AAT Kings Southern Wonders Itinerary

Southern Wanderer Escorted Tour

Arrive Christchurch

‘Haere Mai’ and welcome to New Zealand!

Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. After you check-in, you can head out and explore Christchurch. Step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax as the Christchurch Tram takes you around the 'must-see' central attractions. The tram drivers provide a live commentary throughout the loop, identifying points of interest, historic architecture and the changes the city is under-going since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. This evening, you will meet everyone at a welcome reception.  

Some Suggested Activities Options for Christchurch

Easygoing Cycling Tour  Punting the Avon River  Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural EveningFrench Akaroa TourSouthern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch GondolaClearwater GolfArthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Accommodation Christchurch - 1 night

Christchurch City Tram
This inviting and modern brand new hotel features contemporary rooms, Restaurant & Bar. Nearby to the Cashel Street Re:START mall - this "pop up" shopping precinct is the new vibrant heart of the city, featuring many new designer shops and modern cafes. The Hotel is very close to the famous Cathedral Square, the historic heart of the city providing easy access to local activities, outer lying attractions and the airport.
Ibis Hotel Christchurch.


Arthurs Pass, on to Glacier Country

Today we travel from the Canterbury Plains, over the Arthurs Pass the road that winds through the very heart of the Southern Alps, a mighty mountain landscape that’s home to craggy gorges, soaring peaks and ribbons of crystal-clear rivers. 

This afternoon, we drive to Hokitika, where a nearby river is famous for being a traditional source of pounamu (greenstone). We stop in at a pounamu jewellery factory for a close-up look at this special native gem. Journeying onwards, we reach our final destination of Franz Josef Village – and here, you’re in for a real treat. The Franz Josef Glacier tumbles down from the Southern Alps almost to the sea, its ancient icy faces contrasting spectacularly with the surrounding rainforests.

Meals: Full Buffet Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation Franz Josef - 1 night 

Native mountain parrot at Arthurs Pass
Situated on the very edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier will welcome you in true New Zealand style. The Hotel makes the most of its alpine location and is only moments from spectacular Franz Josef Glacier. Featuring patios or balconies, the simple, warmly decorated rooms and suites include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges, plus tea and coffee making facilities. Suites add living areas and quality rooms with balcony views.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier


Franz Josef / Queenstown

Today we venture across the mountains, driving up and over the Haast Pass and travelling past dramatic rivers, forests and mountains. We stop to stretch our legs on an easy forest track that leads to dazzling blue pools and the amazing Thunder Creek Falls. We journey along the shores of the turquoise-blue lakes of Wanaka, Hawea and Dunstan, and make our way through the rugged cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge and onwards to Cromwell. This is the stone fruit capital of New Zealand, so we stop to pick up a bag or two of delicious cherries, nectarines or apricots. In the afternoon we make our way to the charming village of Arrowtown, located on the banks of the Arrow River and steeped in gold mining heritage.

The adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown, is our final destination for today. Enjoy an evening of free time in this stunningly picturesque place.

Meals: Full buffet breakfast

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

Franz Josef Glacier
Experience tranquillity all year round. The Copthorne Resort Lakefront in Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area. Exploring panoramic views of the lake and nearby mountains, the Copthorne is the perfect venue to relax! The Copthorne Lakefront blends superior facilities and comfort with friendly service. The hotel Balconies and garden views are a feature of many rooms.
Copthorne Resort Queenstown


Queenstown at Leisure

The alpine grandeur, adventure activities and relaxing pursuits of Queenstown are all yours to enjoy as you see fit. If you’re after excitement, choose from activities like a thrilling wilderness jet boat ride or an adventurous white water rafting trip. For something more relaxing, wine tours in the Gibbston Valley or a stroll around the Botanic Gardens are both highly enjoyable. This evening a special experience awaits across the other side of Lake Wakatipu this evening. We cruise the pristine waters aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship – the TSS Earnslaw – to our destination of Walter Peak Station. Here, we enjoy a delicious carvery dinner and a farm show at the Colonel’s Homestead.

Recommended Queenstown Excursions:

Routeburn Day WalkHighest Bungey JumpExplore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon      Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise  Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail


Meals: Breakfast and highlight dinner

Queenstown TSS Earnslaw Steamship


Cruise on the Majestic Milford Sound

Today promises to be one of the major highlights of your time in New Zealand. We journey to Te Anau, the gateway to the stunning Fiordland National Park, before driving the spectacular Milford Road. Lush forests, glacier-carved valleys, snowy peaks and mirror-like lakes dot this very special driving experience into a renowned World Heritage Site. Continuing through the hand-carved Homer Tunnel and on to Milford Sound itself, the views of this grand fiord are breath taking. We explore its inky waters on a boat cruise, soaking up the surroundings of granite cliffs, tumbling waterfalls and unique wildlife before journeying back to Te Anau for the night.

Meals: Full buffet breakfast, dinner

Accommodation Te Anau - 1 night

Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable newly refurbished accommodation in one of New Zealand's most popular scenic areas - Te Anau. Within easy walking distance of the township, surrounded by all local services, this 4-star hotel welcomes guests with 2 restaurants, free self parking, a fitness centre and free unlimited WiFi. Luxmores management and staff take pride in providing a warm, friendly and efficient service to all guests.
Distinction Luxmore Hotel


Te Anau - Dunedin

Venturing south, we journey through the rich, fertile farming landscapes of South Otago before arriving in the distinctly Scottish city of Dunedin. Majestic Victorian architecture dots the city centre, but one of the main attractions is the rare wildlife that lives here. Dunedin is home to rare yellow-eyed penguins as well as the world’s only accessible mainland colony of Northern Royal Albatross. These princely ocean adventurers are thrilling to see up-close. Experience Dunedin your way with an afternoon of free time. Enjoy a historic rail experience on the Taieri Gorge Railway.

Meals: Full Buffet Breakfast 

Accommodation Dunedin - 1 night

Dunedin Railway Station
This contemporary quality 4-star hotel accommodation is located the heart of Dunedin and is filled with modern local artwork. Located just blocks from the Octagon and walking distance of many of the city’s main attractions like the fabulous First Church of Otago, and handy to great restaurants and shopping centres. Amenities Include: Free WiFi, Restaurant & Cafe/Bar, Fitness Centre, Valet Car Parking and Conference Facilities.
Scenic Hotel Dunedin


Dunedin - Omarama

This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to visit the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, or journey out to the gorgeous Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only castle. Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university, Otago University. Bidding a fond farewell to Dunedin, we drive north to Oamaru and see the stunning 19th - century architecture the town is famous for. Following the banks of the Waitaki River we pass the huge hydro-electric dams of Waitaki, making our way to Omarama – our destination for tonight.

Meals: Full Buffet Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Omarama - 1 night

The beautiful Larnach Castle in Dunedin.
Set amongst landscaped gardens with views of the surrounding mountains, the Heritage Gateway Hotel is a peaceful place to stay. Featuring 98 comfortably furnished guest rooms, restaurant & bar.The Heritage Gateway is located 4 hours south of Christchurch and is truly the gateway to the South Island. This hotel has a full restaurant and cocktail bar both offering panoramic views of the Southern Alps.
Set amongst landscaped gardens with views of the surrounding mountains, the Heritage Gateway Hotel


Omarama - Christchurch

Today we traverse the stunning landscape of the central South Island. Cloaked in golden tussock and decorated with mighty rivers and bright blue alpine lakes, this is a very special part of New Zealand. We journey past Mount Cook National Park, home to the country’s highest peak. For spectacular views and a different perspective, choose to take an optional scenic flight if the weather permits.

Afterwards we continue towards the coast, stopping at the jewel-coloured lakes of Pukaki and Tekapo. Here we visit the charming Church of the Good Shepherd– located right on the banks of the lake, it offers spectacular photo opportunities. Leaving the alpine scenery behind, we drive through the patchwork of the Canterbury Plains, arriving in Christchurch for our final night. Enjoy a city sights tour and see how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  

Note itineray change from Apr 1 2024: Morning 45 min visit to the Dark Sky Project Observatory. Remove Church of the Good Shepherd. 

 Meals: Full Buffet Breakfast & Final Dinner

Accommodation Christchurch - 1 night

The snowy Mount Cook.
This inviting and modern brand new hotel features contemporary rooms, Restaurant & Bar. Nearby to the Cashel Street Re:START mall - this "pop up" shopping precinct is the new vibrant heart of the city, featuring many new designer shops and modern cafes. The Hotel is very close to the famous Cathedral Square, the historic heart of the city providing easy access to local activities, outer lying attractions and the airport.
Ibis Hotel Christchurch.


Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

Today it’s time to bid farewell to New Zealand. Enjoy breakfast in your hotel before your homeward journey. 

Some suggested activities if you have time.

Easygoing Cycling Tour

   Punting the Avon River   Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise

Māori Cultural Evening

   French Akaroa Tour   Southern Alps Ballooning

Christchurch Gondola

   Clearwater Golf   Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Meals: Breakfast

A tram driving through the city centre of Christchurch.


Included Highlights

  • Visit a green stone factory & watch the jade artists at work
  • Discover fascinating Franz Josef Glacier
  • Travel through the magnificent rainforest of Haast Pass
  • Taste Central Otago’s famous stone fruit at an orchard
  • Visit the old gold mining village of Arrowtown
  • Indulge in a unique dinner experience in Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak
  • Sail on Lake Wakatipu aboard steamship TSS Earnslaw
  • Let loose in the adventure capital Queenstown
  • Cruise on mystical Milford Sound
  • Travel past ancient glaciers, spectacular mountains and magical rainforest en route to Milford Sound
  • Stay on the shores of Lake Te Anau
  • Visit Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo
  • Journey through spectacular Mt. Cook National Park


  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Travel by luxury coach
  • Experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide


  • Full buffet breakfasts (8)
  • Highlight dinner (1)
  • Dinners (5)

See Pricing Options
Profile picture for user suzie
What suzie says about this tour: The scenery on this 9 day tour of New Zealand's south is truly spectacular. You'll take in mountain ranges, glaciers, and cruise the lakes and Fiords by train, coach and boat! Accommodation is carefully selected for comfort and the knowledgeable driver will escort you to the many lovely surprises of the south!
Enquire Now
NZ Journey Planner image

Download for free - simply complete the details below to download.

Free Customisable NZ Holiday Itinerary

Use our Itinerary Planner and we'll email you back a customisable New Zealand holiday Itinerary!
Preferred Holiday Type

Pricing terms

The price is based on current exchange rates but is only an approximation. Please contact us for a final price