12 Day Southern Scene
12 Day Southern Scene
This 12 day South Island scenic tour includes a whale watching in Kaikoura, the thermal springs in Hanmer and a TranzAlpine train journey across the Southern Alps. You will also have plenty of time for an optional glacier hike on the West Coast glaciers and a 3 night stay in New Zealand's adrenaline capitol - Queenstown.
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Christchurch to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2019 - March 2020|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2299 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|11 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice including airport collection charges|
|Shuttle transfers in Christchurch|
|Coast to coast TranzAlpine Train journey through the Southern Alps|
|Entrance to Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve|
|Whale Watching in Kaikoura|
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 2019 – March 2020. Blackout periods may apply. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required at time of booking.
Click here for our full terms and conditions.
Click on the prices below to enquire.
* Prices shown are per person (based on two people travelling).
* 2 Bedroom Motel pricing also available with Exclusive Specials. Please request a quote for prices.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
On arrival in Christchurch you will be met and transferred by shuttle to your accommodation. Located on the east coast of the South Island, Christchurch – just like the rest of New Zealand – is a city of contrasts and has a unique blend of historic charm and exciting city life.
Following the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has re-emerged as a vibrant, ever-changing city. Possessing a stable sunny climate, the city’s parks and gardens are a key attraction year round and are renowned for their beauty, especially in spring. Centred around the willow-lined River Avon, Christchurch is compact and easy to explore, with a refreshingly friendly buzz.
This morning you will be transferred by shuttle from your accommodation to Christchurch rail station where you will join the TranzAlpine train – one of the great train journeys in the world – which journeys across Arthur’s Pass to Greymouth on the West Coast, viewing the alpine scenery en route.
On arrival in Greymouth collect your rental car and make your way down the coast to Franz Josef. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are without doubt the greatest lure of this region. Nestled on the edge of the rainforest and descending 2500 metres of 13 kilometres, these great cascading frozen rivers are only 6kms from the Tasman Sea and in this respect are unique. They are also amongst the fastest moving glaciers in the world, Franz Josef glacier is known to move up to 5m per day on occasions. (2 nights)
Today is at your leisure to explore the area. Franz Josef Glacier was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and a 20 minute walk will take you to its terminal face.
From the glacier car park, you can hike to a choice of lookout points for a bigger view of this awesome river of ice. If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Alternatively, an aerial sightseeing experience is another option.
Farewell Franz Josef Glacier and travel down the West Coast, alongside braided riverbeds, native forests and roadside waterfalls before climbing up over the Haast Pass and through Mount Aspiring National Park. Stop the car, stretch your legs and drink in the scenery, as impressive mountains touch the sky, remnants of the Ice Age glacial valley. Take your time and drive along the shores of Lakes Hawea, arriving at New Zealand’s adventure capitol Queenstown. (3 nights)
It’s time to make memories in Queenstown. Pick and choose from a long list of adventures – from thrilling funyak tours along the Dart River and horse-riding in Glenorchy, to panning for gold in Arrowtown or taking a tour of Lake Wakatipu via the TSS Earnslaw, there is certainly something for every speed. Or a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.
You have another day in Queenstown to either do more exploring or to fit in any activities you were not able to do the day before. We recommend the world famous Shotover Jet boat ride, take a Gondola to the Skyline high above, or for the adventurous – try bungy jumping or white water rafting. Alternatively browse in the many shops and galleries.
Depart Queenstown and travel through the rugged and beautiful landscape of Otago. Cross the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country to arrive at Twizel, your overnight stop.
This afternoon visit Mt Cook National Park where you will find New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Aoraki – Mt Cook which stands at 3754 metres. Awarded ‘World Heritage’ status in recognition of its qualities and rare beauty, the Park covers an area of nearly 70,000 hectares and contains all but five of the 27 peaks, all over 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) in New Zealand.
Be sure to visit the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, on the shores of Lake Tekapo, built of local stone and oak in 1935 before travelling on to Hanmer Springs, an exciting and picturesque alpine thermal resort surrounded by tall mountains. The village is renowned for its relaxing and therapeutic thermal springs.
This morning, bathe in the hot thermal pools of the Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve. For 125 years, this reserve has attracted people from all over the globe, seeking the benefits of its natural clean mineral water and the crisp Alpine air. Later, a short drive brings you to Kaikoura, a place of unparalleled wildlife experiences, located in a narrow strip of stunning coastline between mountain peaks and the Pacific Ocean. (2 nights)
A blend of ocean currents creates a habitat that supports an abundance of ocean species, from fish and birds to marine life. This morning, you have the option to add a Dolphin Experience to your itinerary where you can see dolphins up close in their natural environment.
Board your boat and prepare your camera finger – you’re about to meet New Zealand’s resident sperm whales on a 3-hour whale watching excursion, sure to inspire awe, affection and a touch of giddiness. Spot cheeky fur seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross among the waves, and if you’re lucky (and it’s the right season) migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales may appear!
Leave Kaikoura in the rearview and drive two hours direct to Christchurch. Is a scenic side-trip more your speed after such a thrilling morning? Take the inland route via Hanmer Springs and enjoy a warm mineral spa, surrounded by alpine views. When you’re finished, Christchurch awaits further afield, the largest city on the South Island.
Sadly, your holiday is at an end and you deliver your car back to the rental car depot at Christchurch airport for your onward flight. Here, we bid you a fond farewell and hope you leave with many happy memories of your stay in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
There are 4 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.3 out of 5.
In retrospect, 2 days minimum were called for in Queenstown and Dunedin (3 nights) just to really see all that was available. Dunedin was very rushed for us and we would have gone on the Hobbit tour out of Queenstown if we had known it existed and we had the time to spare. We really didn't like the location of our accommodation in Queenstown, Sherwood Manor, and the triple room was dark and dank. The single room had a lovely view. (Ed. We have changed the accommodation in Queenstown based on client feedback this season). I would eliminate Twizel as it added nothing to the trip, and if the point was to break up the long travel, a coastal town would have been much nicer for us. Also, we were in Twizel for the public holiday and the town was closed - literally! We had trouble finding a place to have breakfast. Surely, in a coastal town it would have been different. (Ed. It is a very quiet region - on the coast and inland).
A third night in Kaikoura would have been nice, but at a different accommodation. This is a bit of a false advertising as the one bedroom was really a studio with a 3/4 wall built in the middle ensuring no privacy at all for anyone. The beds were terrible and the walls so thin we could hear the people in the next room talking. The only positive was a nice bathroom. Of course, Kaikoura is amazingly beautiful so that makes up for a lot. Still, there must be better choices than Willowbank Motel. (Ed. We have taken note - thanks).
We all agree that the Milford Sound Cruise was a highlight of the trip along with the wildlife in Dunedin and Kaikoura. Those were experiences that can't be quantified other than SUPERB!
And we have only the best things to say about Kirby. It had to be confusing dealing with 3 of us at the same time but she did so with grace and good humor. We asked more of her than a normal client would need, I'm sure, although she never indicated anything other than we were her only clients! We know this is not true and appreciate her time, attention and complete cooperation. We all hope to get back to the North Island soon. I've been, but the other three have not, and they are sold on a repeat trip to New Zealand. Rest assured we will be contacting YOU, Kirby. Thank you for a lovely experience. I hope these comments will be useful for future travelers.
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 Southern Scene
Terms and conditions apply. Please see tour overview for more information.
This 12 day South Island scenic tour includes a whale watching in Kaikoura, the thermal springs in Hanmer and a TranzAlpine train journey across the S... Read More
Click on each area to view more information.
Upgrade this tour by adding one of our carefully selected optional tours & activities or go ahead and request a quote to guarantee your spot.
You can also create your dream holiday by using our custom itinerary planner.
Create your Custom Itinerary