Itinerary in brief:
- 1 night Christchurch
- 2 nights Franz Josef
- 2 nights Queenstown
- 2 nights Dunedin
- 1 night Lake Tekapo
Day 1: Arrival in Christchurch
On arrival in Christchurch you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the city, where you will check in for one night. Depending on what time you arrive, why not spend the afternoon punting along the River Avon and admiring the Cardboard Cathedral – a stirring reminder of the earthquake that rocked this small city in 2011.
Day 2: TranzAlpine train to Greymouth
You’ll be up early this morning to climb aboard the TranzAlpine at 7.30am, ready to take you through Arthurs Pass to the west coast town of Greymouth. You’ll pass through vast plains and miles of native forest before traversing the Southern Alps where glacier fed rivers shimmer under the snow-capped mountains. Arriving in Greymouth at lunchtime you’ll pick up your rental car at the station and drive south down the coast to Franz Josef – why not take a short detour on the way to see the gushing blue waters of Hokitika Gorge before arriving at your Franz Josef hotel and checking in for two nights.
Day 3: Franz Josef
You’ve got a whole day here to enjoy the beauty of the Southern Alps and explore the west coast glaciers at your leisure. If you want to book a heli-hike to get right up on the glacier by helicopter we can arrange this for you, or even organise a relaxed guided walk through the valley – just ask!
Day 4: Drive to Queenstown
Today you’ll head even further south, passing through the scenic areas of Wanaka and Arrowtown on your way to Queenstown, which sits on the edge of a deep blue lake under the gaze of the Remarkables mountain range. Check into your hotel here for two nights and head out for a walk around town on your first evening in this mountain resort.
Day 5: Queenstown
Queenstown is a famous hub of activity in New Zealand, so with one day to explore you’ll be spoilt for choice! We recommend taking the cruise down Lake Wakatipu to enjoy the mountain views, which will take you to Mount Nicholas sheep farm. Learning about local life here is a wonderful way to experience the area. If you’re feeling active, there’s no end to the adventures on offer – bungee jumping, skydiving, jetboating and kayaking are all available on the doorstep.
Day 6: Drive to Dunedin
After breakfast you’ll begin the drive to Dunedin on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Why not drive via the Catlins, a wild area of the country made up of huge sheep farms, ancient forests and local wildlife? Here, you can stop by Kaka Point and, if you’re lucky, you might just spot the yellow eyed penguins that waddle along the rocky shores. Arriving in Dunedin you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Day 7: Dunedin
Today you’ll enjoy a trip on the beautiful Taieri Gorge Railway. Starting in Dunedin you’ll head out across the plains and climb into the gorge, the train winding its way over narrow bridges and viaducts. The train slows down as it passes particularly scenic points so its easy to take snaps along your journey and enjoy a beer as you soak in the views. You’ll be back in Dunedin in time for a late lunch, so you’ll have the chance to explore this southern city or head out onto the Otago Peninsula and hike through the lush hills with views over the ocean.
Day 8: Drive to Lake Tekapo
Today you’ll head north to Lake Tekapo, right in the middle of the South Island, where you’ll check into your hotel for one night. Made famous by the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd that sits on its shore, this pretty lake looks out towards the mountains, and it’s an ideal pitstop on your way back to Christchurch. You can hike and cycle around the lake, or even swim if you are brave enough! Not far away you’ll also find Lake Pukaki. With views all the way down to Mount Cook, Pukaki is an idyllic spot to spend your last day in New Zealand.
Day 9: Depart Christchurch
After breakfast you’ll head back to Christchurch Airport, in time to drop off your rental car and catch your onwards flight.