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.
From glacier valleys to star-filled skies, nature's best flourishes against a palette of dramatic scenes. Here, towering alps meet peaceful sounds and rugged coastlines merge with sweeping plains. 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 13 nights
Category: Relaxing, Active
Location: South Island
Departing/Finishing: Christchurch – Queenstown (Itinerary can be reversed)
Accommodation: 4* or 5* quality hotels, Boutique B&B’s, Serviced Luxury Apartments, Premium Lodges
Next Departure: Departs Daily
LOCATION AND HIGHLIGHTS:
Day 1: Christchurch Arrival - Hanmer Springs
(City tour, relax in the hot pools)
Day 2: Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura
(Whale-watching, seal colonies, Indigenous culture)
Day 3: Kaikoura – Marlborough
(Marlborough Sounds wineries, water-taxi to a remote resort)
Day 4: Marlborough Sounds
(A day to your own leisure, kayak, hiking Or: Private boat charter)
Day 5: Marlborough – Nelson – Abel Tasman or Golden Bay
(Abel Tasman National Park, Pupu Springs)
Day 6: Able Tasman or Golden Bay
(A day for relaxing, remote walking treks and beaches)
Day 7: Able Tasman or Golden Bay - West Coast
(Buller Gorge, Glow-worm caves hike)
Day 8: West Coast- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier
(Hokitika gorge, Franz or Fox glacier walks Or: Helicopter landing on ice)
Day 9: Franz Josef Glacier - Mt Aspiring National Park - Wanaka or Hawea
(Rainforest walks, wetlands, and remote water-falls)
Day 10: Lake Wanaka
(4WD scenic and heritage tour on the private high country station)
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 and Paradise)
Day 13: Queenstown - Lake Wakatipu
(Day to your own leisure)
Day 14: Queenstown departure
Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. Traditionally known as the Garden City, Christchurch’s award-winning Botanic Gardens are over 150 years old and boast an enviable collection of exotic and native plants. The Avon River flows gently through the city centre, making Edwardian punt rides an iconic way to sightsee. Alternatively, catch a ride aboard the Historic Tram or take a bicycle tour to learn about Christchurch's history. Restaurants, bars and breweries mean that there are plenty of options to recharge after a few hours on your feet exploring the shops.
Best known for its natural hot pools and stunning landscapes, Hanmer Springs is a picturesque alpine village 90 minutes' drive from Christchurch. The resort town is an attractive year-round holiday destination for adventure, relaxation and indulgence. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and towering forests, this charming town has a main street filled with boutique shops, cafes and eateries. Don’t miss the iconic Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa where you can soak in naturally heated, mineral-filled waters or treat yourself to a range of indulgent spa therapies. The family fun area is complete with hydro slides and the South Island’s only aquatic thrill ride, the Super Bowl.
Accommodation: Hanmer Springs
Kaikoura's environment is truly spectacular – the village is caught between the rugged Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean. In winter the mountains are covered with snow, adding to the drama of the landscape.
Few places on Earth possess the magic of Kaikōura. Many who visit leave transformed. It is a special part of New Zealand, imbued with powerful natural energy. A place where tectonic plates collide, towering peaks fall to the sea and ocean currents converge. Such rare combinations lure an abundance of marine wildlife, the most famous being the Giant Sperm Whale. Kaikōura 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 Kaikōura Canyon runs right up against the coast creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain. Designed especially for whale watching, the modern catamarans are equipped with engines that minimise underwater noise and toilets that never pollute the sea.
Insight into Maori life - You’ll visit several Kaikoura sites for a combination of laughter and learning through storytelling and activities as well as a forest walk to discover traditional uses of plants. Travel to some of our important places and whilst there hear tales of bygone days and see legends hidden in the landscape today. Throughout the journey there are opportunities to learn Maori ways – a traditional greeting, weave with harakeke (the native flax plant) and much more. Midway through there’s a shortstop for light refreshments and then it’s a short drive to the forest walk where you’ll be shown a variety of plants and trees – some have stood for hundreds of years. As you wander through the well-defined track, family members will share knowledge about how plants are used for food and medicine. This is a really intimate and personal cultural exchange offering genuine insight into Maori people and way of life.
Picton sits snuggled between the mountains and the sea, at the head of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.
The Marlborough Sounds encompass 1,500 km of coastline, bays, beaches and native forest. It is a place of incredible natural beauty, a place that needs to be seen to be believed. The area is abundant with wildlife, from penguins and rare King Shags to dolphins and fur seals, and offers some of the world's best boating, diving, fishing and hiking. Cruise ships stop at the quaint port town of Picton, known for its museums, galleries and picturesque walking tracks.
The wineries of Blenheim are within a short drive of Picton; be sure to try the Sauvignon Blanc for which this region is famous. Located at the top of the South Island, Marlborough is New Zealand's largest wine growing region and the home of world-renowned sauvignon blanc. There are over 40 cellar doors in Marlborough, why not take advantage and visit a selection of the region’s top wine producers.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
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.
Walk the Queen Charlotte Track, renowned for its stunning views and contrasting landscape, historical landmarks and wonderful variety of native bush and wildlife, will find this a unique and spectacular trip through the Marlborough Sounds, as it passes through lush coastal forest, historic bays, and along skyline ridges with unsurpassed views of Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds. This track is as much about a walking/biking holiday as it is an environmental, cultural and lifestyle experience.
Take a Kayak, a great way to explore the sheltered bays and beautiful Sounds coastline. Guided options can include a day paddle to visit the Salmon Farm in neighbouring Ruakaka Bay with lunch at Ratimera Beach. Itineraries can be tailored to suit fitness and the experience levels of guests.
Or: 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
Nelson is a lifestyle; that's the best way to describe it. Situated at the top north-west of the South Island, it is the sunniest region in New Zealand. Nelson's diverse geography captures everything from the long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains.
Nelson Tasman's diverse geography captures everything from the long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. Perhaps it’s the sun, perhaps it’s the location, but Nelson Tasman has long been a magnet for creative people. There are more than 350 working artists and craftspeople living in the region; traditional, contemporary and Maori. Visit their studios and find a unique piece to take home with you.
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park- but it's perfectly formed for relaxation and adventure. A coastal paradise that you can walk through or explore by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak, visitors love the way the Abel Tasman National Park mixes physical exertion with beach life. Bursts of hiking or paddling are punctuated by sunbathing, swimming and sedate snorkelling.
Accommodation: Abel Tasman or Golden Bay
Golden bay edges onto the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman and the mighty peaks of Kahurangi to Wharariki sea arches and Farewell Spit, you are spoiled for choice.
Pupu Springs', or Waikoropupu as its full name is, is the largest freshwater spring in Australasia and reputedly the clearest in the world. The water for this spring originates in the undisturbed forests located many kilometres uphill, where it submerges into the underwater Karst limestone river system, to surface here and further out in the sea.
Farewell Spit is an amazing sight. It is New Zealand's longest spit (30km) and a nature reserve. It is internationally famous not only for its many whale stranding but also a renowned bird sanctuary with over 90 bird species recorded in the area. Bar-tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones fly around 12,000 kilometres every northern hemisphere autumn to spend the summer here in the south.
Wharariki Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches and you will consider yourself spoilt for the scenery. Wharariki Beach, just a few kilometres from Farewell Spit and the northern-most tip of the South Island, used to be something of a well-kept secret.
The Whanganui Inlet is the second largest estuary in the South Island and the least modified estuary in New Zealand. Westhaven is the first estuary in New Zealand to be protected by a combination of marine and wildlife reserve. The landscape is a rare combination of lush native coastal forest and tidal channels.
Accommodation: Golden Bay
The Nelson Lakes National Park is an enchanting alpine landscape of rugged peaks, forests and stunning glacial lakes. A compact area of mountain ranges separated by forested valleys, the Nelson Lakes National Park is home to the beginning of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps.
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.
A passive eco-tour through the enormous Nile River Caves in the Paparoa National Park. Take 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.
Stop at nearby Punakaiki, the Jewel of the West Coast. Punakaiki is world renowned for its pancake rock formations and blowholes. Walk along some of the stunning and remote beach treks, through a dense rainforest with Nikau Palms and large ferns.
Accommodation: West Coast
You will visit the historical gold mining town of Hokitika. Historic Hokitika is a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the west coast. Hear about the shipwrecks, gold miners and pounamu hunters. 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 breath-taking as is the gorge itself.
Take a scenic drive to the famous glacier region. 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.
Or: Take a helicopter flight. Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are two of New Zealand largest glaciers. From above you’ll view and appreciate the incredible natural phenomenon, towering ice formations and vastness the glaciers. Top it off with a snow landing. Stand on the ancient ice of the glaciers. You’ll also fly over the Tasman Glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Alps and close to Mount Cook/Aoraki, New Zealand’s highest peak.
Accommodation: Franz Josef or Fox Glacier
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.
Discover one of Kiwi’s favourite tours on the West Coast NZ, taking a jet boat up a remote backcountry river into UNESCO South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
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 crosses tumbling rivers.
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.
Nestled below towering mountains, Lake Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. 45 kilometres long and covering 193 square kilometres, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka are perfect for jet boaters, sailors and kayakers to explore.
Accommodation: Lake Wanaka and Hawea
Nestled below towering mountains, Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. is much more than a winter destination. Year-round activities include fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving. Excavated by massive glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, Lakes Wanaka and Hawea lie side by side. At a sliver of land known as The Neck, which is just 1000 metres wide, the glaciers were once joined. Lake Wanaka is the source of New Zealand's largest river, the Clutha. Lake Hawea feeds into the Hawea River, which joins the Clutha at Albert Town. Ringed by pebbly beaches and with magnificent views to the surrounding peaks, both lakes offer a variety of adventures, especially during the long, hot months of summer.
Come experience New Zealand's most authentic 4WD adventure. The perfect mix of incredible scenery, history, heritage and farming life. This will be a genuine highlight of your New Zealand holiday. Explore remote and seldom travelled back roads of an authentic New Zealand High Country farm overlooking sparkling Lake Wanaka. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, glaciers and wild river valleys you'll see farm animals including Red Deer, cattle and sheep up close and in their natural environment. Visit historical sites and experience what life was like for Wanaka's first farmers.
Or: High- Country Heli Hike. Experience a unique Heli hike adventure on a spectacular high-country station by combining awe-inspiring aerial views with ‘on foot’ exploration. Leave the tourist trail behind and soar high above Lake Dunstan for breathtaking views across the Southern Alps and towards Mount Cook before embarking on an exclusive hiking experience on family-owned Lowburn Station. Located on the Pisa Range, Lowburn Station is a picturesque 5,000ha working the farm with sheep, cattle and alpacas that has sweeping views across Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and Bannockburn wine regions. Delve into the history and significance of the family station and experience first-hand the inner workings of a high-country farm. We begin our hiking adventure by traversing the highest ridgeline on the station, wandering through fields of alpine tussocks.
Accommodation: Lake Wanaka or Hawea
Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region and also its 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.
Arrowtown is a living historic settlement with many stories to tell. Wander the tree-lined streets of restored cottages and explore gold mining sites. One of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand, Arrowtown sits alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River. The town was established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's top visitor destinations and if you come to the region you'll understand why. Queenstown sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu amidst dramatic mountain ranges; this stunning location will blow you away. Treat yourself to some boutique shopping and be sure to experience the excellent local food and wine. A popular holiday spot at any time of the year, Queenstown is renowned for its four distinctive seasons. Winter brings crisp, blue-sky days, spring retains the snow but blooms into longer, warmer days, summer offers sunshine and long twilights, and autumn a burst of brilliant red and gold. Queenstown is rated internationally as one of the world’s top holiday destinations.
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing visual cues around every corner. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Milford Sound is breath-taking in any weather. The fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards, some as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
Milford Sound is an area of extraordinary beauty. It offers a majestic fiord, dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery and prolific flora and fauna. These include the famous Skippers Canyon, the Paradise region (recently made popular as film locations for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Trilogies), and the Donne glacier among many other awe-inspiring features. Your 35-minute flight concludes with an overflight of the fiord of Milford Sound, prior to landing. The second half of the adventure begins in Milford Sound, with a cruise to enjoy your Milford Sound Cruise. Following your Milford Sound cruise your return flight takes in many of the pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls that Fiordland National Park is recognised for, including the Sutherland Falls which span 580m (1904ft).
Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, Glenorchy is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu & is the gateway to hiking trails and Middle‑earth magic. This rustic town is a true outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Set against a background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy’s surrounds are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Glenorchy’s spectacular landscapes have become a prime location for film scouts, depicting many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as featuring in the Narnia movies. Twenty kilometres away from Glenorchy, as bucolic farmland gives way to beech forests, lies Paradise
Queenstown has transformed into a sophisticated cosmopolitan town, tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, beneath majestic mountains. There’s a permanent buzz in downtown Queenstown, where you’ll find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping.
You will be collected from your accommodation and taken to the airport.