Fine Tours New Zealand
Call us FREE in New Zealand on 1855 277 3818
Call us FREE in New Zealand on 1855 277 3818

Similar itineraries

16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour

16 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Motels

15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour

15 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

9 Day Natural South self drive tour

9 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Motels

 

The Natural South Island

Christchurch to Christchurch, 19 days 18 nights self drive tour, staying in Boutique lodges & hotels

The Natural South Island
The Natural South Island
The Natural South Island
The Natural South Island

Tour map

From whales to glow worms, yellow eyed penguins to black stilts, this 19 day self drive itinerary has it all. You will be amazed at the sheer beauty of the unique wildlife that inhabits the South Island. Explore magnificent scenery, get up close to our unique wildlife, and stay in some superb boutique accommodations. A relaxed pace allows time to enjoy this beautiful road trip and get off the beat track to meet the locals, both human and animal alike!

The approximate total driving distance and time for this itinerary is: 2400 kms / 1488 miles, 29.8 hours

You can expect to spend around NZ$346 in fuel cost on this itinerary based on an intermediate sized car.

 

Day 1

Welcome to Christchurch, transfer to your accommodation and the rest of day at your leisure

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City
Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch, New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights - or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

Your accommodation - Orari Bed and Breakfast

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
Orari Bed and Breakfast
Orari Bed and Breakfast
Orari Bed and Breakfast
Orari Bed and Breakfast
 

Day 2

Collect your car this morning and then a drive along the Pacific Coast to Kaikoura

Driving distance and time: 179 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday.  You can choose from an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles, from Europcar, Budget or Hertz.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Kaikoura

Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura
Christchurch to Kaikoura

The drive north from Christchurch to Kaikoura takes you through the rolling hills of North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. Allow time for a detour and visit Hanmer Springs for a dip in the mineral hot pools. Continue on and cross the Hawkswood Range before descending to the spectacular Kaikoura coastline - where the road hugs the ocean for the last leg of the drive.

Your accommodation - Manakau Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Breakfast service available
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
 

Day 3

A day to explore the wildlife of Kaikoura. First view whales from the air and then take to the ocean to see the Albatross and other birdlife

Wings over Whales

Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales

In a typical 30 minute flight you will see the majestic Sperm Whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 Dusky Dolphins cavorting with each other. On occasion sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and the mighty Blue Whales, and also Common, Hectors, Risso's and Southern Right Whale Dolphins and of course, Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area. You may also fly over the Kaikoura Peninsula and see evidence of Maori fortifications (Pa sites), New Zealand Fur Seals resting and the Kaikoura township itself.

Albatross Encounter Tours

Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours

A world renowned marine reserve, Kaikoura is brimming with marine life and ocean-going birds. It is the Albatross capital of the world and has up to 14 different species visiting the area throughout the year. You’ll be taken by boat, 15 minutes off the coast where a huge range of elusive and usually inaccessible albatross can be sighted. You’ll also see penguins, gannets, skuas, shearwaters petrels and terns. You’ll travel in a dedicated albatross encounter vessel, adapted specifically for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities.

Your accommodation - Manakau Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 4

Return South today and onto Akaroa, the French port village

Driving distance and time: 260 kms / 161 miles : 3.5 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Kaikoura to Akaroa

Kaikoura to Akaroa
Kaikoura to Akaroa
Kaikoura to Akaroa
Kaikoura to Akaroa

The drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch continues to follow the spectacular coastline before heading inland and through North Canterbury’s major wine region, the Waipara Valley. You are also introduced you to the South Island’s most numerous inhabitant, the sheep. A great detour to take is the side trip to Hanmer Springs for a relaxing dip in the thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch City puts you close to the airport and the International Antarctic Centre and a visit is highly recommended. Here you can get as close to experiencing life on the frozen continent without actually visiting plus see New Zealand little blue penguins and ride in a Haaglund Tracked vehicle. The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development. Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour. The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held. The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Your accommodation - Beaufort House Akaroa

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
 

Day 5

A day to enjoy Akaroa and take a fascinating harbour cruise to see the worlds smallest dolphin

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised. 

Your accommodation - Beaufort House Akaroa

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 6

Cross Mackenzie country Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage Area. Take a glacier explorers tour and visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Driving distance and time: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.

Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers - the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Your accommodation - Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Style: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
 

Day 7

Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South

Driving distance and time: 312 kms / 194 miles : 3.6 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

A short drive south along the spectacular Mt Cook Highway to join the main road south and onto Twizel. Twizel occupies a central location in the Mt. Cook/ Mackenzie region, with the Southern Alps as a backdrop, the town is close to five picturesque lakes, including a world-standard rowing course and Formula One class boating area at Lake Ruataniwha. It’s a fishing mecca so if catching salmon, brown or rainbow trout is what you dream of then don’t go past any of Twizel's rivers, lakes or canals. For the adventurous Twizel's terrain is ideal for skydiving, rock and mountain climbing and close by is Ohau ski field and in Tekapo Round Hill ski field is ideal for families. Twizel has a rich but brief history linked to the development of the massive Waitaki Valley hydroelectric scheme. The town started life as a temporary place for the workers on the scheme and when completed the land and buildings were sold off in government lotteries. Now it’s a holiday home paradise.

Twizel to Dunedin

Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Your accommodation - Fletcher Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
 

Day 8

Explore Dunedin Peninsula and visit one of the world's rarest birds, the Yellow Eyed Penguin

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

Your accommodation - Fletcher Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 9

Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park. This evening visit the glow worm caves.

Driving distance and time: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf.  Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation - Te Anau Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
 

Day 10

Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness

Driving distance and time: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Te Anau to Manapouri

Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri

This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Your accommodation - Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Style: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
 

Day 11

You cruise returns to Manapouri at midday then head north to Wanaka

Driving distance and time: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Manapouri to Wanaka

Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. The old gold mining township of Arrowtown is worth a detour (well signposted) before you head over the Crown Range Road. At 1076 metres (3530 feet)  it is the highest sealed road in the country and offers spectacular views over the Wakatipu basin from the many vantage points. Approaching Wanaka the wonderful alpine lake welcomes you to the town. Despite its size Wanaka has a wide variety of activities available. In winter it is without doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close location to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Mt Aspiring National Park sits to western edge of the lake and offers some wonderful walking tracks for all abilities. Fishing, sailing and kitesurfing are popular pastimes on the lake and the many beach access points provide some great picnic and relaxing spots.

Your accommodation - Lime Tree Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
 

Day 12

Explore beautiful Mou Waho nature reserve

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the center of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions.

Your accommodation - Lime Tree Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 13

A drive through Mt. aspiring National Park to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

Driving distance and time: 168 kms / 104 miles : 1.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Wanaka to Lake Moeraki

Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the township of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Blue Pools here are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. The tranquil bush surroundings of Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki are just a further few extra kilometres.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
 

Day 14

A superb day enjoying the unique West Coast flora and fauna in and around the lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

The Lodge is a paradise for nature lovers and for a relaxing retreat away from the pressures of the modern world. On arrival you are given maps and information on the walk network, forest and seacoast trails and canoeing.

Walks Network & Lake Canoeing

The Lodge walk's network covers 10km (6 miles) and enables you to explore the Lower Moeraki Valley and seacoast. Canoe the gentle lake waters or walk the network of Lodge and World Heritage rainforest and coastal tracks.

  • Lakeside Walk – an easy 20 minute return forest walk to the outlet of Lake Moeraki with great mountain views. Giant Rimu Walk winds down the Moeraki Valley above rapids to giant rimu trees and a lovely Lodge lookout and continues to the Moeraki lagoon.
  • Monro Beach Walk – an 80 minute return walk through ancient rainforest to the wild and beautiful Tasman sea where large penguins can be seen August to December.

Canoes (and lifejackets) are provided for guests – for use on the lake but not the river. Canoe right around scenic Lake Moeraki or fish for brown trout.

Daily Complimentary Guided Nature Trips

Every day, a naturalist guides offer two guided activities each about an hour long, included in the Lodge tariff. Learn about the rainforests, discover ferns, orchids, giant native pigeon, bellbird and tui. Take a night walk to see glowworms, the Southern Cross and freshwater crayfish. Walks include historical talks and you can learn easy canoeing … and if you fall out you can feed local giant tame eels! This programme changes every day.

Short trips include:

  • Ancient Rainforest Trees, Tree Ferns and Birds … a voyage of discovery.
  • Freshwater Life in the Wilderness Lodge Rainforests … and feeding time for our giant tame eels and trout
  • Easy Canoeing in the Sheltered Inlets of Lake Moeraki … in safe, stable minnow canoes
  • Living in the Wilderness … in harmony with the environment
  • Glowworms, Morepork Owls, Freshwater Crayfish and the Southern Cross … an after dinner night walk

Longer Optional Guided Adventure Trips

Guided wilderness adventure programmes are offered year-round. Join a small group and accompany skilled nature guides. On safe, well-planned adventures you will get close to wildlife, learn about the forest, experience amazing scenery and friendly company.

Wilderness Seacoast, Fiordland Crested Penguin and New Zealand Fur Seals Tramping Adventure – This is a dramatic and challenging wet footed walk. It involves wildlife viewing, scrambling over beach rocks and along beaches and, at the end, a 400 foot steep hill climb.

Wilderness Seacoast, Hector's Dolphin, Rainforest, Tree Fern and Goldminers Walk – There is a huge variety on this walk; a lovely seacoast rich in rock pools, greenstone, Hector's dolphins (the worlds smallest dolphin) and occasionally New Zealand Fur Seals. Magnificent rimu, beech and kahikatea rainforest and a historic goldminer's path that traverses fern filled river gorges.

Ancient Rainforest Guided Walk and Canoe Safari to the Lower Moeraki River and the Tasman Seacoast:

  1. Option A: Easy - Canoe the Moeraki Lagoon – Nature guides take you on a 30 minute walk down the valley through giant rainforest trees, past some historic cottages and across freshwater springs and wetland moss forest. Canoes and life jackets are waiting at the Moeraki lagoon our. We paddle down river beneath the forest and out into the Moeraki lagoon.
  2. Option B: Moderate - Hard - Canoe the Moeraki Rapids– This trip is only suitable for people who are fit/experienced canoeists/good swimmers. Although the rapids are easy, trees in the river create some hazards. Nature guides instruct you in down river canoeing in front of the wilderness Lodge. You practice navigation and procedures for descent. Reach the Tasman beaches and walk to the Tasman seacoast where you enjoy refreshments and fossick for gemstones, shells and driftwood and look for Hector's dolphin, the world's smallest.

The Moeraki Mountains, Historic South Westland Pack Track, Moeraki Rapids and Blue Hut

The Moeraki valley was the last valley in South Westland to be accessed by road in 1965. Prior to this the only way south to Haast by land followed a historic pack track at the foot of the mountains. Drive 8 km up the valley to the start of this walk. The track crosses a series of small steams as the noise of the Moeraki rapids grows louder. When you reach these spectacular rapids, you cross on a high swing bridge then walk for 15 minutes to Blue Hut. Enjoy lunch either at the hut with a roaring fire and billy tea or beside a huge pool in the Moeraki River.

Trout Fishing

The lake and rivers have good numbers of Brown Trout and in March & April Quinnat Salmon. The lodge has basic rods with lures but NO fly-fishing equipment. Local guides can be arranged with notice but please check with us if fishing is to be the focus of your stay at the lodge. You cannot fish in front of the Lodge where we have giant tame brown trout.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 15

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef and the West Coast Glaciers

Driving distance and time: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.4 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Continuing along the wild west coast you pass through ancient podocarp forests. At Knights Point Lookout an interesting display tells of shipwrecks in the region and at the right time of year you can see elephant seals basking on the far beaches. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township. Historic Gillespie's Beach, a wilderness of crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains, known for its seal colony and colourful gold mining history, is 25 minutes west by car. Access to Fox Glacier is well signposted from the highway and a short walk will reward you with some great views of the largest of the West Coast glaciers. Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes and a great way to experience the glaciers is with The Helicopter Line or Mt. Cook ski planes.

Your accommodation - Westwood Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
 

Day 16

There is only one way to truly see the glaciers. Land by helicopter and take a guided walk!

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

After a thrilling scenic flight, high above the rugged terrain, you will land on the glacier, ready to undertake a three hour guided glacier hike. Your friendly guide will lead you through some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring glacial scenery in the world. Your guide will choose your route carefully as you go and, with an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, you’ll soon be making your way through an extraordinary landscape of towering peaks and glistening blue ice.Following on from your Heli Hike enjoy access to Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, the perfect end to an unforgettable day.

Your accommodation - Westwood Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 17

Continue north before heading into the Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass National Park

Driving distance and time: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular - even in the rain - and there is pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush clad hillsides it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made tier seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.

The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the worlds only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.

Arthur's Pass Township is bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
 

Day 18

A full day to enjoy the magnificent Wilderness Lodge at Arthurs Pass

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Christchurch and the West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass offers stylish accommodation, great food and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting.

Set on a 4000 acre working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, a daily program of guided activities will be the highlight of your visit. Join naturalist and farmer guides to hike alpine trails, kayak wildlife refuge lakes and experience life on a working farm.

Complimentary Guided Activities

Twice daily complimentary guided trips provide a wonderful introduction to the wildlife, landscapes and history of the Southern Alps. Some of the trips include:

  • Sheep Farm Discovery: Join a guide to watch sheep dogs in action, handfeed lambs, see traditional blade shearing and learn about growing merino wool for the fashion industry. This trip happens every second afternoon and is a highlight for many guests
  • Birds and Special Plants of the Mountain Beech Forest: Explore with a naturalist guide and learn the secrets of these remarkable moss forests surrounding the lodge
  • McKay Moa Forest Hike: Visit a special nature reserve on the Wilderness Lodge farm. Take in spectacular mountain scenery, see bizarre ‘moa plants’ and learn their fascinating history.
  • Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A gentle stroll after dinner to see the starry night sky. Identify planets, satellites and constellations including the Southern Cross.

Longer Charged Guided Activities

  • Upper Otira Glacier Adventure: A superb challenging summer hike. Climb high into a glacial basin and enjoy mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston.
  • Limestone Castles & Easy Kayaking:  A relaxed guided tour/walk to a landscape made famous by the Narnia film 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe'. Paddle a gentle mountain lake and enjoy lunch amongst natural limestone castles.
  • Southern Alps Mountain Hike: Traverse beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm, now Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Wonderful Waterfalls of Arthur's Pass: A special trip for waterfall and photography enthusiasts. Visit waterfalls and cascades throughout Arthur's Pass National Park and explore 'bonsai' mountain beech forests. Picnic beside a mountain stream.

Self-Guided Activity Options

  • Explore a 30km network of forest, farm and mountain walking trails. You hosts can provide maps and suggestions and you may like to order a picnic lunch
  • Explore neighboring Arthur’s Pass National Park on your own.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and take in the spectacular mountain scenery

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 19

Today just a short drive to Christchurch where your journey concludes

Driving distance and time: 128 kms / 80 miles : 1.6 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Descending into the valleys of the Waimakariri this drive offers some spectacular views of the braided river valleys. Castle Hill Scenic Reserve sits in limestone country and the area is dotted with remarkable rock outcrops. A popular place with climbers it was also an important place for Maori in past years as they provided shelter on their seasonal journeys between the coasts. There is a network of walking paths allowing you to explore. Descending onto the Canterbury Plains the rich farmland that attracted and helped settlers prosper becomes apparent as you head into the city of Christchurch.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

 
 
price from
NZ$ 7,356.00 pp (small car, low season - details)

This tour includes