This 3-day South Island circle tour from Christchurch is ideal for independent sightseeing. With your transportation and accommodation taken care of, you can experience the natural beauty of New Zealand in a relaxed way. You’re treated to a panorama of spectacular scenery aboard the coach and TranzAlpine train, traveling across the Southern Alps to the rugged west coast and along the Canterbury Plains. Enjoy two nights’ accommodation and live commentary on board.
Day 1: Christchurch – Mt Cook – Queenstown
Board a coach in Christchurch and travel through the rich pastoral farmland of the Canterbury Plains. Watch as the scenery changes as you make your way through the foothills of the Southern Alps, across Burkes Pass and to Lake Tekapo, where the Church of the Good Shepherd stands proudly on the shore.
Continue along the western side of Lake Pukaki and arrive at Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, where you'll have free time to soak in your stellar surroundings. Cross Lindis Pass and skirt the Kawerau Gorge before arriving in Queenstown for the night.
Overnight: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar
Day 2: Queenstown – Franz Josef Glacier
From your Queenstown hotel, drive along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea to Haast Pass, one of New Zealand's most stunning highway routes and the gateway to World Heritage–listed Westland National Park. After passing through the flat grasslands of Central Otago, ascend the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps and the rivers and rainforests of Westland.
Travel up the west coast past spectacular mountain ranges, forests and lakes to Franz Josef Glacier, a jaw-dropping 7-mile (11-km) glacier dating back more than 7,000 years. Stay overnight at a unique hotel tucked away in the mountains.
Overnight: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Day 3: Franz Josef Glacier – Greymouth – Christchurch
Wake up to beautiful mountain scenery before embarking on the last day of your tour. Travel back in time to the west coast Gold Rush in Greymouth, the center for thousands of diggers during the historical gold strikes of the 1860s.
Board the renowned TranzAlpine train for your homeward journey across the Southern Alps, along the banks of the Waimakiriri River Gorge to the Canterbury Plains, arriving in Christchurch in the evening. From here you'll be taken to your hotel or the airport for your onward journey.