A man gazes up at a Redwood tree in Rotorua | New Zealand
Save 5%
FROM: AUD $8,327 pp
South Island Explorer - 12 days map

Beginning in Auckland, this 12-day tour travels from North to South Island and takes in a diverse mix of New Zealand's natural beauty and fascinating culture. Experience a traditional Maori Te Pa Tu celebration before visiting the active geothermal site and indigenous centre of Te Puia. Ride the famous Tranz-Alpine Railway across the breadth of the picturesque South Island, and cruise the waters of Milford Sound. See mighty Mt. Cook, make traditional pavlova at Lake Tekapo and end your tour in the city of Christchurch.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates
Hotels

Trip Highlights

Auckland - Enjoy the view from Bastion Point, visit Auckland Museum and the waterfront on a guided city tour
Redwood Forest - Cross a series of suspension bridges and elevated walkways to appreciate the towering redwood trees which are more than 100 years old
Tranz-Alpine Rail Journey - Cross the Southern Alps on this famous rail journey, taking in some of the South Island's fastest scenery
Milford Sound - Pass through incredible Fiordland National Park and enjoy a cruise on Milford Sound - look out for dolphins!
Rotorua - Visit the Te Puia geothermal site and a Kiwi conservation project, plus experience a Te Pa Tu Maori cultural evening
Christchurch – See the city with an included punting experience and a ride on a restored heritage tram
Wanaka - Choose from an ecological tour to a serene island on Lake Wanaka or a 4X4 excursion into the surrounding countryside
Lake Tekapo – See a tiny church set against a majestic backdrop, one of New Zealand’s most photographed spots

Included

11 breakfasts, 1 lunch & 1 dinner
Airport arrival and departure transfers on day 1 and day 12
All relevant transfers and transportation in modern air-conditioned vehicle
Christchurch Edwardian punt & heritage tram experience
Touring of Auckland & Rotorua
Te Puia & Arrowtown visit
Milford Sound cruise & lunch
Note: This tour is operated in conjunction with our trusted partner and you will join travellers from different operators, not solely On The Go.
11 nights 4 star hotels
Escorted by an expert local guide/driver with specialist local guides at some sites
Economy class flight from Rotorua - Christchurch
Tranz-Alpine rail journey from Christchurch - Greymouth
Te Pa Tu Maori experience
Local eco-guided tour or an authentic 4WD adventure at Wanaka
Morning tea at a local home on the shores of Lake Tekapo

Not Included

International flights and visas
Optional activities
Items of a personal nature (telephone calls, laundry, travel insurance etc)
Tip for your tour guide driver. We recommend you allow $4 - 7 USD per day per traveller. Tipping your tour guide is an entirely personal gesture.

Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to New Zealand!

Upon arrival into Auckland you will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The rest of the day offers free time to explore the local area.
Overnight: Auckland

Day 2

Auckland & Te Pa Tu

Auckland – Rotorua. This morning we enjoy an Auckland City tour with panoramic views from Bastion Point, Maori and Pacific Island displays at the Auckland Museum, the quaint Parnell Village, and the picturesque waterfront. Following this we leave Auckland and head to Rotorua, the heart of New Zealand's thermal and cultural region. When we arrive we will take part in a city tour before heading to our nights accommodation.

In the afternoon we have some time to relax before we visit Tamaki Maori Village for Te Pa Tu, an evening experience and feast that changes with the Maori lunar calendar. We experience Maori culture and feast on seasonal cuisine in the forest Pa surrounded by Tawa trees and bonfires. The 4-course fusion feast includes Hangi dishes served al fresco or in the dining room, depending on the weather.

In the summer, Tu Te Ra celebrates harvest and ancient Maori concepts of warfare and peace, whilst in winter, Tu Te Ihi celebrates the Matariki star cluster with rituals, energy, and passion. Return hotel transfers are included; other travellers will be on board.
Overnight: Rotorua  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3

Te Puia, Treewalk & Christchurch

Rotorua – Christchurch. In Rotorua, we'll experience both New Zealand's geothermal wonders and rich Maori heritage. Te Puia is a must-visit, featuring active geothermal sites, indigenous arts, crafts, and a Kiwi conservation project. Their welcoming culture means they treat you like family and we are treated with a private guide whilst we are here.

Following this we head to the Redwood Forest for a Redwood Treewalk Day Walk with 28 suspension bridges among 120-year-old Californian coastal redwoods. These elevated walkways offer a unique view of the undergrowth from 12 meters above the ground.

In the afternoon we fly to Christchurch. On arrival, we join punting boatmen in traditional Edwardian dress for a leisurely River Avon cruise through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. We then enjoy a stylish journey on a heritage tram through the ever-changing city centre.
Overnight: Christchurch  |  Breakfast

Day 4

The Tranz-Alpine Railway & Fox Glacier

Christchurch – Fox Glacier. Today we embark on the renowned Tranz-Alpine rail journey through the Southern Alps to Greymouth. We'll see the vast Canterbury Plains and farmland which is followed by the breathtaking gorges and valleys of the Waimakariri River. We then ascend into the Southern Alps which we then cross to reach the lush rainforests of Westland before concluding the journey at the town of Greymouth.

Driving further south we visit the town of Hokitika and its galleries of greenstone jewellery and artwork. Continuing to Hokitika Gorge we stretch our legs and discover the blue/green waters that pass through the rugged rocks. Following the road south we reach Franz Josef and then on to the Village of Fox which is where the huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps, down almost to sea level. If the weather allows there is the option of a helicopter ride over the glaciers at an extra cost.
Overnight: Fox Glacier  |  Breakfast

Day 5

Mt Aspiring National Park

Fox Glacier – Wanaka. First thing today we visit nearby Lake Matheson which, when weather conditions are just right, perfectly mirrors Mount Cook in its waters creating a stunning visual effect. From here we head up over the Haast Past along the river road, which took more than 40 years to complete, travelling deep into Mt Aspiring National Park to Lake Wanaka and the picturesque resort town of Wanaka.
Overnight: Wanaka  |  Breakfast

Day 6

Wanaka

Your choice of activity today must be made at the time of booking. Please let our Reservations team know which included activity you would like to partake in.

Today we have a choice of two included excursions. Option 1 sees you join an eco tour. Depart Wanaka by boat and escape civilisation as we cruise to an island where we hike through vibrant native vegetation to find a hidden mountaintop lake surrounded by small islands. We trek on to reach the island's summit for a 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its mountains and valleys, and the Arethusa Pool. Look out for the rare Buff Weka, a flightless bird extinct on Mainland NZ since 1920, which often joins visitors.

Option 2 is a 4WD adventure. We will explore a perfect mix of stunning scenery, history, and farm life in New Zealand's High Country. We will traverse remote back roads on an authentic farm with Lake Wanaka as our backdrop, surrounded by nature's beauty. We get up close to farm animals and visit historical sites, all while enjoying optional hikes through alpine meadows and lakeside forests, offering a unique insight into Wanaka's history, heritage, modern farming, and breathtaking landscapes.

When we return to Wanaka we have the afternoon at leisure to relax or enjoy the town.
Overnight: Wanaka  |  Breakfast

Day 7

Wanaka to Te Anau

Wanaka – Te Anau. We begin our day from Wanaka, stopping at the iconic Cardrona Pub. Then we venture through the Crown Range road to explore historic Arrowtown, a charming gold rush village nestled beneath majestic peaks near the Arrow River. We carry on along the scenic road between the Remarkables mountain range and stunning Lake Wakatipu before traversing a glacial valley turned farmland to reach Lake Te Anau, the South Island's largest freshwater lake and the entry point to Fiordland National Park.
Overnight: Te Anau  |  Breakfast

Day 8

Fiordland National Park

Te Anau – Queenstown. The journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic drives you can experience. Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is awe-inspiring, and features towering mountains and deep valleys sculpted by ancient glaciers. Milford Sound, famously dubbed the 'eighth wonder of the world' by Rudyard Kipling, is a breathtaking destination in any weather.

Following this we embark on a comfortable cruise, passing the iconic Mitre Peak to reach the Tasman Sea. Keep a lookout for seals and dolphins, which often grace the fiord's waters. After the cruise we retrace our route back to Te Anau and then journey through the Southland farmlands and circle the stunning Lake Wakatipu to reach Queenstown.
Overnight: Queenstown  |  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9

Exploring Queenstown

Nestled amid majestic mountains and on the pristine shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown's natural beauty and unique ambiance provide an ideal setting for a visit filled with adventure, exploration, or relaxation. Today, we have the freedom to choose our own activities: thrill-seekers might opt for activities like zip-lining at Bob's Peak, a heart-pounding Shotover jet-boat ride, or white-water rafting. For those of us seeking a more leisurely experience, we can enjoy a gondola ride to Bob's Peak or embark on a 4WD safari to Skippers Canyon. Queenstown also offers boutique wineries, local gardens, and a chance to cruise Lake Wakatipu on the elegant steamship TSS Earnslaw for a visit to Walter Peak High Country Farm.
Overnight: Queenstown  |  Breakfast

Day 10

Journey to Mt Cook

Queenstown – Twizel. This morning we head north through Kawarau Gorge and past the scenic Lake Dunstan. We cross the Central Otago Countryside to the Lindis Pass where we descend into the Mackenzie Basin where the Southern Alps dominate the horizon. We enjoy a picturesque drive along Lake Pukaki to arrive at Mt. Cook Village, nestled at the base of New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Our overnight stay awaits in the charming town of Twizel.
Overnight: Twizel  |  Breakfast

Day 11

Twizel to Christchurch

Twizel – Christchurch. Today we get to experience Kiwi culture by visiting a local home on Lake Tekapo's shores to learn the art of making Pavlova, a beloved New Zealand dessert. We enjoy our Pavlova during morning tea, taking in the stunning lake views. We admire the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, beautifully situated against the backdrop of the Southern Alps. Continuing our journey through the high country's tussock plains, passing through charming towns like Fairlie and Geraldine, en route to Ashburton we then travel across the fertile Canterbury Plains. Returning to Christchurch, there is free time to further explore.
Overnight: Christchurch  |  Breakfast

Day 12

Saying Goodbye

Today our adventure in New Zealand comes to an end. A transfer takes you to Christchurch Airport for your flight home.
Breakfast

Prices & Dates

Departure dates are guaranteed with 2 travellers. 'Twin Share' prices are per person when there are 2 people sharing a room. 'Single Room' prices are applicable to all solo travellers, or if your booking party cannot reach the minimum of 2 persons in a room. Single Rooms can also be booked by any other person wanting the comfort and privacy of their own room.

Guaranteed Departure
2025
Twin Share
Single Room
18 Jan - 29 Jan 5% off
AUD $10,045
AUD $9,543
AUD $12,835
AUD $12,193
01 Feb - 12 Feb 5% off G
AUD $10,045
AUD $9,543
AUD $12,835
AUD $12,193
01 Mar - 12 Mar 5% off G
AUD $10,045
AUD $9,543
AUD $12,835
AUD $12,193
15 Mar - 26 Mar 5% off G
AUD $10,045
AUD $9,543
AUD $12,835
AUD $12,193
29 Mar - 09 Apr 5% off G
AUD $10,045
AUD $9,543
AUD $12,835
AUD $12,193
26 Apr - 07 May 5% off G
AUD $9,405
AUD $8,935
AUD $12,085
AUD $11,481
17 May - 28 May 5% off G
AUD $8,765
AUD $8,327
AUD $11,345
AUD $10,778

Extra Prices

Twin Share
Single Room
Pre Tour Accommodation - Auckland
AUD $265
AUD $0
Post Tour Accommodation - Christchurch
AUD $225
AUD $0

Hotels

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.

M Social, Auckland

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The M Social Hotel in Auckland is the perfect blend of modern design and convenient location. Situated in Auckland’s vibrant waterfront, this modern hotel offers an unbeatable location to explore the city. The hotel boasts a variety of well-decorated rooms and suites with stunning views of the city or harbour. Each room is designed for comfort and style, featuring sleek decor, comfortable beds, and modern amenities to make your stay truly comfortable. A highlight of the M Social Hotel is the stylish Beast & Butterflies restaurant, serving up delicious Asia Pacific cuisine. When relaxing in the hotel guests can make the most of the modern fitness centre or enjoy some drinks at the bar to unwind after a day of exploring.

Millennium Hotel Rotorua, Rotorua

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Set in the heart of Rotorua, the Millennium Hotel offers a unique blend of luxurious comfort and access to local natural beauty. The hotel's location places you within easy reach of Rotorua's geothermal parks, Maori cultural experiences, and adventure activities, making it an ideal choice for exploring the diverse attractions of this captivating city. Rooms provide a perfect place for relaxation. Guests can expect modern amenities, comfortable furnishings, and some rooms even offer stunning views of Lake Rotorua or the surrounding landscapes. Millennium Hotel Rotorua offers a variety of facilities to enhance your stay, including a heated pool & fitness centre. The hotel offers two restaurants that serve delectable menus of local and international cuisine. A contemporary cocktail bar is also found on site for guests to enjoy.

Regal Palms Resort, Rotorua

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Found in the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua, the Regal Palms Resort is a luxurious escape surrounded by nature's marvels. Conveniently located on the edge of the city, this resort provides easy access to Rotorua's iconic attractions, including geysers, hot springs, and cultural experiences. Rooms at the Regal Palms Resort are stylish and modern, offering a variety of spacious and well-equipped suites and villas. Each unit boasts modern amenities such as an ensuite, a TV, A/C, and a small kitchenette with private balconies or courtyards, creating a serene retreat for guests. The resort's facilities include a heated outdoor pool, mineral spa pools, a fitness centre, tennis courts, and a mini gold course, allowing guests to unwind and rejuvenate. The on-site day spa offers a range of pampering treatments for ultimate relaxation.

Distinction Christchurch Hotel, Christchurch

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The Distinction Christchurch Hotel stands in the heart of Christchurch. Located in the city centre, the hotel offers a convenient base for exploring the city's vibrant culture, shopping precincts, and iconic landmarks. The Distinction Christchurch Hotel is modern and stylish, and rooms provide modern amenities and chic decor, creating a comfortable retreat for all guests. The hotel's facilities include a sophisticated restaurant and bar, serving fresh and locally sourced cuisine and refreshing drinks in a refined atmosphere. With its central location, the hotel is within easy reach of Christchurch's attractions, including the Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum.

Distinction Fox Glacier Hotel, Fox Glacier

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Situated in the charming township of Fox Glacier, the Distinction Fox Glacier Hotel provides a perfect base for exploring the awe-inspiring Fox Glacier and nearby attractions. Rooms are designed for comfort and relaxation, many with stunning mountain or rainforest views. Paired with its modern amenities and cosy furnishings ensure a pleasant stay. The hotel offers excellent facilities, including a welcoming bar and restaurant serving delectable cuisine, perfect for refuelling after a day of adventure in the surrounding wilderness.

Edgewater Hotel, Wanaka

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel in Wanaka offers a spectacular retreat set against the backdrop of the Southern Alps and the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka. This idyllic location provides guests with a serene and picturesque escape in the South Island. Many rooms offer breathtaking lake or mountain views and feature modern amenities such as ensuites, A/C, and TV’s, ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay. The hotel's amenities include a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine and a bar for unwinding with a drink. Edgewater Hotel also features a heated pool, spa pools, tennis courts, and a fitness centre, offering opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The Distinction Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau is a gateway to the stunning Fiordland region, nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau. The hotel provides a comfortable and welcoming retreat after a day of adventure. Rooms are thoughtfully designed and equipped with modern amenities such as an ensuite, WiFi, and a TV, ensuring a restful stay. Many rooms offer scenic views of Lake Te Anau or the surrounding mountains. The hotel features an on-site restaurant and a cosy bar where guests can savour local and international cuisine while taking in the picturesque surroundings. Other amenities include a fitness centre and a guest lounge.

Scenic Suites Queenstown, Queenstown

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

Scenic Suites Queenstown offers a luxurious escape in the heart of New Zealand's adventure capital. Ideally located just a short walk from the vibrant town centre, the hotel enjoys a prime position for exploring the stunning landscapes, adrenaline-pumping activities, and the thriving dining and entertainment scene that Queenstown is famous for. Accommodation at Scenic Suites Queenstown is stylish and designed for comfort. Many rooms offer breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, creating a tranquil and scenic backdrop for your stay. The hotel's amenities include a restaurant and bar serving delicious local and international cuisine and a modern fitness centre, ensuring that guests can unwind and rejuvenate after a day of adventure. The hotel's location is also convenient for exploring Queenstown's attractions, such as the Skyline Gondola and the waterfront.

Distinction Mackenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The Distinction Mackenzie Country Hotel in Twizel offers a peaceful retreat amidst the stunning landscapes of the Mackenzie Basin. Located at the gateway to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, this hotel provides a picturesque setting for nature enthusiasts and those seeking outdoor adventures. Rooms at the Distinction Mackenzie Country Hotel are a cozy haven after a day of exploration where guests can enjoy comfortable furnishings and contemporary amenities such as an en-suite, TV, WiFi, and large windows offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. The hotel features excellent facilities, including an on-site restaurant serving delectable cuisine, a bar for relaxing with a drink, and sunny gardens offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and a peaceful place for a stroll.

At a Glance

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Auckland
Ends
Christchurch
Departs
Saturdays
Group Size
Min 1 / Max 16
Hotel Rating
4-star hotels
Tour Guide
Yes - escorted by a tour guide/driver
Meals
Breakfast: 11, Lunch: 1, Dinner: 1
Countries
Minimum Age
18
Arr. Transfer
Yes
Dep. Transfer
Yes
Auckland Museum - New Zealand - On The Go Tours
Rotorua - New Zealand - On The Go Tours
View of Queenstown - New Zealand - On The Go Tours
OTG002800South Island Explorer - 12 daysAustralasiaHandpickedAustralasiafalse5New Zealandhttps://www.onthegotours.com/au/New-Zealand/South-Island-Explorer-12-dayshttps://www.onthegotours.com/repository/South-Island-Explorer-main-image--Rotorua-redwoods-825641699447795_crop_flip_300_300_f2f2f2_center-center.jpgGroup_Tours