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7 Day - Essence of the South Island Tour

7 Day - Essence of the South Island Tour

Experience the top highlights of New Zealand's South Island, showcasing the purest natural landscapes. From rugged coastlines to lush plains. Stay in luxury accommodation with amazing views.

Eat great local food and enjoy a good glass of wine in our award-winning wineries in Central Otago. The tour includes a helicopter landing on a glacier in the Southern Alps, a spectacular helicopter flight through Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park and an exhilarating ride through remote wilderness.

Plan Your Tour

Highlights

Private, exclusive tour - 6 nights in 4-5* boutique hotels/lodges (With personal driver-guide)
Day 1: Christchurch arrival (Private transfer to lodge, day to your own leisure)
Day 2: Arthur's Pass - Franz Josef Glacier (Private sightseeing tour and transfer, helicopter flight and landing on glacier)
Day 3: Franz Josef Glacier - Lake Wanaka (Private sightseeing tour and transfer over Haast Pass)
Day 4: Lake Wanaka - Queenstown (Private wine and area tour, Kawarau Gorge, Arrowtown, Glenorchy)
Day 5: Queenstown (Helicopter flight and landing in Milford Sound)
Day 6: Queenstown (4WD wilderness jet boat ride)
Day 7: Queenstown departure (Private transfer to airport)

Prices: We recommend the following guidelines for customized tour packages, excluding international flights:
◦5* and 5*Plus from NZ$ $750 - $1650+ 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.

Day 1: Christchurch airport arrival - Arthur Pass (Private airport transfer)

Driving distance 1.5h
You arrive at Christchurch Int. Airport and you will be met by your driver/guide. Depart Christchurch through the scenic untouched areas and through the Arthur's Pass. From your car, you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Stop for a walk at the Castle Hill Basin, characterised by its distinctive limestone rock formations. These limestone rock formations are the water eroded remnants of limestone formed during the Oligocene age 30-40 million years ago when much of present-day New Zealand was covered by the sea. This is mainly a sightseeing drive along the historic gold miner's road; however, opportunities are available to walk among alpine wildflowers and beech forest - and for the athletically inclined hobbit-filled gorges and waterfalls. The Lodge has tucked away in the heart of the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Whatever you choose, we’ll endeavour to make any arrangements necessary so that you can relax and enjoy this beautiful spot. You might want to escape from city life by expending energy: going fishing, horse riding, hiking or playing tennis, or just simply walk one of the many walking and hiking trails around the station.

Arthur Pass - Wilderness Lodge (Luxury)

Day 2: Arthur Pass – Franz Josef Glacier (Pancake Rocks, helicopter flight and landing on glaciers)

Driving distance 3.5h
You leave Arthur's Pass and head towards Greymouth where your driver/guide will take you to the upper West Coast. 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 stop at Punakaiki the jewel of the West Coast, which is world renowned for its pancake rock formations and blow-holes. Walk along some of the stunning and remote beach treks, through a dense rainforest with Nikau Palms and large ferns. We then take a leisurely and scenic drive towards the glacier region. Pass the township of Greymouth and Hokitika which are both known for gold and coal mining. In the afternoon experience awe-inspiring views of Mt Cook and Tasman, breath-taking views of the glaciers and neves. 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. 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: West Coast - Te Waonui Forest Retreat or Westwood Lodge (Luxury)

Day 3: Franz Josef Glacier – Lake Wanaka (Rainforest and wetlands, Waterfalls, "The Neck")

Driving distance 4.5h
Go as far South as the township of Haast. Nearby take a gentle walk following the slow flowing Ship Creek Tauparikaka. A creek-side viewpoint allows easy observation of the forest plants and wildlife. Deep in the swamp forest, are views of New Zealand's tallest tree, the Kahikatea. Explore a part of New Zealand that's splendidly isolated - there are more resident seals and penguins than people. South of Haast, the coastline turns westward along a 24 kilometre, gently curving bay to Jackson Head. This headland provides shelter from the prevailing wind direction, and here a fishing harbour has survived since the early pioneer days of seal hunting. Jackson Head also marks the southern end of the west coast's narrow river plains. Beyond this point, the steep mountain ranges plunge directly into the sea - the first of the deep glacial fiords is just 60 kilometres away. 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 20 a minute drive from Haast you can take a 20-minute walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall, an easy fern line walk will take you to the shores of the Haast River. Later you make a short stop at the 28m drop Thunder Creek falls. Further down the road you make a stop and take a 30 minute in 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.

Accommodation: Lake Wanaka - Limetree Lodge or Silverpine Lodge (Luxury)

Day 4: Lake Wanaka – Central Otago – Queenstown (Private wine tour/tasting and area tour, Kawarau Gorge, Arrowtown and Glenorchy)

Driving distance 1.5h
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 micro-climates in a landscape dominated by high snow-capped mountains, and tussock clad slopes. 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 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). You will have time to stop in Arrowtown, a historic colonial village that takes you back into the Gold Mining days of the Otago region. From there your 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 the Lord of the Rings were based here and major parts of the movie where filmed in this region. Only 45 minutes west you find a little paradise in the tiny settlement of Glenorchy. This is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and was used as 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.

Accommodation: Queenstown - Azur Lodge, Matakauri Lodge, Blanket Bay or The Spire Hotel (Deluxe), Sofitel Hotel or Peppers Beacon (Luxury)

Day 5: Queenstown (Helicopter flight and landing in Milford Sound)

Today we have organised a helicopter flight to Milford Sound. The icon of Mitre Peak beckons you as your helicopter lifts off to begin your journey into Milford Sound. Get up close with some of the most spectacular mountains and glaciers in the Southern Alps before landing at Milford. Experience the Sound up close and personal with great photo opportunities of Mitre Peak and the Bowen falls. Upon departing Milford via the Harrison Valley take in the beautiful blue-green icefalls, true rivers of ice, as we land you exclusively upon Ngapunatoru Plateau of Mt Tutoko. One of the few companies with this privilege! Return to Queenstown via isolated valleys with impressive views to make this special trip truly memorable. Queenstown 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, 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. There’s a permanent buzz downtown, where you’ll find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping.

Accommodation: Queenstown - Azur Lodge, Matakauri Lodge, Blanket Bay or The Spire Hotel (Deluxe), Sofitel Hotel or Peppers Beacon (Luxury)

Day 6: Queenstown (4WD and jet-boat trip into Skippers Canon)

In the morning we have organised to take you to 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 speed of 80km/hr. Sit back, hold on, and try to relax as the 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 360 degree spin, as the boat turns in its own length!

Accommodation: Queenstown - Azur Lodge, Matakauri Lodge, Blanket Bay or The Spire Hotel (Deluxe), Sofitel or Peppers Beacon (Luxury)

Day 7: Queenstown departure

Your private chauffeur will take you to your departing flight in Queenstown airport.

Experiences in this tour

Christchurch

Christchurch

The South Island's biggest city - Christchurch, is one of the world’s most unique destinations, combining urban regeneration and innovation with heritage, culture and exhilarating activity.
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Arthur's Pass

Arthur's Pass

Arthur’s Pass National Park is in the heart of the Southern Alps. Its high mountains with large scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers straddle the main divide and are the ‘backbone’ of the South Island.
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Wanaka

Wanaka

Located in the stunning alps of the South Island in New Zealand, visitors from around the world are drawn to the Wanaka region by its outstanding natural beauty.
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Franz Joseph

Franz Joseph

The Franz Josef Glacier offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment. There is something truly spectacular about the sight of the blue glacier set against the backdrop of snow-covered peaks.
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Central Otago

Central Otago

Discover vivid seasons and rocky, mountainous landscapes; friendly townships; a growing arts culture and well-preserved gold heritage. Whatever you choose to do when you travel to Central Otago will be unforgettable.
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Queenstown

Queenstown

Queenstown like any great love is easy to fall for and difficult to get over. Queenstown’s natural beauty can rarely be competed with, but there is more to Queenstown than just a pretty face.
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