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Thrifty Tours

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer

Arrive into Christchurch then cross the Southern Alps on board the TranzAlpine train. Explore the West Coast Glaciers before heading south to Queenstown where you enjoy a Shotover Jet Boat ride and time to explore at leisure. Onto Mt Cook National Park to enjoy a Tasman Glacier tour and then return to Christchurch.

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$4,070 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 78 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: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Tour at a glance

Brief itinerary - 8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel

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

Day 3: Free day to explore the glaciers at leisure
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown
Accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

Day 5: Take the famous Shotover Jet boat ride this morning then explore Queenstown at leisure
Accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown to Mt Cook National Park
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Day 7: Enjoy a Tasman Glacier Lake tour and then onto Christchurch
Accommodation: The George Hotel

Day 8: Depart Christchurch today

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - 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: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award-winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. It also has an award-winning restaurant, 50 Bistro onsite.

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

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - 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: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 3 - Free day to explore the glaciers at leisure

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - 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 Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 4 - Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a dinner cruise from downtown Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw – an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and surrounds as you cruise across the lake to historic Walter Peak high country farm. You’ll be greeted of the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead. Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses and tea & coffee. After dinner, you’ll enjoy a short demonstration of life in the high country. Now it’s time to cruise home under the southern stars. Join a sing-a-long with the on board pianist or simply enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

Awarded the best hotel in the New Zealand Tourism Awards 3 times running this luxury apartment-style hotel is built on an elevated hillside position offering spectacular lake and mountain views. Only a 2 minute walk to the centre of Queenstown's vibrant attractions and activities.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 5 - Take the famous Shotover Jet boat ride this morning then explore Queenstown at leisure

8 day Glacier and Queenstown 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 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.

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 - Appellation Boutique Wine Tour

Experience a tasting journey through three of Central Otago’s incredibly scenic and varying wine sub-regions; Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell. Visit three boutique vineyards, tasting their unique cool climate wines and discover why the Central Otago region has become world-renowned in its own right.
Indulge at a fourth vineyard restaurant for a platter-style lunch, savouring the finest and freshest produce, accompanied with a wine flight.
There will also be an opportunity to retrace history when you stroll through the charming historical settlement of Old Cromwell.

Your accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

Awarded the best hotel in the New Zealand Tourism Awards 3 times running this luxury apartment-style hotel is built on an elevated hillside position offering spectacular lake and mountain views. Only a 2 minute walk to the centre of Queenstown's vibrant attractions and activities.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 6 - Queenstown to Mt Cook National Park

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - Day 6
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: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 7 - Enjoy a Tasman Glacier Lake tour and then onto Christchurch

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - Day 7
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: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award-winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. It also has an award-winning restaurant, 50 Bistro onsite.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 8 - Depart Christchurch today

8 day Glacier and Queenstown Explorer - Day 8
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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