• Lake Matheson with a mountain in the background

Taste of the South Island Escorted Tour

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, New Zealand is a land filled with icy glaciers, aquamarine lakes, and dominating mountain peaks. Experience some of the best areas of the country on our South Island tour.

On our nine day escorted tour, you’ll visit charming towns, spectacular landscapes and buzzy cities. As we drive around the island, we’ll pass scenes straight out of a blockbuster film.

Sail past the sky high fjords and frothing waterfalls of Milford Sound, an area of enchanting natural beauty, and keep an eye out for the wild dolphins that frequent the waters. Find yourself dazzled by the enormous Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Gaze out at the vivid blue waters of Lake Tekapo. 

Discover old towns and quaint pastimes too, as you explore small settlements such as the old gold mining town of Arrowtown. Next, we’ll visit Dunedin, a city known for its fascinating Scottish and Maori heritage.

We’ll also visit the island’s larger cities, such as Christchurch and Queenstown. In the latter, you’ll be overwhelmed with choice when it comes to adventurous activities. Take the plunge and brave a bungee jump or skydive, or hike along the nearby mountains for a calmer experience.

A highlight of our tour is a trip on the TranzAlpine. This is a train journey from Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch that navigates through sublimely beautiful natural landscapes. Make sure to sit next to the window so you can take in the flowing waterfalls and country terrains as you chuff along the tracks. 

 

Duration
9 days
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Christchurch

Trip highlights

  • Cruise past the looming fjords and gushing waterfalls of the enchanting Milford Sound
  • Take the TranzAlpine, one of the most scenic train journeys in the world
  • Marvel at the towering and icy Fox Glacier surrounded by snow capped peaks
  • Get active in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world
Christchurch

Our South Island adventure starts in Christchurch, where you’ll be met by a representative and escorted to your hotel for the night.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Quality Hotel Elms
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
a man standing in front of a lake with a mountain in the background

Discover the city of Christchurch on a sightseeing tour before travelling through the Southern Canterbury Plains to the dazzling turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. Visit the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, which makes for a great photo against the vibrant waters of the lake. Be sure to take in the Sheep Dog Statue too.

Admire picturesque views of the looming Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak. For panoramic views at sky high heights, consider an optional flight soaring over the Southern Alps before travelling to Omarama. 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Heritage Gateway Hotel
a group of people standing next to a body of water

Today, we’ll travel to the tranquil waters of Lake Benmore before chasing the Waitaki River to the town of Oamaru, which is renowned for its limestone.

Navigate south to Dunedin and discover all that the quaint town has to offer on a city sights tour. Then, the rest of the day is yours to spend at your leisure.

In the evening, enjoy a high energy Scottish evening involving bagpipes, top notch food and a special Haggis Ceremony and gift.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge
a view of a mountain road

In the morning we’ll drive along the Otago Peninsula to reach Larnach Castle. Surrounded by tragic and scandalous tales, you’ll hear all about the castle’s intriguing history on a guided tour.

Afterwards, roam the peaceful Garden of International Significance before sitting down for a traditional Devonshire Tea.

Then, drive through Balclutha and Gore to Te Anau, which serves as the gateway to the magical Milford Sound. In the evening, you can take an optional visit to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves where you can observe the tiny creatures twinkling in the pitch black caverns. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Distinction Luxmore Hotel (Superior Room)
a large body of water with a mountain in the background

This morning we’ll leave Te Anau on a scenic drive to Milford Sound, where you’ll embark on a cruise of the majestic fiords. As you sail past the dramatic Mitre Peak and the cascading Bowen Falls, keep an eye out for thewild dolphins that like to play at the front of the boats.

After a picnic lunch, you’ll travel to Queenstown, which is fondly known as the adventure capital of the world. The buzzy town overlooks the beautiful waters of Lake Wakatipu and boasts a huge range of activities and attractions for visitors. 

Spend the evening at your leisure; exploring the town and dining at one of the town’s many fine restaurants.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Copthorne Hotel and Resort Lakefront or similar
a body of water with a mountain in the background

Today is yours to spend in Queenstown at your leisure. There’s plenty to do, and your tour guide is happy to help you choose from the available sightseeing options.

Hop onto an exhilarating jet boat ride, take a heritage tour to Skipper’s Canyon, or even face the ultimate challenge – bungee jumping at 134 metres above raging waters.

In the evening, embark on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw and glide across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. Here you’ll tuck into a hearty barbeque supper consisting of seasonal, fresh and locally sourced ingredients at the Colonel’s Homestead.  

Following dinner, take a tour of the farm before hopping back onto the TSS Earnslaw. You’ll be transported back to Queenstown while listening to the sweet sounds of a piano playing.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Copthorne Hotel and Resort Lakefront or similar
a man standing on top of a mountain

From Queenstown, drive to the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown, where you can enjoy a visit to the Lakes District Museum.

Then, continue travelling via the Haast Pass, reaching the West Coast of the South Island - an area renowned for its spectacular sceneries. As you travel to the township of Fox Glacier, admire the snow laden peaks of the Southern Alps that loom in the distance.

For unforgettable views, consider a scenic flight over icy Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
a man standing in front of a lake with a mountain in the background

This morning you’ll drive to Hokitika to visit the Greenstone Factory where you can learn about the jade found in the area.

Then, continue into Arthur’s Pass and hop on board the TranzAlpine, which is famous as one of the world’s most incredible train journeys. As you shuffle along, gaze out the window to admire winding rivers and deep valleys as you travel through the Waimakariri Basin. 

Pass over huge viaducts and through the bucolic terrains of the Canterbury Plains before returning to Christchurch, where you began your adventure.

Your coach will be ready and waiting to take you to your hotel to rest for the night.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Quality Hotel Elms

It’s time to wave goodbye to New Zealand’s South Island, taking home memories of the landscapes to last a lifetime. You’ll be escorted to Christchurch Airport to board your onward flight home or to the next destination. 

 

Included

  • Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 8 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Private/small group (air-conditioned) transport / transfers
  • Board basis is Half Board: 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 7 dinners
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Taxes

Not included

  • International flights and airfare taxes
  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
  • Car hire and insurance
  • Meals (unless specified)
  • Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)