Visit multiple South Island highlights on this unforgettable 8-day private tour, round-trip from Christchurch. Make the journey from ‘The Garden City’ in a counter-clockwise direction, traveling with ease in your very own luxury vehicle with a private guide at the helm. The route covers Arthur’s Pass, west coast rainforests, Aoraki/Mount Cook and Queenstown, to name a few. Enjoy seven nights’ accommodation including breakfast, entry to the Franz Josef Glacier hot pools and a train ride on the TranzAlpine. Optional activities include helicopter rides and bungy jumps (own expense).
Private Tour: A Glimpse of Franz Josef Glacier
Start your private 8-day South Island tour from Christchurch hassle-free with airport or hotel pickup and a transfer to your first night’s accommodation. You have your choice of 3-, 4- and 5-star centrally located hotels in Christchurch, Hokitika, Franz Josef, Wanaka, Queenstown and Lake Tekapo, with plenty of free time to explore each locale in between guided excursions led by your very own private guide.
Day 1: Christchurch (D)
After arriving at your hotel, set off on an afternoon tour of Christchurch with your guide. Known as the ‘Garden City,’ Christchurch is becoming rightly famous for its number of beautiful green spaces. Stroll around one of its best — the Christchurch Botanic Gardens — and then admire views of the city from The Sign of the Kiwi viewpoint on Dyers Pass. Travel around the picture-perfect city bays by air-conditioned jeep, taking in Lyttleton, where many of the country’s Canterbury region settlers originated from.
Your first day finishes with a welcome dinner at your hotel where you can get to know your guide and get ready for the South Island tour ahead.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Christchurch
Day 2: Christchurch – Arthur’s Pass – Hokitika (B)
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel and travel west with your guide towards the Southern Alps. Head along Arthur’s Pass, the South Island’s highest road, and then stop for a stroll through one of the area’s short forest walks, listening out for sounds of keas (New Zealand’s native parrots). While you soak up the oak forest's tranquil ambiance, hear tales from your guide of the 19th-century gold miners traveling along the pass by horse and carriage.
Hop aboard the TranzAlpine train and enjoy a scenic journey through the mountains, from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass. You'll experience a dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. You'll arrive in Hokitika in the evening with time to spend at your leisure.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Hokitika
Day 3: Hokitika – Franz Josef Glacier (B)
Relax over breakfast in your hotel and then your guide will pick you up for your journey south. Travel through the West Coast rainforest, encountering wild bush scenery, beaches, coasts and mountains.
In the afternoon you’ll arrive at Franz Josef Glacier, one of the world’s most accessible glaciers, located next to a rainforest. You have your choice of optional activities payable at your own expense to your guide, or you can spend this time at leisure. Optional activities include: a half-day walk around this incredible glacier with your guide, a heli-hike (combination of helicopter ride and hiking) or a helicopter flight that finishes by landing on top of the glacier.
Spend your evening at leisure in your hotel near Franz Josef Glacier. After checking into your hotel, perhaps unwind with a soak in one of the glacier’s tempting hot pools.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) near Franz Josef Glacier
Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier – Wanaka (B)
Enjoy breakfast and then set off on one of the most scenic journeys in New Zealand, traveling over Haast Pass. On the way, stop at Lake Matheson — known as Mirror Lake — and, if you’re lucky enough to have a clear day, marvel at the water’s reflection of Mount Cook. Standing roughly 12,316 feet (3,754 meters) high, this incredible peak is New Zealand’s highest mountain.
The countryside around Haast Pass offers tantalizing scenic walks, and your guide will stop frequently on your journey so that you can explore some of the best ones. Admire the spectacular waterfalls and deep blue rock pools that typify the landscape here, and watch out for trout swimming through the streams.
Arrive in the pretty town of Wanaka in the evening and spend your night relaxing at leisure.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Wanaka
Day 5: Wanaka – Queenstown (B)
After breakfast in your hotel, choose from one of three morning activities (own expense). Either enjoy an adventurous walk up Mount Iron to see panoramic views of Mount Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka, or visit Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World attraction to experience a 3D maze, illusion rooms and puzzle center. Alternatively, your guide will drop you off at Lake Wanaka for a kayak tour.
In the afternoon, leave Wanaka and continue your journey over New Zealand’s highest highway, the Crown Range. Pass through Arrowtown, one of the county’s most important towns during the 1860s gold rush, and then continue to Queenstown. After checking in to your hotel, your guide will discuss the next day’s plans and then leave you to enjoy your evening independently.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Queenstown
Day 6: Queenstown (B)
Dubbed the ‘adventure capital of the world,’ Queenstown offers an endless array of activities and sightseeing opportunities. Enjoy the entire day here at leisure and experience as much (or as little!) of this amazing town as you want.
Feeling adventurous? Queenstown is the best place in New Zealand (if not the world) for skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding and white-water rafting. If daredevil activities aren’t for you, then take a more sedate approach to your day; perhaps enjoy a cruise on the 100-year-old TSS Earnslaw steamship or walk around pretty Lake Wakitipu.
All Day 6 activities are at your own expense.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Queenstown
Day 7: Queenstown – Mount Cook – Lake Tekapo (B)
Leave the Central Otago region after breakfast, traveling through Kawarau Gorge with its dramatic rugged hillsides. Along the way, stop in the town of Cromwell to visit a much-loved local fruit shop where you can try an ice cream made from real fruit, plus a few of New Zealand’s legendary Manuka honey products.
Continue your journey, crossing Lindis Pass through to Mackenzie Country. Famous for its Merino sheep and production of quality wool, the region is also home to New Zealand’s highest mountains — namely, Mount Cook. If the weather is good, then stop for a gentle walk around the foothills of this incredible mountain with your guide.
Your day finishes at your accommodation on the tranquil shores of Lake Tekapo. Check in and then spend your last night at leisure.
Overnight: Hotel in your selected category (Bronze, Silver or Gold) in Lake Tekapo
Day 8: Lake Tekapo – Christchurch (B)
If it’s a clear day, then spend your last morning on an optional helicopter flight (own expense). After breakfast your guide will take you to the heliport for a 1-hour sightseeing flight around Mount Cook, to enjoy unforgettable views of the surrounding valleys. Alternatively, relax by Lake Tekapo or enjoy a stroll around the hills.
In the afternoon head back to Christchurch and enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide. Your tour finishes with a drop-off at Christchurch Airport or another local hotel.
Clean, comfortable value-for-money accommodation with private facilities.
Christchurch: Heartland Cotswold Hotel
Hokitika: Jade Court Motel
Franz Josef Glacier: Punga Grove Motel and Suites
Wanaka: Clearbrook Resort
Queenstown: Heartland Hotel
Lake Tekapo: Godley Hotel
Full-facility hotel with emphasis on comfort and personalized service. Guestrooms offer more extensive amenities.
Christchurch: Copthorne Commodore Hotel
Hokitika: Beachfront Hotel
Franz Josef Glacier: Franz Josef Scenic Circle Hotel
Wanaka: The Moorings Luxury Apartments
Queenstown: Heritage Hotel
Lake Tekapo: Lake Tekapo Scenic Resort
Superior properties providing excellent locations and service.
Christchurch: George Hotel
Hokitika: Station's Inn
Franz Josef Glacier: Te Waionui Forest Retreat
Wanaka: Edgewater Resort
Queenstown: The Rees Luxury Apartments (lake-view hotel room)
Lake Tekapo:Peppers Beacon Resort