Experience the awesome highlights down south in New Zealand.

The scenic South Island of New Zealand is part explorer, part thrill-seeker, and full of spectacular highlights. With an 11-day exploration of the best of the south, you’ll be able to choose your own adventure and see what you want to see at a pace that suits you. Cruise the splendid fjords of the Milford Sound? Tick. View New Zealand’s highest peak at Mt Cook? Tick. Go wild in Queenstown and have one of the country’s most scenic dinners at Skyline? Tick. Bungy jump off a bridge, or take a heli-hike on the Franz Josef Glacier? Well, that’s up to you. Let the thrills, spills, chills and… hills? of adventure-packed New Zealand get you exploring the best that this region can serve you on a small-group trip. The only question left is when to go.

30% OFF Select 2019 Trips

Hurry, offer only available while spots last. Trips must depart by December 22, 2019.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Christchurch, New Zealand
Finish
Christchurch, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
PTOSU
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 15

Why you'll love this trip

  • From the striking contrasts of the Canterbury Plains to New Zealand’s highest point at Mt Cook, the South Island’s west coast is full of spectacular sights. You’ll definitely want a window seat.

  • Spend three nights in Queenstown – New Zealand's adventure capital – where you'll have tonnes of time for optional activities, from thrill-seeking jaunts to some chilled-out haunts.

  • Set sail on an included cruise through the Milford Sound on the south-western coast. Passing by glacial waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and marine life, be sure to have your camera ready.

  • Franz Josef Glacier is every adventurer's dream, and that’s why you’ve got the power to choose your own adventure. A guided trek across the glacier, a quad bike ride or a scenic heli-hike? It’s up to you.

  • Beginning and ending in Christchurch means you’re at an ideal gateway to explore the rest of New Zealand. Better yet, why not spend more time before or after your adventure to see this city in full swing?

Is this trip right for you?

  • There’s so much to do on the South Island of New Zealand, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to explore at your own pace, and so, in most places there are more optional activities on this trip than included ones. These activities range from trekking moderate hiking trails to white water rafting, so you'll be able to choose your own adventure level.

  • Lots of time allocated for optional activities means freedom and flexibility, but it does require a level of independence. Only are few meals are included, so mostly you'll find your own – with plenty of suggestions from your leader, of course!

  • Accommodation on this trip is often basic and simple. The accommodation that has been chosen, although not luxurious, is comfortable enough for you to relax after a day of adventure.

  • You'll be spending quite a lot of time in a minibus as you travel through the islands. The bus may be small, but it's comfortable, and offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and gaze at passing landscapes. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Apr 2019 to 31 Mar 2020.
View the 2020 itinerary
Kia ora! Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your group leader and new travel crew. If you arrive early into the city, you could go exploring – Christchurch has so much to explore and today is a great chance to get your bearings around this city on the Avon River. Your evening is the free to do as you wish, and with a whole new range of pop up cafes, restaurants and bars check out, why not get a group of your travel pals together and get to know each other over a meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive to the welcome meeting in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
You’ll depart Christchurch early this morning on your South Island adventure. Head through the Canterbury Plains, passing sweeping farmlands framed by snow-capped peaks before hitting the wild west coast. You’ll notice the changing scenery from arid landscapes on the island’s east to the greener pastures as you cross the Southern Alps. Stop by Punakaiki today with a variety of activities you might choose to opt in for – perhaps you’d like to explore the popular Pancake Rocks and the Blowholes at Dolomite Point on a 1-kilometre walking loop, take a hike along the Pororari River Track, passing limestone cliffs and through sub-tropical forest, or simply laze beachside at this sleepy town. It’s all up to you and your group’s desires. Afterwards, hop back on the road and make your way to Greymouth for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 300 km, taking around 5 hours. The total distance you’ll walk is 1-10 kilometres, depending on what activities you choose to partake in.
This morning, enjoy an included breakfast with your group in Greymouth. Afterwards, you have the option of discovering Greymouth’s history of coal mining – an industry that has had an interesting past and is considered the birthplace of the modern kiwi lunch break. Continue south to Franz Josef Glacier in time for lunch. This afternoon, enjoy a special visit to the West Coast Wildlife Centre to view one of the most endangered animals on earth – the kiwi. Your group leader will organise a 24-hour pass for you to be admitted into the nocturnal viewing area. This wildlife centre is home to the rarest of the rare – the rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwis, with only around 500 of each bird remaining, because of introduced predators and habitat loss. Tonight is free for you to choose what to do – perhaps grab a bite to eat with your group in town.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 180 km, taking around 3 hours.
Today is free to do as much or as little as you please. You might like to head back to the West Coast Wildlife Centre to see the kiwis one more time, take some time to relax in town, or it might be time for the main event: the Franz Josef Glacier. This glacier is one of the steepest in New Zealand, descending from a height of 3000 to 240 metres over a distance of 11 kilometres, and into the native rainforest of Wetlands National Park at its base. Because of its composition, Franz Josef Glacier shifts around 50 centimetres per day, moving faster than the average glacier. There are a number of ways in which you can visit the glacier – there’s guided glacier hikes, kayaking opportunities, or if you want to splash out, why not book yourself in on an unforgettable scenic helicopter flight, enjoying unrivalled views over the region, and some with the option of landing on the glacier for a heli-hike experience. Speak to your group leader about all the options today; they’ll be able to help you organise a memorable day.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kiwi House
Optional Activities
  • Glacier Flights from - NZD280
  • Glacier Hike from - NZD485
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Optional activities driving times and distances are dependent on what you choose to partake in today. Please note that some ice walks can be up to 18 kilometres in length, so it is recommended you have at least a moderate level of fitness if you choose to experience the glacier up close.
Leave Franz Josef town in your dust, driving the remainder of the West Coast. From there, wind up through the Southern Alps before arriving at Lake Wanaka for a lunch stop. Today is one you want to shotgun a window seat – some of the views on your drive are out of this world! Head onwards towards Queenstown, en route stopping by Arrowtown, which is famous for its Autumn festival. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, with something for every type of activity seeker. It’s not all about the adrenaline junkie – sure, there is bungy jumping, jetboating, paragliding and white-water rafting, but there’s also some incredible hikes to embark on, and some fine food and wine around. With two full days to experience Queenstown at your own pace, you’ll be able to achieve the perfect balance.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Arrowtown Visit
Optional Activities
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD205
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • River Rafting - NZD220
  • Paragliding - NZD205
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 360 km, taking around 6 hours. The total distance you’ll walk today is 1-2 kilometres, depending on what you choose to explore on your driving stops.
Queenstown and the surrounding region will spoil you for choice today (and tomorrow!) when you can choose your own adventure, however thrill-seeking or chilled out that may be. Jump in a jet boat, off a bridge or out of a plane, weave your way down the river by raft, kayak or paragliding, see the countryside by mountain bike, hiking, scenic flight, or relax with a glass of wine overlooking Lake Wakatipu – it’s up to you! Depending on the season, there may be other weather specific activities that you might like to consider – be sure to ask your group leader for their recommendations at the time of your adventure and the costs for each. In the evening, see the stunning city by lights and lake by night with an included dinner at the renowned Stratosfare Restaurant at Skyline. Located high above Queenstown, this restaurant is surely a memorable experience for anyone visiting New Zealand, and with an included gondola ride up the mountain, you’ll be getting a birds-eye view all the way.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD205
  • Paragliding - NZD205
  • Mountain Biking Tours - NZD170
Meals Included
  • Dinner (1)
Special Information
As tourism is at an all-time high in New Zealand, your tour leader will discuss optional activities with you prior to arriving in Queenstown to let you know what’s available, and to lock in any popular activities so as to avoid disappointment.

Please note that driving times and walking distances will depend on what activities you decide to take part in.
Take a break from the activity of Queenstown on a drive towards Milford Sound, known locally as Piopiotahi. Here, board a nature cruise through the fjord to the Tasman Sea, feeling dwarfed by the imposing mountains like Mitre Peak, passing the stunning Stirling and Lady Bowen falls, soaking up the airbrushed nature surrounding you and breathing in the crisp mountain air. Be sure to keep an eye out for marine life like dolphins and fur seals passing you by on the boat! Lunch is included with your cruise today. After your on-water adventure, continue on to Te Anau – home of New Zealand’s second largest lake of the same name.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Milford Sound cruise
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Special Information
The total driving time today is around 7 hours.

In the event that there are not enough sufficient rooms in Te Anau to accommodate your group tonight, you will return to Queenstown to stay the night.
Head on your way back north towards the spectacular Aoraki, Mt Cook. Standing at an impressive 3724 m (12,316 ft), this is the highest mountain in New Zealand. One you’re there, take some time to explore the nearby lakes, stream and glaciers in the surrounding national park. You’ll have today and tomorrow to embark on some nature hikes, check out the local museum, or go in search for the world's only true alpine parrot, the Kea. If you’d like, you may like to book in to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, where you’ll learn about the history of the Mt Cook region and pioneer explorer Sir Edmund Hillary. Here, there will also be the option to see a 360-degree multimedia experience focused on all things space. Your group leader will have some great itineraries planned, so ask them for more information about your time in Mt Cook.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (1)
  • Dinner (1)
Special Information
The total driving time today is around 7 hours.
This morning, leave Mt Cook National Park, and make tracks back to Christchurch. Depending on driving times and stops, you’ll aim to arrive early afternoon, however you may arrive as late as 6 pm, so please take this into consideration when booking any onward flights. Once in the city, your group leader will drop you off in a centrally located hotel, and will be able to advise of onward connections. There is no accommodation provided for tonight, so you are free to leave at any time once you’ve arrived in Christchurch.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 325 km, taking around 5 hours.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

Van

Accommodation

Lodge (10 nights)

Included activities

  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
  • Kiwi House
  • Arrowtown Visit
  • Milford Sound cruise

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival in Christchurch on day 11 at approx 6:00pm.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip and valid for all nights accommodation.

Essential trip information

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