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Tour code: 2950CLT22A
View Franz Josef Glacier and experience a Milford Sound cruise on this 4-day semi-independent tour of New Zealand's South Island. You’ll travel by coach from Christchurch to Queenstown via the Canterbury Plains, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, then motor up the west coast to Greymouth before riding the TranzAlpine train on the return to Christchurch. Listen to narration on board as the driver highlights this scenic region from picturesque mountain peaks to deep fiords. Overnight accommodation and round-trip hotel transport are included. 


  • Four-day coach tour of New Zealand's great Southern Island
  • Cruise on Milford Sound
  • View the Franz Josef Glacier
  • Fully guided tour and commentary
  • Plenty of photo opportunities
  • Pickup and drop off from centrally located Christchurch hotels

What You Can Expect

4-Day Great Southern Island Circle Tour from Christchurch

Mitre Peak

See the highlights of the South Island in four days on a circular route, traveling round-trip from Christchurch. This semi-independent tour includes coach and rail transport with three nights’ accommodation in Queenstown and the township of Franz Josef Glacier. A Milford Sound cruise and informative commentary by your driver-guide are included; otherwise, you have free time at each destination to spend however you wish.


Day 1: Christchurch – Mt Cook – Queenstown
Travel through the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. Cross Burkes Pass to Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd. Travel up Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Stop for lunch (own expense) before crossing Lindis Pass and continuing along Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown.

Overnight: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar in Queenstown

Day 2: Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown
Travel along Lake Wakatipu beneath the Remarkables Range to Te Anau. See the Mirror Lakes and continue past Christie Falls. Enter the Homer Tunnel, drilled through the solid rock of a mountain. Take a cruise on Milford Sound where you'll see Mitre Peak and rock walls rising vertically from the sea. Re-board your coach for a Queenstown return. Optional lunch on the cruise is available. 

Overnight: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar in Queenstown

Day 3: Queenstown – Franz Josef Glacier
Travel along Lake Wanaka to Haast Pass. Pass through Central Otago and the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps with its rivers and rainforests. Continue up the West Coast past mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Franz Josef Glacier is considered a living river of ice that is over 7,000 years old.

Overnight: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or similar in Franz Josef

Day 4: Franz Josef – Greymouth – Arthur's Pass – Christchurch
Travel along the West Coast to Shantytown, a reconstructed Gold Rush town, and then to Greymouth, where thousands of diggers lived during the gold strikes of the 1860s. Travel through Arthur's Pass to Christchurch via the TranzAlpine Express.

Customer Reviews

Kathy Y. F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2014

My husband and I enjoyed this very scenic 4 day tour! Hotel accomodations were very comfortable and clean, taxi/coach were on time like clock work. Would highly recommend!!

John F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2013

This trip had everything we expected. The transport was great and everything ran like clockwork. Definitely recommend the flight back from Milford Sound - scenery is stunning!

Susan N United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2008

The tour went according to plan. It would have been helpful to have had a more detailed itinerary before the tour began. Apart from that excellent.

Amit S

4 star rating: Recommended January 2013

Great stuff. Such a beautiful country.

Liberino M

4 star rating: Recommended November 2012

The logistics for this tour...buses, hotels, etc. were complicated, but everything ran smoothly. The itinerary was great, would have been 5 stars if there were more photo stops.

Norman M

4 star rating: Recommended January 2011

Very very early starts to get to the destinations listed on the tour, understandable given the large distances travelled. Of particular note would be the time spent reaching Franz Josef Glacier, arrival at 5p.m. still feel disappointed that it was not possible to reach the glacier due to the time constraints, perhaps a 5 day tour could be organised to give an extra day at Queenstown. The voucher for shuttle to connect to bus at Heartlands Hotel was incorrect and we were confronted by a very irate driver in fact he was just about to drive off and leave us - another criticism was shuttle bus from hotel at Franz Josef picked us up as per instructions to drive us to the bus stop where we waited for the bus to collect the people from the hotel that we had just left . Our accommodation was comfortable the voucher system with the exception of the above worked well and our collection from the Tranzalpine train station was efficiently done with a very information driver (Aaron) who gave us information on things to do at Christchurch, which we followed and had a pleasant day. All in all it was a lovely few days in a beautiful country. Even though it was a 4am departure from New Zealand it did not dampen our enthusiasm, and pleasure at what we had seen.

Cynthia L W USA

4 star rating: Recommended November 2008

This was a great trip - all the sites were very beautiful. I thought, though, that there was too much shuffling around of people, and too many different companies and connections that Viator scheduled me with - it made things confusing.

Andrew S Australia

4 star rating: Recommended August 2008

Great tour. I was shocked, however, that the Franz Josef glacier day did not actually take you to see the glacier, and we had to pay for an extra bus. Every other bus company seemed to stop at the glacier.

Clare B United Arab Emirates

4 star rating: Recommended November 2007

Lots of travelling to see Milford sound and probably better if they have more rain than we had, but still very lovely and peaceful. Can do helicopter flight over glacier and land which was amazing. Probably best to do that with the trip back from Milford Sound as it's 5 hours each way.

Jon B China

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better February 2009

Too much bus travel, point to point travel could have been better organized to reduce time riding in buses. Need to provide ability to request accommodation upgrades. Need to be better informed, didn't know we had to make arrangements for lunch on the Milford Sound cruise. After arriving in Franz Josef were not aware that we needed to schedule a visit to the glacier, so missed this opportunity during our stay there. The TranzAlpine train was more than an hour late, travel was quite slow, and didn't see much more of the countryside than we would have seen from a bus. All of this aside, New Zealand's South Island is quite beautiful.
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