From the sea to the sky, the South Island encapsulates in one compact island the very best that New Zealand has to offer New Zealand is a land of immense and diverse landscapes.
You'll see things here that you won't see anywhere else in the world. You will get to stay at some of the countries most relaxing and luxurious lodges, hotels and bed & breakfasts.You will visit the best-known locations at a very comfortable pace and can relax in your surroundings and enjoy our friendly hospitality.Plan Your Tour
Private guided tour itinerary - 13 nights
Day 1: Christchurch Airport arrival - Hanmer Springs (Private transfer, City tour, relax in the hot pools)
Day 2: Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura (Whale-watching, seal colonies, Maori culture)
Day 3: Kaikoura – Picton (Marlborough Sounds wineries, water-taxi to remote resort)
Day 4: Marlborough Sounds (Day to your own leisure, kayak, hiking)
Day 5: Marlborough – Nelson – Golden Bay (Abel Tasman Park, Pupu Springs)
Day 6: Golden Bay – Sheep farm station (Day for relaxing, remote walking treks and beaches)
Day 7: Golden Bay - West Coast (Buller Gorge, rainforest train and Glow-worm caves hike)
Day 8: Punakaiki - Franz Josef Glacier (Treetops walk, Hokitika gorge, glaciers)
Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier - Haast - Mt Aspiring National Park - Wanaka (Rainforest walks, wetlands, and remote water-falls)
Day 10: Wanaka (4WD scenic and heritage tour on private high country station, afternoon for relaxing)
Day 11: Wanaka - Queenstown (Central Otago wineries, Kawarau gorge, Arrowtown)
Day 12: Queenstown – Day trip to Fiordland National Park (Scenic flight and cruise at Milford Sound, Glenorchy)
Day 13: Queenstown (Day to your own leisure)
Day 14: Queenstown departure (Private transfer to airport)
Prices: We recommend the following guidelines for customized tour packages, excluding international flights:
4* (3* internationally) to 5*: From around NZ$ $400 - $1150+ per person per day. The customized package will include accommodation, airport transfers and other transportation within New Zealand, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. Please enquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.
Driving distance 2h
Start off your private guided tour! You arrive at Christchurch International Airport and will be met by your professional and personal driver/guide. You will then have time to relax or explore the city at your own leisure. Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island, it's a must on any itinerary. Described by Lonely Planet as a "vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch's energy is evident wherever you go. The city has bounced back after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with innovative new attractions, as well as some old favourites.Visit the Re:Start container mall, the transitional Cardboard Cathedral, and some of the many pop-up restaurants and bars. Contemporary art galleries, boutique shops and open-air markets add to Christchurch’s creative vibe. From Christchurch, your journey will take you across the alpine mountains into the small alpine settlement of Hanmer Springs. You have the opportunity to relax in the hot natural thermal waters of the famous mineral pools, which are set in a garden of giant conifers.
Accommodation: Hanmer Springs
Driving distance 1.5h
Before midday, we reach the small seaside town of Kaikoura which is nestled on a rugged peninsula on the East Coast and is backed by the breathtaking Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. A spectacular marine playground exists off the coast of Kaikoura; - living in this environment is the mighty Sperm Whale. Join a whale-watch tour and encounter the “Giant Sperm Whale” in their natural environment. Giant Sperm Whales are the biggest of the toothed whales and the world's largest predator. They are equivalent in size to four elephants. This deep-diving whale (up to 3 km) may stay submerged for over two hours while hunting prey such as the Giant Squid. Many of Kaikoura's Sperm Whales wear battle scars from close encounters with this monster of the deep. Sperm Whales have the largest head, proportionally, of any animal. This giant head contains a fibrous tank full of white waxy oil early whalers thought was sperm. It is believed the oil tank amplifies the whale's powerful acoustic clicks used for echolocation and hunting. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where Sperm Whales can be seen year-round and close to shore. They congregate here because the 3km deep Kaikoura Canyon runs right up against the coast creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain. Sperm Whales are at the top of this food chain and the abundance of fish ensures they make the waters of Kaikoura their home. Optional - Join a dolphin watching tour. Or: Swim with the dusky dolphins in their natural environment, or watch their acrobatic displays from the comfort of a boat. The pod sizes of the resident dusky dolphins range in the hundreds along the Kaikoura coastline and there is an impressive success rate in locating these marine mammals. Fur seals, once almost hunted to extinction are now plentiful here, resting on warm rocks after a nights fishing. Walk among these creatures at this unique beach and watch our native Seabirds (Albatross and Shags), also enjoying the rich sea harvest. After your cruise later in the afternoon get an inside into our culture and join a local Maori family and learn about their traditions and customs.
Driving distance 2h
You leave the dramatic Pacific Coastline and travel along the East Coast of New Zealand. We pass over the arid rolling foothills of South Marlborough, we drop down to New Zealand’s pre-eminent grape-growing area. Blenheim is the main town in this region of New Zealand and its lovely sunny climate makes it an ideal wine growing region. Sample with us wines such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on a wine tour. For lunch enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of our many vineyards (optional and extra charge). From here we travel by water taxi to a small remote beach in the Marlborough Sounds. You encounter a glorious world as you enter the outskirts of the Marlborough Sounds. You will discover a region with a myriad of inlets and bays with dramatic hills that plunge steeply into the sea. Enjoy an evening meal and local wine at your accommodation.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
Day free for the guide! The steep, wooded hills and small quiet bays of the sounds are sparsely populated, as access is difficult. Many of the small settlements and isolated houses are only accessible by boat. Take a water taxi to some of the remote bays and walk the Queen Charlotte Track. The track stretches from Ship Cove to Anakiwa - 71 kilometres (approximately 45 miles) of spectacular walking track passing through historic sites, secluded bays and lush coastal bush. Your guide will inform you of the optional day walks through this area, or enjoy a kayak through the many bays and picnic on one of the remote sandy beaches. Optimal - Fishing trip: Dotted with many long Sounds and islands and a myriad of secluded beaches, the entire region offers a fantastic opportunity to fish in waters that are rich with an abundance of sea life! A charter fishing trip is the best way to see the natural beauty of the Marlborough Sounds and enjoy some fantastic fishing too. We can arrange a private yacht-charter for the day, to discover the many bays, visit the hole in the Rock, swim near the sandy shores and catch a fish for lunch or dinner.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
Driving distance 5h
The Nelson district is known for its irresistible blend of lifestyle and stunning landscape at the top northwest corner of the South Island. Apples, cherries and classic wine varietal grapes are well suited to the mild climate around the area. From there we take you over Takaka Hill and drive to the “Golden Bay” New Zealand's best-kept secret because there is only one road in. On the drive over the hill, you catch your first sight of Golden Bay and it takes your breath away. The idyllic charm and lifestyle of Golden Bay attract an interesting variety of artists and crafts-folk. In this hidden corner of New Zealand are the world-class Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks and the famous Farewell Spit and Waikoropupu (Pupu) springs. The "Pupu" springs, as they are affectionately known to the locals are home to the clearest spring water in the world (the only place with clearer water is the salt water Weddell Sea in Antarctica). Underwater clarity tests have shown the water from the springs to have underwater visibility of 63 metres! After your small walk, we take you on an unpaved road to the beautiful stay on the rugged coastal wilderness of New Zealand's West Coast. This unique Lodge is nestled on a large private peninsula at the top of the South Island, located directly at the mouth of Whanganui Inlet, near the Golden Bay.
Accommodation: Golden Bay
Day free for the guide: Your accommodation also has a working farm with 800 Perendale sheep and 70 llamas. Guests are always welcome to come along as your hosts go about the farm chores, which can include moving stock around the farm, or shearing sheep in the woolshed. The quickest shearing time per sheep is around one minute – impressive! You can fully explore the stunning 350 ha peninsula via six very different walking tracks which allow easy access to all of the most special places and many different beaches. Go alone for solitude and discover the natural wonders. In the morning walk the stunning Nikau trek. The Nikau forest track takes you through the 2nd largest Nikau forest in New Zealand and underneath the towering Camel Rock before arriving at a delightful hard sandy beach which faces out onto the Tasman Sea, called Turtle Bay. If you are lucky you may see a wild pig, which is a common occurrence by guests. This place received its name from a huge leatherback turtle that got washed up here a long time ago. You'll find fascinating rock pools and even Paua at low tide amongst the rocks which are easy to scramble over. Around one hour each way from the lodge. In the afternoon take a walk up to the Hill Top Walk. It is an easy 15-minute stroll from the turn-off along the Westhaven main farm access track and gets you right up into the craggy battlements of one of the highest limestone ridges on the property. The magnificent 360 degrees views of the surrounding ocean, inlet and mountains make this one lookout not to miss! Allow two hours return if walking to and from the lodge.
Accommodation: Golden Bay
Driving distance 5.5h
Depart Golden Bay for the start of your 'Wilderness Tour'. Your tour takes you deep into the heartland of the south. The northernmost of the three main passes across the Alps, you traverse the pass on its route between North Canterbury and the West Coast. On your way, you pass through extensive unmodified beech forest, alpine scenery and crystal clear rivers. You drive through the Buller Valley, contained within steep-sided, bush-clad gorges. The twisting road that has been carved through this gorge is often the only man-made structure you'll see for some time. Your driver/guide will take you along the West Coast, New Zealand’s longest region – is a narrow 600km stretch of wild coastline, mountain peaks, glaciers, clear lakes and sparsely populated towns. This immense untamed natural environment is New Zealand’s most protected region. We take you to the Nile River Rainforest Train for travel through the primaeval rain forest close to the enormous Nile River Caves. You will explore an ancient wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites in the large dry upper levels and become entranced while under the galaxies of glow-worms in the awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series. Discovered only recently, the Metro cave is one of the few caves in the world you can walk through and see in its natural, unspoilt state, the way it was discovered. Your journey continues to the small settlement of Punakaiki famous for its Pancake Rock formations.
Driving distance 3h
In the morning take a walk to the Pancake Rocks, a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes during high tides. You leave Punakaiki and continue along the West Coast to the historical gold mining town of Hokitika. Nearby take a walk over a swing bridge to the Hokitika Gorge, this is truly one of the beautiful places in New Zealand! The beautiful turquoise waters are quite breathtaking as is the gorge itself. You leave Hokitika and head off to enjoy an exhilarating treetop adventure on New Zealand’s first treetop walk. You walk among temperate rainforest giants as you experience life with the native birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. There is easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 meters high and over 450 meters long. After your walk we take a leisurely and scenic drive to the famous glacier region and your day’s itinerary will end in the tiny settlement of Franz Josef. The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery. Two glaciers are located only 25 km from each other and are unique in the world as they seem to nearly reach the ocean. Recommended: (Optional) Helicopter flight and landing on ice: Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier snowfields with a landing at high altitude. Step out of your helicopter and experience how it feels to stand in snow. The flight includes fantastic views of the Tasman Glacier and Mount Cook.
Accommodation: Franz Josef Glacier
Driving distance 3.5h
In the morning visit nearby Lake Matheson. The forested path skirts the shores of the mist-shrouded lake and on a clear day, New Zealand’s highest peaks are spectacularly reflected in the mirror-like waters. A spectacular and scenic road links Haast and Wanaka. It reaches beyond wind-whipped Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, through golden tussock-covered hills, to wind among steep mountains cloaked in lush rainforest and across tumbling rivers. Just a 20-minute drive from Haast we stop and take a 20-minute walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall, an easy fern line walk which takes you to the shores of the Haast River. Later we make another short stop at Thunder Creek falls which drop 28 metres. Just before you reach the small settlement of Makarora we stop and take a 30-minute return walk to the Blue Pools. It features a carefully maintained gravel path and boardwalks that wind through a native silver beech forest and lead to a swing bridge strung high above the Makarora River. The views back to the mountains of the Main Divide are absolutely breath-taking. The glacier-fed water in these deep pools is the colour of deep azure blue, and so clear that you can see right to the bottom, making the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in the air. As you exit Mt Aspiring National Park you will travel through what is known as “The Neck” a formation of land that separates two of our great South Island lakes, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a new and modern Alpine resort and mostly visited by us New Zealanders. A year-round destination set against the pristine alpine backdrop of Mount Aspiring National Park, you can still discover that totally relaxed Kiwi way of life at Lake Wanaka.
In the morning experience the rugged beauty and solitude of the spectacular high country, with this exclusive 4WD journey exploring a historic New Zealand sheep, cattle and deer farm, Maori and European historic sites, pure mountain air and breathtaking scenery. As braided river valleys, native beach forests and lush alpine meadows give way to the dramatic glaciated Southern Alps, the pure beauty of the scenery pushes daily pressures a million miles away. Part of Te Wahipounamu - Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, Mt Aspiring National Park is an area of unrivalled natural beauty and host to hundreds of hiking tracks, rock climbing routes and trout fishing rivers, all within easy reach of Lake Wanaka. At its heart is Mt Aspiring, the park’s highest mountain at 3,027m and known to early Maori as ‘Tititea’ or ‘glistening peak’. This journey offers a unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, heritage and modern-day farming life. After your 4WD tour, you will have the afternoon to explore the town, take a walk by the lake or just relax and take in the stunning scenery.
Driving distance 1h
Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region and also it’s most scenic. Take the time to explore these incredible vineyards set in small microclimates in a landscape dominated by high snow-capped mountains, and tussock clad slopes. We leave Wanaka and travel to Cromwell and Bannockburn, the heart of Pinot Noir country, and depending on your personal tastes, we will guide you to a selection of boutique wineries. At some stage of the wine tour, we suggest a stop for a relaxing lunch at one of the wineries. Drive through the famous Kawarau Valley and Gorge. Stop at, what is widely regarded as a safe spectator attraction the famous Kawarau Gorge Bungy Jumping exhibition (this is free for spectators, however, if you desire to make a jump the charge is additional to your tour package). We then stop in Arrowtown, a historic colonial village that takes you back into the Gold Mining days of the Otago region. From there the journey takes you past the Eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu and to Queenstown. Queenstown is the top adventure and activity centre in New Zealand. Most of the cast of Lord of the Rings was based here and major parts of the movie were filmed in this region.
In the morning take a flight from Queenstown and enjoy spectacular views of mountains, lakes and the fiords as you enter Fiordland National Park. You are head for a cruise excursion into Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” which was carved out during successive ice ages and, at its deepest point off Mitre Peak, plunges to a depth of 265 meters. The awesome splendour of this region is unsurpassed anywhere else in the world, a daring claim in a country which offers extraordinary beauty around every corner. At Milford Sound, your launch cruise travels the full length of the Sound. You then take a return flight to Queenstown via the famous Sutherland Falls and glaciers. In the afternoon we take a drive 45 minutes west of Queenstown and you find a little paradise in the tiny settlement of Glenorchy. This is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and used for a favourite location in several Hollywood film productions and commercials around the world. Glenorchy is one of the gateways to Mt Aspiring National Park covering a large World Heritage area. Travel further into the Park along a most picturesque river and multiple river arms to a forest glade. The high peak of Mt Earnslaw and its Glacier is powering over this area. Surrounded by awe-inspiring peaks and mysterious hidden valleys shrouded in native Beech forest. In Glenorchy take a short walk through the flatlands to the lagoon. End of your private guided tour!
Today you have the opportunity to explore Queenstown. It is the southern hemisphere’s premier four season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, its stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising. The region is renowned for incredible adventure activities and spectacular outdoor terrain. You could try skiing, snowboarding, bungy jumping, paragliding, jet boating, skydiving and more! Or, if you want something a little more relaxed, you can choose from numerous family activities, nature experiences, tours and beauty spas. Queenstown has transformed into a sophisticated cosmopolitan town with a permanent buzz. You will find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping. Optional - 4WD and Jet boat: Take Queenstown’s greatest jet boat adventure. This is a Jet boat trip like no other! Recognized as one of Queenstown’s best value products for a good reason, this is an adrenaline rush from the moment you leave town. Tour into Skippers Canyon, along the sheer canyon walls, on the 'road to riches' carved from the rock walls and sheer cliffs by miners over 120 years ago. And that’s just getting to the boat! A Jet boat created to excite and thrill you as you race through the Shotover River Canyons at a speed of 80km/hr. Sit back, hold on, and try to relax as our experienced boat drivers navigate the sheer canyon walls along the Shotover River as well as the mining dredges and sheet piles left by the miners through Skippers Canyon over a century ago. With skill and speed you will negotiate the narrow river channel, skimming over shallow 6-inch deep river beds, when suddenly you are going sideways, backwards, sideways and back facing the way you were going, WOW, that’s a Hamilton spin! 360-degree spin, as the boat turns in its own length!
A Taxi will collect you from your accommodation and take you to the airport in Queenstown, where you can connect with your international flight to Auckland or Christchurch.