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Thrifty Tours

9 Day Southern Spotlight

Explore the South Island on this popular 9 day itinerary. Highlights include a night in Mt Cook National Park, Dunedin, Te Anau including a Milford Sound cruise, free time in Queenstown, an evening cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak station for dinner, the West Coast and Franz Josef Glacier plus the Tranz Alpine Train journey from Greymouth 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$4,825 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

9 days/8 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 157 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Brief itinerary - 9 Day Southern Spotlight

Day 1: Arrive Christchurch
Accommodation: Fable Christchurch

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

Day 3: Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin
Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 4: Dunedin to Te Anau
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Day 5: Te Anau to Milford Sound then onto Queenstown
Accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown free day to explore, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak Station
Accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

Day 7: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 8: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Fable Christchurch

Day 9: Depart Christchurch today

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch

9 Day Southern Spotlight - 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: Fable Christchurch

Occupying a central location the Fable 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 Mt Cook Natonal Park

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 2
Christchurch to Aoraki/Mount Cook Small Group Tour

This small group, fully-guided day trip combines all of the key highlights in the area with the famous Lake Tekapo, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and Tasman Glacier. The ultimate way to get from Christchurch to Aoraki/Mount Cook. Led by famously passionate tour guides, notorious for bringing your journey to life by sharing their stories and rich background knowledge and run in modern, comfortable minibuses packed with extras ensuring your comfort and safety.

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 Dunedin

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 3
Mount Cook to Dunedin with Iconic

In the afternoon you will be picked up from your accommodation in Mt Cook Village for the journey through to Dunedin. Along the way you stop for a short break in Omarama, then onto Oamaru for a scenic tour of the historic Whitestone Prectinct. You will then enjoy a guided walk along Koekohe Beach at Moeraki Boulders before reaching Dunedin, where you will be dropped off at your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 4 - Dunedin to Te Anau

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 4
Dunedin to Te Anau Transfer

The drive to Te Anau takes you through classic Southland farmland scenery. Pass through the tranquil river town of Balclutha, the largest town in South Otago, which hosts a range of shops and services. Balclutha is memorable for its arched concrete bridge, under which flows the mighty Clutha River. The river is open for salmon and trout fishing all year round.
As you head inland, you will pass through the small rural town of Clinton before reaching Gore, the official home of country music. It's also known for great fly fishing, with the Mataura River and many other productive streams close by. Take time to enjoy the lush farmland scenery as you journey east towards your lakeside destination of Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

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 5 - Te Anau to Milford Sound then onto Queenstown

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 5
Premium Milford Sound Small Group Tour, Cruise & Picnic Lunch from Te Anau with Cheeky Kiwi

This small group, fully-guided day trip combines the amazing return journey to Milford Sound with a boutique Milford Sound Cruise aboard Cruise Milford. Led by famously passionate tour guides, notorious for bringing the journey to life by sharing their stories and rich background knowledge and run in modern, comfortable minibusses packed with extras ensuring your comfort and safety.

Your accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

At the Heritage Hotel Queenstown, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a postcard. Soak in the amazing view of the towering Remarkables mountain range rising from Lake Wakatipu from the comfort of the hotel. Crafted from centuries-old schist stone and cedar, this sophisticated Queenstown hotel is the perfect base to explore the adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 6 - Queenstown free day to explore, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak Station

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 6
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.

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: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

At the Heritage Hotel Queenstown, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a postcard. Soak in the amazing view of the towering Remarkables mountain range rising from Lake Wakatipu from the comfort of the hotel. Crafted from centuries-old schist stone and cedar, this sophisticated Queenstown hotel is the perfect base to explore the adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

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Day 7 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 7
Queenstown to Franz Josef with Glacier Shuttles

Leaving Queenstown, travel past picturesque scenery of massive mountain peaks and crystal-clear blue lakes. Travel across the Haast Pass to the other side of the Southern Alps, the landscape changes dramatically. Welcome to the wild and wonderful West Coast, a remote and unspoiled region. Wind your way past native rainforest, rocky coastlines and powerful waterfalls. Your journey concludes in the village of Franz Josef, your base for exploration of the area.

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 8 - Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 8
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with Hokitika Scenic Tours

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.

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: Fable Christchurch

Occupying a central location the Fable 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

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 9 - Depart Christchurch today

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 9
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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