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When you touch down in New Zealand your detailed documentation pack will be hand-delivered by one of our trusted representatives. You'll find everything you need in one handy place: your personalised itinerary, clear instructions and maps, and reservation details for your accommodation and activities.

24 Hour Assistance: We’re just a free phone call away if you encounter any issues while you're on the road - at any time of day or night. Don’t waste your precious vacation time stressing - First Light Travel are here to help you quickly when every second counts.

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Dedicated Travel Consultant                  Detailed Daily Itinerary and Vouchers        

144 Page A4 NZ Touring Atlas  

Full 24 Hour Support 50 Page Essential New Zealand Guide  

1

Welcome to Christchurch

‘Haere Mai’ and welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-largest city and the South Island's capital. A transfer has been arranged from the airport to your hotel.

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Christchurch is our "Garden City", blessed with beautiful parks and gardens right in the heart of town. English heritage buildings sit side by side with innovative post-earthquake regeneration in this vibrant place.

After settling in, why not relax with a punting trip down the Avon River? Gliding gently along in a flat-bottomed boat, you will take in Christchurch's 'must-see' historic attractions and botanic gardens away from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Some Suggested Activities Options for Christchurch

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


Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Accommodation:
Orari Bed and Breakfast is a Grade 2 heritage listed home built in the 1890s, with 10 beautifully appointed suites. It has been graciously restored and refurbished retaining the elegance and the original kauri framework. Located within an easy walk to the Canterbury Museum, Re:Start Mall and Botanic Gardens it is the perfect base to explore Christchurch.
Old house

2

Christchurch to Kaikoura: A Marine Wonderland

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

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 Tour 
This afternoon brings you closer to these magnificent creatures on a whale watching cruise. 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.

Approximate Distance: 182 km | 113 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 37 mins

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 night

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura

3

Kaikoura to Nelson via the Marlborough Wine Region

Leaving Kaikoura, you'll explore the picturesque Marlborough region en route to New Zealand's sunshine capital: Nelson.

Marlborough region produces world-renowned wines. Outside the city of Blenheim, on the "Golden Mile" wine trail you can sample world-renowned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cuvee. The designated driver won't miss out: there's local salmon, artisan cheeses, honey, fudge & olive oil producers among the various stops.


Nelson itself 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.

The Nelson/Tasman region of New Zealand is abundant in creativity, natural beauty, and the opportunity to feast on stunning fresh produce, and the labours of artisan craft beers and winemakers. 

Approximate Distance: 245 km | 152 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 31 min 

Accommodation - Nelson - 2 nights

Accommodation:
An award winning bed & breakfast situated in Nelson’s heart is Ah House, offering self catering accommodation ideal for one person, couples or families. Each room has your own deck with outside seating and dining, perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring Nelson and the Tasman Bay region.

4

The Beautiful Abel Tasman National Park

Today you'll swap the city streets for the breathtaking bays and lush forests of Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk 
Start the day with a gentle cruise through park's picturesque bays, disembarking at whichever golden beach takes your fancy. Step away from the shore to investigate the bush-lined Abel Tasman Coast Track: you'll discover to forest pools, waterfalls, fern groves and swing bridges over rushing rivers.

If bushwalking feels too energetic in this relaxing environment, that's ok too: stay onboard your cruise vessel and soak up the coastal views as you sail into the spectacular northern reaches of the park and the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.

Of course, another great option is to do nothing at all. Why not curl up together on a secluded beach, surrounded by beauty and birdsong, and leave the outside world behind...


5

Nelson to the Wild West Coast

Journey to Punakaiki on the South Island's rugged and remote West Coast, one of New Zealand's most unspoiled and ancient destinations.

The route takes you inland through diverse landscapes, with farmland giving way to dramatic mountain passes and rushing rivers. Emerging at the coast for the final stretch, you're rewarded with magnificent windswept ocean views on your right and steep, rainforested mountains on your left.

Arriving in Punakaiki, you'll marvel at the Pancake Rocks. The bizarre, flattened rock stacks were sculpted over 30 million years, beaten into shape by the relentless ocean waves. You're in the heart of Paparoa National Park, a mystical land of limestone canyons, underground caves, and coastal rainforests bursting with wildlife.

Approximate Distance: 287 km | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 30 mins

Accommodation: Near Punakaiki  - 1 night

Absolute beachfront boutique accommodation offering bed and breakfast, situated on the Coast Road between Greymouth and the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, with stunning views over the ocean. All four guest rooms have sea views, ensuite bathrooms, TV, hot drink making facilities and are modern and comfortable. Homemade pizza and antipasto platters available for additional service until 7pm as well as a NZ beer/wine list
Breakers Boutique Accommodation

6

TranzAlpine Train Journey to Christchurch

Continue down the scenic coast highway to the small town of Greymouth to drop off your car and head to the railway station: it's time to board the TranzAlpine Train and embark on one of the greatest scenic train journeys in the world.

TranzAlpine Scenic Rail Journey 
The TranzAlpine's purpose-built carriages, complete with huge picture windows, ensure that you won't miss a thing. Keep your camera ready as you snake through Arthur's Pass, descend into spectacular gorges, and rumble over the massive Staircase Viaduct on the Waimakariri River.

After crossing the vast Canterbury Plains, the train rolls into Christchurch while the sun sets on the final leg of your South Island adventure.

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

Accommodation:
Orari Bed and Breakfast is a Grade 2 heritage listed home built in the 1890s, with 10 beautifully appointed suites. It has been graciously restored and refurbished retaining the elegance and the original kauri framework. Located within an easy walk to the Canterbury Museum, Re:Start Mall and Botanic Gardens it is the perfect base to explore Christchurch.
Old house

7

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.

We know you will love Top of the South Island Itinerary - plenty have. 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.


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Profile picture for user Christine
What Christine says about this tour: You'll love getting to know the many faces of the South Island's coastline on this trip — from the wild and angry West Coast waves, to the peaceful bays of Abel Tasman, to the maritime playground of Kaikoura where whales and dolphins come to feed. So different, but equally wonderful in their own way.
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