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Thrifty Tours

South Island Circuit with Queenstown, Milford Sound & Glacier Highlights

Your journey begins in the largest city in the South Island, Christchurch. Travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, and onward through the Southern Alps into Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, the home of the tallest mountain in New Zealand. Free time allows you to explore the region, consider purchasing a scenic flight to experience the dramatic alpine and glacier scenery. Then, continue to Queenstown via the scenic Lindis Pass. A restful night in Queenstown prepares you for the following days adventure. Enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, through the rolling countryside to Te Anau, before continuing on to the spectacular Milford Road. On reaching Milford Sound, you'll board the modern and spacious vessel for a leisurely cruise through the famous fiord. Enjoy the waterfalls, lush rainforest, dramatic mountains and playful wildlife before disembarking, and beginning the journey back to Queenstown. Day three sees you departing Queenstown, past Lake Wanaka and Hawea, through the Haast Pass, through the beech forests of the Southern Alps before emerging on the West Coast. This remote area is ruggedly beautiful, boasting vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls, and snow-capped mountains. After arriving in the small village of Franz Josef, the rest of the day is yours to explore the famous Franz Josef Glacier. The following morning, travel north along the West Coast from Franz Josef to Greymouth, where you will board the famous TranzAlpine Scenic Train. You'll travel across Arthurs Pass National Park, and from the comfort of your carriage, witness the stunning scenery of the area. You'll descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving where you began, in the city of Christchurch.

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**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

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Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Independent Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,720 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

4 days/3 nights

Motels

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 92 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
South Island Circuit with Queenstown, Milford Sound & Glacier Highlights - Day 1
Christchurch to Queenstown via Mt Cook Day Tour with Gray Line

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. You will have a free time and you can take a sightseeing flight (at your own expense) enabling you experience some of the most dramatic alpine and glacier scenery. After then you will continue to Queenstown via Lindis Pass and the fruit growing area of Cromwell.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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South Island Circuit with Queenstown, Milford Sound & Glacier Highlights - 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: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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South Island Circuit with Queenstown, Milford Sound & Glacier Highlights - Day 3
Queenstown to Franz Josef with Gray Line

Leaving Queenstown early, travel by luxury coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. Your driver-guide will provide entertaining commentary and point out sites of interest as you pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break (at own expense) in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. Skirt the coast and see waves crashing on rocky beaches before returning inland. You will arrive in the afternoon at 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: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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South Island Circuit with Queenstown, Milford Sound & Glacier Highlights - Day 4
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with Gray Line

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue 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 in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre. 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. Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

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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Mar 9, 2024
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