South Island Explorer

from £1807
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.


  • Encounter whales and other marine wildlife in Kaikoura
  • Explore stunning beaches and forested coves in Abel Tasman National Park
  • View the blow holes and rock formations in Punakaiki
  • Enjoy a Milford Sound Cruise in Fiordland National Park
  • Stay in Mount Cook, perfect for star gazing and breathtaking views

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • 3 breakfasts
  • Car rental throughout
  • Airport transfer on arrival
  • Whale watch excursion in Kaikoura
  • Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

Full description

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

Contact our New Zealand specialists now
nordic team doug kington 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. Prices for other combinations of passengers and rooms available on request. Other vehicle types also available.

Departure Duration Car category Twin Price (pp)
01 May - 30 Sep 2020 13 nights Toyota Corolla (or similar) £1,807
01 Oct - 31 Dec 2020 13 nights Toyota Corolla (or similar) £2,058
01 Jan - 31 Mar 2021 13 nights Toyota Corolla (or similar) £2,070

What's Included

  • Accommodation rooms with private bathroom (mix of hotels, motels and lodges)
  • 3 breakfasts
  • Car rental throughout (Toyota Corolla or similar) including GPS
  • Private transfer on arrival
  • Whale watch excursion in Kaikoura
  • Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise (with return coach transfers)
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection »

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

The itinerary shown is an example of this self-drive holiday. We have many other hotels and route recommendations which can be tailored to your requirements. Please discuss with our Travel Specialists who can put together a bespoke itinerary for you.

Day 1: arrive in Christchurch

On arrival you'll be 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 rental car today from the airport depot and make your way to the quaint coastal town of Kaikoura, renowned for its Maori cultural experiences and whale watching excursions.
Overnight: Manakau Lodge. Breakfast included.

Day 3: Kaikoura - Kaiteriteri (305 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. This afternoon continue onto Kaiteriteri, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.
Overnight: Kaiteriteri Reserve Apartments (2 nights).

Day 4: Abel Tasman National Park

Today enjoy an Abel Tasman Cruise & Walk Open Day Pass. This will give you complete flexibility to explore this wonderful national park at your leisure.

Day 5: Kaiteriteri - Punakaiki (278 km)

From the tranquil golden beaches of the Abel Tasman head out west to the wild and rugged west coast, and its astonishing variety of landscapes, rich history and abundant wildlife. Stop at Punakaiki to view the fantastic blow holes and rock formations.
Overnight: Punakaiki Resort.

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 (additional cost applies).
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, re-board your coach and return to Te Anau.

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). Breakfast included.

Day 11: Lake Wanaka

Enjoy a day at leisure in the heart of the Southern Lakes region.

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: Mt Cook Lodge & Motel.

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: Chateau on the Park.

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 George is just a step away from key attractions including the arts market, restaurants and Botanical Gardens.

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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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Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki

West Coast

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

A stunning eco-tourism hotel with spectacular views of wild West Coast beaches, the Punakaiki Resort offers 26 hotel rooms alongside 37 self-contained suites.

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58 on Cron, Franz Josef

New Zealand

Grade: Standard

Type: Motel

58 on Cron is set amongst beautiful rainforest with a backdrop of majestic mountains and…

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Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas, Te Anau

New Zealand

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

Situated on the lakefront, a couple of minutes walk from Te Anau's centre, the hotel has 112 spacious rooms set in a colourful garden.

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