Get a quick glimpse of New Zealand's naturally charming South Island

Welcome to the deep south of New Zealand – a place where rare dolphins, penguins, sea lions and albatross roam freely and often. Take the chance to try and spot these beautiful creatures and more as you explore natural limestone caves, podocarp forest, dramatic waterfalls, ice-carved fjords and tranquil lakes. Learn about the wild, rugged Catlins coastline, the impressive Doubtful Sound and the popular central Otago region on an adventure through ‘Lord Of The Rings’ country.


Start
Dunedin, New Zealand
Finish
Queenstown, New Zealand
Country
New Zealand
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer, Indigenous Culture
Code
PHCNS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 15

Why we love this trip

  • Trek through the Catlins, a land full of waterfalls, titanic caves, illustrious nature walks and remains of a petrified wood forest.

  • Try to spot dolphins, fur seals and penguins on a visit to Doubtful Sound – then maybe take a kayak on the waters or spend the evening stargazing with a drink in hand

  • Visit the lively albatross and penguin colonies of the Catlins, watching these curious birds squawk, waddle and dance in their natural habitats

  • Have plenty of free time at the stunning Lake Wanaka a chance to slow the pace and enjoy the region

  • Finish up in Queenstown with the opportunity to get your adrenalin hit

Is this trip right for you?

  • 7 Days in the beautiful Southern part of NZ, visit places others won't have the opportunity to

  • Semi-active, need good level of agility

Itinerary

Kia ora! Welcome to Dunedin, New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Sitting at the top of Otago Harbour, Dunedin is a wonderful seaside city full of interesting influences, so perhaps see if you can catch the hints of Scottish, Maori, Victorian and Edwardian culture during your stay here. Anyone arriving early may want to get a taste of the city’s inviting food scene – craft beers, cheeses, the Otago Farmers Market and more are complemented by the city’s proximity to the countryside. Fresh food will be hard to miss. An optional visit to the Otago Museum is also on the cards if you want to learn more about the nature, science and culture of New Zealand as a whole.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the day getting closer to the birdlife of the Southern Island, beginning with a visit to the albatross colonies of the Otago Peninsula. Spy out at the birds and get a better understanding of their social and family life as parents guard their chicks; adolescents pose amongst themselves, lovers perform courtship dances along with other intriguing day-to-day activities of these majestic creatures.

Continue on to the Catlins, a major highlight of the southern scenic route. Situated off the beaten track, journey through the rural heartlands and podocarp forests while pushing past rugged coastlines, hidden lakes and stunning waterfalls. The natural landscapes here are breathtaking, as is the wildlife that calls this region home.

In the evening, join your guide to spot penguins at Curio Bay as the sun sets. Watch the yellow-eyed waddling birds duck and weave through fossil plots and sand alike as they head to their nests after a big day of fishing. The option to enjoy a group dinner at a local restaurant is available if you’re feeling peckish after a big day of bird-watching.
Included Activities
  • Catlins Coast - Wildlife viewing; Albatross, Sealions and Penguins at sunset
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Explore more of the wild beauty along the rugged Catlins Coast. Start off at McLean Falls, considered to be perhaps the best waterfall in the entire Southland Region. Continue on to explore the impressive waterfront caverns of the Cathedral Caves, perhaps spotting basking sea-lions as you wander on by. Take the Tautuku Beach Nature Walk around the scenic sands of Tautuku Bay, then continue to visit the still waters of Lake Wilkie, the former petrified forest of Curio Bay, the southernmost point of New Zealand at Slope Point and the rocky outlook at Waipapa point. If you’re lucky, the chance to surf with rare hector dolphins may be available during your adventures to Curio Bay – keep an eye out and you might see one of these curiously coloured sea creatures bursting out from the waves.
Included Activities
  • Curio Bay - Nature walks
Optional Activities
  • Catlins Coast - Horse riding (1 hour) - NZD70
  • Catlins Coast - Group Surfing lesson - NZD60
  • Catlins Coast - Stand-up Paddle Boarding - NZD75
  • Catlins Coast - 1 hour 4WD Farm Tour (minimum 2 people) - NZD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Sail across Lake Manapouri towards Fiordland National Park, a magical part of the world where mountains and valleys compete with each other for room in landscapes stroked by emerald green moss and russet shrub-coated mountains alike. After spending some time to explore the park, ride a coach over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove before boarding the Fiordland Navigator for a cruise into the remote but magical Doubtful Sound. Listen as the guides try to spot out dolphins, fur seals and penguins in the area before dropping anchor in the cove – then maybe take a kayak on the waters or simply spend the afternoon waiting for the stars to appear while sipping a drink at the bar. Head on to Te Anau for the night.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Begin winding through to Central Otago. Stop off at Arrowtown and take a stroll through the historic streets, idly wandering through its tree-lined avenues and gazing at the surrounding mountain scenery. Press on to the Gibbston Valley, the most southerly wine region in the entire world. More than 70% of the grapes grown here are pinot noir, yet some excellent local chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc are available too. Get a taste for the local drops at a local winery and cheesery, then head on to a fruit shop and orchard before taking an educational tour of a nearby woolshed.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Arrive in the stunning town of Wanaka, nestled high in the alps of New Zealand’s Southern Island. Lying close to several lakes, mountains and Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is known as an excellent base for outdoor activities – a full day of exploration ensures that you’ll definitely get your fix. Head out to visit #thatwanakatree, otherwise known as New Zealand’s most photographed tree. The lakeside forests, still water and mountains surrounding this former fence-post that sits quietly on a tiny island has caused the tree to become a social media sensation – it’s the focal point for a stunning snapshot of New Zealand wilderness. Afterwards embark on a cultural Maori experience to learn more about greeting people with a Hongi, celebrating with a Haka and other important native traditions.
Optional Activities
  • Wanaka - Skydive 12,000 feet - NZD349
  • Wanaka - Aerobatic Flight - NZD299
  • Wanaka - Eco Cruise and Nature Walk - NZD245
  • Wanaka - Half-day wine tour - NZD99
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your tour ends today after breakfast. If you’d like to extend your stay there are a plethora of things to do in Queenstown offering a great combo of nature, adventure, hiking and relaxation activities.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

5 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Catlins Coast - Wildlife viewing; Albatross, Sealions and Penguins at sunset
  • Curio Bay - Nature walks

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip starts in Dunedin on day one. You can arrive any time and check into your hotel.
2. Trip finished in Queenstown after breakfast. Oneward travel can be booked at any time.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.