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Thrifty Tours

Alpine Explorer

A 5 day introduction to the South Island including Mt Cook National Park, Queenstown. Fiordland, Milford Sound and the West Coast Glaciers and the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train journey. An ideal tour to customise to your own schedule.

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Tour summary and feature

New Zealand independent tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,751 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

5 days/4 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 39 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes

All coach tour transport as specified in this tour package

Tour at a glance
Brief itinerary - Alpine Explorer

Day 1: Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 2: Full day tour to Milford Sound including cruise. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 3: Free day to explore Queenstown. Enjoy the views from the Skyline Gondola. Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Day 4: Queenstown to Fox Glacier by Greatsights coach. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 5: Fox Glacier to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpne train to Christchurch.

Detailed itinerary

Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park to Queenstown

Alpine Explorer - Day 1
Christchurch to Queenstown via Mount Cook with GreatSights

Leaving Christchurch in the morning, travel through the fertile farmland of the Canterbury Plains to the shores of the stunning, glacier-fed Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd and take in the sights of the spectacular Southern Alps. Then continue to the location of New Zealand's tallest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook, situated in a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. Rising to 3,754 metres high, Aoraki certainly lives up to its name, which in Māori can be translated as 'cloud piercer'.
You'll have time to explore the village and soak up the view. The tour continues south, past Lake Pukaki and through the tawny tussock of the Mackenzie Country. En route, enjoy a stop in the quaint village of Omarama. Your tour concludes in the evening upon reaching Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

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Day 2 - Full day tour to Milford Sound including cruise

Alpine Explorer - Day 2
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: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

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Day 3 - Free day to explore Queenstown. Enjoy the views from the Skyline Gondola

Alpine Explorer - Day 3
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.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown. Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water rafting.
 

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: Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Right in the heart of the action, the Millennium Hotel is just minutes from Queenstown's central shopping and entertainment district. Outdoor activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting and jet boating are just some of the easily accessible activities nearby in New Zealand's adventure capital.

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Day 4 - Queenstown to Fox Glacier by Greatsights coach

Alpine Explorer - Day 4
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.

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Day 5 - Fox Glacier to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpne train to Christchurch

Alpine Explorer - Day 5
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.

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