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 & the Abel Tasman National Park, travel the wild west coast alongside the majestic Southern Alps & glaciers and cruise on the Milford Sound from your three night stopover in Queenstown.

Book your independent coach tour this month and receive a discount of 7.5%. If you pay by 30 September 2018.

Tour Info

Tour Type: Independent Coach Tour
From: Christchurch to Christchurch
Departures: Feb 2018 to May 2019
Price:
From (NZD) $2627 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Duration: 12 Days
Tour Code: RJ204

Inclusions

11 nights accommodation
All Coach, Ferry & Rail Transport & Transfers
Optional Breakfasts
Daily Departures
Abel Tasman National Park Walk & Cruise (including lunch)
Milford Sound Day Tour & Cruise (including lunch)

Book your independent coach tour this month and receive a discount of 7.5%. If you pay by 30 September 2018.

* Note: Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling). Prices are valid for travel until September 2018

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Christchurch

“Haere Mai” Welcome to Christchurch – the Garden City. Upon arrival at Christchurch 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.

Day 2
Christchurch - Kaikoura

This morning travel north towards Kaikoura. You will journey through North Canterbury sheep country then follow the stunning coastline bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean and the rugged Kaikoura Ranges on the other. You will disembark at the renowned whale watching town of Kaikoura 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. Overnight in Kaikoura.

Day 3
Kaikoura - Blenheim - Nelson

This morning board your coach for your journey north passing world class wine producing vineyards of the Marlborough region and into sunny Nelson. Nelson’s diverse geography captures everything from long beaches to untouched forests and jagged mountains. (2 nights)

Day 4
Abel Tasman National Park

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)

Day Day 5
Nelson - Punakaiki

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.

Day 6
Punakaiki - Glaciers

Departing Punakaiki heading south on one of the most spectacular coastal drives, you will pass through Greymouth, the commercial centre of the West Coast and it’s largest town and the coastal town of Hokitika before arriving into Franz Josef which is known for being home to one of the world’s most accessible glaciers. For the more adventurous, there are a variety of guided tours, glacier hikes, heli-hikes and sightseeing trips that can be organised from the township. (2 nights)

Day 7
Glaciers

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 12 kms from the high snow fields of the Southern Alps. The terminal face of the Franz Josef glacier is just 5 kms from the Franz Josef township.

Day UP
Glaciers Upgrade Package

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.

Day 8
Franz Josef - Queenstown

Travelling south your journey will take you through coastal forest and windswept sand dunes, crossing Haast Pass on New Zealand’s longest single lane bridge. Travelling through Wanaka sitting at the foot of the Southern Alps your next stop is Queenstown, which is the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere four season alpine lake resort. (3 nights)

Day 9
Milford Sound Day Tour & Cruise

It’s an early start. Head off around the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau, then into the World Heritage 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 Queenstown, arriving in the evening. (L)

Day UP
Milford Sound Return Flight Upgrade Package

Return to Queenstown on a scenic flight taking in magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park – a quick and convenient way to return to Queenstown. (Duration 35mins) The flight shaves off approximately 4 hours off a return by coach. It is however very weather dependent, so if the weather doesn’t play ball, then you will need to return by coach and we will refund the upgrade price.

Day 10
Queenstown

Today is completely at your 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 of this mountain retreat and enjoy several 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 offroad 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 1860’s gold rush days and you can try your luck and pan for gold in the adjacent Shotover River.

Day 11
Queenstown - Mount Cook - Christchurch

Depart Queenstown this morning and travel north through the historic gold mining region of the Kawarau Gorge, pass through the dramatic Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country. Hug the shores of Lake Pukaki before arriving at the majestic Aoraki/Mt 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 at your final destination, Christchurch.

Day 12
Depart 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. Have a safe trip home.

4.5/5.0

There are 24 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.5 out of 5.

Overall Tour Rating
Value For Money
Accommodation
Tour Pace
Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

4
04/02/2018
The hotels are located good, in two from seven hotels we had Rooms with a bad view, bad beds and not quiet. The organisation and planning by Relaxing Journeys was good. We have seen everything we wanted.
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5
25/03/2017
Mani was very helpful all throughout. He gave us very good advice about our trip. He was always available to answer all our questions. Again, thanks Mani for all the help.
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4
05/04/2015
We were very satisfied with our accommodations and your service. The hotels were comfortable and neat, most of all, the site of hotels were very convenient for sightseeing. Kaikoura was a miracle on the east coast, Abel Tasman was peace and quiet with a romantic beach, Punakaiki with roaring west seashores and mysterious National Park and then onto Queenstown. The most remarkable was the old steamship TSS Earnslaw, which with piano accompaniment and old songs every tourist can sing along too. It was regretful that our Franz Josef Heli Hike and Milford Sound were canceled due to weather conditions. Traveling by coach is great for the tourists with no pressing schedule. The weak point of the tour is altering the itinerary is tiresome if the weather is not so cooperative. Although among the 12 days of the tour we only had 3 days of fine weather. It was still a remarkable trip. Thanks so much to Relaxing Journeys!
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5
05/09/2014
I booked a tour with Relaxing Journeys because they had a predetermined tour that visited everywhere I wanted to see on the South Island within my time frame. They were prompt at providing information and updated pricing requests. I felt like their top priority when communicating with them. Upon staying the tour, everything was just like they had planned. I stayed in motels/apartments which were all nicer than I expected and much better than the average US motels. The motels/apartments were within 10 minutes walk to restaurants at every town. Taxis transported you to and from your accommodation when other transportation was not available. The pace was appropriate for doing the main things at each town. The included tours were with great companies that made the experience even more enjoyable. I felt like I was truly able to relax on this journey.
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4
24/03/2014
The trip was wonderful! New Zealand is such a vastly beautiful country. I was often overwhelmed that anywhere you looked was just breathtaking. I felt that I was able to see a majority of the key locations on the South Island and have a breadth of experiences...from whale-watching, train journeys, hiking in the national park, boat cruises, glacier treks, city-scapes, wine tours, etc. There is a tremendous amount of variety to choose from; it's more a matter of narrowing down how to spend your time in each location. In hindsight, I wish I would have given myself more free time in Queenstown specifically or tacked on an extra day as there was so much to see and enjoy. Very happy with the number and variety of locations I was able to explore in the alloted timeframe. The accomodations (we selected mid-range) were great. Generally, worth the extra money. The only downside was the length of travel required some days. It could tell they tried to break it up when they were able though (i.e. overnight stops in Kaikoura, Punakaiki), which I definitely appreciated. The journey from Franz Josef to Queenstown and Queenstown to Christchurch were lengthly; the drivers did try to make frequent stops for photos and food. Overall, our trip was spectacular. Our itinerary ran without a hitch from start to finish. It was very relaxing to not have to worry about the details or plan anything on my own! Transfers and pick-ups were prompt, and when we ran into one delay, the hotel staff helped by calling the shuttle vendor for us. New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous, the people are exceptionally friendly, and was worth the trip halfway across the world (in our case)!
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4
27/01/2014
We really enjoyed our trip. Positives : The coastal train trip, Kaikoura, Nelson, Abel Tasman and Queenstown. We usually do driving holidays so felt a little limited ie not being able to stop at galleries, lookouts etc but we expected that. We plan to visit Queenstown for a longer stay and will probably head south on top of that. The shuttle and bus pick ups ran smoothly and the included activities were well worth doing. The island is a lovely place to visit with some of the most stunning scenerywe have seen. Negatives : Panukaiki, a nice place to drive through but with the buses stopping at the pancake rocks for all travellers, there seemed little point in staying there. We had trouble killing an afternoon, evening and a full morning. There were some walks but none as good as the ones we had already done and no real choices of places to eat. One night in Franz Josef was also enough but we realise that could be too limiting so understand the need for two. We did do the White Heron tour there but the lack of actual birds (3) was disappointing. As the tour guides knew we would be lucky to see anything, we should have been informed as this was quite expensive. That said, its was a nice afternoon. We have recommended this type of travel to friends who dont like to do their own driving. Thank you.
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5
16/12/2013
The tour was wonderful - in spite of the rain on the South Island! All the arrangements went very smoothly and I was impressed by how coordinated everything was - bus pickups and dropoffs at the hotel, and drivers being aware of what was coming next in the itinerary and making sure timings were stuck to. I normally travel independently and make all my own arrangements, but as it was Christmas, I thought I would have everything arranged for me this time. I think I saw and did much more than I would have done on my own as no time was lost with organising logistics. There was a good balance between busy days and some slower paced days to relax a bit.
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5
04/06/2013
I had the best time on my trip to New Zealand. Everything went very smoothly and connections were excellent. Never had to wait for a shuttle or anything. The hotels were nice, although a little to far from the center of town sometimes for any exploring. Excursions were great and it's hard to believe there is such diverse beauty in one country. I will definitely be back to visit again (2 year plan) and will use Relaxing Journeys again! Thanks to Michelle for making the planning so easy!
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5
24/01/2013
The Superb South Island tour was incredible from start to finish. The choice of destinations was magnificent and everything ran incredibly smoothly (the only minor mishap being that the transfer to the hotel in Greymouth did not show up - but as the hotel was only a short walk away, this was hardly a major problem). I'd say that my favourite moment was having Tonga Quarry beach, in Abel Tasman, all to myself for about 30 minutes, in stunning sunshine. My favourite day was Day 5, the Glacier day (the tour guide there - Linda, I think her name was - was particularly charming and well-informed, and very helpful in working the tour around my desire to get a helicopter ride to the top of Franz Josef glacier). Inevitably, the most concentrated period of breathtaking scenery (and therefore photos) was Day 7, the day-trip from Queenstown to Milford Sound (not just Milford itself, but the extraordinary range of scenery en route). I'd say that the quality of hotels was about what I expected (given how much was included in the price, I wasn't expecting luxury). As a general rule, they seemed to get better as the tour went on. The Heritage Hotel in Queenstown was excellent. The Distinction Fox was also very good. I did think that the Kingsgate in Greymouth could have done with a bit of a makeover. The other hotels were somewhere in between. Inevitably, seeing such a large chunk of the South Island in 9 days is going to mean spending quite a lot of time on the road. I don't really see anything you can do about that. In any event, of course, travelling through such amazing and varied scenery is all part of the South Island experience.

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!
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5
09/12/2012
A superb tour, much better than we anticipated. All connections arrived on time without fail & the drivers were most informative on each journey. Hotels were very good and all the people were most helpful. Only one problem in that Milford Sound was cancelled due to a very bad rock slide beyond to control of anyone. We have been told there has been a cash refund but it would have been nice to see the Sound. It couldn't be helped though. If you are thinking of doing it, bring it on as you will never forget it.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money

Accommodation

Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience

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Optionals

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).

Enquire about our 12 Day Essence of the South

12 Day Essence of the South
Independent Coach Tour
Tour Code: RJ204
From (NZD) $2627 per person
Enquire Now
Departures: Feb 2018 to May 2019
Rating:
24 reviews (4.5/5)

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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