12 Day Essence of the South
12 Day Essence of the South
As the tour name suggests, this independent coach tour incorporates a complete circuit of the South Island over 12 days at a comfortable pace. Experience golden beaches in Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park, travel the wild West Coast alongside the majestic Southern Alps and glaciers, and cruise Milford Sound from your three-night stopover in Queenstown.
|Tour Type:||Independent Coach Tour|
|From:||Christchurch to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2020 - March 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2827 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|11 nights accommodation|
|All coach, ferry and rail transport and transfers|
|Abel Tasman National Park walk and cruise (including lunch)|
|Milford Sound day tour and cruise (including lunch)|
Prices are per person based on twin-share, and are subject to availability. Prices are correct at the time of submission but are subject to change without notice. Valid for travel January 2020 – March 2021. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $250 per person is required at time of booking.
Click here for our full terms and conditions.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
Haere mai! Welcome to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore what Christchurch has to offer.
This morning travel north towards Kaikōura. You will journey through North Canterbury sheep country then follow the stunning coastline bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean and the rugged Kaikōura Ranges on the other. You will disembark at the renowned whale watching town with its majestic alpine scenery and amazing ocean wildlife. Conditions permitting, you may like to take a cruise to view the whales or perhaps take it one step closer and enjoy a swim with the dolphins. (1 night)
This morning board your coach for your journey north, passing world-class wine producing vineyards in the Marlborough region and into sunny Nelson. Nelson’s diverse geography captures everything from long beaches to untouched forests and jagged mountains. (2 nights)
Travel through Motueka to Kaiteriteri where you board your launch. Relax in style as you cruise the stunning golden inlets of the Abel Tasman coast. Laze on an idyllic beach or choose a walk, exploring the beaches and forests. Rejoin your cruise back to Kaiteriteri and return to your hotel late afternoon. (L)
Travel through Murchison, the scene of a massive earthquake in 1929, and on through the Buller Gorge to Westport on the West Coast. The road to Punakaiki hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea. Overnight at Punakaiki, famous for its pancake rocks and magnificent blowholes. (1 night)
Depart Punakaiki and head south on a spectacular coastal drive, passing through Greymouth and the coastal town of Hokitika before arriving into Franz Josef, known for being home to one of the world’s most accessible glaciers. For the adventurous, there are a variety of guided tours, glacier hikes, heli-hikes and sightseeing trips that can be organised from the township. (2 nights)
Today you have a whole day at leisure. Perhaps enjoy an optional guided walk on the glacier, a heli-hike or a scenic flight, or an unguided walk to the terminal face. Franz Josef Glacier extends 12km from the high snow fields of the Southern Alps, and the terminal face is just 5km from the Franz Josef township.
Treat yourself and upgrade your accommodation in Franz Josef to the 5-star Te Waonui Forest Retreat, a luxury lodge hotel nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest. Our upgrade package includes luxurious accommodation, dinner on the first night – an indulgent 5-course degustation menu in The Canopy Restaurant – and a la carte breakfast both mornings. We’ve also included a stunning Franz Josef heli-hike to help you make the most of your time in the region. Ask us for a price.
Travelling south your journey will take you through coastal forest and windswept sand dunes, crossing the Haast Pass on New Zealand’s longest single lane bridge. Pass through Wanaka at the foot of the Southern Alps and arrive in Queenstown, the Southern Hemisphere’s premier four-season alpine lake resort. (3 nights)
It’s an early start. Head off around the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau, then into World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park, a region rich with dense rainforest, lakes, and waterfalls cascading from rugged mountain peaks. Journey through the Southern Alps via the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel drilled through a solid mountain of rock. Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board your vessel for a spectacular cruise where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak, glacier-scarred rock walls that rise 1,200m vertically from the sea, and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys and crash into the sound far below. Board the coach for your return to Queenstown, arriving in the evening. (L)
Return to Queenstown on a scenic flight taking in magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park. (Duration 35 mins.) The flight shaves approximately 4 hours off a return by coach. It is, however, very weather dependent, so if the weather doesn’t play ball you will need to return by coach and we will refund the upgrade price.
Today is completely at leisure to enjoy the many sights of this alpine resort situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown offers something for everyone – you can enjoy the quiet beauty and tranquility on one (or several!) of walking trails in the town area. For sheer excitement there is white-water rafting, helicopter rides, the famous jet boats, bungy jumping to pump your adrenalin, and off-road 4WD tours with plenty of river crossings. There are cruises on the lake and a visit to a high country sheep station, and wine tasting tours. You can visit nearby Arrowtown where the main street has been preserved since the 1860s gold rush days and try your luck panning for gold in the adjacent Shotover River.
Depart Queenstown this morning and travel north through the historic gold mining region of the Kawarau Gorge, crossing the dramatic Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Basin. Hug the shores of Lake Pukaki before arriving at Aoraki Mount Cook Village. This region is breathtaking and full of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Enjoy an optional scenic helicopter or ski-plane flight (own expense), explore the treasures of New Zealand’s mountaineering history at the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre, or relax over a three-course lunch at the famous Hermitage Hotel (not included). This afternoon you will continue north to the glacial-fed, turquoise blue Lake Tekapo where you can take the opportunity to appreciate the majestic scenery of the Southern Alps and view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd. Continue your journey north through the vast patchwork of the Canterbury Plains before arriving back in Christchurch.
Sadly your trip has come to an end. We hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed your experiences in New Zealand. Today you will be met at your accommodation and transferred to the airport for your onward journey. Haere rā!
There are 24 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.5 out of 5.
It's hard really to think of any way in which the trip could be improved. One thing I did wonder was whether there would be any value in switching around the Milford Sound day and the free day in Queenstown. Days 4, 5 and (especially) 6 all involve significant travel, so having another big travel day on Day 7 is quite a lot. After seeing Milford Sound, I actually ended up deciding to fly back by light airplane, partly to see a different perspective on the scenery (which was of course breathtaking), but also just to cut the travel time, enabling me to have a more relaxed late afternoon/ evening back in Queenstown. For reasons of geography and infrastructure, the Milford Sound day is bound to involve a lot of travel - I just wondered whether having the free day on Day 7 and the Milford day on Day 8 might break the travel up a bit?
Again, I have to say that I was incredibly impressed by how smoothly everything ran. It was brilliant. I like the fact that the coaches all come right to the hotel, rather than requiring me to meet them at a coach station. The drivers were all very helpful and very knowledgeable about the country. All in all, this was really the best holiday I have ever had. I am already thinking about doing an equivalent tour of the North Island. When I do so, I will certainly use Relaxing Journeys! So, thank you Kirby for arranging such a great trip!
New Zealand has a great deal of things to see and do, why not add one of our optional sightseeing activities to your trip. Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children).
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As the tour name suggests, this independent coach tour incorporates a complete circuit of the South Island over 12 days at a comfortable pace. Experie... Read More
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