The Best of New Zealand's South Island

12-Day Example Trip
A luxurious 12-day adventure to Marlborough, Kaikoura, Mount Cook and Queenstown

We create fully personalised trips from start to finish. From locations to accommodation and guides, everything is selected to suit you.

From expert private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your time off.

We give back to two regional charities in Australasia from the profits of each one of our trips.

Use our trip ideas to inspire your bespoke experience

Explore the beautiful bays, snow capped mountains, stunning wildlife and endless adventure of New Zealand’s South Island. Begin with a boat cruise into the heart the Marlborough Sounds, a spectacular South Island welcome if ever there was one, to the Bay of Many Coves, a wonderfully secluded waterfront resort where you’ll spend the next three nights. From here you can head out by kayak or motorboat to explore this exquisitely rugged coil of coastline, go fishing, hiking, spot dolphins or try Marlborough’s famed wines and meet some of the island’s famously down to earth people.

Next, you will be driven south to quaint Kaikoura for two nights in a luxury treehouse overlooking the sea and backed by the mountains. A haven for wildlife enthusiasts, you’ll take to the skies in a light aircraft to spot the enormous whales that gracefully cruise past this seaside town from a unique and unforgettable perspective. This is also a great place for surfing, mountain biking, indulging in the wonderful local produce and – if you’re visiting between May and October – watching fur seal pups play in the waters beneath a waterfall.

Continue southward and hop aboard a helicopter for a cross country flip to the exclusive Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, a fabulous place within sight of New Zealand’s highest mountain. The next two days are entirely up to you, whether you want to venture out into the sublime surroundings or relax in the gorgeous spa, gaze at the stars from the observatory or spend some time in the cozy wine cellar.

Finally, reach picturesque Queenstown for your final three nights. This is New Zealand’s adventure and outdoor capital, so thrill seekers are well catered for here, but the town itself is typically ‘South Island’ laid back and has a charm all of its own. We can tailor what you get up to here according to what you want to do, but no trip here would be complete without Milford Sound and the towering Mitre Peak, which you’ll see from the air and by boat. End on a high with a breath-taking helicopter flight up the fiords into Mt Aspiring National Park to land on a glacier.

  • Privately guided tours and experiences
  • Whale watching and Milford Sound scenic flights
  • Glacier helicopter flip
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers and domestic flights
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip

Trip Itinerary

Days 1-4: Marlborough Sounds and Wine Region
Flights & Transfers

Private transfer by road and boat to Mnemba Island

Boat transfer from Picton to the Bay of Many Coves

Cruise out of Picton along the Cook Sound to the Bay of Many Coves.

Accommodation in Marlborough Sounds and Wine Region
Three nights at Bay of Many Coves
White Sailboat, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

The Marlborough Sounds is an adventurer’s paradise where you can indulge your passions, challenge your senses, and try new things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Take the waters by kayak or motoryacht, arrange a fishing charter, or head out in search of dolphin - including the rare Hector’s dolphin - with the chance of swimming with these incredible marine mammals. You can also explore this beautiful ribbon of coastline by hiking a section of the famed Queen Charlotte Track, go bird watching, bush walking, tour the vineyards of Marlborough or relax on your own personal beach, by the pool or at the spa.

Flights & Transfers

Private transfer to Kaikoura

Days 4-6: Kaikoura
Accommodation in Kaikoura
Two nights in Kaikoura

Kaikoura, a quaint village between the snowcapped Kaikoura Range and Pacific Ocean, is a haven for wildlife fanatics and adventure sports enthusiasts alike. For the former, the region has been dubbed the ‘maritime Serengeti’, the sea here one of the best places in New Zealand to go whale and dolphin watching. If you’re here between May and October you may get to witness fur seal pups playing in the water below Ohau Waterfall and the bird watching is another big draw. For the active, there are wonderful hiking and mountain biking trails along the coast, fine surfing, sea kayaking and more.

Scenic whale watching flight

Whale watching by from the air offers a unique perspective and the opportunity to view whales and dolphins in their natural environment, experiencing the true magnitude of some of the world’s largest animals, and offering a fabulous view for photographers. This scenic flight lasts for around 30 minutes.

Flights & Transfers

Private transfer to Christchurch Airport

Days 6-8: The Glaciers and Mount Cook
Scenic helicopter transfer to the Glaciers and Mt Cook

Enjoy an unforgettable helicopter flight from Christchurch to your lodge in the Glaciers and Mt Cook region.

Accommodation in The Glaciers and Mount Cook
Two nights at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat

Split your time at the wonder Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat between exploring this incredible region and relaxing back at the lodge. You can explore some of New Zealand’s highest peaks within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, head out on mountain bikes around the lake, walk to see the vast glaciers found here, go fishing, gaze up at one of the darkest night skies in the world from the observatory, spend time at the Fantail Spa, taste wine and unwind.

Flights & Transfers

Private transfer to Queenstown

Days 8-12: Queenstown
Accommodation in Queenstown
Three nights in Queenstown

From the towering alpine ranges that envelop Queenstown, to its laidback lakeside sister Wanaka and the incredible Milford Sound, this is easily one of the most spectacular regions of the country. Seek out one of the endless thrills on offer here from skiing, white water rafting, canyon swinging, jet boating, mountain biking and bungy jumping, or slow down to the cosmopolitan pace of life in Queenstown and cool Wanaka and you’ll discover its flourishing arts scene, excellent vineyards, fine dining and quiet lakeside shores where you can take in the incredible scenery. And, of course, Milford Sound with its spectacular 1692m-high Mitre Peak (Rahotu in Maori) is unmissable.

Scenic flight to Milford Sound with fjord cruise

Visit the majestic Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most spectacular areas. On the scenic flight you'll see hanging valleys, alpine lakes and cloud-piercing summits. Upon arrival at Milford Sound you will board a specially designed vessel and embark on a cruise along the fiord to the Tasman Sea. Sheer rock walls, waterfalls and the mile-high monolith of Mitre Peak are the backdrop as you enjoy a picnic lunch.

Glacier Explorer scenic helicopter flight

For a wonderful finale to your time on South Island, fly west over the Queenstown basin and Paradise Valley and into Mt Aspiring National Park. Enjoy an exhilarating flight past spectacular mountains and blue-green ice falls before landing on one of the many glaciers within the Forbes Mountains. There’s time for photos in the snow before heading back towards Queenstown past hidden alpine lakes and the rich gold mining history of Skippers Canyon.

Flights & Transfers

Private transfer to Queenstown Airport