17 Day Complete South Island
17 Day Complete South Island
On this itinerary you will be delighted, excited and stimulated by the vast array of things to do and see, all on one of New Zealand’s islands! See the golden beaches of Nelson, whale watching at Kaikoura, the wild West Coast, majestic mountains, glaciers, the spectacular Milford Sound and a whole lot more!
|Tour Type:||Self Drive Tours|
|From:||Christchurch to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Jan 2019 - March 2020|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2903 per person|
|Tour Operator:||Relaxing Journeys|
|16 nights accommodation|
|Rental vehicle of your choice including airport collection charges|
|Kaikoura Whale Watch Cruise|
|Milford Sound Day Tour - Coach & Nature Cruise|
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.
Day by Day Tour Itinerary
“Haere Mai” Welcome to Christchurch – the Garden City! Disembark, pass through customs and collect your luggage – it’s time to start your holiday. Your rental car is ready to whisk you away to your centrally located accommodation.
What should you do with the rest of the day? Take it slow, sit back and relax, punting down the River Avon through the stunning Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
This morning head north out of Christchurch. It’s two hours direct to Kaikoura or you may like to take a more scenic inland route via Hanmer Springs to bathe in the mineral pools in their alpine setting.
This afternoon we have included a Whale Watch Cruise. 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!
The journey then continues on Blenheim and wine country. Enjoy a sauvignon blanc or two, and relax in the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds. Then travel to the artisan haven of Nelson, the sunniest location in New Zealand and the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. (2 nights)
Today is yours for relaxing or exploring this lovely area. The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park with an abundance of things to see and do. There are the arts and crafts of the Motueka and Takaka areas to explore.
Or you may like to take a walk on the inviting sandy beaches that fill the spaces between the trees and tide line. Explore this coastal paradise by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak, stop for some sun bathing and swimming before going snorkelling.
Head south down State Highway 6 through Murchison, making your way to the West Coast. The Murchison Skyline Walkway zigzags through mixed beech and podocarp forest, native ferns, and bracken and broom covered slopes on the outskirts of Murchison – it’s worth breaking your journey here for the 90 minute walk before you navigate the awesome Buller Gorge.
At Hawks Crag, the road has been hacked out of solid rock – be ready for the dramatic overhang, lending shade and character to the route. The road to Punakaiki hugs the coast, providing spectacular views of wild beaches and the tempestuous Tasman Sea.
Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The track has many lookouts and areas for fantastic photos to be taken of the Pancake Rocks, Blowholes and the beautiful mountain views. The best time to visit the blowholes is at high tide when they are at their most powerful.
After a morning of sightseeing head south today down the West Coast. Home to towering rainforests, mountains and glaciers, tranquil lakes and rushing rivers, this coastal paradise is steeped in history dating back to the gold rush era of the 1860’s. Tonight you stay at Franz Josef – unique in the fact that the glacier descends from the Southern Alps to just 240 metres above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest. (2 nights)
There’s lots to explore in this area – you can take your own time walking up to the glacier, going to the Okarito Lagoon or join a guided walk on the glacier, take a heli-hike adventure, or a scenic flight over both glaciers. You’ll have plenty of snap-happy opportunities and the chance to learn more about this magnificent glacier.
After your day of exploring is complete, you may like to bathe under a rainforest canopy and climb into the Franz Josef Glacier hot pools for some warm R&R.
Today, view incredible scenery as you travel past the untouched native forests and pristine lakes of the World Heritage Westland National Park and Haast Pass to Wanaka. You may wish to add an extra day here to break up your trip and to take advantage of the scenery and available activities like the Siberia Experience.
There’s time to wander around the popular lakeside township of Wanaka before travelling over the spectacular Crown Range to the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown and then on to Queenstown, a beautiful alpine resort town regarded as New Zealand’s premier holiday destination. (4 nights)
It’s time to make memories in Queenstown, the capital of adrenaline, beauty and local foodie culture. 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, if you’re not ready to break the spell of the last few days a scenic walk may do the trick, exploring the diverse range of stunning trails the region delivers in troves.
Today we’ve included the Milford Sound Nature Cruise. Travel by luxury coach on an unforgettable journey from Queenstown into Milford Sound. Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board your vessels, the Milford Mariner or Milford Wanderer which are designed along the lines of traditional trading scows.
Purpose built to operate in the fiords and offering a laid back, extended, 2.5 hour cruise. Explore dramatic, moody Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most famous waterway. Milford Sound is nothing short of heart-stopping, inducing subconscious smiles in the hard to please and easily bored almost instantly. Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and penguins.
Return by coach to Queenstown. (L)
Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown 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.
Another free day to soak up the ambience of this magnificent alpine resort. Why not head off on the Lakeshore Forest and Bird guided walk. A meandering trail for those who like relaxed walks.
You’ll be taken through majestic native beech forests, combining the best of flora and fauna with breath-taking mountain views. Keep an ear out for native bird calls, as little wings flit around the forest canopy or from under the brush framing the path.
Your guide will point out a range of edible and medicinal plants used by Maori culture to cure anything from colds to arthritis.
Difficulty: The track is good but uneven and winds around the lake shore with the option of a steeper climb to a lookout with magnificent views in all directions.
Today you travel through the striking Central Otago before arriving in charming Dunedin, founded by Scottish settlers. A vibrant, architecturally splendid city framed by a magnificent harbour, Dunedin is the nature and heritage centre of New Zealand and gateway to an arresting hinterland.
What to do when you arrive?
The Otago Harbour deserves to be on every bucket list. Board a Monarch Cruises vessel and savour an unrivalled view of Taiaroa Head, the only mainland nesting place for Northern Royal Albatross in the world and the home to New Zealand fur seals. Don’t be surprised if you spot dolphins, sea lions and countless ocean birds, including penguins! (2 nights)
A free day in Dunedin allows the choice of excellent optional activities. Teeming with scenic walks and easy trails, as short tracks criss-cross the Otago Peninsula and the town Belt… and let’s not forget Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. Don’t cheat yourself out of curious paths and sights that don’t make it into many guide books – ask a local for the inside story.
Other options include the historic and scenic Taieri Gorge Train excursion or explore the city by foot.
This morning travel through the towns of Omarama and Twizel before driving up the western side of Lake Pukaki to the Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage listed site. Mt Cook is Australasia’s highest mountain at 3724 metres. The park covers over 70,000 hectares of breathtaking alpine scenery and is also home to the Tasman Glacier, the longest in the Southern hemisphere. A total scenic highlight, you may wish to see Mt Cook from above by taking an optional scenic flight. (2 nights)
We have added this day at leisure, to ensure you have enough time to take advantage of your surroundings. Prepare yourself for some of the most breath-taking views that you’ve ever witnessed.
For those more adventurous travellers, why not book a spot on the Hooker Valley tour. This tour is a walk to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier (13.5 kms return) taking in the solemn Alpine Memorial and crossing over the Hooker River by swing bridge on the way. Enjoy wonderful views of Aoraki Mt Cook’s southern face, sparing a gasp or two for the surrounding glaciers and mountains.
If you would prefer something more relaxed, there are many tracks for walking and tramping in this area – you can find the most suitable one for you by going to the Visitor Centre. There are scenic flights available by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, and if you wish to have a glacial adventure we highly recommend the Glacier Explorer’s excursion on Lake Tasman at the base of the Tasman Glacier.
After a relaxing morning, leave New Zealand’s highest mountain behind today as you head north through the picturesque town of Geraldine and across the Canterbury Plains, through to Christchurch.
Be sure you make a photo stop at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful turquoise coloured lake. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of the lake. This is one of the most photographed churches in the world made of stone and sand from around the lake.
Leaving the High Country, cross the vast Canterbury Plains to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.
After breakfast this morning, please make your way to the airport where you will return your car in time for your onward flight.
There are 21 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.8 out of 5.
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 17 Day Complete South Island
Terms and conditions apply. Please see tour overview for more information.
On this itinerary you will be delighted, excited and stimulated by the vast array of things to do and see, all on one of New Zealand’s islands! See ... 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