Let us do all the planning for you, free of charge with every booking of a multi-day tour. Based on your interests and duration of stay, we will tailor or edit your existing itinerary. We can also book your accommodation for your entire trip.* Read on to find an example of a tour plan that we would recommend if you want to enjoy the South Island to the fullest in a short period of time.
*The full amount of your accommodation will be required to be paid upfront.
DAY 1: Start from Christchurch, the Garden City and gateway to the South Island, and head north towards Kaikoura. On the way, visit the Waipara wine region where you can enjoy top quality wine and food, then drive the spectacular Pacific Highway coastal road. In Kaikoura, take a whale watch cruise and see the leviathans of the sea dive for their dinner in the depths of the Kaikoura canyon, or get up close and personal and swim with the dolphins. You can even witness the idyllic lifestyle of the seals in the colony at Ohau Point. After a busy day’s activities, head south again, and inland via the Inland Scenic Route to Hanmer Springs. Chill out in the thermal hot pools under a starry sky, or indulge in a relaxing spa and massage, followed by a superb meal. Overnight stay in Hanmer Springs.
DAY 2: Kick off Day Two by following Highway 7 over the Lewis Pass and through the pristine beech forests of the Victoria Forest Park, New Zealand’s largest forest park. At Reefton, turn south again to Greymouth, and take in a taste of the West Coast’s gold and coal mining history, then head north to Punakaiki, a good lunch, and the spectacular limestone landscape of the Pancake Rocks (strictly not for eating), complete with blowholes and surge pools. When you’re done, wend your way south via the historic town of Hokitika to Franz Josef and glacier country. Here, you can hike the glacier valley or soar above the spectacular twin glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox in fixed wing aircraft or helicopter, and marvel at majestic Aoraki ‘the Cloud Piercer’ – Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. You can even land on the glacier and throw a snowball or two. Ooof! Overnight stay at Franz Josef.
DAY 3: Day Three takes you south along the truly spectacular West Coast highway, following the line of the Southern Alps through stunning New Zealand rainforest and past picture-perfect lakes of brooding dark blue water. At Haast Pass, stretch your legs and enjoy one of several short walks through mossy rainforest to dramatic waterfalls, before heading to Wanaka – the township and the lake, set against a backdrop of majestic mountain scenery. Lose your mind by visiting ‘Puzzling World’, Wanaka’s Wonderful World of Weirdness, where all you thought was true is turned upside down in a mayhem of illusion and visual misperception. Once you’ve sorted yourself out, drive to Queenstown via the spectacular Cardrona Valley and the Crown Range. If you’re brave enough, check out the historic and iconic Cardrona Hotel, and decide for yourself if it’s truly haunted. Finish your day in Queenstown, with a ride up the gondola, a thrilling descent on the luge, and a luxury dinner at the Skyline Queenstown. Overnight stay in Queenstown.
DAY 4: Day Four in Queenstown – adventure capital of the world! You can take your pick from a smorgasbord of high-octane adventure activities, ranging from bungy jumping, jet boating, and white water rafting, to paragliding and skydiving, through to world class skiing and winter sports – and everything in between. It is truly an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. But if thrills and spills and action adventure aren’t your thing, enjoy the scenic wonderland that is inland Otago – ‘Central’ as Kiwis call it. Breathe in the splendour of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range, explore the mountain retreats of Glenorchy and Diamond Lake, or savour the delights of world class wine and food in the Central Otago wine region and the Gibbston valley. In the evening, enjoy the nightlife that Queenstown’s bars and restaurants have to offer. Overnight stay in Queenstown.
DAY 5: Plan for an early start to Day Five. Drive the truly breath-taking four hour journey to Milford Sound via Lake Te Anau, past the brooding Murchison Mountains and through the spectacular Eglinton Valley. Have your cameras ready as you climb to 940 meters on the road before descending through the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attraction. Cruise on the deep, dark waters of the sound and marvel at Mitre Peak as it rises steeply from the waters to reach a pointed pinnacle in the sky. Enjoy the Bowen Falls, the penguins, seals, and dolphins, and if you’re lucky (or is that unlucky?), witness the dramatic and awesome spectacle of a true Fiordland rainstorm. At the end of a breath-taking day, return to Te Anau where you can enjoy a visit to glow-worm caves and a well-earned rest. Overnight stay in Te Anau.
DAY 6: Enjoy again the scenic beauty of Central Otago as you commence your journey north to Lake Tekapo. Rest your eyes on peaceful Lake Hayes near historic Arrowtown, and take in the tussock landscapes of the Lindis Pass and the iconic MacKenzie Basin. At Omarama, called the ‘Place of Light’ by the Maori people, visit the Clay Cliffs, or indulge your passions for a spot of fishing and golf. If you dare, you can soar in the wide blue skies of New Zealand’s gliding capital. Continue north through the turquoise-blue glacial lakes and canals of the MacKenzie hydro-scheme to Tekapo. At night, visit the Mount John Observatory, New Zealand’s premier astronomical observatory, and marvel at the sprawling star-scape above your head. You are in the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the world’s largest such reserve, famed for the clarity and pristine quality of its skies, and the first reserve of its kind in the world to be awarded ‘gold star’ status. Overnight stay or camp at Lake Tekapo.
DAY 7: On your last day in Paradise, visit the historic and iconic Church of the Good Shepherd on the foreshore of Lake Tekapo, and drink in the majestic views on offer, both inside and out. Then drive north to Mount Cook Village via Lake Pukaki. From the village, hike towards the base of Aoraki Mount Cook in the heart of the Southern Alps or take a guided boat-ride on the glacial lake of the Tasman Glacier. As the day draws to a close, drive back to Christchurch through picturesque Fairlie and Geraldine, ending your sojourn through some of the world’s most spectacular scenic landscapes, feeling enriched, satisfied, and very, very happy.
Please note that the above itinerary is a fast paced one. A similar tour at a slower and more relaxed pace would require 10 days. We would be pleased to discuss this option with you if you would prefer to take more time to enjoy the scenery and breathe the fresh air.