The Classic 14 Day South Island Explorer Itinerary

Milford Sound Cliffs

Welcome to Christchurch

After welcoming you at the airport and transferring you to your hotel, we will leave you to unwind: we have taken care of everything.

After checking in, why not step back to Edwardian times with a relaxing Private Punting Trip down the Avon River? It's a wonderful introduction to the "Garden City". Gliding gently along the river in a flat-bottomed boat, you will take in Christchurch's 'must-see' historic buildings and Botanic Gardens away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Some other 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

Romantic Punt on the Avon River
Featuring an on-site restaurant and free high-speed WiFi, Sudima Christchurch City is situated in Christchurch, just 500 m from Hagley Park and less than 1 km from Victoria Street. At the hotel, every room is equipped with a fridge, wardrobe and a flat-screen TV. Complete with a private bathroom, all units at Sudima Christchurch City are fitted with air conditioning, and selected rooms will provide you with a seating area. You can also enjoy streaming movies.
Sudima Christchurch City


Mount Cook National Park

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park is part of UNESCO's Te Wāhipounamu (The Place of Greenstone) World Heritage region. Here is Mackenzie Country, you'll find Australasia's highest mountain - Aoraki / Mount Cook (3,724m) - nestled in the splendid Southern Alps.

Known to Māori as Aoraki or Cloud Piercer, this magnificent mountain is surrounded by over 150 peaks along with countless glaciers, ice and snowfields, mountain lakes, and ranges.

Today we recommend a Mount Cook Helicopter Flight, affording you a spectacular bird's eye view of these natural wonders, with a landing on the Tasman Glacier to make you feel like you're on top of the world.

Approximate Distance: 330 km | 205 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours 30 mins

Accommodation: Mount Cook - 2 Nights

Mount Cook

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook


Tasman Glacier Explorer Cruise

Experience the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake and its icebergs, in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. A unique guided experience departing Aoraki/Mount Cook village by bus to the beautiful Tasman Valley followed by a 1/2hr gentle alpine walk. Board our MAC boat, and explore the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake, where you will discover the ever-changing ice face of the Glacier and icebergs, making each trip different from the last due to changing winds and currents. 

Knowledgeable guides, enhance your experience with their expertise and passion for this amazing alpine environment.  Have you ever been alongside, discovered, or touched an iceberg?

Tasman Glacier


Dunedin - Scottish City of Grace and Grandeur

En route to Dunedin today, be sure to stop at Koekohe Beach to view the Moeraki Boulders. There are over 50 of these 65-million-year-old natural wonders strewn along the sands. They are up to 2 metres wide and the largest weight of around 7 tonnes!

The name "Dunedin" comes from the Scots-Gaelic name for Edinburgh: "Dun Eideann" and you won't have to look hard to see the Scottish influence in this lovely old university town.

A popular attraction here is Larnach Castle, built-in 1871. It took 200 workers three years to build, and twelve years to decorate! Housing a unique New Zealand antique collection and beautiful gardens, it's a relaxing place to meander.

Approximate Distance: 320 km | 199 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Dunedin - 2 Nights

This boutique beachfront hotel offers rooms with super-king sized beds and broadband internet access. Some rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking St Clair's Beach. This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. Hotel St Clair is located just 10 minutes’ drive from central Dunedin. Rooms include flat-screen satellite TV, en suite bathroom with under-floor heating and views of St Clair Beach.
Hotel St Clair


Otago Peninsula Wildlife Cruise

This morning you'll hop on board a fascinating Wildlife Cruise around Taiaroa Head and its dramatic cliffs. Later, you'll encounter another rare New Zealand native: the shy Hoiho (Yellow-Eyed Penguin)

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Cruise
The Otago Peninsula was described by the internationally-acclaimed environmentalist Dr. David Bellamy as “the finest example of eco-tourism in the world." As you cruise around Taiaroa Head, watch for New Zealand Fur Seals playing near their breeding colonies. Out at sea, you may also come across albatross and petrels as well as penguins, dolphins, and other marine mammals.

The Otago Peninsula was described by the internationally-acclaimed environmentalist Dr.David Bellamy as “the finest example of eco-tourism in the world."



Te Anau - Gateway to Fiordland - Glowworm Caves

Te Anau is another area of breathtaking natural beauty, and several key Lord of The Rings movie scenes were filmed amid the unspoiled forests and lakes of this region. Immerse yourselves in the gorgeous surroundings: flight-seeing, fly fishing, kayaking, sailing and horse riding are all on offer and are great ways to get up close to nature. 

Glowworm Caves

The excursion begins with a cruise across spectacular Lake Te Anau to a remote section of the lake with the entrance to the caves hidden by a large and beautiful native forest. By geological standards, the caves are young (12,000 years) and are still being carved by the river that flows through them. The system is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with beautifully sculpted rock, underground waterfalls complete with whirlpools.

The quite top section of the system houses a series of small lakes, here you will be taken by small boat pulled along by rope into a silent hidden grotto’s inhabited by thousands of small glow-worms. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a magical display almost like you are staring up at the Milky Way that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Approximate Distance: 290 km | 180 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 Nights

Located to make the most of this beautiful area on the Te Anau lake front, a short stroll from the Te Anau town centre. Distinction Te Anua Hotel and Villas, offers chic, elegant and comfortable room options. This 4 Star hotel is surrounded by extensive landscaped gardens where you can enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Te Anua and the Fiordland ranges.
Distinction Hotel Te Anau & Villas


Spectacular Doubtful Sound Cruise

Transfer to Manapouri this morning for a very special cruise in one of New Zealand's most remote and beautiful wilderness areas: Doubtful Sound.

Larger and deeper than better-known Milford Sound, Doubtful is by far the quieter of the two. A visit to its isolated splendor is a peaceful, almost religious experience. Being so remote, getting here is half of the fun!

After a leisurely cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri you'll travel by road over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, where you will board your trusty cruise vessel, The Patea Explorer. You'll find spacious deck areas perfect for viewing the cascading waterfalls, abundant wildlife, rainforest, and mountains of Doubtful Sound.

An onboard nature guide will answer questions, point out landmarks, and provide you with information about the varied wildlife you may encounter. Dolphins, fur seals, and the rare Fiordland crested penguin are among the many non-human visitors to this impossibly vast, secluded wilderness paradise.

Let the majesty of Doubtful Sound unfold before you and take your breath away.

Doubtful Sound


Queenstown & Steamer to High Country Farm

Take your time heading to Queenstown today: you won't want to miss the spectacular scenery as it transforms from rugged ranges and mirror lakes to the winding Kawarau River Gorge. You will finally emerge into the lush green farmland surrounding Queenstown, your destination.

This Evening: Cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Sit back, relax and enjoy a gourmet barbecue dinner prepared in front of you at the Colonel’s Homestead. After dinner enjoy a short farm tour before reboarding the Earnslaw for a sing-along by the piano as you sail back to Queenstown.

Approximate Distance: 175 km | 109 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 Nights


Millennium Hotel Queenstown is only minutes from Queenstown central shopping, entertainment and outdoor activities and offers a peaceful haven from the variety of activities in this lively city. With many guest rooms and suites to choose from the centre boasts a gym, sauna, spa, bar and restaurant, feature contemporary city-inspired designed. Many of our rooms also offer scenic views of the city and mountains, providing the perfect backdrop to your journey.

Millennium Hotel Queenstown


Jetboat into Mount Aspiring National Park

Journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage, and fantasy come to life. As one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities, our Wilderness Jet, half-day adventure takes you on a spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park.

You’ll experience a unique combination of breath-taking scenery and an exhilarating ride as we follow the braided, glacier-fed rivers by jet boat with exciting 360 degree spins along the way. Your guides give you their authentic touch, talking about the area’s rich history, the Greenstone trail and countless Maori legends. We’ll also take the chance to tie up the boat and let you walk amongst the ancient beech tree forests – an atmosphere you may recognize from The Lord of the Rings films. It’s a complete Queenstown to Glenorchy experience in an untouched natural wonderland.

Mount Aspiring National Park


Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Wildlife Walk

The picture-postcard scenery of Lake Wanaka is our stage today, this afternoon you're heading out onto the lake with a short cruise to one of five small islands on the lake and a very special place indeed - Mou Waho Island. 

With a history of boat building, Mou Waho is now a predator-free bird sanctuary, home to endangered native species including the comically curious Weka.  Your guide today is a local conservation stalwart and he will enlighten us all on the efforts going in to protect our native species on a hiking/nature walk.  Aside from the insights into conservation and ecology, the views from the top of the island will make your photo highlights reel for sure - from the high point of the island looking north, there is no evidence of human habitation as far as the eye can see.

Approximate Distance: 70 km | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 night


Situated on the lake shores, a stroll across the lawn will have you gazing across Lake Wanaka to the spectacular Southern Alps. Choose between one bedroom suites, studios and two bedroom apartments. Savour the lakeside atmosphere while you are treated to a fresh and contemporary menu in Sargoods Restaurant and Wineglass Cafe.

The Edgewater Resort Lake Wanaka


Franz Josef Glacier

The drive from Wanaka to Franz Josef is one of the most scenic in New Zealand. Mountain passes give way to the ancient rainforest and the windswept West Coast. There's beauty around every bend, with woodland walks and dramatic waterfalls along the way - perfect for picnic stops. Nestled in a rainforest clearing, Franz Josef Glacier Village lies at the heart of the Westland National Park. Welcome to one of the most diverse and beautiful areas of New Zealand.

In the evening, you can simply relax in a private Glacier Hot Pool and enjoy a rejuvenating soak under the stars.

Excursions available in and around the Franz Josef area:

Kayak Okarito Lagoon 

   Glacier Hot Pools      Glacier Scenic Flight

Horseback Riding  

   Walk to Glacier Face

   Glacier Heli-hike


Approximate Distance: 285 km | 177 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Franz Josef - 2 Nights

Franz Josef Glacier
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


Kayaking Okarito Lagoon Nature Reserve

The expansive shallow waters of Okarito Lagoon form New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland. Surrounded by Kahikatea and Rimu rainforests, this special place provides an isolated, unspoiled habitat for a host of unique and rare birdlife.

Here, shallow waters extend into rainforest river deltas, making kayaking the best way to explore this natural wonderland. As you paddle, look out for the White Heron (Kotuku) as well as Shags and Royal Spoon Bills.

The rarest of New Zealand’s five kiwi species, the Okarito Kiwi, also lives in the area. More than 70 other bird species have been recorded here – the lagoon is a birdwatcher’s paradise. On a clear day, you’ll also be able to enjoy stunning views of Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and the Southern Alps standing sentinel in the distance.

Okarito Lagoon


TranzAlpine Train - Christchurch

Begin your morning with a breathtaking coastal drive to Greymouth. You might like to pause in Hokitika for a spot of shopping - this town is home to many artisan carvers of the local pounamu (greenstone), which is sacred to Maori. A unique, locally carved greenstone pendant would be a special way to remember your trip.

Arriving in the town of Greymouth it's time to drop off your car and head to the station to begin the TranzAlpine Scenic Rail Journey.

Renowned as one of the great train journeys of the world, you will descend through spectacular gorges, river valleys and over massive viaducts before completing your journey at Christchurch.

Approximate Distance: 175 km | 109 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 30 mins

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Tranz Alpine Train
Featuring an on-site restaurant and free high-speed WiFi, Sudima Christchurch City is situated in Christchurch, just 500 m from Hagley Park and less than 1 km from Victoria Street. At the hotel, every room is equipped with a fridge, wardrobe and a flat-screen TV. Complete with a private bathroom, all units at Sudima Christchurch City are fitted with air conditioning, and selected rooms will provide you with a seating area. You can also enjoy streaming movies.
Sudima Christchurch City


Bon Voyage!

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage! Today we say farewell. We take care of your transfer to Christchurch Airport where you will board your onward flight, taking with you the magical memories of a truly exceptional New Zealand holiday.

Bon Voyage

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