Total South Island Trip Notes

Total South Island

Last Modified: 16 Jan 2013
Total South Island
Trip code: PIKS
Validity: 01 Apr 2012 to 31 Mar 2013
See the best bits of the South Island on this 10-day adventure from Wellington to Christchurch. Discover Nelson's world-famous wines and see why Punakaiki's fascinating Pancake Rocks earned their name. Travel down the wild West Coast, marvel at Milford Sound, be a daredevil in Queenstown, take in breathtaking 'Lord of the Rings' scenery and capture incredible vistas of Mt Cook over sparkling, turquoise lakes. The diversity and character of New Zealand's South Island will delight all adventurers on this amazing trip.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
MapSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Included activitiesGroup leaderTravel insurance
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsA couple of rules
Spending moneyArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point instructionsFeedback
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Total South Island
Days 1-2 Wellington/Nelson
Kia ora and welcome to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. Set on the edge of a picturesque harbour and surrounded by rolling green hills, the vibrant city of Wellington offers something for everyone.
On the morning of day 1 you will meet your fellow passengers at the joining point hotel at 8am. Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure time. If you miss your departure, please call our operations department in NZ on 0800 667 623 press option 6 for NZ operations and we will assist you.
We start the day boarding the Interislander cruise for a journey across Cook Strait through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds to Picton where upon arrival we take a leisurely, scenic journey to Nelson. One of the oldest settlements in the country, Nelson is well known for its wineries, breweries and its energetic local arts and crafts community.
On day 2 explore one of the most beautiful regions of New Zealand. Abel Tasman National Park is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and its world-famous coastal track. You may wish to take a water taxi along spectacular coastlines stopping along the bay or perhaps a guided sea kayaking experience paddling in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park or simply walk one of the many popular walking trails to discover the area further. The choice is yours! Maybe sample some of NZ's famous wines on a winery and brewery tour or explore Nelson's famous arts and craft shops. You can be as active or as chilled out as you like.
Included Activities
  • Abel Tasman National Park
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Punakaiki
Our journey on day 3 takes us alongside the Nelson Lakes National Park where we will take the time to explore this spectacular area. The Nelson Lakes National Park protects 102,000 hectares of the northern-most Southern Alps. We have the opportunity to visit Lake Rotoiti or Lake Rotoroa and enjoy short walks through this spectacular region. Tonight, our overnight stay is at Punakaiki, nestled into the foothills of the Paparoa National Park. It's a magnificent ocean-front location, with spectacular views of the wild West Coast beaches. Take the short walk up to see Punakaiki's famous Pancake stacks of rocks, which at high tide have the most amazing blowholes in action.
Included Activities
  • Nelson Lakes National Park
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Fox Glacier
We then travel south along the spectacular west coast travelling through the village town of Franz Josef and onto our cosy accommodation situated in the Westland World Heritage Park in the Fox Glacier village - a very special retreat surrounded by natural wonders. The fun begins this afternoon when we tackle Fox Glacier. Our guide will lead us beside a riverbed to a track, which zig-zags uphill through ferns and regenerating temperate rainforest. From high on the track you will enjoy fantastic views of the glacier. After crossing the ridge, you can see into the upper icefall. The track then winds down onto the ice. At this point you are outfitted with instep crampons and follow steps cut by the guide. The route takes you onto the ice amongst crevasses and ice ridges and leads you into the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefalls and lower glacier.
Included Activities
  • Fox Glacier hike
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-7 Queenstown
We continue south today, via Ship Creek walkway, through Haast Pass and alongside Lake Wanaka to the adrenalin capital, Queenstown. We have the next two days here to discover this incredible alpine resort, an exhilarating year-round town perfect for adventurers and leisure-seekers alike. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps, it was named because it for a Queen.
On the evening of the second day, sit back and relax as we board Queenstown's Skyline Gondola. The best views are here, spread out in a spectacular 220 degree panorama. There are observation decks which offer breathtaking views of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, over Queenstown, and across Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy a buffet dinner - the tiered seating ensures every table has a stunning view.
Included Activities
  • Queenstown - Skyline Gondola
Optional Activities
  • Bungee jumping - NZD240
  • Hot air ballooning - EGP375
  • Jet boating - NZD250
  • Skydiving - NZD249
  • Whitewater rafting - NZD169
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 8 Milford Sound/Te Anau
This morning we say goodbye to Queenstown and travel through World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park, passing through the scenic Eglington Valley and Homer Tunnel to emerge into magnificent Milford Sound for an once in a lifetime experience. Our cruise this afternoon in the Tasman Sea is a real highlight as you take in the stunning views and discover the hidden arms of the Sound. Fur seals and bottlenose dolphins are often seen and at times, rare penguins can be observed. After your cruise you'll travel back through the Homer Tunnel to Te Anau where you'll spend the evening.
Included Activities
  • Milford Sound cruise
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Lake Ohau
Today we make our way onwards along the Kawarau River, with its familiar 'Lord of the Rings' scenery. Continuing through the Cromwell district, we take the chance to stop and stretch and sample the famous fresh and dried fruits grown in the region. We journey over the Lindis Pass and wonder at the dramatic variation in scenery of these ranges to those we've encountered in the west. Our home tonight is nestled on the shores of Lake Ohau. You will have time for an evening stroll or quiet drink on the deck as we watch the sunset silhouette Mt Cook as it sets to the west.
Optional Activities
  • Glowworm caves - NZD60
  • Helicopter or Ski plane scenic flights - NZD185
  • Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre - NZD25
  • Tasman Glacier boat trip - NZD96
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 10 Christchurch
Today we travel alongside Lake Pukaki where you'll have the chance for some amazing photos as we gaze across the clear blue waters towards Mt Cook; known to the Maori people as Aoraki or'cloud piercer'. We then travel on to Lake Tekapo, where there is an opportunity to take an optional breathtaking fixed wing flight back over the lakes, Southern Alps and glaciers or alternatively take a short walk around the 'Church of the Good Shepherd' before we make our way over to the town of Geraldine. From here it's flat going as we enter the Canterbury plains and reach our final destination Christchurch.
We return to Christchurch in the late afternoon (approx 18:00) where your tour will finish on arrival to your hotel. There is no accommodation supplied this night.
Optional Activities
  • Day trip to Akaroa - NZD35
  • Gondola - NZD22
  • Punting on the river - NZD20
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website:
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      Culture shock rating

      This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
      Physical rating

      These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      Optional activities
      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      Money Exchange
      The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). US$1 = NZ$1.15 (rate current for August 2011). For the latest exchange rate refer to or check at your local bank or in the newspaper prior to travel.
      The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Most ATMs will also give you a cash advance on your credit card but be wary of high fees imposed by banks for this service. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees. There are ATMs (which accept both Visa and MasterCard) throughout the main stops on our itinerary and these are also accepted by the majority of local service providers. When leaving home don't forget your PIN number and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen.
      It is a smart idea to take some of your money in travellers' cheques of a major brand in a major currency ($US, GBP, $AUD and EURO are all fine). Travellers' cheques have security advantages although please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change travellers' cheques in remote locations, on weekends and public holidays.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      In New Zealand, tipping is not expected but for certain things you may wish to for good service. As a guide, tipping applies when you sit down in a restaurant for a meal (10% is a general rule). You may also like to tip for exceptional service such as when we use local guides. When using taxis or buying drinks at a bar, rounding up is acceptable.
      You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline NZ$2-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
      Departure tax
      NZ$25 departure tax is required for all international departures, except flights out of Auckland where this charge is included in your flight ticket.
      Group size
      Maximum of 14 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Hotel (9 nts)
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      9 Breakfasts, 4 Dinners
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      NZD 400.00
      Minivan, Ferry
      You will be travelling in a coaster vehicle specially designed for local conditions. All our vehicles are air-conditioned for your comfort, and large panoramic windows allow for uninterrupted sightseeing.
      Group leader
      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. In New Zealand your group leader is also your driver, taking you from start to finish in a coaster vehicle. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Our crew are chosen for their driving skills, their knowledge of the country, their personality, and of course their leadership abilities. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.
      Joining point
      Comfort Hotel Wellington
      213 Cuba Street
      Te Aro
      Joining point instructions
      Catch a shuttle bus from directly outside the terminal. Cost is approximately NZ$15 per person, then NZ$5 for each extra person in the group.
      Alternatively, taxis are available; cost approximately NZ$25 from the airport to the Comfort Hotel Wellington.
      There is also an orange Airport Flyer Bus, which operates from the airport to Upper Hutt. Leaves the airport approximately every half hour, the nearest bus stop to Comfort Hotel Wellington is Dixon Street, three blocks away. The bus costs NZ$4.50 per person.
      The tour commences on day 1 at 6pm.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
      Finish point
      Riccarton Motor Lodge
      214 Riccarton Road
      Phone: +64 033413096
      Fax: +64 033413097
      Finish point instructions
      The centre of Riccarton is roughly 15 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from Christchurch. The Riccarton Motor Lodge is only a short walk from the centre of Riccarton.
      Shared shuttle buses cost around NZ$12-18 per person and public buses are around NZ$7 per person from Christchurch to the airport. In order to catch the shuttle bus you will need to take a taxi from Riccarton to Christchurch. Prices vary by taxi company, so you are advised to ask first.
      This trip finishes on arrival in Christchurch at around 6pm. Please note that we cannot guarantee arrival time on the last day and it may vary from trip to trip. Please take this into consideration when booking any flights and accommodation. We recommend you book accommodation in advance for extra nights to extend your stay here.
      Emergency contact
      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency only, Intrepid Connections can be reached on Tel:1300 422 183. For further contact details please refer to the following page:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
      We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      Australia: No - not required
      Belgium: No - not required
      Canada: No - not required
      Germany: No - not required
      Ireland: No - not required
      Netherlands: No - not required
      New Zealand: No - not required
      South Africa: No - not required
      Switzerland: No - not required
      United Kingdom: No - not required
      USA: No - not required
      For the most up to date information on visa requirements, we recommend you contact the New Zealand embassy in your country or visit
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      Pack only your bare essentials. Due to limited space and strict road laws limiting gross weight of vehicles, you are required to limit your luggage to one reasonable sized suitcase or backpack (maximum weight limit of 20kg) and a small airways bag/day pack, which can be carried inside the coach. Intrepid Connections cannot guarantee to carry overweight or oversized luggage.
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Water in New Zealand is safe to drink so you should be able to refill your bottle from the tap.
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 132.00 kgs per pax.
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.