Christchurch, New Zealand
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clock-o5 days (Approx.)
TransportHotel pickup offered
ticket-oMobile ticket
commentOffered in: English

Overview

See the top sights of the spectacular South Island on a 5-day guided coach tour, round-trip from Christchurch. Stop at Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain; enjoy free time to explore the adventure capital of Queenstown; take a boat cruise on Milford Sound, surrounded by steep rock walls; view Fox and Franz Josef glaciers; and travel by rail through the Southern Alps aboard the scenic TranzAlpine Express. Includes hotel pickup and drop-off, and four nights’ accommodation in Queenstown and Franz Josef.
  • Five-day coach tour of New Zealand's scenic South Island
  • Lunch at Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain
  • Cruise on Milford Sound
  • Free leisure day in Queenstown
  • Spectacular Franz Josef Glacier
  • Trip aboard the famous TranzAlpine Express train
  • Fully guided tour and commentary
  • Pickup and drop-off from centrally located Christchurch hotels
Begin your 5-day exploration of New Zealand's South Island with hotel pickup in Christchurch. Peer through the windows of your comfortable coach at the vivid scenery while you journey through the foothills of the Southern Alps. Your guide makes a stop at Mt Cook for lunch (own expense) before your first night in Queenstown, including free time to explore at your leisure.

After a memorable cruise on Milford Sound, nestled in the UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park, you’ll drive along Haast Pass to Westland National Park, another World Heritage site. The rugged West Coast route takes you past soaring mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to the must-see Franz Josef Glacier, where you’ll spend the night with scenic views.

On the final day, you’ll travel to the reconstructed gold-rush town of Shantytown. Conclude your South Island tour with a train trip from Greymouth aboard the TranzAlpine Express. The route takes you over the Southern Alps through Arthur's Pass to Christchurch, renowned as one of the world’s top 10 train journeys.

Itinerary

Day 1: Christchurch / Mt Cook / Queenstown
Travel through the rich pastoral farm land of the Canterbury Plains and the ever-changing spectacular scenery of the foothills of the Southern Alps. Continue traveling across Burkes Pass before descending to the stunning glacial fed Lake Tekapo and visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd which stands on the foreshore. From here you travel up the western side of Lake Pukaki to arrive at Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Stop at Mt Cook for lunch (additional at own expense) where you will be mesmerized by the surroundings of this truly unique region. Cross the Lindis Pass, leaving the MacKenzie Country and travel along the Kawerau Gorge before arriving in Queenstown.
Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar).

Day 2: 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 3: At Queenstown
Enjoy a free day in Queenstown.
Overnight Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar).

Day 4: 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 5: 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, journey over the Southern Alps, through Arthur's Pass and onto Christchurch by the famous TranzAlpine Express. This journey is renowned as one of the top ten train journeys in the world.

Reviews

Viator Traveler's Reviews

4.5
50 Reviews
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c
, Oct 2018

We thoroughly enjoyed this 5 day tour of the South Island. It is the best way to take in all the spectacular scenery of this special part of the world. The distances involved were long but the buses we rode in were comfortable. All of the drivers were professional and also made great guides as they provided commentary throughout the journey. The hotels we stayed in were all excellent. The best part was the trip through the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine train. This is really one of the best rail journeys in the world.

R
, Aug 2018

Our South Island itinerary was perfect.We saw snow capped mountains,fiords,rain forests,glaciers and the sea-all in 5 days.Whether traveling by coach,train or taxi/shuttle,because Viator was so organized,we were always on time.Coach drivers,Stuart and Peter, were outstanding with their commentary.

W
, Apr 2018

Our trip from Christ Church to Queens town was not satisfactory. The driver guide almost missed us from the hotel. The van was small and packed. Beyond Queens town the trip was well organised and fantastic. We enjoyed everything.

P
, Mar 2018

A good way to see many sights in South Island, in comfort with someone else driving! The coaches are comfortable but be prepared for the long distances covered. There are regular stops but they are usually very brief time for a quick coffee and visit to the toilet and little more. This is not a conventional coach tour. Each day is a different bus, different driver, different passengers, but the whole package was very well-organised and operated efficiently. The drivers all provide commentaries each has his own style but they are always informative and often very amusing. And the scenery, wow! Things are very much weather-dependent though. Franz Josef Glacier and the Trans-Alpine train journey were spoilt by heavy rain and poor visibility, and were it not for fine weather at Mount Cook, Milford Sound and in Queenstown my impressions might have been less favourable. It's a lot of money to spend and not see anything! The hotels were superb - the Millenium in Queenstown is very plush and the Scenic in Franz Josef more than adequate, with the unexpected bonus of a superb breakfast included.
I felt some frustration at not being able to explore some of the sights more fully, but overall felt that this was the best way to cover a huge area and visit many spectacular locations in a degree of comfort.

p
, Mar 2018

We chose this tour as it included many of the must-see sights in the South Island. This was accomplished by using a series of coach journeys linking places, picking up and dropping off travellers along the route. We were given short comfort breaks with an occasional stop at a place of interest. The exception to this was the very long day tour to Milford Sound for the two hour cruise which was breath-taking.
The other highlight was the Trans-Alpine rail journey from Greymouth back to Christchurch which gave a view of many facets of the country side and areas almost inaccessible by any other methods of transport. The audio commentary headphones provided was well worth listening to, although many people didn't bother.
The accommodation provided was adequate in Queenstown and excellent in Franz Josef.
Overall we found it frustrating passing through places we will probably never visit again and not having the chance to look aroundeven at Mount Cook we only had an hour, so there was a choice between lunch or a short walk around, certainly no time to walk a trail!

m
, Mar 2018

Great trip, well planned and executed

E
, Jan 2018

very interesting spots that were visited. however be ready to sit on a bus for about 8 hours each day.

N
, Jan 2018

This is an excellent tour for a family who wants to see most of the South Island in a short time with less or no stress. You get the value for money and the tour was very well coordinated by the tour operator.

I
, Jan 2018

Very well organized 5 days tour of the South Island. unfortunately, the weather was not so good and the Tranzalpine train was cancelled.
The drivers were nice and prepared...the only thing was that they spoke too fast and with a strong accent, so we did not understand all. Thus, my suggestion is to supply travellers from abroad with the translated information, if possible. also, even if we saw many different beatiful sites, we made many hundreds of km each day, and that was a little bit tiring. In total, it was a nice experience. The hotels were fine.

t
, Dec 2017

This was a great way to experience a lot in a limited time frame. From the first pickup in Christchurch to final drop-off at our hotel, the tour was handled with expert precision. The coach drivers/tour guides were very informative and kept up a lively conversation throughout the trips. Tom was especially entertaining with his stories and songs. The days are long but there are plenty of stops along the way. I would recommend having breakfast snacks because the days often start before cafes open and there is not enough time for a leisure breakfast.

I would not hesitate to book another tour in the future and highly recommend this tour in particular if you want to experience the south island of New Zealand.


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