Welcome to the spectacular South Island! Meet your Travel Director and the rest of the group before kicking off your week-long southern adventure with a Christchurch tour. You’ll soon see how Christchurch gets its nickname, the Garden City, and discover how it’s rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. You’ll marvel at the ingenuity of the locals as you visit the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square - the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard! Heading out of the city, the mountains are calling as we journey towards the scenic Southern Alps and along the shores of Lake Pukaki before arriving in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Known for its dreamlike alpine landscape, with the tallest mountain peaks and longest glaciers in New Zealand, the park is yours to explore over the coming days. Here, we’ll spend two nights in the serene Hermitage Lodge, enjoying a welcome dinner together to toast the start of our journey. Later, kick the adventures off on your very first evening with an optional visit to the world-renowned Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve. Taking a mesmerising journey through the cosmos with an expert astronomy guide, you’ll be seeing stars!
No, you're not dreaming! But waking up surrounded by mountains in the breathtaking Aoraki Mount Cook National Park will have you living out your ultimate travel fantasies. Today is all about showing you the best of the South Island’s must-see natural wonders your way. No matter how you choose to explore, it’s sure to be a day to remember! You could choose to set sail on a unique boat tour across a glacial lake to view the towering Tasman Glacier or explore the stunning scenery of the Tasman Valley and National Park with an overland adventure in a 4WD. Nature-lovers can choose to pull on your walking shoes to uncover the unique wildlife and scenic vistas New Zealand is so famous for with hikes of Hooker Valley and McNulty’s Tarns, led by knowledgeable guides. The choice doesn’t end as the sun goes down; you could opt to swap travel stories with the group at an optional dinner in the luxurious Panorama Room at the Hermitage. Dining on a seasonal menu in this intimate setting, you’ll relish the chance to unwind as you admire the views of Mount Cook one last time.
As we pull away from Mount Cook, settle in for a scenic drive travelling south over the Lindis Pass through Central Otago, known for striking landscapes, delicious wine and the world’s adventure capital Queenstown - our home for the next two nights. Our first stop on this scenic drive is historic Cromwell, where you’ll take in views of the sparkling Lake Dunstan and stop in at a local orchard for a taste of the town’s delicious stone fruit. Along the way, thrillseekers could choose to take the ultimate plunge at Kawarau Bridge, home to the AJ Hackett Bungy, before making a stop at the faithfully restored gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown, known for tree-lined avenues, 19th century wooden buildings and beautiful boutiques. After an exhilarating journey, excitement will be at an all-time high as we pull into Queenstown! Get your bearings around this alpine town and its glorious lakeside setting before arriving at your accommodation. Tonight is about exploring Queenstown, your way. If you’re feeling Lake Wakatipu calling your name, you’re in luck! You could choose to cruise across the lake on a vintage steamship to feast on a gourmet BBQ dinner on the Walter Peak High Country Farm or back in town you could relax and savour the lakeside scene over a glass of tasty Central Otago wine. However you choose to spend it, this relaxed evening will reinvigorate you before a full day in adventures begin tomorrow.
Thrillseekers, foodies, and outdoor enthusiasts are all in for a treat, today is all about taking in Queenstown and its world-famous adventures how you choose. With so much on offer in this adventure hub, it will be hard to know what to pick! Keen hikers can embrace the great outdoors with a guided walk of the iconic Routeburn Track, while movie buffs can get the best of both worlds on a scenic tour of Glenorchy to discover iconic Lord of the Rings filming locations. Today also offers the chance to tick a must-see South Island icon off your bucket list and join the day trip to the Fiordland National Park, cruising through the show-stopping Milford Sound. Wine-lovers can opt to join a Boutique Wine Tour of Queenstown, sampling Central Otago’s signature Pinot Noir and more at four vineyards or make the most of the region’s great outdoors and take an E-Bike Wine Tour. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies have their pick of the bunch, with jet-boat tours in Skippers Canyon and Dart River, and a guided zipline adventure on Bob’s Peak. With so many unforgettable ways to explore Queenstown find a place to grab a bite and raise a glass to another incredible day.
Cameras at the ready! Today is all about stunning scenery as we make our way from the alpine wonderland of Queenstown to the glacial village of Franz Josef. As we continue our journey, travelling further into Central Otago, keep your eyes peeled for the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka before we travel over Haast Pass, where you can choose to join the Haast River Safari to explore the breathtaking Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area. Continuing our journey, we’ll see the impressive drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt. Hooker, flanked by extensive glaciers, before we reach our destination in Franz Josef Glacier. Want a closer look? Make the most of your afternoon in Franz Josef and, weather permitting, choose to join a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride over the glacier, with highlights including an unforgettable snow landing. Keen to relax and unwind? How about a visit to the reinvigorating Glacier Hot Pools or a leisurely guided stroll on the Glacier Valley Walk. However you choose to spend your afternoon in Franz Josef, you’ll have plenty of stories to tell.
It’s our final full day together on the South Island, but we're not done with show-stopping sights just yet! Weather permitting, you’ll get another chance to enjoy a Franz Josef Glacier tour or just relax with a stroll through the small but lively village of Franz Josef. Later, you’ll explore the drift-wood strewn beaches of Hokitika before travelling inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass for one last photo-worthy stop. Finishing off our journey in Christchurch, you’ll join your Travel Director, Driver and the group for dinner. Be sure to and toast the memories you’ve made in this magical part of the world on your New Zealand visit.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been one week, but with countless adventures under your belt it’s time to say goodbye to the group over one last breakfast.