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Thrifty Tours

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer

A great 8 day tour which introduces you to Mt Cook National Park, Queenstown. Fiordland, Milford Sound and the West Coast Glaciers and includes the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train journey.

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Tour summary and feature

New Zealand independent tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,430 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 141 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes

Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

7 breakfasts

Tour at a glance
Brief itinerary - 8 day South Island Scenic Explorer

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch, transfer to accommodation, rest of day at leisure. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Day 2: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park. Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel Room Mount Cook View

Day 3: Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 4: Free day to explore Queenstown. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 5: Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown to Fox Glacier by Greatsights coach. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 7: Fox Glacier to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine tr.ain to Christchurch. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Day 8: Depart Christchurch today.

Detailed itinerary

Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch, transfer to accommodation, rest of day at leisure

8 day South Island Scenic 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.

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: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is just a few minutes walk to boutique shopping at Merivale and Hagley Park. The distinctive architecture of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold reflects Christchurch's image as the most English of cities outside of England.

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Day 2 - Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 2
Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain. Along the way your driver guide will keep you entertained and informed with commentary on the area's history and sites of interest. The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook as it towers above. Please be aware, due to the remote location of the property there are no shops at Mt Cook Village. We recommend you stock up on any supplies you may want before leaving Christchurch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel Room Mount Cook View

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 3 - Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 3
Mount Cook to Queenstown with GreatSights

Depart Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in the afternoon and head south through the tawny tussock of the Mackenzie Country. En route enjoy a stop in the quaint village of Omarama. Crossing the Lindis Pass this is one of New Zealand's highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres, you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the adventure and activity capital of New Zealand. Tour concludes this evening on arrival into Queenstown.

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 4 - Free day to explore Queenstown

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 4
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.

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.

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 5 - Milford Sound day tour with Real Journeys

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 5
Milford Sound Cruise and coach tour from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with a 1 hour 40 minute Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On boarding a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown or Te Anau, you will enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Te Anau. The coach driver provides an informative commentary. After a morning tea break in Te Anau, where you have the option of purchasing refreshments, the coach continues along the spectacular Milford Road. There is time for photo stops and short walks along the way. On reaching Milford Sound, you board the modern, spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise in the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and the wildlife. During the cruise your friendly crew provide commentaries in several languages and point out the sights such as Mitre Peak and the Pembroke Glacier.

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 Fox Glacier by Greatsights coach

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 6
Queenstown to Fox Glacier with GreatSights

See the majestic Southern Alps, picturesque lakes and rivers and the wild beauty of the West Coast on this journey from Queenstown to Fox Glacier. Along the way your driver guide will provide commentary on this unique region. Pass man-made Lake Dunstan outside Cromwell, beautiful Lake Wanaka and its neighbouring Lake Hawea. Entering Mount Aspiring National Park, follow the historic route used by Māori as they travelled across the Southern Alps in search of pounamu (greenstone). Journey through the Haast Pass, the southernmost pass between the South Island's two coasts, enjoying views of native beech forest, waterfalls and glacier-fed rivers. Arriving on the West Coast, you enter an awe-inspiring landscape of vast rainforests, crystal clear waterfalls and rugged mountain tops. Here you will discover an isolated and tranquil part of New Zealand. Your journey concludes as you reach the small village of Fox Glacier.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

The Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier is nestled at the base of the majestic Southern Alps, in the Westland World Heritage Park. Originally built in 1928 it has been refurbished to retain its charming atmosphere.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 7 - Fox Glacier to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine tr.ain to Christchurch

8 day South Island Scenic Explorer - Day 7
Fox Glacier to Greymouth Train Station with GreatSights

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Pass through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. In 1903 the largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered at Jones Creek, not far from the town centre. It weighed 2807 grams. The New Zealand Government later purchased the nugget and presented it as a coronation gift to King George V. On arrival into Hokitika there is a 35-minute break in your journey. This allows time to purchase lunch, explore the town centre and relax. Hokitika is the administrative and commercial centre for this part of Westland. The major primary industry is timber milling. Dairy and sheep farming, commercial fishing, white baiting and eel processing being the other major industries. Your coach concludes at the Greymouth Train Station.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Your transport from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine scenic train, offers a chance to take in one of the world's great train journeys. The train -- with carriages specially designed to allow you to take in all the amazing views on offer -- will carry you from the Tasman Sea up into the Southern Alps and through Arthur's Pass National Park to the Pacific Ocean.

The train offers a comfortable and relaxing way to cross Arthurs Pass from the South Island's wild West Coast to the more tamed east coast and its biggest city. Leaving Greymouth Station, you will travel through lush West Coast rain forest before climbing into to the spectacular mountains of the Southern Alps. And, after a stop in Arthur's Pass for a breath of mountain air, you'll travel dramatic gorges and the beautiful Waimakariri river valley to emerge on the farmland of the Canterbury Plains. From here the train crosses the plains for an early evening arrival in Christchurch city.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

You will be met by a private transfer driver at Christchurch train station who will take you to your Christchurch accommodation. (Look for a driver holding a board displaying your name after arriving into the station.)

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is just a few minutes walk to boutique shopping at Merivale and Hagley Park. The distinctive architecture of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold reflects Christchurch's image as the most English of cities outside of England.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 8 - Depart Christchurch today

8 day South Island Scenic 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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