13 Day Southern Circle

13 Day Southern Circle

Aoraki-Mount Cook, Queenstown, Milford, Wanaka, Franz Josef, Punakaiki & the TranzAlpine Train journey - this driving tour of the South Island ticks all the right boxes.

Book your self drive tour this month and receive an Earlybird Discount of 10%. Full Payment by 31 July 2018 to Qualify 

Tour Info

Tour Type: Self Drive Tours
From: Christchurch to Christchurch
Departures: May 2018 to March 2019
Price:
From (NZD) $1892 per person
Tour Operator: Relaxing Journeys
Pace: Relaxing
Duration: 13 Days
Tour Code: GNSC

Inclusions

12 nights accommodation
Rental vehicle of your choice
Milford Sound Day Tour - Coach & Nature Cruise
Travel wallet, comprehensive customised itinerary, bound map book, accommodation & activity vouchers and local travel guides

Optionals

Prices are per adult (we'll adjust your quote for any children)

Day by Day Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Christchurch

“Haere Mai” Welcome to Christchurch – the Garden City. On completion of formalities, pick up your rental car and travel onto your centrally located accommodation. Following the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has re-emerged as a vibrant, ever-changing city. The remainder of the day is at leisure to get a taste of what the city has to offer.

Day 2
Christchurch - Mount Cook

Head south today across the Canterbury Plains, through the picturesque town of Geraldine . 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. You are now in Mackenzie Country and the scenery is fantastic as you drive to Lake Pukaki and turn towards the Southern Alps and Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Follow this glacier-fed lake and the Tasman River all the way up to the alpine village of Aoraki-Mount Cook. (2 nights)

Day 3
Mount Cook

There are many tracks for walking and tramping in this area – you can find the most suitable 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 there is the Glacier Explorers excursion on Lake Tasman at the base of the Tasman Glacier.

Day 4
Mount Cook - Queenstown

Leave New Zealand’s highest mountain behind today as you drive through Twizel and Omarama before heading up over the Lindis Pass – this is the area where gold was first discovered in the Central Otago region in 1861. Central Otago has a harsh but beautiful landscape due to its summer heat and winter cold. A lot of gold was discovered in the area in the late 1800’s. More recently in the late 1900’s it’s been discovered as a great place for growing grapes so there are some good reasons for exploring this area. Continue on through the Kawarau gorge to get to the alpine town of Queenstown where you are staying for three nights. (3 nights)

Day 5
Queenstown

There are a huge number of activities to choose from here in Queenstown – for the adventurous there is bungy jumping, jet boating, skiing, 4WD Safaris snow boarding, rafting and skydiving to name a few. There are also some less adrenaline producing activities such as a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, a ride up the Skyline Gondola, or even a great day out on the Dart River Wilderness Safari.

Day 6
Queenstown - Milford Sound Cruise - Queenstown

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 our 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. Throughout your cruise, our nature guide provides an engaging commentary about the magnificent scenery and wildlife (English only). Keep a look out for dolphins, seals and penguins. Return by coach to Queenstown or weather permitting, you can choose to fly back to Queenstown. (L)

Day UP
Milford Sound Return Flight Upgrade Package (NZ $395pp)

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 7
Queenstown - Wanaka

Take the high road of the Crown Range to Wanaka today and you can make a stop at the famous Cardrona Hotel for a hot or cold drink along the way. Cruise down the Cardrona Valley and into the peaceful and picturesque lakeside town of Wanaka. On the waterfront is the Log Cabin which is a great place for a light lunch. You can also get more information about the area here at the information centre. There are lakeside and mountain walks here, great drives into the mountains and around the lake. (2 nights)

Day 8
Wanaka

There are many more things to do here in Wanaka as well as relaxing – get your mind working at Puzzling World, go for a scenic flight around Mount Aspiring, cruise on Lake Wanaka and the Clutha River with Clutha River Jet, take a fishing charter or visit the Fighter Pilots Museum at Wanaka Airport.

Day 9
Wanaka - Franz Josef

Another day of stunning scenery as you drive north now alongside lakes Hawea and Wanaka to reach Makarora – a little stop in the wilderness. It is here you may like to go on the Siberia Experience – a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park. This allows you to enjoy some of New Zealand’s untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. From here you climb up over the Haast Pass and over to the West Coast – where ancient rainforests tower above you. Continue north through the village of Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier. (2 nights)

Day 10
Franz Josef

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.

Day 11
Franz Josef - Punakaiki

There are some neat old towns to visit on the way north today as well as some great places to photograph the scenery and take a look at the dramatic coastline. Our experience tells us that it really is worth the drive north of Greymouth to stay the night at Punakaiki, best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – both of which are spectacular and a must-see when visiting the West Coast. Other activities include canoe adventures, horse trekking, caving and guided tours to name just a few. Punakaiki has many colourful local crafts people – jewellers, carvers, painters and potters.

Day 12
Punakaiki - Greymouth - Christchurch

Once you’ve finished your morning exploration of this area make your way back to Greymouth then turn inland to travel over the beautiful Arthur’s Pass. Along the way you’ll see the awesome engineering feats of the Otira Viaduct and Tunnel. You’ll have time to stop and look around before descending through some fantastic alpine scenery and on down to the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch.

Day UP
TranzAlpine Train Upgrade Package

For a small cost we can amend your itinerary so that you drop your vehicle off in Greymouth and then join the TranzAlpine Train for your journey across the Alps. On arrival in Christchurch we’ll arrange transfers to your accommodation and transfers the next day to the airport for your onward flight.

Day 13
Depart Christchurch

After breakfast this morning, please make your way to the airport where you will return your car in time for your onward flight.

4.9/5.0

There are 15 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.9 out of 5.

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Accommodation
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Relaxing Journeys Experience

Tour Reviews

5
16/04/2018
Hi Toni. The trip went exactly as planned, thank you. The rooms were all great, we particularly loved the 'apartments' at Edgewater in Wanaka, what a beautiful location! We hiked in to Rob Roy Glacier, what a spectacular spot, and managed to witness an icefall from the front of the glacier while we were there - stunning! I would highly recommend the walk (providing you have a suitable car to get to the start) it was a definite highlight for us. The car (Toyota Highlander)was ideal for 4 Adults and the GPS worked well, although it seemed to get a bit confused at times, but the commentary was helpful in deciding how best to use our time. Perhaps a diesel option might have been better just for the fuel prices. We had near perfect weather in all locations, even some rain before arriving at Milford Sound, then clearing on the boat trip to see all the waterfalls in full flow - amazing place. Missed out on the flight back due to the conditions, but a great day nonetheless. I think this time of year is a great time to travel with the Autumn colours and mild weather. The itinerary was great, we could have spent more time in any of the locations, but given the time we had available it was a great way to see the amazing sights and contrasts of the South Island. Thank you for your attention to detail and thorough organisation - great work! I would be more than happy to recommend you and this holiday to anyone.
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4
14/03/2018
Everything went smoothly & we have recommended your organisation to others. There were a couple of minor issues which I will touch on. My wife has a knee problem and as such we requested rooms with walk in showers. The Milford Sound accommodation was shower over bath as was the Wanaka accommodation. Now I understand there is only one accommodation at Milford Sound so you took what you got. Wanaka was a different proposition. Additionally the Queenstown hotel, while the room had a walk in shower, had no lift to the room and was accessed only by (I think) 16 stairs. Christchurch hotel room was small but comfortable & centrally located. We appreciated the upgraded & upmarket room at Franz Josef.
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5
10/01/2018
We enjoyed our time in New Zealand. The accommodation that was booked for us was very good except for the Christchurch room. The accommodation was small and there was very little room in the fridge to put any items and noise from adjoining room could be heard. All the tours were excellent. The trip went smoothly and the voucher book made everything so easy for us. We found the Kruse with GPS very informative and we learnt a lot about New Zealand. Thank you Toni for your great organisation of our tour and we would recommend you to others.
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5
20/04/2017
Every path planned by Relaxing Journeys were just too fantastic. This tour provided me with the best scenery I could have in this Autumn season. Hassle free and thanks for the awesome planning!
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5
06/02/2017
I took your 13 day Southern Circle and customized it into a 23 day tour. Toni was patient and helpful throughout my meanderings. Accommodation was good: Breakers B&B was excellent, Te Anau room not so good, but the location was very good and the young couple who managed it were lovely. I can definitely recommend Relaxing Journeys!
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5
06/01/2016
We had a wonderful trip and enjoyed the sights, sounds and people of the South Island of NZ at a pace that suited us down to the ground. Thank you so much to Marie who did an absolutely fantastic job organising our trip and all its little adventures. We are likely to journey to the North Island in a couple of years and will certainly use Relaxing Journeys if that is the case. Thanks Again to Marie.
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5
27/12/2015
Everything went really well, great accomodation, no problems with transfers, great food, we are very happy with the service you offer and would highly recommend it to future travellers, thank you very much.
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5
17/12/2015
We had such a wonderful time and the tour was absolutely perfect for our family. Relaxing Journeys was so easy to work with. They even adjusted our tour, as we wanted to be in Queenstown for Christmas. We are a family of six, with two children who are teenagers, so finding affordable, nice accommodations that is large enough is sometimes a challenge. Each place we stayed in was large enough for our whole family and most had a full kitchen with living/dining room. All had nice views and/or were in fantastic locations. Our tour also included a coach bus tour for the six of us to Milford sound and a helicopter ride to the Glaciers in Franz Joseph including a hike in the glaciers. This was spectacular. We also enjoyed listening to the Krus GPS system, as it told about each place we visited and/or were driving through. The suggestions for places to stop at were also great! Breakfast was also included at every place we stayed. Highly recommend Relaxing Journeys and would book again in a heart beat if we go to the North Island next!!
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5
30/06/2015
All went as planned. We had a really nice relaxing time. The one hotel Punga Grove was nice but the shower, bathtub, in room fireplace, were broken. We informed the manager who said she would call a plumber but nothing was repaired. The heating was not sufficient in the room given that the fire place was broken. We really enjoyed the narration on the GPS. Also would definitely recommend a helicopter ride at Franz Joseph it was excellent way to see glaciers.
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5
06/04/2015
Our first night at the Novotel in Christchurch was great. They couldn't have been more helpful. On check-in they asked us what type of room we would like and it was a great room with a beautiful view. At the conclusion of our holiday we returned there for 2 nights and the reception was totally different. There was no talk of what type of room we would like and very little conversation at all. Later when I came down to the foyer to use the free half hour internet, a couple were checking in and they were offered all kinds of things including an upgrade with free internet etc....no such conversation happened with our check in.....quite disappointing. Apart from that our accommodation was fabulous with spectacular views and staff that couldn't be more helpful. Many thanks.
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5
24/10/2014
We had an absolute blast. Although Ray injured his back just prior to us departing the standard of accommodation and quality of staff allowed us to tailor dining etc to suit the situation. It was hard to leave this beautiful country and we will be returning. Despite us having to change our tour arrangements several times Toni was able to find us great accommodation and our vehicle was excellent. We experienced many WOW moments on the road and each place brought it's own excitement. We must make special mention of the staff at Edgewater who we will never forget for their kindness and attentiveness. On the flip side the Manager at Bay City Motor Lodge at Timaru was a bit creepy. We arrived at check in and there was no one to meet us as the manager had gone out for the day. Then at 7pm with us having a nap he unlocked our door and walked in with the next day's breakfast (without knocking). Room was great but manager bizarre. To wrap up we could not recommend Relaxing Journeys more, and in particular Toni Harris for their professionalism, flexibility and assistance. Thank you and we will use you again.
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5
09/05/2014
The entire trip ran very smoothly, and we felt by adding the two train trips (Taieri Gorge and the TranzAlpine) as well as the Milford Sound cruise and return flight there was not too much driving. It was a pity we could not take the helicopter Flight from Franz Joseph over the Glaciers and Mount Cook, but apart from that day the weather was great. We would highly recommend Relaxing Journeys as tour organisers and the South Island of New Zealand as a fantastic place to holiday.
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5
22/12/2013
We spent 14 nights in the South island, mainly looking to spend most of our time outdoors, walking and enjoying the scenery, which is exactly what we did: glaciers in Mt Cook and Franz Josef, mountains and lakes in Queenstown and Wanaka, rainforests in Punakaiki. We followed Mani's advice and spent an extra night in Wanaka, so that we could be there for New Year's Eve, which was great. All the hotels were excellent, and all the arrangements worked like clockwork. I would really love to go back to New Zealand and when I do, I will certainly use Relaxing Journeys again, thanks so much for everything!
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4
19/10/2013
Really enjoyed the trip, and everything was really well planned and organised, with plenty of options thrown in for us to choose what we wanted to do each day. The sights were very pretty, and the scenery during the drives was so amazing that we wanted to stop for photos nearly every 15mins (though we wouldn't have made it very far with that many stops!). Unfortunately we didn't get the best weather when we were there, with it raining for a number of days, but it was still great, and the days when the weather was good were really enjoyable. The accommodation was really nice (with one small exception of the motel in Christchurch, which wasn't quite as good, but still ok) and many of our rooms had lake views, park views, or even an ocean view. Very happy with that. Overall, great way to spend a week and a half. Would recommend it to friends.
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5
10/04/2013
Trip was self-drive for 12 days on South Island and was a great experience. We modified the tour from the standard package to suit our needs without trouble and Michelle was a great help throughout. Everything went smoothly, accommodations were excellent, excursions were wonderful and vouchers were accepted without question. Would recommend Relaxing Journeys to anyone wishing to visit New Zealand. Only wish is that we had been able to spend another week there.
Overall Tour Rating

Value For Money

Accommodation

Tour Pace

Relaxing Journeys Experience

Book your self drive tour this month and receive an Earlybird Discount of 10%. Full Payment by 31 July 2018 to Qualify 

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13 Day Southern Circle
Self Drive Tours
Tour Code: GNSC
From (NZD) $1892 per person
Enquire about this tour
Departures: May 2018 to March 2019
Rating:
15 reviews (4.9/5)

Aoraki-Mount Cook, Queenstown, Milford, Wanaka, Franz Josef, Punakaiki & the TranzAlpine Train journey - this driving tour of the South Island ticks a... Read More

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13 Day Southern Circle
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