Majestic South Island
Circumnavigate the Southern Alps, crossing at the head via the scenic Tranz Alpine Train, travelling the rugged West Coast through the southern fiords. On your journey back north you travel through the Mackenzie Basin to the base of the majestic Mt Cook and back onto Canterbury Plains and then Christchurch City.
8 Day Majestic South Island Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive Christchurch Welcome to New Zealand! Meet and Greet on arrival at Christchurch International Airport before being transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 Christchurch Sights Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and one of the most beautiful in New Zealand with its large public gardens, parks, river and majestic backdrop of the Port Hills. Your morning city sightseeing tour takes you around the city’s highlights and historic sites, including the Botanic Gardens, the Avon River, Canterbury Museum and the Bridge of Remembrance. Learn about the effects of the devastating 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding. On leaving the inner city visit the lovely Mona Vale Gardens before heading to the Port Hills for spectacular views over the city and Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. This afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 3 Christchurch – Greymouth – Franz Josef This morning board the Tranz Alpine train at Christchurch Railway Station. The Tranz Alpine scenic train journey travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth. From Greymouth travel south through forests and farmland, with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to the village of Franz Josef. The huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps almost to sea level which is unusual in a temperate climate.
Day 4 Franz Josef – Queenstown Driving towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park you will travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makarora and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travel past Lake Hawea where you reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. From Wanaka travel via Cromwell following the rugged Kawarau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create the perfect backdrop for a holiday full of adventure, exploration or relaxation.
Day 5 Milford Sound Day Excursion Depart Queenstown for an unforgettable full day journey from Queenstown into Milford Sound. Located within the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, this region is rich with dense rainforest, lakes and waterfalls cascading from rugged mountain peaks. Journey through the Southern Alps via the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km tunnel drilled through a solid mountain of rock. Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board a comfortable vessel for a spectacular cruise where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak, glacier scarred rock walls that rise 1,200m vertically from the sea, and waterfalls that tumble from hanging valleys and crash into the sound far below. Following your cruise, retrace your journey back to Queenstown.
Day 6 Queenstown Today is at leisure. Queenstown offers a host of holiday attractions for the visitor from helicopter flights and trips on jet-boats, to walks and tramps, wine tours to premier Central Otago wineries, lake cruises, 4WD excursions into the hills or for adrenalin junkies, bungy jumping, white water rafting, ziptrekking and skydiving!
Day 7 Queenstown – Mt Cook – Christchurch Today travel north through diverse landscapes including Lake Dunstan and the barren Lindis Pass before reaching the Mackenzie Country. Pass the small towns of Omarama and Twizel then see the canals that feed the huge Waitaki hydro electricity generation scheme. Drive along the shores of Lake Pukaki into Mt Cook National Park, home to New Zealand’s tallest mountain Aoraki / Mt Cook. Time here to breath the fresh alpine air and perhaps an optional scenic flight over the Southern Alps before heading to Lake Tekapo with its glacial blue waters for a stop to view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd. Continue across Burkes Pass and the Canterbury Plains before arriving in Christchurch for your last night’s stay.
Day 8 Depart Christchurch Farewell from New Zealand. Today you depart from Christchurch International Airport for your flight home.
* Itinerary subject to change