This short but sweet South Island taster, showcases some of the South Island's best scenery and attractions on offer.
Christchurch to Franz Josef Glacier/Fox Glacier
Today we journey to the West Coast of New Zealand, one of the more remote and most sparsely populated areas of the country. We transfer you from your Christchurch accommodation to the Christchurch train station, for a journey on the TranzAlpine Train to Arthur's Pass Village. Truly one of the world's great scenic train trips, through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps, and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christchurch, cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury plains, follow the Waimakariri river, climbing into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts, with views of snow capped mountains. You alight the train at Arthur's Pass Village, where your driver will meet you, and then drive you through the mountain pass, with views of the rugged Southern Alps. You then descend through the Otira Gorge, into sub tropical rain forest, and on to Hokitika, in time for lunch.
You will have time to explore the coastal town of Hokitika, the beach, the jade jewellery factory, the glass blowing factory, and arts & crafts shops.
We carry on down the coast, through the majestic rainforest, to Franz Josef/Fox Glacier township, arriving there late afternoon. The Franz Josef/Fox Glaciers descend from the Southern Alps, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest. You will have time to walk up the valley, and view the glacier. You will also have time to take a helicopter flight up to the glacier, with a snow landing. You will be captivated as you lift off and fly up and over the glacier and experience the solitude of a landing in this natural alpine wonderland.
It is a 30 minute drive from Franz Josef village to Fox Glacier village. Each village has its own glacier. Depending on your preference, you can stay overnight at either village.
Overnight - Franz Josef village or Fox Glacier village (your choice).
Included - Tranz Alpine Train (Christchurch to Arthurs Pass)
Optional Activities: view the glacier on foot, Helicopter flight with snow landing; hot pools at Franz Josef, walk around Lake Matheson (near Fox Glacier village), or a glacier hike, where you actually walk on the glacier (2 night stay required).
Franz Josef/Fox Glacier to Queenstown
Our day of contrasts begins with our trip continuing down the West Coast, past the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, and then followed by a scene where rivers and rainforests dominate the landscape, as we drive through the World Heritage Westland National Park. We journey over another mountainous region and through the Haast Pass, one of the most stunning highways in New Zealand. We then drive through the treeless grasslands of Central Otago, past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, arriving in Queenstown late afternoon.
Queenstown provides adventure tourism during the day and a vibrant nightlife scene during the evenings. Locally, Queenstown has a reputation as one of New Zealand's wine and cuisine centres. Queenstown lies close to the centre of the small Central Otago wine producing region, reputed to be the world's southernmost. Pinot noir produced in this area fetches premium prices.
Overnight - Queenstown.
Queenstown - a free day for you to choose your activities.
Queenstowns reputation as the 'Adventure Capital of the World' is well earned. Along with adventure, Queenstown offers many other activities including golf, wine tastings, Lord of the Rings sites, farm tours, skiing, 4WD safaris, and more. With the spectacular geography of the region creating a special atmosphere and unique setting whatever your preference is, your day is set to be unforgettable.
Overnight - Queenstown
Included: Skyline Gondola ride.
Optional Activities: Shotover jetboat ride; farm tour including sheep shearing demonstration; Steamship Earnslaw cruise across the lake, wine tasting and/or lunch at a local winery; shopping, golf at Millbrook Resort; horseriding; visit to the historic town of Arrowtown; see Lord of the Rings locations; skydiving; bungy jumping !
Queenstown to Milford Sound, and return
Today you visit Milford Sound located in the Fiordland National Park.
Grand, brooding, serene and wild, Milford Sound draws visitors from all over the globe to cruise its length and marvel at its beauty. Luxuriant rain forest clings to sheer rock walls, and waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres to the sea below. Our scenic cruise offers you the chance to enjoy the dramatic scenery of Milford Sound in style !
Optional activities - after your cruise, you can choose to fly from Milford Sound back to Queenstown, rather than travel back by road.
Queenstown to Christchurch
We leave Queenstown via the powerful Kawarau Gorge, and drive north through the rugged Central Otago region. As we drive through the mountainous Lindis Pass, we reach the highest point on the South Island highways. Continuing past Mt Cook, Australasia's tallest peak, we arrive at the glacier-fed Lake Tekapo, where you will have time for lunch, and view the Church of the Good Shepherd. Here the turquoise-blue waters contrasted by the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, and surrounding yellow-tussock farmland, are sure to take your breath away.
We continue through Burkes Pass and drive through the rich pastoral farm land of the Canterbury Plains, arriving in Christchurch late afternoon. Here we bid you a fond farewell after your transfer to the airport, or your Christchurch accommodation.