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Thrifty Tours

8 day Southern Discovery

Arrive into Christchurch then 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 a wonderful full day experience and cruise. The World Heritage area of Mt Cook National Park is also a highlight.

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$2,968 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 41 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 - 8 day Southern Discovery

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: Greatsights coach Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown. Accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

Day 5: Day tour to Milford Sound including a nature cruise and picnic lunch. Accommodation: Hotel St Moritz Queenstown

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

Day 7: Explore Mt Cook National Park this morning and then onto Christchurch. Accommodation: The George Hotel

Day 8: Depart Christchurch today.

Detailed itinerary

Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

8 day Southern Discovery - 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 Southern Discovery - 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 Intercity

Your coach to Franz Josef Glacier departs from the Greymouth Railway Station. The journey to the Glaciers is southward through the lush bush covered landscape at the base of the Southern Alps. A refreshment stop in Hokitika allows you to stretch your legs around the town centre. Further south you pass through the township of Ross which was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields in the late 1800s. Further along, travelling down the West Coast enjoy the beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains before arriving into the small village of Franz Josef. From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

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 Southern Discovery - 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 - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. 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's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquillity. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

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 - Greatsights coach Franz Josef Glacier to Queenstown

8 day Southern Discovery - Day 4
Franz Josef to Queenstown with Intercity

Travel from the isolated beauty of Franz Josef to the exciting resort town of Queenstown.
Leave the small village of Franz Josef, access point to the world famous Franz Josef Glacier, and journey through the remote and rugged landscape of the West Coast. This is New Zealand at its purest and most untamed, see moody mountain ranges, thick native rainforest and wild rocky shores as you travel in comfort. Cross over to the East Coast through the Haast Pass, the southernmost pass in the Southern Alps. On the other side, enjoy picture-postcard views of vibrant blue lakes like Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka and Lake Dunstan as you make your way into scenic Queenstown, arriving in the late afternoon.

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 - Day tour to Milford Sound including a nature cruise and picnic lunch

8 day Southern Discovery - 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: 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 6 - Queenstown to Mt Cook National Park

8 day Southern Discovery - Day 6
Queenstown to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Journey deep into the Southern Alps on a half day sightseeing tour from Queenstown to Mount Cook. Set off from Queenstown in a luxury coach, enjoying the commentary from your local driver guide as you travel north. Pass through the historic gold mining district of the rugged Kawarau River Gorge and the famous fruit growing region of Cromwell. Skirting the shores of Lake Dunstan, your tour crosses the Lindis Pass into Omarama for a short stop. Continue through the rugged high country landscape of the Mackenzie Basin to arrive at Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to Australasia's highest mountain at 3,754 metres. Your tour concludes in Mount Cook Village. 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 Queenstown.

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, 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 - Explore Mt Cook National Park this morning and then onto Christchurch

8 day Southern Discovery - Day 7
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.

Mount Cook to Christchurch with GreatSights

Today leave Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in the afternoon and travel past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd and take in the sights of the spectacular Southern Alps mountain range. Then continue through the diverse farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch where the tour concludes.

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 Southern Discovery - 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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