South Island Explorer

from £1467
excluding flights *
13 nights Year round


Explore the dramatic and stunning scenery of the South Island; the sweeping West Coast glaciers and rainforests, the majestic lakes, fiords and mountains of Queenstown and Fiordland National Park, the sandy beaches and idyllic coves of Abel Tasman National Park, as well as the market town of Nelson with its reputation for sunshine.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • 2 breakfasts
  • Car rental throughout
  • Unlimited kilometres
  • Meet and Greet on arrival
  • Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass
  • Whale watch excursion in Kaikoura
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Full description

Based on the South Island this 14-day itinerary incorporates some of the most dramatically scenic areas in the country.

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worldwide team lauren shorney bw
Authentic holidays for passionate travellers

Prices & Dates *

Airfares start from around £825 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

From prices per person based on 2 sharing a room with private bathroom, including car hire

Departure Duration Car category Twin Price (pp)
Year round 13 nights Toyota Corolla (or similar) £1,467

What's Included

  • Accommodation rooms with private bathroom (mix of hotels, motels and lodges)
  • 2 breakfasts
  • Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass
  • Whale watch excursion in Kaikoura
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise (with return coach transfers)
  • Meet & greet and private transfer on arrival
  • Car rental throughout (Toyota Corolla or similar)
  • Unlimited kilometres
  • Vehicle insurance subject to an insurance excess
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: arrive in Christchurch

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in Christchurch. This delightful city features two rivers, lovely parks and gardens and tree-lined avenues. The award-winning Botanic Gardens has one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants found in New Zealand. In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake and much of its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed. Today it is a city in recovery mode but still has much to offer with a wonderful choice of outdoor activities including punting on the River Avon, exploring on foot or by open top bus or tram. A visit to the fascinating International Antarctic Centre is recommended.
Overnight: The George Hotel.

Day 2: Christchurch - Kaikoura (180 km)

Collect your Budget rental car today from the airport depot and make your way to the lovely seaside town of Kaikoura, renowned for its Maori cultural experiences and whale watching excursions.
Overnight: White Morph Motor Inn.

Day 3: Kaikoura - Nelson (243 km)

Enjoy an early morning whale watch excursion today. Every tour is a unique experience and sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales, and Southern Right Whales. Orcas and Hector's dolphins are common sightings.
Overnight: The Rutherford Hotel (2 nights).

Day 4: Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park (131 km)

Today enjoy an Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass. This will give you complete flexibility to explore this wonderful Park at your leisure.
Overnight: The Rutherford Hotel.

Day 5: Nelson - Punakaiki (265 km)

From the tranquil golden sand beaches of Nelson head out west to this rugged wild west region, and its astonishing variety of landscapes, rich history and abundant wildlife. Stop at Punakaiki to view the fantastic blow holes and rock formations.
Overnight: Havenz Punakaiki.

Day 6: Punakaiki - Franz Josef Glacier (217 km)

Make your way to Glacier country today and to the world's most accessible temperate-zone glaciers, nestled in valleys lined with rainforest. On arrival you may like to enjoy a heli-hiking trip or guided walk on the Glacier.
Overnight: 58 on Cron

Day 7: Franz Josef Glacier - Queenstown (350 km)

Enjoy a magnificent drive today through World Heritage rainforests and cross the Haast Pass to reach the stunning alpine resort town of Queenstown, which lies at the heart of the spectacular Southern Lakes region.
Overnight: Hotel St Moritz.

Day 8: Queenstown - Te Anau (171 km)

Enjoy mountain views and farm country on the drive to Te Anau. Situated beside a stunning lake, this small township is the gateway to Fiordland National Park, part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Overnight: Distinction Hotel Te Anau & Villas (2 nights).

Day 9: Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau (118 km)

Today you will travel by coach from Te Anau to Milford Sound along the spectacular Milford Road. Photo stops will be made along the way into Milford. On arrival join your Nature Cruise for a leisurely cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforest, majestic mountains and rare wildlife. A nature guide will also provide you with fascinating interpretation throughout the cruise. Lunch options and complimentary tea and coffee are available on board the vessel. Following the cruise, reboard your coach and return to Te Anau.
Overnight: Distinction Hotel Te Anau & Villas.

Day 10: Te Anau - Lake Wanaka (227 km)

This beautiful lakeside town has an abundance of outdoor activities in a stunning natural setting. It is a slightly quieter alternative to Queenstown and is in close proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park. The ideal location for keen hikers and those wanting to explore pristine picture-perfect landscapes.
Overnight: Wanaka Springs Lodge (2 nights).

Day 11: Lake Wanaka

Enjoy a day at leisure in the heart of the Southern Lakes region.
Overnight: Wanaka Springs Lodge. Breakfast included.

Day 12: Lake Wanaka - Mount Cook (206 km)

Head north today through magnificent rural landscapes en route to Mount Cook National Park which lies at the heart of the Southern Alps. The scenery here is literally breathtaking as you take in mesmerising blue glacial lakes and tussock-clad hills as well as clear skies, perfect for stargazing, before arriving at Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Overnight: The Hermitage Hotel. Breakfast included.

Day 13: Mount Cook - Christchurch (330 km)

Drive to the city of Christchurch today via scenic Lake Tekapo and the charming town of Geraldine where you may like to stop en route.
Overnight: Peppers Clearwater Resort.

Day 14: depart Christchurch

Drop off your rental car at the airport today as you bid farewell to the South Island.

The George

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

Located in the heart of Christchurch, overlooking picturesque Hagley Park and the Avon River, The…

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White Morph Motor Inn, Kaikoura

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

A 22-room waterfront hotel, this motor inn is found in the very centre of Kaikoura,…

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The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

Centrally located in Nelson, the Rutherford is part of the Heritage group and offers 114…

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Havenz Punakaiki

New Zealand

Grade: Standard

Type: Self Catering

Accommodation at Havenz Punakaiki includes Oranui; a spacious two bedroom with panoramic sea views, a…

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Wanaka Springs Lodge

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Luxury Lodge

This boutique lodge offers generous New Zealand hospitality with 8 rooms set amongst a magnificent landscaped garden.

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The Hermitage Hotel, Mount Cook

New Zealand

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Superbly situated in Mt Cook National Park, the Hermitage offers 164 guestrooms with fabulous mountain…

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