This 10-day tour beginning and ending in Christchurch explores the beauty of New Zealand's South Island. Discover the cities of Christchurch and Queenstown, ride the iconic Tranz-Alpine railway to Greymouth and explore the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown. Escape to the countryside for an optional helicopter ride over Fox Glacier, to explore Mt. Aspiring National Park and marvel at Mt. Cook in addition to cruising the clear waters of Milford Sound, keeping your eyes peeled for dolphins!
Welcome to Christchurch
Arriving in Christchurch you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. This afternoon we will 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.
Please note: The included activities for this tour begin in the early afternoon on day 1. Please ensure you arrive in Christchurch in time to begin the tour.
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
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
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
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
Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound
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
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
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
Returning 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 to reach Christchurch, a city that combines post-earthquake regeneration with a rich blend of heritage, culture, and innovation.
Overnight: Christchurch | Breakfast
Today our adventure in New Zealand comes to an end. A transfer takes you to Christchurch Airport for your flight home.
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.
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.
Distinction Christchurch Hotel, Christchurch
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
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
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
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
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
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.