- This small-group guided tour of the South Island will visit Christchurch, Wanaka, Queenstown, Tekapo (an International Dark Sky Reserve), Franz Josef Glacier, and back across to Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass onboard the world-famous TranzAlpine train.
- You’ll have the option to visit Milford Sound, and we’ll stop at many other scenic spots along this South Island itinerary.
- There’s a range of optional add-on activities: from adrenaline-pumping bucket-list items like bungee jumping, jet boating, and sky-diving to more gentle activities like heli-hiking (okay for all abilities), quad biking, kayaking, scenic flights and hiking. None of these are compulsory; just add the ones you want.
- Accommodation is included on the last night of your tour, but we can also book a few extra nights for you if you would like to extend your stay.
- Discover NZ's most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas.
- Journey through National Parks.
- Cross the stunning Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine train.
- Explore downtown Christchurch and see its inspiring regeneration since the 2011 quake.
- Visit the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, nestled by the shores of Lake Tekapo.
- Unparalleled stargazing opportunities in Tekapo’s Dark Sky Reserve.
- Visit the charming, historic gold rush village of Arrowtown.
- Carve your own pounamu (greenstone/jade) pendant in Franz Josef.
- Discover the beauty and history of pounamu in Hokitika, the greenstone capital of the country.
- Plus many surprise stops along the way.
- All transport
- Breakfast every day
- High-end hostel accommodation
- Experienced local guide
- Small groups of max 16 people
Day 1 : Christchurch to Mackenzie Country
This morning we’ll explore iconic downtown Christchurch and your guide will show you the cool and creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here. Christchurch folk are an innovative and creative bunch – the Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is totally inspirational. After lunch we leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. The lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true. The tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water’s edge, proving that small is definitely beautiful. Grab some confetti and congratulate any passing brides – couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of the chapel! Tekapo has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve and the super clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Day 2 : Mackenzie Country to Queenstown
This morning if you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you’ll feel on top of the world. Speaking of views, today’s scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper. From the golden tussocklands of Mackenzie country – where epic battles of Return of the King were filmed – to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it’s like you’re driving into a postcard. We’ll pause for lots of photo stops en route to give your camera a workout, including a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. This also happens to be the World Home of Bungy, give it a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way through the gorge! Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max!
Day 3 : Queenstown
With a full day in Queenstown, let’s work on that bucket list! There are heaps of options to choose from: paragliding over the lake, hiking trails to die for, bungy jumping while your Haka friends cheer you on, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and swinging through a canyon are just a few of our favourites. For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as awesome as the destination. Once on the Sound, sailing beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you’ll understand why some call it the “8th Wonder of the World” Tonight you have around 40 bars to choose from – your guide will fill you in on their favourites – to share your adventures with your travel buddies, and party the night away. Alternatively you can opt for an early night ready for another day of adventure!
Day 4 : Queenstown to Wanaka
One last morning in Queenstown to work on that bucket list. What will it be today - a canyoning experience, Lord of the Rings 4x4 safari, or a jet boat ride along the Shotover River? There are so many options. You decide. After the excitement of Queenstown, the afternoon is a chance to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. On the way we’ll stop in at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old world character. Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you’ll soon see why Wanaka’s considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. There are stunning hikes and bike rides all around for a welcome chance to relax.
Day 5 : Wanaka to Franz Josef
This morning is about exploring Wanaka. How, exactly, is up to you! Optional activities include a flying lesson, skydiving, or a lake cruise and nature walk on Mou Waho Island. If none of those appeal, there are lots of scenic short walks in the area - including a visit to #thatwanakatree. Talk to your guide for the best options. The journey to Franz is another stunner – many of our Haka Guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand. As we hit the road, we’ll stop at one of our favourite lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option. From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way. We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Day 6 : Franz Josef
With Aoraki/Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand. Te Wāhi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery. There are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Or maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake. As well as the awesome glacier activities you could also try out skydiving and even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef!
Day 7 : Franz Josef to Christchurch
Before you know it, it’s your last day! After breakfast we head further along the beautiful west coast on another of the most spectacular drives in the country (and, some would say, the world): a rugged, primeval landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking beach and ocean waves. We stop at Hokitika and visit a greenstone factory, a great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Time permitting, we may also visit the National Kiwi Centre where there is guaranteed viewing of rare kiwi birds in their nocturnal house. On the way back to Christchurch, you'll traverse the South Island on the stunning TranzAlpine Train Crossing. Travelling across the Southern Alps through Arthur’s Pass, you'll arrive in Christchurch around 6.30pm before transferring to your accommodation. Your tour officially ends at 8pm today in Christchurch, so feel free to party on with your new travel buddies for as long as you like – your accommodation tonight is included so you can treat yourself to a lie-in in the morning!
Pickup: 8am at the accommodation by the guide.
What to Bring:
Private room upgrade available for $759.
South Island Lick Tour Tips:
Activities can also be purchased on the road – just let your tour guide know. We can't always guarantee availability when booking on the road, so we suggest pre-booking any activities you especially want to do.
As the tour starts early in the morning, you can opt to book accommodation in Christchurch with us the night before the tour – only having to walk downstairs on the day the tour starts makes for a stress-free morning!
The tour price includes dorm share accommodation but if you would prefer your own space you have the option to upgrade to a private room. You can select this upgrade when you start building your tour online.