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Thrifty Tours

6 Day South Island Explorer

Beginning in Wellington, this 6 day South Island highlights tour includes a visit to Dunedin, a cruise through the stunning Milford Sound and time to explore the beautiful mountain resort of Queenstown, before returning to Christchurch via Mt Cook National Park.

Tour special blurb

Unfortunately, the Mt Cook portion of this itinerary is not available for the current season due to schedule changes on the InterCity and GreatSights coaches - this service will resume as travel restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, we encourage you to make contact with one of our specialists, they may have a suitable travel alternative.

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Tour summary and feature

New Zealand independent tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,850 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Wellington, finishes in Christchurch

6 days/5 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 59 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes

All coach tour transport as specified in this tour package

All breakfasts

Tour at a glance
Brief itinerary - 6 Day South Island Explorer

Day 1: Wellington to Christchurch. Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach. Accommodation: Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge

Day 3: Dunedin to Queenstown crossing the Southland countryside. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Day 4: Milford Sound day tour including 2 1/2 hour nature cruise, then onto Queenstown. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 5: Free day to enjoy Queenstown. Take the Skyline Gondola ride for spectacular views. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park, lunch at the Hermitage Hote, Mt. Cook, then onto Christchurch.

Detailed itinerary

Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Wellington to Christchurch

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 1
Interislander Ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).
From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

Picton to Christchurch by Intercity Coach

From Picton you head south on State Highway 1 towards Blenheim which sits right at the heart of the New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Marlborough. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops. 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.

Private transfer Lichfield St stop to your accommodation

A private transfer will collect you from the coach stop and transfer you to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Occupying a central location the Rendezvous Hotel has been voted as one of the trendiest hotels in the South Pacific. Recently refurbished modern rooms and suites provide all the facilities you would expect from a fine hotel.

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Day 2 - Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 2
Private transfer accommodation to Intercity stop Lichfield St

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the coach stop.

Christchurch to Dunedin by InterCity Coach

Leaving Christchurch early, you will cross the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, crossing many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. Pass through the towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru, most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Continue along the coast and into the city of Dunedin.

Dunedin Coach Stop to Accommodation Transfer with Iconic

On arrival into Dunedin you will be met from your coach and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge

Nestled in landscaped gardens, the Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge is located within two acres of beautifully kept garden, and just a short drive to the city centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 3 - Dunedin to Queenstown crossing the Southland countryside

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 3
Dunedin Accommodation to Coach Stop Transfer with Iconic

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.

Dunedin to Te Anau by InterCity Coach

Enjoy this scenic coach trip across the magnificent Southland Countryside from the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Your accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

The perfect base for all your Fiordland travel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable accommodation right in the heart of Te Anau.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 4 - Milford Sound day tour including 2 1/2 hour nature cruise, then onto Queenstown

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 4
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Te Anau, and onto Queenstown

From Te Anau, you travel by coach along the spectacular Milford Road. Photo stops are made on the way into Milford, with additional photo stops and a short walk on the return journey. Real Journeys experienced drivers enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area. On reaching Milford Sound, you join a Nature Cruise for a leisurely cruise the full-length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. A nature guide provides fascinating interpretation throughout the cruise. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

The Heartland Hotel Queenstown is the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to all the action of Queenstown's main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 5 - Free day to enjoy Queenstown. Take the Skyline Gondola ride for spectacular views

6 Day South Island Explorer - 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 valley 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.

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.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

The Heartland Hotel Queenstown is the ideal place to stay if you want to be close to all the action of Queenstown's main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 6 - Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park, lunch at the Hermitage Hote, Mt. Cook, then onto Christchurch

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 6
Queenstown to Christchurch with GreatSights (Includes Lunch)

Travel to the foothills of New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook, on a full-day sightseeing tour from Queenstown to Christchurch. Setting off from Queenstown, travel through ruggedly beautiful landscape and over the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country. Enter the amazing Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's highest mountain, where there is time to stop for lunch and a chance to enjoy the amazing alpine scenery. During your stop at Mount Cook Village, enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous Hermitage Hotel. In the afternoon, travel past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd against the backdrop of this vivid blue glacier-fed lake. Then continue through the diverse farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the Garden City, where your tour concludes.

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May 13, 2021
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May 14, 2021
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May 20, 2021
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May 21, 2021
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May 22, 2021
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May 23, 2021
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May 24, 2021
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May 26, 2021
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May 27, 2021
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May 31, 2021
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Jun 1, 2021
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