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New Zealand’s South Island is a captivating oasis; it’s a tapestry of awe-inspiring landscapes. Spend nine days exploring South Island and visiting some of its soaring mountains, magnificent glaciers and iconic cities during your epic Southern Explorer tour.

Venture through surreal landscapes aboard a comfortable coach and the TranzAlpine train, visit enchanting cities, and rest your head in wonderful hotels and resorts. This is exactly how the South Island is meant to be discovered.

As you journey across the expanse of Canterbury Plains, the stunning Southern Alps and Otago coast, you’ll discover the island’s pristine splendour and endless picture-perfect vistas. From the beauty of Milford Sound, exquisitely carved by glaciers, to the towering Aoraki Mount Cook, which is Australasia’s tallest mountain, the island’s landscape is truly something to be experienced.

Among the breath-taking landscape, New Zealand’s cities and towns await your discovery. Just as full of adventure as the lakes, mountains and fjords that surround them, spend time getting to know some of the South Island’s most charming hubs.

Explore the ‘garden city’ of Christchurch, the ‘adventure capital’ of Queenstown, and Dunedin, nestled on the shore of a picturesque harbour.


9 Days

Recommended For

Adventure, Couples, Culture, Iconic Journeys

Best Time to Go

December to February


Group basis

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Trip Highlights

  • Cruise the length of Milford Sound, an enchanting fjord carved out by glaciers
  • Enjoy the breath-taking views of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, home to the tallest mountain on the continent
  • Board the TranzAlpine train and take one of the world’s greatest rail journeys across the Southern Alps
  • Explore charming cities and towns, including Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin

Start your Journey

Day 1

Arrive in Christchurch

Your New Zealand adventure begins as you arrive in the city of Christchurch on the South Island. You’ll be met and taken to your hotel, The Commodore, where you can settle in. This evening, enjoy your first dinner in the company of your fellow travellers and APT Tour Director. 


  • Meals Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation The Commodore
Day 2

Christchurch - Franz Josef

Bid farewell to Christchurch and climb aboard the TranzAlpine train. This journey was made for taking in some of the South Island’s most breath-taking scenery, as the train takes you across the Canterbury Plains and into the Southern Alps. 

When you reach Arthur’s Pass, leave the train behind and enjoy a coach ride to the small town of Hokitika, where you’ll get the chance to watch as jade is carved into jewellery. Afterwards, continue your journey to Franz Josef, home to the striking Franz Josef Glacier. 

Tonight, you’ll stay at the eco-resort, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, where you’ll get to feast on a delicious four course dinner.


  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Day 3

Franz Josef Glacier - Queenstown

Another truly breatht-aking journey awaits you today. Travel from Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown, fondly known as the country’s adventure capital. Follow the Haast River and witness the glacier-formed Haast River Valley. Pass by rainforest, waterfalls and mountain peaks. 

When you arrive in Queenstown, take your pick from some of the city’s incredible dining options. You could head out on a scenic gondola ride to the Skyline Restaurant and enjoy dinner as you take in the views of Queenstown, or perhaps take to the water aboard the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steamboat. If you’d rather dine on solid ground, we recommend Canyon Food & Brew Co. to sample craft beers with your meal, or you could discover the stylish Elements Restaurant for contemporary, seasonal cuisine. 

After a day of discovery, head to Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, your base for the next two nights.


  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Day 4


Spend today exploring adventure-filled Queenstown, with a choice of sightseeing options. Visit some of the iconic filming locations featured in The Lord of the Rings, or perhaps set out on a river safari, enjoy a winery tour, cruise across Lake Wakatipu, or explore Skippers Canyon. 


  • Meals Breakfast
  • Suggested Accommodation Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Day 5

Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Leaving Queenstown behind, you’ll set out on an incredible drive this morning. Journey along spectacular Milford Road, down the Eglinton and Hollyford valleys and through Homer Tunnel. 

Arriving at the breath-taking Milford Sound, you’ll get to experience it for yourself as you cruise the full length of the fjord. 

Continue along today’s picturesque route to tonight’s stop, the lakeside town of Te Anau. A special Taste of Fjordland Dinner awaits you, made from local artisan produce and bursting with the authentic flavours of the South Island, then spend the night at the Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas.


  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas
Day 6

Te Anau - Dunedin

This morning, travel across the South Island to Dunedin, a city that sits on the island’s east coast. With a choice of things to do and see, you’ll get to explore the city and experience its Scottish and Māori heritage. You could visit Olveston Historic Home, and explore Larnach Castle, New Zealand’s only castle. Or perhaps you might like to spend some time sampling beers as you tour Speight’s Brewery?

After exploring the city, head back to your hotel for the night.

  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation Distinction Dunedin
Day 7

Dunedin - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Today, you’ll head to the incredible Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Enter this rugged region, a landscape of breath-taking mountain peaks, glaciers and snow fields. Choose how you experience this incredible natural world. You could take a guided nature walk and admire Aoraki Mount Cook, or visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. At night you can gaze at the sky alongside an astronomer, or observe the icebergs on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake aboard the MAC boat.

Even as evening sets in, there’s no need to say goodbye to the incredible vistas as you can rest your head at The Hermitage Hotel and enjoy these incredible alpine views from your bedroom window.

  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation The Hermitage Hotel
Day 8

Aoraki Mount Cook - Lake Tekapo - Christchurch

Your last full day of your South Island adventure will take you to Lake Tekapo. Enjoy the journey from Aoraki Mount Cook and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, which stands on the lakeshore with heady mountains as its backdrop. 

As you continue onwards to Christchurch, gaze out of your window at the stunning scenery of Burkes Pass. When you arrive in Christchurch, it’s time to enjoy a Farewell Dinner, the perfect opportunity to reflect with your fellow travellers. Afterwards, spend your last night on the South Island at Rydges Latimer Christchurch. 


  • Meals Breakfast & Dinner
  • Suggested Accommodation Rydges Latimer Christchurch
Day 9

Depart Christchurch

Bid the beautiful South Island farewell today as you’re met and driven to the airport to catch your flight home, or to continue your journey onwards.


  • Meals Breakfast


  • Board basis is 8 breakfasts and 7 dinners
  • Cost of accommodation for a total of 8 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Expert English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary, and an APT Tour Director
  • APT’s Enriching Signature Experiences
  • APT’s Freedom of Choice concept, where you have the flexibility to tailor your sightseeing and dinner options in select locations, at no additional cost
  • Overseas transfers and luggage porterage

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