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Thrifty Tours

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland

Starting in Christchurch cross the Southern Alps on board the Tranz Alpine train. Explore the West Coast Glaciers before heading south to Queenstown. Venture into Milford Sound for an incredible overnight experience. The World Heritage area of Mt Cook National Park is also a highlight.

Tour special blurb

Due to the impacts, COVID-19 has had on tourism numbers in New Zealand the TranzAlpine train is currently operating on a limited schedule. Some departure dates for this tour may be affected by the changes until 26 December 2022. Please contact our sales consultants to discuss whether your chosen departure is affected and see how we can adjust the itinerary to include this experience if it is.

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Tour summary and feature

Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand independent tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,885 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

10 days/9 nights

Motels

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 153 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station
- Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Tour at a glance

Brief itinerary - 10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch to Greymouth by Tranz Alpine Scenic Train then to Franz Josef , Glacier shuttle
Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat

Day 3: Free day to explore the glaciers at leisure
Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat

Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 5: Free day to enjoy Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 6: Travel to Milford Sound for your overnight adventure and cruise
Accommodation: Overnight Boat in Milford Sound

Day 7: Your cruise returns then travel back to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 8: Queenstown to Mt Cook National Park
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Day 9: Glacier Explorers tour this morning and then onto Christchurch
Accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Day 10: Depart Christchurch today

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

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

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. A great way to explore is to 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Pass

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 2 - Christchurch to Greymouth by Tranz Alpine Scenic Train then to Franz Josef , Glacier shuttle

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 2
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station

A private driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Christchurch to Greymouth

Your early morning departure is rewarded with incredible scenery today onboard the TranzAlpine Scenic Train, considered one of the world's great train journeys. It travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through the lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.

Greymouth Train Station to Franz Josef with Hokitika Scenic Tours

Leaving Greymouth, you will head south to Franz Josef and Glacier Country. Pass through Hokitika and continue on through Ross, a historic gold mining town where several buildings still remain intact. As you travel further down the coast you’ll also go through Hari Hari, the town where Guy Menzies, the first person to fly solo over the Tasman crash landed. Follow the coast through several small towns before catching a glimpse of the Franz Josef glacier as you arrive into the town centre.

Glacier Valley Shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.

Your accommodation: Rainforest Retreat

Rainforest Retreat is centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier Village. Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush each unit was built exclusively to the beautiful, natural environment of Westland National Park.

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Day 3 - Free day to explore the glaciers at leisure

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 3
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the viewpoint below the terminal face. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Nature Tour

Nestled in thick historic West Coast forest and a stone's throw from wild black sand beaches, this is one of the world's most unusual glaciers. Beautiful blue skies or magical misty rain - whatever the weather - you will feel like you are in Narnia or LOTR.
With easy walking at your pace, information on glaciology, geology, geomorphology, flora and fauna, local legends, history, and small guided groups with fantastic guides, you will experience this glacier in style and in the best hands with the only local company. Wander past glacier rivers and streams and through beautiful podocarp forest; discover hidden natural treasures such as native snails, wild native mushrooms, and dozens of species of native orchids; listen to native bird song and waterfalls; see if you can spot a Chamois or a Tahr on the huge snow-capped mountains above while drinking a cup of tea and talking one-on-one with your guide. This tour will be a highlight of your travels in New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Rainforest Retreat

Rainforest Retreat is centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier Village. Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush each unit was built exclusively to the beautiful, natural environment of Westland National Park.

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Day 4 - Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 4
Franz Josef to Queenstown with Glacier Shuttles

Set off from the small village of Franz Josef, set at the edge of Franz Josef Glacier (one of the world's most accessible glaciers), and travel through the remote and unspoiled scenery of the West Coast. Take the scenic Haast Pass through the Southern Alps, the southernmost pass between the East and West coasts of the South Island. See the clear and pristine waters of Lake Hawea as you travel east, passing Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka as you continue through to New Zealand's 'Adventure Capital', Queenstown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 5 - Free day to enjoy Queenstown

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 5
Free day in Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic, and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour.
Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata' or simply take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Jet Boat the Shotover Canyon

Jet boating on the Shotover River is one of the must do Queenstown activities, even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge climbed aboard ‘Big Red’.  During this unforgettable ride you’ll skim across shallow water, past rocky outcrops as you hurtle through the narrow chasm of the Shotover Canyon before your skilled driver takes you into a scream worth 360 degree spin.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Arrowtown and Around Tour

Discover Queenstown, Arrowtown and the surrounding regions amazing scenery with a local knowledgeable guide. Enjoy the region’s best sights and history on a small group guided tour leaving from Queenstown. Includes stops at a bee farm to taste premium Manuka Honey, Queenstown Hill for views over Lake Wakatipu, the Kawarau Bungy bridge, and Lord of the Rings site with free time to explore in Arrowtown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 6 - Travel to Milford Sound for your overnight adventure and cruise

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 6
Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise

The Milford Mariner offers you a very special dinner, bed and breakfast experience on Milford Sound. Onboard the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. Accompanied by a nature guide you can go exploring in the tender craft and kayaks or simply relax on deck. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.
The vessel itself was designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland's heritage.
Departing from Queenstown, you'll learn about the local area and travel past Lake Wakitipu and Lake Te Anau and along the famous Milford Road as you soak in the incredible scenery. Upon arrival in Milford, you'll head to the Milford Wharf, where the Milford Mariner cruises the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea leisurely exploring on the way many points of interest, there is plenty of time to view the waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife and the experienced nature guide on board will be able to answer any questions you may have. After reaching the open sea, subject to weather and favourable conditions the sails are hoisted for a period. The vessel returns to the calm and shelter of Harrison Cove for your overnight stay.

Your accommodation: Overnight Boat in Milford Sound

Onboard the Milford Mariner you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. After the day's activities, you enjoy a delicious evening buffet in the spacious saloon before retiring to your private cabin.

Meals included: Dinner

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Day 7 - Your cruise returns then travel back to Queenstown

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 7
Milford Mariner overnight cruise returns to Milford, coach to Queenstown

Your Milford Mariner Overnight Cruise returns to Milford at 9:15am.

Return along the wonderful Milford Road by luxury coach passing through Te Anau. Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. On the southern shore of Lake Wakatipu sits Kingston, home to classic steam train, The Kingston Flyer. Following the lake north the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 8 - Queenstown to Mt Cook National Park

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 8
Queenstown to Aoraki/Mount Cook Small Group Tour

Leaving Queenstown you'll head through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge -  a popular bungy jumping location. The town of Cromwell sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. and the original town was completely submerged when the Clyde Dam was built and Lake Dunstan established in 1992, the remnants of Old Cromwell town provide a unique snapshot into the history of this area. Head over through the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads, with the summit reaching 971 metres. Its tussock-covered hills are a barren but beautiful sight as you descend into the Mackenzie Basin. You'll go through the towns of Omarama and Twizel before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Aoraki Mount Cook Highway to arrive at the small village.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

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Day 9 - Glacier Explorers tour this morning and then onto Christchurch

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 9
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Enjoy a glacier experience that is unique in New Zealand and one of only three in the world. Get up and close and personal with icebergs, on a glacial terminal lake.

It is extremely rare for a glacier to terminate into a lake and rarer still to find one that is accessible to visitors. Join your group on our boat for an intimate encounter with a glacier -- see massive icebergs and soaring ice cliffs. You'll experience seldom seen and inaccessible parts of New Zealand's largest glacier in a safe way aboard your boat. Few people can say they have seen, touched and tasted 500 year old ice. Now you will be one of them!

Tours depart from Mount Cook Village outside The Hermitage Hotel, where you'll board a small bus for an enjoyable trip to the Tasman Valley. This is followed by a relaxing 30 minute stroll through the National Park to your waiting MAC boat. Now it’s time to witness the changing ice face of the Tasman Glacier and the icebergs it spawns on the Tasman Glacier Lake. Throughout your 2.5 hour trip (45 min to 1 hour on the lake) your experienced guide offers an informative and entertaining commentary that ensures you don't miss a thing.

Aoraki/Mount Cook to Christchurch Small Group Tour

Leaving the spectacular Aoraki/Mount Cook you will head back along Mount Cook Road, and then out towards the famous Lake Tekapo. After passing through Tekapo you will travel through the small but stunning towns of Fairlie and Geraldine, before joining State Highway 1 towards your destination of Christchurch.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 10 - Depart Christchurch today

10 day Glaciers and Overnight Fiordland - Day 10
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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