kms)

DAY 4 - THE MARLBOROUGH REGION

This morning visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum. The Knights of the Sky exhibit here occupies 3,000 sq metres and is one of the world’s largest collections of WW1 aircraft and rare memorabilia. The collection is owned by a trust chaired by renowned Film Director – Peter Jackson. In the afternoon take a tour of the Marlborough Wine Region. This is New Zealand's top wine producing area. Among the leading wineries are Grove Mill, Hunters, Alan Scott Estate, Shingle Peak, St Clair, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Montana. Some of these wineries have restaurants where you may wish to have lunch or dinner.

DAY 4 - BLENHEIM - NELSON

Yoday drive across the top of the South Island to Nelson – a city renowned for its sunshine, lovely beaches, apples and life style. Suggest on arrival visit the interesting Wearable Arts Museum and Hoglund’s Glass Blowing Studios. (110 kms)

DAY 5 - ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK

From Kaiteriteri Beach enjoy a day of exploring Abel Tasman National Park. Cruise by launch through the Marine Reserve and up the coast past beautiful golden sand beaches to Tonga Island. This is the site of a large Seal colony. The most popular activity is to disembark at one of the bays such as Onetahuti and then walk back through the native rain forest to Bark Bay or from Bark Bay to Torrent Bay where the launch will collect you on its return trip to Kaiteriteri.

DAY 6 - NELSON - PUNAKAIKI - FRANZ JOSEF

This morning drive south down through the Golden Downs State Forest to Murchison and through the Buller Gorge to the West Coast. The scenery is splendid with high mountains and lush rainforest. There are some delightful picnic places along the way. Continue south through Inangahua Junction and follow the Buller River out to the coast. Time permitting you may want to see the Seal colony at Cape Foulwind near Westport, before driving down the coast to Punakaiki to see the unusual pancake rocks. These unusual appearance of these rocks have been caused by wind and wave action on different rock strata. In the afternoon continue down the Tasman Sea coast to Greymouth, which is the largest centre on the West Coast. Stop at Shantytown to try your hand at gold panning and visit the Greenstone Studios at Hokitika where a local Jade crafted into tradition and modern ornaments and jewellery. Continue south witht he Southern Alps to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West, through forests and farmlands to Franz Josef. (498 kms)

DAY 7 - FRANZ JOSEF - WANAKA

The Franz Josef Glacier is a huge river of snow and ice that flows from vast snowfields high in the Alps almost to sea level. There are half and full day guided tours on to the ice and scenic flights with snow landings available. Morning at leisure for your choice of tours and activities. In the afternoon drive south through magnificent rainforests and past pretty bush fringed lakes and clear rushing rivers. At Haast turn inland and cross the Haast Pass through the Southern Alps. The alpine scenery is awesome. Descend past glacial Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Wanaka. (287 kms)

DAY 8 - AT WANAKA

Wanaka is a very popular resort. It is located on the shores of a beautiful lake with a stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps. Day at leisure for your own choice of tours and activities. Among your options is a drive out to the Matukituki Valley, a lake cruise, mountain biking, golf, trout fishing or river rafting. A visit to Landsborough’s Puzzling World to find your way out of the maze and to see some of the puzzling things there is always fun. Time and energy permitting you may also like to take a hike to the top of nearby Mt Iron from where there are wonderful panoramic views across Lake Wanaka to Mt Aspiring and the Southern Alps. There are also scenic flights, and an interesting War birds collection of vintage warplanes at Wanaka Airport, along with a vintage car and toy collection.

DAY 9 - WANAKA - QUEENSTOWN

Travel on through the Central Otago farmlands and around Lake Dunstan to Cromwell which is an important fruit growing and wine making area. If you have an interest in wines recommend a visit to The Big Picture and some of the wineries in the Bannockburn area. From here pass through the rugged Kawarau Gorge into Queenstown. (116 kms)

DAY 10 - IN QUEENSTOWN

Day at leisure for your own choice of tours and activities. There is plenty to do in this wonderful alpine resort. Suggest a cruise on the 1912 vintage lake steamer TSS Earnslaw or the thrill of a Shotover Jetboat ride. Another option is to drive out to Glenorchy for a popular Dart River Safari or a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track. Dine this evening at the Skyline Restaurant from where there are panoramic views across the lake and surrounding mountains. Access is by aerial gondola.

DAY 11 - QUEENSTOWN - MILFORD SOUND

Today drive around Lake Wakatipu and through Te Anau and into Fiordland National Park. The scenery is stunning with high mountains and deep valleys carved out by ice age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and cascading waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. Stop en route to view the Mirror Lakes and The Chasm. In the late afternoon board the MV Milford Mariner for an overnight adventure cruise on Milford Sound. Seals, Penguins and Dolphins are often seen. Sea kayaks available for guest use. En suite cabins. Dinner and breakfast served aboard. (Or you may instead chose to do the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound aboard the MV Fiordland Navigator) (292 kms)

DAY 12 - MILFORD SOUND - DUNEDIN

Breakfast aboard. Disembark and return to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and lovely Eglinton Valley. From Te Anau it is a half day drive across the Southland and Otago countryside to Dunedin. (408 kms)

DAY 13 - DUNEDIN SIGHTSEEING

Dunedin was originally settled by the Scots and retains a good deal of tartan character. Today drive out to the Otago Peninsula for a visit the Royal Albatross Colony -- the only mainland nesting place in the world for these magnificent seabirds. The Observatory is closed mid September to mid November however Albatross can be seen from a Monarch Wildlife Cruise during this time). Next travel on to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguins from especially constructed “hides”. New Zealand’s only castle is also located on the Peninsula. Another recommended option is the Taieri Gorge Excursion train, which operates daily deep into the hills behind Dunedin following the trail of 19th century gold prospectors.

DAY 14 - DUNEDIN - MT. COOK

This morning drive north across the hills and up the Pacific Coast. See the Moeraki Boulders on the beach and then drive inland up the Waitaki Valley past the Aviemore and Benmore hydro lakes Omarama and the Mackenzie Basin. Continue through Twizel and around glacially formed Lake Pukaki and into Mt Cook. There are 17 peaks above 10,000 ft in Mt Cook National Park. The scenery is spectacular. Time this afternoon to walk some of the shorter alpine trails near the hotel or a scenic flight with glacier landing. (330 kms)

DAY 15 - MT. COOK - CHRISTCHURCH - DEPART

This morning drive down from Mt Cook to Christchurch Airport travelling via Lake Tekapo and crossing the sheep and crop farmlands of the Canterbury Plains. (330 kms)

PRICES ON APPLICATION

This Holiday is based on either Self Drive Rental Vehicle or Private Car & Driver/Guide (or a combination). Rates vary frequently, depending on your hotels choice, number of people in your party and period of your trip.
We work with the highest quality hotels of different styles in each area – which, in some cases, may mean the 'authentic' rather than the obviously luxurious – and we do not always opt for the obvious. So it’s a matter of working out what’s right for you, based upon your tastes and the experience you want.

All the holidays have been carefully crafted by our experts. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveller.

Our specialists are looking forward to hearing from you so that we can custom design a holiday to your individual specifications.

Spectacular South Island Tour - 15 Days
Explore the South Island of NZ with some soft adventure along the way. (Code: TTNZ)