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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.

Highlights

  • 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

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

5-Day South Island Tour from Christchurch

Franz Joseph Glacier

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.

Customer Reviews

Lori S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2016

I was in NZ on business and wanted to get a feel for the South Island in as little time as possible. This was the perfect tour! I hate to call it a tour because it is not your typical bus tour where you are with the same people the entire 5 days. You will be on 4 different buses. Don't let that throw you off! The tour company is well organised and provides all the details you need to get where you are going. I even had pre-booked taxis, all of which arrived on time, to take me to two of the bus pick-ups. On the final leg, the tour operator met me at the rail station and took me to my hotel. I felt like I had personalised treatment and enjoyed that I wasn't with the same people all 5 days. Make sure you call to confirm in advance. When I arrived at my Christchurch hotel, a packet was waiting for me at the desk with the detailed itinerary with times, hotels, etc.

Now about the itinerary. Perfect! The views! The bus drivers are as good as tour guides. They are knowledgeable on the area, the history and keep a running commentary throughout. There are scheduled comfort breaks and photo opportunities. The first day the main stop was Mount Cook. Wow! Don't doze off on the drive at any point in the 5 days or you will miss breathtaking views! The day ends in Queenstown which is your base for the next 3 nights. A taxi picks you up the next morning to catch the bus to Milford Sound. This is a long day, but amazing. Of course, it helped that the weather was incredible. I almost didn't get off the bus at Mirror Lake because there were so many people BUT DO IT! The mountains reflect into the water. Your photos will look like postcards! The hotels chosen by the tour company were great. Heritage in Queenstown pay the extra for breakfast and Scenic Hotel at Franz Josef where I was upgraded to their spa hotel. The scenic ride on the train was also amazing. I highly recommend this tour!

Ann H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2016

Excellent driver/guides with interesting and informative commentaries. Always on time and to schedule. Well organised and supported by the Tours staff. Lots of time on coach but worth it for incredible scenery. Lovely hotels with helpful staff.

RICHARD S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2016

absolutely fabulous

Heather S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

This is an excellent way to see a good deal of sights in a short time. It fairly packs them in too! The timetabling works out well and all of the bus journeys are enjoyable and include commentary and photo stops when time allows too. The train journey was a highlight for me as were the Mount Cook / Lake Tekapo views. Hotel meals aren't included so be aware of that one.

Olivia W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

Excellent trip, all pick-ups on time. Excellent hotels. A lot of hours on the bus - 8 hours there and back for a two-hour boat ride. Scenery and stops for lunch and tea made bus travel good. Sometimes drivers a little cranky, but usually because people late returning from stops. Overall trip went very smoothly, and scenery was truly amazing.

Daniel C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2015

The trip was everything we hoped it would be. However, it was different from what we expected. It was not a set tour with a constant group of people. Rather, it was a series of 4 1-day tours with different people joining and exiting. In addition, it was really a 4 days of touring with a day off in the middle. That's OK because we were exhausted after the second day. The tour guide from "Great Sights" was fantastic. The others were good, but not as good as he was. We especially appreciated the attention to details - that we were picked up and taken from location to location (drivers were waiting for us with our names on a sign.) The hotels were fine. In general, our expectations/hopes were met. This was an excellent introduction to the South Island of New Zealand. I feel comfortable considering Viator for our next adventure. THANKS!!!

William W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2014

Was top notch. All the pickups were right on schedule and the hotels fine. Great scenery.

Clare F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2011

This was a great way to see the highlights of the South Island and the free day in Queenstown was perfect for people wanting to try the various adventure sports The trip was very well organised and would be suitable for all types of traveller.

Nora S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2011

It was very well organized and we loved it

L R M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended January 2011

Because our original flight from Sydney was cancelled we had to ask that our travel arrangements be modified by 24 hours .and this was done swiftly and efficiently . Well done !.On each leg of our trip we found the Driver/couriers to be courteous and knowledgable .We particularly enjoyed our free day in Queenstown....a shangri la hidden in the mountains.Atruly memorable trip..

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