Beautiful landscape of the South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island Tour: Christchurch, Queenstown & More

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Customizable Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary to inspire a personalized trip designed with your travel specialist

Countries Visited

New Zealand

Places Visited

Christchurch, Omarama, Oamaru, Dunedin...

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Suggested Duration

14 Days

New Zealand’s South Island is all about the journey. Here, you can ride on dreamy railways across the untouched wilderness, take a helicopter ride to a remote glacier, relax on overnight cruises through surreal fjords, and cruise on alpine roads past turquoise lakes. The destinations are also something that will have you dreaming about New Zealand for months to come. You can see villages with a mountain view, quaint cities of 19th-century heritage, and towns that are perched on lakes and beneath...

Customizable Itinerary

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Trip Highlights

  • Take an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound, a place of surreal landscapes and silence
  • Helicopter above Auraki for unrivaled views of New Zealand’s tallest mountain
  • Get up close to wild penguins on a half day cruise around the Otago Peninsula
  • Savor two world-famous railway journeys: the Taieri Gorge train towards Queenstown and the TranzAlpine from Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Touch down by helicopter on Franz Josef Glacier and hike around the white wilderness
  • Explore the beauty of Christchurch and discover how it has recovered after the 2011 earthquake
  • Connect with Scottish heritage in Dunedin, a quaint, eclectic town on the eastern coast
  • Traverse the wild World Heritage landscapes of Western Te Wai Pounamu, passing turquoise lakes and dramatic mountain vistas
  • Dip into glacial hot pools and encounter 500-year-old icebergs on a boat tour
  • Experience the highlights of Queenstown with two nights on the shores of Lake Wakatipu

Detailed Description

Mountains will shimmer with white through panoramic train windows, and glaciers will crunch beneath your feet on a heli hike, which is a hike that you will take on a glacier after a helicopter drops you off at the site. Lakes will stretch still and blue towards the horizon, and fjords will roll endlessly beneath ragged peaks. Welcome to Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand’s South Island, where over a third of the landscape is a national park, and almost everywhere has a wilderness tinge. On this remarkable island, the journeys will always be experiential. You can watch how landscapes change on twisting alpine roads, take helicopters and boats to icebergs and glaciers, gaze across jaw-dropping lakes, and come to love Te Wai Pounamu’s scenic diversity. A vacation here is always an adventure, and this two-week tour will take you on a loop around the island, starting and ending in Christchurch.

Handcrafted to fit as much as possible into two weeks, this private tour has everything from penguins to Scottish heritage and remote sounds to the highest lakes. Christchurch is a relaxed city for overcoming the jet lag. Witnessing what the city is becoming is aan excellent introduction to New Zealand. You will travel westwards past Lake Tekapo for two nights in Mount Cook Village, where a boat tour will provide iceberg encounters, and a helicopter flight will offer unrivaled views over Mount Cook and the Fiordlands.

From dramatic to rustic, the scenery changes on route to Dunedin, which is a town of unique Scottish heritage. Explore at your leisure on day five and then take a boat trip to see penguins on day six. Next, you will board the Taieri Gorge train towards Queenstown, where two nights will bring serene views and your choice of adventure. The fjords are nearby, and you will soon be immersed in them on a luxury, overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. Of all the New Zealand experiences, this regularly comes out as number one, as it is an exclusive journey into nature’s mystical realm.

Now you will travel back North, passing a series of lakes on route to Franz Josef, where the adventure will accelerate during your heli hike. You will then return to Christchurch via Greymouth and the TranzAlpine train, ending where you began. Although this is a lot of island to cover, you will have two nights in each destination, so there will also be a calmness and tranquility to complement all the exploration. Consider reading some of our travelers’ New Zealand tour reviews for more ideas to perfect your dream vacation.

Starting Price

$12,735 per person (excluding international flights)

Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.

What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all activities and tours
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip

Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.

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