Christchurch, New Zealand
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clock-o7 days (Approx.)
TransportHotel pickup offered
ticket-oMobile ticket
commentOffered in: English

Overview

Experience the coastal splendor of New Zealand’s South Island on this 7-day tour by coach and Taieri Gorge Railway from Christchurch. Hear live onboard commentary as you travel through the Canterbury Plains to the historic city of Dunedin, then head to Queenstown and Franz Josef Glacier via the rugged west coast before returning to Christchurch on the TranzAlpine. Your itinerary includes six nights’ accommodation, a Milford Sound cruise and a guided sightseeing tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula with admission to the royal albatross colony.
  • Seven-day coach tour of New Zealand's South Island
  • Take a scenic cruise on Milford Sound
  • Travel to historic Dunedin
  • 6-nights accommodation
  • Trip aboard the famous TranzAlpine train
  • Tour the Otago Peninsula and see the renowned Royal Albatross Colony - subject to seasonality
  • See the picturesque Franz Josef Glacier
  • Free time at leisure to explore Queenstown
  • Plenty of photo opportunities
  • Fully guided tour and commentary
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off from centrally located Christchurch hotels
Experience South Island highlights of this 7-day round-trip tour from Christchurch, which includes a wilderness cruise on Milford Sound, a sightseeing tour of the Scottish-influenced city of Dunedin and seasonal viewing of the royal albatross colony at the Otago Peninsula. Enjoy train trips aboard the Taieri Gorge and TranzAlpine railways, and journey up the scenic west coast with views of the Southern Alps. You’ll have free time to spend during overnight stays in Dunedin, Franz Josef Glacier and Queenstown.

Itinerary

Day 1: Christchurch / Dunedin
This morning, travel by coach or train for your journey to Dunedin. Head south through the Canterbury Plains and onto Dunedin, which boasts some of the most beautiful architecture in New Zealand.

Overnight Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City or similar

Day 2: Dunedin
Board a double decker bus this morning for a one and a half hour tour of Dunedin's historic sights. This afternoon, you will be taken on a tour of the Otago Peninsula including the renowned Royal Albatross Colony (seasonal due to Albatross breeding).

Overnight Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City or similar

Day 3: Dunedin / Queenstown
Today, board the Taieri Gorge Train and enjoy the rugged, unspoiled landscape of Otago with the opportunity for sightseeing stops along the way. Experience the breathtaking views of this historic journey to Pukerangi where you will board your coach and continue the journey to Queenstown, adventure capital of New Zealand.

Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar

Day 4: Milford Sound Day Excursion
Travel along the edge of Lake Wakatipu beneath the rugged Remarkables to Te Anau, the 'Gateway to Fiordland National Park'. On entering the Fiordland National Park you pass through the Eglinton Valley. See ancient beech forest, stunning waterfalls and the famous Mirror Lakes where you will pause for a photo stop. Continue through the upper Hollyford Valley, past the stunning Christie Falls and enter the 1.2 km Homer Tunnel, drilled through the solid rock of a mountain. On exiting the Homer Tunnel prepare for the breathtaking impact of the Cleddau Valley and the descent into Milford Sound. On arrival, take an unforgettable cruise on the majestic Milford Sound where you will see the wonders of Mitre Peak and rock walls scarred by glaciers which rise to 1200m vertically from the sea. Then reboard the coach for the return journey to Queenstown. Optional lunches onboard the cruise are available.

Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar

Day 5: At Queenstown
Enjoy a free day in Queenstown.

Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar

Day 6: Queenstown / Franz Josef Glacier
Travel along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Hawea to the Haast Pass, the most stunning highway in New Zealand and gateway to World Heritage Westland National Park. Initially the pass travels through the treeless grasslands of Central Otago, then at the highest point, the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps and the rivers and rainforests of Westland dominate the landscape. Continue to travel up the West Coast past spectacular mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The Franz Josef Glacier is 11 kilometers in length and more than 7,000 years old. Its terminal face creaks and arches over the cave from which the river emerges, pale with powdered rock and can advance or retreat at over a meter per day. This living 'river of ice' is a must see for any visitor to New Zealand.

Overnight Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or similar

Day 7: Franz Josef / Greymouth / Arthur's Pass / Christchurch
Today you continue to travel along the rugged West Coast to Shantytown, a faithful reconstruction of a Westland Gold Rush town. From Shantytown, travel to Greymouth, the center for thousands of diggers during the historic gold strikes of the 1860's. From Greymouth, you journey over the Southern Alps on the world famous Tranzalpine Train, through lush beech forests and past serene lakes, over massive viaducts, through the stunning Waimakariri Gorge and across the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

Reviews

Viator Traveler's Reviews

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A
, Mar 2017

The 7-Day South Island Coastal Splendor Tour was quite an experience. Disappointing for us that the Alpine train started running the day after we finished the tour.
The Intercity buses take some getting used to, you need to be aware that if you do not leave something on your seat you may lose the seat when you get of at the comfort stops. The cliental that use the buses can be another issue. As this is the only means of transport between the towns on the South Island, they can stop just about anywhere that is requested. This does effect the timetable, there is also different degrees of comfort on the buses.
The scenery from the bus and the drivers willingness to share the different aspects of the areas you are driving through can change rapidly.
The transfers from the bus to hotels and tours was on time and well coordinated. The tour of Dunedin including the house tour was very good and I would highly recommend. The Eco tour was fantastic, BUT, We are in our middle sixties and were not aware of the level of fitness and or clothing requirements needed for this tour. After speaking to the operator of this tour prior to taking the tour, we were able to compromise the walking by having the four wheel drive take us to most areas. This is not always available and can only be used by one group on each tour. Make sure if you are unable to walk up and down steep hills for a prolonged period that this option is available to you.
The tour started with Albatross sightings, then moved to seal sightings, then to sea lion sightings followed by penguin sightings. This tour takes about six hours and is worth going on. We were very lucky with the weather and the sights we experienced.
The Scenic Hotel in Dunedin is comfortable and the restaurant produces lovely meals.
The trip on the Taieri Gorge train was an experience not to be missed. It gives ample photo opportunities as well as a font of information from the guide on the history of the area and the train.
The driver of the Eco taxi, Beryl that picked us up for the drive from the train to Queenstown was excellent. Quite informative and stopped for photo opportunities at different places along the way. Beryl also stopped for fresh fruit and the most beautiful ice cream I have had. This was a pleasant journey, though quite a long drive.
The Heritage Hotel in Queenstown was a lovely choice and we had a suite with washer and dryer that was a lovely surprise and made a difference to what was available to wear on the trip. The restaurant at the Heritage is also to be recommended.
Milford sound trip is a long day and quite tiring. This experience is not to be missed. We again had terrific weather for our day at Milford. The area had had rain the day before, so there were a lot of waterfalls on the journey to photograph. The cruise around Milford Sound was quit lovely and not to be missed in good weather.
For our free day in Queenstown we chose to do the Steamer cruise and lunch at the sheep, farm. This for overseas and city Aussies is quite an experience. The food is good and the tour of the woolshed including shearing is enjoyable. Again having a lovely day made this an enjoyable experience.
We chose to eat in a local restaurant that was not a good experience for us or the other dinners in our area as the table next to us was booked out by a tour group that made the dining experience unpleasant for all around them. The staff spent so much time catering to this group that the rest of us suffered. Another table and ourselves ended up talking as we waited for our service and they turned out to be locals who will not be returning to the restaurant again.
The trip to Franz Josef was not a pleasant trip, the weather was not good and we stopped a lot. We arrived at Franz Josef and were dropped at our hotel. The Scenic Hotel in Franz Josef is not flash, but adequate. We did not enjoy our meal at this hotel. We were picked up for the trip to the glacier three quartes of an hour after our arrival in Franz Josef. We arrived at the starting point of the walks to the glacier around five o'clock. Again if you are unable to walk in steep terrain the trip is not for you. We chose the 20 minute walk and the terrain was quite steep. On arrival at the viewing platform, we had about 5 minutes before the mist obscured the glacier. You have to arrange with the driver when you wish to be picked up as the long walk is one and a half hours, so you may be stuck there for two hours waiting for a return pick up.
The trip back to Christchurch by bus is a long trip. This would no longer be an issue as the train is now running. In inclement weather having to change buses with no shelter to wait for the new bus was not a pleasant experience.
All in all we had a marvellous trip, the weather god smiled on us for all our tours and the hotels were better than expected. I would recommend the Heritage chain as we stayed in the Heritage in Christchurch as well for comfort and the Scenic in Dunedin for meals.

j
, May 2015

It was largely by public bus. I could have saved 900 by booking myself. The hotels booked were in a number of cases below the standard advertised. Too much travel in the number of days. Had I booked myself I'd have stayed at least two days in every place. I feel like it was a bit of a con really.

H
, Nov 2012

Tour was fantastic. Everything went smoothly, all transfers and admissions. We highly recommend this tour in order to enjoy the splendour of the south island.

B
, Sep 2011

Beautiful country made the trip worth while. Could have been better with shorter bus trips and not use public transportation for several legs of the trip. The hotels were excellent in Dunedin and Queenstown except for Franz Josef. Thank goodness a free breakfast off set the dismal, very old hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed our day trips to Milford Sound with a helicopter flight over the glaciers and swimming with the dolphins in Christchurch (this was extra, but worth it!) It was a great way to see the 'hightlights' of the South Island.

B
, Sep 2011

Beautiful country made the trip worth while. Could have been better with shorter bus trips and not use public transportation for several legs of the trip. The hotels were excellent in Dunedin and Queenstown except for Franz Josef. Thank goodness a free breakfast off set the dismal, very old hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed our day trips to Milford Sound with a helicopter flight over the glaciers and swimming with the dolphins in Christchurch (this was extra, but worth it!) It was a great way to see the 'hightlights' of the South Island.


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