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A luxurious 13-day adventure to soaking up the very best of New Zealand's scenic South Island

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel

Every detail taken care of

Itinerary Highlights

  • Exploring the pristine nature of Abel Tasman
  • Spotting whales in the ocean from the air in Kaikoura
  • Take a memorable scenic flight around Mount Cook
  • Cycle around the beautiful landscapes that surround Queenstown
  • Spend a night on the blissful waters of Milford Sound

What's Included

  • Privately guided tours and experiences
  • Whale watching, Mt Cook and Milford Sound scenic flights
  • Glacier helicopter flip
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

Explore the beautiful bays, snow capped mountains, stunning wildlife and endless adventure of New Zealand’s South Island by road. Begin with a trip to the stunning landscapes and beaches of Abel Tasman, where you will explore the very best of this majestic national park. While here, you’ll also head to nearby Nelson for a memorable food-foraging tour.

Next, drive south to quaint Kaikoura for two nights. 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 and head out to see playful dolphins in a most magnificent setting.

Continue southward via Christchurch to your lodge close to Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, a stunning alpine area home to New Zealand’s highest mountain. You’ll fly over Mount Cook’s peak and nearby glaciers, and visit a traditional farm where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

You’ll then reach picturesque Queenstown for a stay of 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. You’ll also experience the thrill of jet boating and mountain bike from colonial Arrowtown, before spending a night on the waters of Milford Sound aboard a luxury cruiser. Finally, you’ll head to Dunedin and experience the wonderful wildlife of the Otago Peninsula.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-3

Abel Tasman

Accommodation in Abel Tasman

Two nights in Abel Tasman Two nights in Abel Tasman

New Zealand’s sunniest region has a diverse geography ripe for exploring from golden sand beaches to dense forests, the clearest fresh water lake in the world and secluded, enticing rivers. At the heart of it all is a creative, easy-going city deemed one of New Zealand’s most liveable. The region’s biggest attraction is the Abel Tasman National Park, the country’s smallest national park that frequents the front pages of tourist brochures with its dream-like golden sand beaches, emerald green waters and friendly fur seal population. Hike, boat or kayak into one of its many beaches and coves.

Kayaker, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Abel Tasman day trip Abel Tasman day trip

Get a taste of all the Abel Tasman has to offer from the comfort of an Abel Tasman Charters' boat. You can just stay on board and relax or take one of the kayaks for a paddle. Go for a swim, snorkel over the marine reserve or be dropped off for a bush walk. Enjoy a delicious lunch and then do it all again. During the day you'll pass Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, round golden sandy bays, Adele and Fishermans Islands, and cruise on to Tonga Island seal colony. The cruise itinerary is flexible, and your friendly, knowledgeable skipper will ensure you are able to learn about the national park - if there is something to see on your day trip, like dolphins riding the bow wave or New Zealand fur seals fishing, then it can happen.

new-zealand-picnic
Nelson food foraging tour Nelson food foraging tour

Nelson has long had a reputation as one of the sunniest regions in New Zealand and has attracted innovative food, wine and craft beer producers from around the world. The amazing climate is ideal for many latitudinal crops and combined with the unique local and international flair of the residents an amazing array of food and produce can be found.

Among the city and surrounding hills and in the markets there is a tantalizing array of delicious treats and gourmet products that you can taste and collect. Your host will prepare and serve these as a Kiwi picnic in an idyllic setting while you relax with a glass of wine. The choice of food is wide and varied but will include different types of cheese, breads, fish, olives, nuts, fresh fruit and veg, and chocolate, as well as wine and craft beer.

You'll also visit a wild mushroom grower and enjoy a bowl of the best mushroom soup ever.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Self drive to Kaikoura

Days 3-5

Kaikoura

Accommodation in Kaikoura

cycling-kaikoura-new-zealand
Two nights 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. For the active, there are wonderful hiking and mountain biking trails along the coast, fine surfing, sea kayaking and more.

Scenic whale watching flight 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.

Seal Swim Kaikoura Seal Swim Kaikoura

Meet your guides and fellow swimming in Kaikoura where you'll be provided with warm, buoyant wet suits and snorkeling equipment before taking a short bus and boat trip .Along the way you will be given a briefing on New Zealand Fur Seals, aspects of snorkeling, seal swimming etiquette and safety. One to two experienced guides, equipped with large float boards will then accompany each group in the water. From here every tour is different as the seals are totally wild. Due to the seals natural curiosity swimmers can reasonably expect to get some interactions, some up close and personal. Generally around one hour is spent in the water before returning back to base for hot showers.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Self drive to Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook

Days 5-7

Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook

Accommodation in Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook

mount-cook-new-zealand
Days by Lake Tekapo and Aroaki Mount Cook Days by Lake Tekapo and Aroaki Mount Cook

New Zealand’s highest peak, Aroaki Mount Cook, is an arresting sight dominating the skyline of the national park which surrounds it. Its traditional Maori name means ‘cloud piercer’, apt in a stunning alpine landscape where 22 other snow-capped mountains stand over 3000m, towering above flowering meadows, glacial streams and turquoise lakes. One of the park’s highlights are the brightly hued waters of Lake Tekapo, watched over by the humble Church of the Good Shepherd, one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand.

A haven for climbers – this is where Sir Edmund Hillary trained before ascending Everest – the park also offers hikers dozens of stunning tracks and walks to choose from. Add to this dizzying mountain biking trails, the chance to kayak around floating hunks of ice, helicopter flights onto the enormous Tasman Glacier and even some skiing, it is an adventurer’s dream.

The 'Grand Traverse' scenic flight The 'Grand Traverse' scenic flight

Take a spectacular scenic flight that explores the Mt Cook and Westland National Parks and shows you the region from a privileged perspective. You will see beautiful turquoise glacial lakes, the braided river system of the Mackenzie basin, remote high country sheep stations, and New Zealand’s highest mountain Mount Cook, as well as Franz Joseph, Fox and Tasman glaciers.

Tasman Downs Tour Tasman Downs Tour

Visit a private high country beef station, Tasman Downs. Your host and property owner Ian Hayman, will treat you to a quirky but informative tour of this three-generational property, sharing insights into a wonderful family history. This property was also transformed into one of the main film sites for The Hobbit Trilogy and you will stand on the shore where ‘Laketown’ was destroyed and its residents washed ashore. Ian will tell you of how 600 crew and cast, including Sir Peter Jackson took over the property for a month and the impact that had on their lives. The tour is conducted in a rather ‘unique vehicle’ so get ready for some fun!

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Self drive to Queenstown

Days 7-10

Queenstown

Accommodation in Queenstown

Three nights 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.

milford-sound-helicopter
Helicopter Experience: Milford Sound with fjord cruise Helicopter Experience: Milford Sound with fjord cruise

Explore Milford Sound's stunning fjord from both the air and the water. Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter flight past spectacular rivers, valleys and mountains with blue-green ice falls, and land on Mt Tutoko glacier in the heart of Fiordland National Park. Upon landing in Milford, you'll enjoy an unforgettable cruise past sheer cliffs and waterfalls - keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals and penguins.

Kjet jet boat experience Kjet jet boat experience

Board your twin-engine jet boat and speed across crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu at breath-taking speed, surrounded by majestic mountains and mesmerising scenery. Zoom under the Kawarau Dam onto the deep green waters of The Kawarau River, complete with lots of 360° spins. You will then arrive at the pier for a complimentary view from Queenstown's Underwater Observatory.

Arrowtown Ride, Wine and Dine Arrowtown Ride, Wine and Dine

Enjoy a 13km bike ride (approx. 1.5hrs) from Arrowtown through to the Kawarau Bungy Bridge. Departing Arrowtown, you'll follow the Arrow River trail downstream, crossing five bridges - including two iconic suspension bridges. The ride is grade 1-2 with some undulating hills along the way, and the scenery is absolutely spectacular.

Once you have arrived at the Bungy Bridge, you have the option to cycle a bit further along the Gibbston trail to the wineries, where you can enjoy a wine or cheese tasting before being picked up from whereever you finish.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Self drive to Te Anau

Days 10-11

Te Anau

Accommodation in Te Anau

Fiordland Discovery (2D1N) Fiordland Discovery (2D1N)

For the ultimate Milford Sound experience, spend the night aboard the Fiordland Discovery. Cruise the full length of Milford Sound, learning about the history and geology, with plenty of time to view the fiord's spectacular waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife - you're bound to encounter seals and, if you're lucky, maybe dolphin and penguins too. After cruising, anchor at Harrison’s Cove or Deepwater Cove for the night. There is then the opportunity to explore nearby in the on board sea kayaks.

As evening falls, enjoy a delicious meal and relax in the company of fellow travellers or indulge in some star-gazing before retiring to your private cabin. You will also have opportunity to witness its underwater life via the state-of-the-art ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), which explores the marine environment below the boat as you watch from the comfort of the boat's lounge. Being so remote, few people have enjoyed this amazing, untouched part of New Zealand, and even fewer have had the chance to view its remarkable underwater world.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Self drive to Dunedin

Days 11-13

Dunedin

Accommodation in Dunedin

Two nights in Dunedin Two nights in Dunedin

The main city of the southern part of the South Island, Dunedin is a vibrant place to spend a few days. Its name is distinctly Scottish and the city has a strong and proud Celtic history. The city is full of Victorian and Edwardian architecture and its centre is compact and easy to explore. It is centered around The Octagon, which itself is surrounded by the Public Art Gallery, municipal chambers and St. Pauls Cathedral.

new-zealand-penguin
Otago Peninsula wildlife tour Otago Peninsula wildlife tour

Visit the beautiful Otago Peninsula and its wildlife hotspots. This tour offers a glimpse into the world of tourism and conservation working together for the benefit of the wildlife, and lets you observe estuarine and marine wildlife.

Your knowledgeable guides will take you to isolated places inaccessible to others, providing the best possible viewing of unique peninsula wildlife. The private conservation area ensures exclusivity with brilliant opportunities to photograph Hooker's sea lions, yellow-eyed penguins, blue penguins, a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals and other sea bird colonies. From a cliff face at Taiaroa, you'll watch royal albatrosses flying about the headland and to and fro from the ocean. A further 25-30 other estuarine and marine bird species are seen during the experience around the bays and lagoons.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Car rental drop off at Dunedin Airport

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    We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

    Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.

    From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.