Mount Cook Lily – 14 Day South Island Tour

NZ$6,320 – $7,900pp (based on seasonality), twin-share, land only

This tour squeezes more jaw-dropping scenery into two weeks than any other! The South Island has an unparalleled variety of landscapes from the majestic Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, to the stunning views across Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, to the Remarkable Mountains. 

 

 

Day 1 Wellington 

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Haere mai – welcome!  Today is yours to explore New Zealand’s friendly capital city. Wander along Oriental Parade and around the bays, or explore Cuba Street with its eclectic mix of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. A visit to Te Papa, the national museum and one of the most exciting museums in the world, is highly recommended for insights into New Zealand history, culture, wildlife and landscapes. 

Day 2  Wellington - Nelson

Heritage Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Your day commences with one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world. Travelling through the waters of Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound the ferry is often accompanied by dolphins riding the bow waves. Disembarking in Picton travel the short distance to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine country.  What better way to enjoy this region famous for its Sauvignon Blanc than with wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries?   From Marlborough cross to the Nelson district a corner of the South Island blessed with a sunny microclimate and your base for the next two nights.   

Day 3  Abel Tasman National Park

Heritage Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Paradise found!  Abel Tasman National Park is a mosaic of golden coves and turquoise lagoons sheltered by forested ranges to the south.  With few roads in this pristine wilderness, most journeys are made by boat.

This morning from Kaiteriteri, your tour includes a choice of one activity from these three options:

a) Non - Walking Option:

Full Park Scenic Cruise (3-4 hour cruise)

Enjoy a morning cruise exploration of New Zealand’s smallest National Park.  View world-famous Split Apple Rock, New Zealand Fur Seals, golden sands and the turquoise waters of Anchorage, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Awaroa and Totaranui Beach. Enjoy time at your leisure in Kaiteriteri and return to Nelson on the late afternoon transfer.   

b) Walking Option 1:

Astrolabe Beaches and Bays (7km, 2.5-hour walk)

After the Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Apple Tree Bay for a self-guided walk to fabulous Anchorage Beach.  Late afternoon shuttle transfer back to Nelson.

c) Walking Option 2:

Forest and Swing-Bridge (10.5km, 4-hour walk)

After the Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Medlands Beach for a rewarding and varied self-guided walk to Anchorage Beach including the scenic highlights of the South Head lookout, the famous Falls River swing-bridge and Cleopatra’s Pool.  Late afternoon shuttle transfer back to Nelson.

Day 4  Nelson - Punakaiki

Punakaiki Resorts, Punakaiki

Driving via the Nelson Lakes National Park - an enchanting alpine landscape of rugged peaks, forests, stunning glacial lakes and the beginning of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps make a stop at the quaint village of Saint Arnaud on the shores of Lake Rotoiti.  Turn inland to follow the Buller River Gorge - one of the world’s best but least-known scenic drives, carved out of the forest by 19th-century prospectors, it follows the deep river gorge, often crossing it on single-track bridges.  Emerging from the forest the road hugs the coastline south to the small settlement of Punakaiki - renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ - these stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature.  

Day 5  Punakaiki - Fox Glacier 

Distinction Hotel, Fox Glacier

Journey south along the Great Coast Road which was recently voted one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.  Pass through historic towns reaching Hokitika and its galleries specialising in pounamu (greenstone) jewellery and art works.   Stretch your legs at the dramatic Hokitika Gorge where the blue/green waters pass through the rugged rocks.  Continue south through forests and farmland, with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to Franz Josef then on to the small remote village of Fox.  The huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps, down almost to sea level.  Weather permitting, an optional helicopter ride with a snow landing is a terrific way to experience the sheer grandeur of these West Coast glaciers (extra cost).   

Day 6  Fox Glacier - Wanaka 

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

Have your camera ready for your visit to nearby Lake Matheson for a morning stroll - when conditions are right the lake perfectly mirrors beautiful Mt. Cook in its still waters. Head over the Haast Pass along the river road beside the icy river and deep into Mt. Aspiring National Park.  The atmosphere lightens as we reach lovely Lake Wanaka, reflecting the mountain peaks that in winter offer superb skiing and the pretty resort town of Wanaka. 

Day 7  Wanaka 

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

This morning you have the choice of two excursions: 

  1. Today join a passionate local eco-guide  - as you depart Wanaka by boat and quickly leave civilization behind as you cruise across the lake to a predator-free island.  The walking track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native vegetation filled with very vocal birdlife to the top to the “island’s secret”- a lake on top of the island with small islands in it!  Unique and very photogenic, the echo of birdsong here is astounding.   Carrying on a little further you come to the very top of the island and have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and the Arethusa Pool below.  This is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the panorama. The flightless Buff Weka often join visitors on the island; this rare flightless bird has been extinct on Mainland NZ since 1920.
  2. Experience New Zealand's most authentic 4WD adventure - the perfect mix of incredible scenery, history, heritage and farming life.  Explore remote and seldom travelled back roads of an authentic New Zealand High Country farm overlooking sparkling Lake Wanaka.  Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, glaciers and wild river valleys you'll see farm animals including Red Deer, cattle and sheep up close and in their natural environment.  Visit historical sites and experience what life was like for Wanaka's first farmers.  With two optional walks, through pristine alpine meadows and ancient lakeside forests, this journey offers a unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, heritage, modern-day farming life and breath-taking scenery.

This afternoon is at your leisure to relax or enjoy your own choice of activities.

Day 8  Wanaka - Te Anau

Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Te Anau

Depart Wanaka with our first stop at the much-photographed Cardrona Pub before traversing the Crown Range road to visit historic Arrowtown – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River.  Continue your journey via the road pinned between the base of the Remarkables mountain range and spectacular Lake Wakatipu. Journey through a glacial formed valley that is now farmland, to reach Lake Te Anau, the largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the South Island and gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Day 9 Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

Scenic Suites, Queenstown

The journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences you can have on four wheels.   Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere.  The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers.  Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is breath-taking in any weather.  Board a comfortable vessel for a cruise past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea.  Keep an eye peeled for seals and dolphins which are often seen in the waters of the fiord.  Following the cruise, retrace your journey back to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley then across the Southland farmlands and around spectacular Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown.

Day 10  Queenstown

Scenic Suites, Queenstown

Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of Queenstown create the perfect backdrop for a visit full of adventure, exploration or relaxation. Today is free for you to do your own thing: thrill-seekers may choose to zip-line at Bob’s Peak, get drenched on a Shotover jet-boat ride or go white-water rafting.  Other enjoyable but less hair-raising activities include the gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak, or a 4WD safari to Skippers Canyon.  Boutique wineries and local gardens welcome visitors and the classic steamship TSS Earnslaw is an elegant way to discover Lake Wakatipu during a cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm.

Day 11  Queenstown - Mt Cook - Twizel

Mackenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Continue north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge, past pretty Lake Dunstan and across the distinctive Central Otago countryside to the Lindis Pass.  Descend into the unique Mackenzie Basin where the Southern Alps dominate the horizon.  Take a beautiful drive along Lake Pukaki to Mt. Cook Village, home to New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki/Mt. Cook.

Day 12 Twizel - Rural Canterbury

Rural Homestay / Local Hotel, Ashburton

Visit a local home set on the shores of Lake Tekapo and learn the secrets of making a Pavlova - a truly Kiwi dessert!  Enjoy morning tea the taste your pavlova as you drink in the views of this beautiful lake.   View the Church of the Good Shepherd, one of New Zealand’s most-photographed spots: a tiny church set against a majestic backdrop of the Southern Alps.  Pass across the high country’s tussock plains, through the small rural towns of Fairlie and Geraldine and onto Ashburton.

Accommodation 

a) Rural homestay: Here you are met in small groups by your hosts who will extend their hospitality to you to with a tour of their property, perhaps a visit with the animals, and a delicious home-cooked dinner before a cosy night’s stay in a local home.

b) Local hotel: spend the night in a local hotel enjoying dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 13 Ashburton - Christchurch

Distinction Hotel, Christchurch

After breakfast re-assemble to travel across the fertile Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.  This most English of New Zealand cities suffered a succession of terrible earthquakes in 2010/11.  The city is now reinventing itself with exciting new sights including the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ and various pop-up bars and restaurants.  Upon arrival in central Christchurch punting boatmen, resplendent with straw boaters and traditional Edwardian dress take you for a relaxing cruise in flat-bottomed punts along the River Avon through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.   Enjoy a journey in style onboard a beautifully restored heritage tram through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre.  This is the final part of our journey together so tonight we enjoy a relaxed farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 14 Christchurch

Haere ra – farewell from New Zealand.  After breakfast you are transferred to the Christchurch Airport for your return home taking with you fond memories of your time in New Zealand.  Alternatively, should you wish to extend your stay, we can assist you with additional travel arrangements.

  • Scenic Interislander Ferry journey across the Cook Strait
  • Wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries
  • Cruise the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park
  • Visit world-famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki
  • Join a local eco-guided tour – or – an authentic 4WD adventure
  • Explore the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown
  • Cruise, with a picnic lunch, on the breath-taking Milford Sound
  • Enjoy true kiwi hospitality with morning tea at a local home on the shores of Lake Tekapo
  • Relax as you’re guided along Christchurch’s Avon River on an authentic Edwardian punt

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Located in the heart of Wellington this hotel is minutes from popular landmarks and activities such as the Cable Car, Parliament buildings, and Lambton Quay's shopping district. A perfect balance between elegance and comfort, the hotel has two renowned restaurants, bars, a day spa and fitness room – so all your comforts and needs should be covered!

Heritage Rutherford Hotel

Situated in Trafalgar Square, Nelson, the hotel boasts a prime spot only minutes’ walk from Nelson's landmark cathedral and main shopping district (including, just a block away, Jens Hansen Goldsmiths; creators of the ring in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy). If you choose not to venture out, the hotel has two highly regarded restaurants onsite, plus a sauna, gym and outdoor pool to work up your appetite!

 

Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki

Just two minutes’ walk from the beach, this comfortable and environmentally friendly hotel in Paparoa National Park is only 300 metres from the magnificent Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The limestone stacks have been sculptured by the weather and sea leaving unique stacks resembling pancakes layered on top of each other!

 

Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier

Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier is situated in one of the world's most ruggedly beautiful environments - nestled beneath the towering Southern Alps on the stunning West Coast of New Zealand. The hotel’s location provides a real sense of privacy and peaceful seclusion, while being only a short stroll to the charming Fox Glacier village.

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

The hotel is in a fantastic location, just a short walk from town, and directly on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wanaka. The hotel enjoys amazing views of the lake’s clear blue waters and with the backdrop of the Mt. Aspiring National Park, it’s no surprise the area is a focal point for keen photographers.

Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Te Anau

Te Anau is a charming South Island town based on the eastern side of Lake Te Anau, the South Island's largest lake. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Te Anau and just a short stroll from the glacially formed lake. The hotel has two on-site restaurants for you to choose from, their eateries and bars are a popular choice with both visitors and locals alike.

Scenic Suites Queenstown

This inspiring resort town at the foot of the Southern Alps attracts those looking for an unforgettable trip. The Scenic Suites Queenstown provides one of the most sought-after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic views of the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s longest lake. Carved from a glacier more than 15,000 years ago, the lake has its own ‘heartbeat’- rising and falling by about 20cm every 27 minutes due to a lake seiche phenomenon.

Mackenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

Built in 1968 as a service town for the hydro-electric power scheme, Twizel was meant to be a temporary town. However, the workers grew to love their little town, and as the project was winding up in the early 1980s they successfully fought to save Twizel. The Mackenzie Country Hotel is a great place to relax, unwind and enjoy your time in Twizel.

Ashburton – Take your pick:

  1. Rural homestay: you will be met by your hosts who will extend their hospitality to you to with a tour of the property, perhaps a visit with the animals and a delicious home-cooked dinner before a cosy night’s stay in a local home
  2. Local hotel: spend the night in a local hotel enjoying dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Distinction Hotel, Christchurch

An urban escape that combines sophisticated smarts and familiar warmth, the hotel is ideally positioned in the heart of the city only a few minutes' walk from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and future Christchurch Convention Centre. The renovated hotel stands proud amongst the buzz of the rejuvenation of Cathedral Square.