Luxury Lodges of the South Island Driving Itinerary


Welcome to New Zealand!

‘Haere Mai’ and welcome to Queenstown.

Relax you are on holiday and everything has been taken care of. We will meet you at the airport and help you to transfer to your waterfront hotel. This sophisticated all-season resort town offers bespoke and authentic luxury experiences in a beautiful snowy mountain setting, hosted by our naturally warm and welcoming people. While the town is famed for its vast array of adventure activities, you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy Queenstown: the tranquil lake and mountain setting is a major part of its charm.

For the next three nights in Queenstown, you will stay at the exclusive Eichardt's Private Hotel in a luxury suite overlooking the glimmering waters of Lake Wakatipu - there's no better view to wake up to.

Accommodation: Queenstown  - 3 nights

Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu.

Eichardt’s provides accommodation in five luxurious Hotel suites and four Lakefront Apartment suites which are located just 80 meters from the main hotel.  The two properties are located in central Queenstown with breath-taking views over Lake Wakatipu, ensuring exploring one of the world’s most truly remarkable locations is easy.  Eichardt’s Residence is a fully self-contained villa, just a five minute stroll from the main hotel building.

Eichardt Private Hotel


Milford Sound Scenic Helicopter Flight

Travel to Fiordland National Park in style on a scenic flight over the lakes, rivers, mountains, and forests of this breathtaking World Heritage Area.

As your helicopter lifts off, keep your camera close: there are scenic wonders begging to be snapped from above. You'll discover isolated valleys of ancient forests and pristine rivers famous for their fishing as well as mountains sculptured from ice over thousands of years. The stunning Mirror Lakes, glacier-formed Eglinton Valley, and iconic Mitre Peak are among the highlights of this vast and remote wilderness.

Upon landing in Milford, enjoy a short nature walk and gain that iconic Mitre Peak photo. Experience an exhilarating flight past spectacular mountains and blue-green ice falls, and land upon Mt Tutoko glacier in the heart of Fiordland National Park.

Returning to Queenstown, you'll want to pinch yourselves in case it was all a beautiful dream.

Helicopter Flight over Milford Sound.


A Day of Leisure / Explore Queenstown

Take a day to experience the beauty of Queenstown exactly as you want to. From relaxing vineyard tours or boat cruises to extreme adventure activities, Queenstown has it all. Queenstown’s stunning location means that however you choose to spend your day you’ll enjoy being surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery.

Some suggested activities and outings.

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

Dart River High Country Tour.


Helicopter - Queenstown to Minaret Station

Only accessible by helicopter, your next destination is a luxury alpine lodge in a picturesque glacial valley, far away from the cares of everyday life.

Minaret Station
Located at the heart of the Southern Alps, Minaret Station will treat you to a level of comfort and style never before available in the remote New Zealand Mountains. Settle down in your luxuriously appointed chalet suite amidst alpine meadows as pretty as a picture.

Nestled along the shores of Lake Wanaka, the 50,000-acre property doubles as a working high country farm, home to some 10,000 deer, 7,000 sheep, and 1,000 cattle. For an authentic New Zealand backcountry experience, Minaret Station is unbeatable.

Accommodation: Minaret Station Ranch  - 2 nights

Tranquil Lake Wanaka.
Accessible only by helicopter, Minaret Station treats guests to an exclusive and authentic alpine experience. Minaret Station Alpine Lodge is the epitome of comfort and luxury in the wilds of the Southern Alps. Guests are hosted exclusively, or as part of a group, in one of just four luxuriously appointed Chalets. The individual Chalets are separately positioned amongst native alpine grasses and herb fields, each harnessing unique vistas of the valley and surrounds.

 Each chalet offers privacy, warmth and the comfort of tasteful, high country design.
Minaret Station


Minaret High Country Station Adventure

Minaret Station’s selection of Heli-Adventures allows guests to experience the otherwise inaccessible breathtaking wilderness of the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring National Park.

Backcountry Adventures at Minaret Station
Minaret Station’s wide range of adventures that means there is something special for everyone from families to honeymooners. Discerning hunters and anglers are spoiled for trophy opportunities — though you may struggle to keep your eyes on the target instead of the dramatic, rugged mountain scenery.

Minaret Station offers a range of heli-adventures giving you the opportunity to explore the famously inaccessible Fiordland region and beyond. The Station's pilots can take you heli-hiking, heli-skiing, heli-picnics, heli mountain-biking... you name it, they can probably helicopter you to it!

Some suggested activities and outings.

Scenic Flights/PicnicsGuided FishingGuided Heli Skiing
Guided Mountain Biking    Fiordland Experience    Guided Heli Hiking
Guided Hunting Guided Farm TourJet Boating
Mt Aspiring National Park.


The West Coast / Glacier Country

Fly back to Queenstown by helicopter this morning and collect your rental car. Be transported to the South Island's Wild West Coast today on one of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenic drives.

The scenery is impressive all the way, and once over the Haast Pass it changes dramatically. There's beauty around every bend, with woodland walks and dramatic waterfalls along the way — perfect for picnic stops. After the ancient forests and mountain passes give way to coastal vistas, you'll soon be approaching glacier country.

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. Te Waonui Forest Retreat will be your home for the next two nights. Encircled by lush bush and rainforest, it's a perfect introduction to the untamed West Coast region.

Approximate Distance: 284 km | 176 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 28 mins

Accommodation: Franz Josef  - 2 nights

Franz Josef South Westland.

Te Waonui is the only luxury property of its kind in the area. The retreat is nestled in the lush bush with views of the natural environment at almost every turn. Located in Franz Josef, the retreat offers easy access to the many natural wonders of the South West World Heritage Area. Mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastline, and native flora and fauna all lie in wait at the doorstep for visitors to admire and explore.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat - Franz Josef


Glacier Country - Scenic Helicopter Flight

Experience some of the most stunning ‘ice architecture’ of any Glacier in the world with a helicopter tour over Franz Josef.

Scenic Glacier Helicopter Flight
Franz Josef Glacier is a mighty river of solid white, a unique relic of the last ice age. Following a spectacular collapse of the terminal face in 2012, the Franz Josef Glacier is now only accessible by helicopter.

Your flight today covers it all: Glacial icefalls, crevasses and neves, and views from ocean to the Alps. Crossing the rugged spine of the Southern Alps, you'll circle the magnificent peak of our tallest mountain, Aoraki / Mt Cook, as well as the very beautiful Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Get your camera ready for a spectacular snow landing — with rotors off, the silence is deafening.

Picture of a helicopter flying to the Glacier.


Arthur’s Pass: A World of Peace and Serenity

Driving up the West Coast with the ocean to your left and the mountains to your right, you are in for a treat as you wind your way to Arthur's Pass National Park.

Arthur's Pass National Park
If you look up the word serenity in the dictionary, by rights Arthur's Pass should be the definition. This major national park in the centre of the South Island straddles the backbone of the Southern Alps. Famous for its rugged high mountains, steep gorges, and wide braided rivers, the park is well-known for its varied walking tracks leading to mountain peaks and beautiful waterfalls. Filled with native birds such as the Kiwi, Morepork, Kea and New Zealand Falcon, the park comes alive with the sound of birdcall.

Arthur's Pass Wilderness Lodge
Thanks to its award-winning design, Arthur's Pass Wilderness Lodge blends seamlessly into the mountain landscape around it. This luxurious retreat is a paradise for nature lovers: it's situated on a wildlife reserve and owned by a family who has been at the forefront of nature protection for more than two decades. Expect spectacular mountain views from every window, stylish accommodation, delicious food, and hospitality that will warm your heart.

Approximate Distance: 233 km | 144 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 48 mins

Accommodation: Arthur's Pass National Park  - 2 nights

Arthur's Pass National Park.

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Greymouth and Christchurch the. Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass offers comfort and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting. The lodge has 24 Lodge rooms, an intimate restaurant, lounge, library and theatre for evening nature talks.  All lodge rooms have private bathrooms, plenty of sun, and alpine views. Discover wild nature in the New Zealand Mountains and experience life on our 3,000 hectare nature reserve / high country merino sheep station.


Wilderness Lodge


Arthur’s Pass: A World of Peace and Serenity

Maximise your wilderness lodge experience today with one of the guided nature adventures offered by the knowledgeable naturalists and farmers on staff.

Wilderness Lodge Guided Nature Adventures

  • The Wilderness Lodge's exciting programme of guided adventure offers something for everyone, young and old. Options include:
  • High Country Sheep Farm Discovery: Watch sheepdogs work, hand-feed tame sheep and learn about shearing and merino wool with a real sheep farmer.
  • McKay Moa Forest Adventure: A relaxed walk to explore the Wilderness Lodge reserves. Learn about bizarre 'moa shrubs' and enjoy panoramic mountain views.
  • Birds & Special Plants of the Beech Forest: Explore the mossy beech forest surrounding the lodge. Search for orchids, watch birdlife and see manuka (tea tree) recolonise the grasslands.
  • Stars of the Southern Sky: The lack of light pollution here makes for brilliant clear skies. Discover constellations, satellites, and planets with an experienced guide.
Wilderness Lodge


Contrasting Scenery on the Road to Kaikoura

Today you'll traverse Arthur's Pass and journey through North Canterbury's beautiful rural scenery to the town of Kaikoura, a marine wonderland where towering mountains meet the sea.

The road up to the Kaikoura Coast is another one of New Zealand's classic drives. The route hugs the shoreline with the ocean on one side and the Kaikoura ranges on the other. You can look forward to impressive coastal views, roaring surf, rocky bays dotted with the New Zealand Fur Seals sunbathing on rocks.

Kaikoura: Hapuku Tree Houses
Your Kaikoura accommodation is simply unique: you'll be nesting in the treetops 10 metres (32 feet) above the canopy of a native Kanuka grove. Your luxury treehouse "bedroom in the sky" features giant windows boasting views of Kaikoura's dramatic mountains and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

"Kai" means food in Maori and "koura" means crayfish - hence Kaikoura.

Approximate Distance: 305 km | 189 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 48 mins

Accommodation: Kaikoura  - 2 nights

Kaikoura Coast

Nested 30 feet (9 meters) up amidst a stand of native Manuka trees is the Hapuku Tree Houses & Lodge, offering spectacular views over Kaikoura’s dramatic coastline. Each tree house has been designed to complement the natural environment, made from native woods and copper shingles. 

Hapuku Tree Houses Kaikoura


Kaikoura ‘Serengeti of the Sea’ - Whale Watching Flight

Kaikoura's most famous residents are the many whales and dolphins who feast on the abundant seafood in its waters. Sperm whales visit year-round, while the mighty humpback is a regular visitor in June and July.

Kaikoura Whale Watching Scenic Flight

Today you'll soar above the ocean for a birds-eye view of Kaikoura's whales from the air. Enjoy spotting them as they breach the surface, spouting seawater from their blowholes before diving in search of tasty squid.

End your unforgettable day with freshly caught crayfish at one of Kaikoura's cozy eateries, enjoying one of the glorious sunsets this region is famous for.

Humpback Whal, Kaikoura.


Marlborough - Wine Country

Follow the grapevines to reach Blenheim right in the heart of the world-renowned Marlborough wine growing district.

Not surprisingly, it’s a great base from which to tour the local vineyards and enjoy the artisanal food offerings. Don’t miss tasting a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc – the vineyards surrounding Blenheim are known for producing some of the world’s best. If you grab a bottle for later, the designated driver won't have to miss out!

One of Blenheim's popular attractions is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. There are some very rare planes on display and even some genuine personal memorabilia from the famous Red Baron - the top scoring fighter pilot from World War One.

Approximate Distance: 127 km | 78 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 35 min 

Accommodation: Blenhiem - 2 nights

Marlborough - Wine Country
The Marlborough Lodge is located in Blenheim, in the heart of the famous Marlborough wine region and is nestled within 16 acres of secluded park lands. It is located a 10-minute drive from Blenheim town center and provides the opportunity for guests to explore New Zealand's gourmet province.
marlborough hotel


Marlborough Sounds Food and Wine Cruise

A day trip to the pretty seaport township of Havelock puts you at the gateway to the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds - the Greenshell Mussel Capital of the World.

Marlborough Mussel and Wine Cruise
Enjoy a waterfront lunch before departing on your fantastic Mussel and Wine Cruise heading into the tranquil Marlborough Sounds. Your Skipper will tell fascinating stories of the ancient Maori tribes of the region and the history of the pioneering families who settled over 6 generations ago.

Green-lipped mussels (known to Māori as kutai) are indigenous to New Zealand, and cannot be found anywhere else. Their flesh is distinctive from other mussel species, and sampling them is a real New Zealand must-do. You'll visit a Greenshell Mussel farm to taste this local treat — delicious freshly-steamed mussels, matched perfectly to a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Approximate Distance: 85 km | 53 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 10 mins

Wine Tasting Marlborough


Nelson & Tasman District - Abel Tasman National Park

Passing through Nelson, New Zealand's sunshine capital, you'll make your way to the breathtaking bays and lush forests of Abel Tasman National Park


Nelson is a creative city with many galleries and artisan stores. The jeweler who created the One Ring for the Lord of the Rings movies is based here, and you can even buy your own identical replica.

At the edge of town, you can climb Botanical Hill to find a lookout right at the geographical centre of New Zealand. Recover your energy with one of Nelson's outstanding craft beers at a local brewery.

Split Apple Retreat: Gateway to Abel Tasman National Park

Bordering the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, Split Apple Retreat offers a sleek design, a stunning location, and a fantastic wellness centre, making this the ultimate destination for those looking for a revitalizing experience in rural New Zealand.

Approximate Distance: 178 km | 110 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 31 min 

Accommodation: Abel Tasman - 2 nights

Nelson Tasman District
Located on the edge of the tranquil Abel Tasman National Park, the Split Apple Retreat is an exclusive luxury lodge and wellness retreat hidden away high above Tasman Bay.Every aspect of the Retreat revolves around relaxation, while pleasuring all the senses. A salt-water, infinity swimming pool overlooking the Tasman Sea and Astrolabe Islands was created along with a Japanese Spa pool with the same outlook. Private paths lead to two beaches.
Split Apple Retreat


Life's a Beach - Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest National Park, but it’s perfectly formed for marine and coastal adventures, as you will discover today on a blissful private cruise.

Private Cruise into the National Park
The beauty of this National Park is simply dazzling — golden beaches border the translucent turquoise sea, and sandy estuaries are fringed by pretty coastal forests. The area is home to both coastal and inland walking tracks that are world-famous for their natural beauty.

Today you will board a private launch to take you into the park. Explore the coast and islands where face-to-face encounters with marine wildlife and birds abound. Dolphins and Orca often visit these pristine waters, while the resident fur seal colony is ever-entertaining just offshore. Explore remote golden beaches and soak up the coastal views as you sail into the spectacular northern reaches of the park and the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

Abel Tasman Private Cruise


Homeward Bound

Enjoy a relaxed morning reflecting on your New Zealand holiday before heading to Nelson airport to begin your journey home.

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We are sure you will enjoy the 'Luxury Lodges of New Zealand - South Island Tour', our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Farewell, We hope to see you soon!

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What Steve says about this tour: We've really put some thought and research into this tour. We have selected luxury lodges and hideaways with outstanding hospitality and stunning backdrops. Spend the days on scenic flights, drives and boat rides across diverse terrains then savour the finest foods and wines on offer in the South Island.
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