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Thrifty Tours6 Day South Island Explorer

Beginning in Wellington, this 6 day South Island highlights tour includes a visit to Dunedin, a cruise through the stunning Milford Sound and time to explore the beautiful mountain resort of Queenstown, before returning to Christchurch via Mt Cook National Park.

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Wellington, finishes in Christchurch
 6 days/ 5 nights
 Hotel 3 star
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 22 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

Tour map
Dunedin New Zealand
Queenstown New Zealand

At a glance - 6 Day South Island Explorer

Day 1: Wellington to Christchurch. Accommodation: Hotel Ibis Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach. Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

Day 3: Dunedin to Queenstown crossing the Southland countryside. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Day 4: Milford Sound day tour including 2 1/2 hour nature cruise, then onto Queenstown. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 5: Free day to enjoy Queenstown. Take the Skyline Gondola ride for spectacular views. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park, lunch at the Hermitage Hote, Mt. Cook, then onto Christchurch.

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6 Day South Island Explorer - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Wellington to Christchurch

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 1

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

Picton to Christchurch by Intercity Coach

From Picton you head south on State Highway 1 towards Blenheim which sits right at the heart of the New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Marlborough. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops. Arriving into Christchurch City puts you close to the airport and the International Antarctic Centre and a visit is highly recommended. Here you can get as close to experiencing life on the frozen continent without actually visiting plus see New Zealand little blue penguins and ride in a Haaglund Tracked vehicle.

Private transfer Intercity coach stop to accommodation

A private transfer will collect you from the coach stop and transfer you to your accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Hotel Ibis Christchurch

Superbly situated in the very heart of the garden city, Hotel Ibis Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square, and is close to cafes, restaurants, museums and many of Christchurch's most popular attractions.

Hotel Ibis Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 2

Private transfer accommodation to Intercity coach stop

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the coach stop.

Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity Coach

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. Pass through the towns of Timaru followed by Oamaru, most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone. Continue along the coast and into the city of Dunedin.

Dunedin Coach Stop to Accommodation Transfer

On arrival into Dunedin you will be met from your coach and transferred to your accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

The 55 room international standard hotel, of five stories, has panoramic views over the heart of Dunedin city including city icons and nearby countryside.

Meals included: Breakfast

Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

Day 3: Dunedin to Queenstown crossing the Southland countryside

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 3

Dunedin Accommodation to Coach Stop Transfer

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.

Dunedin to Te Anau by Intercity Coach

Enjoy this scenic coach trip across the magnificent Southland Countryside from the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

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

Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Day 4: Milford Sound day tour including 2 1/2 hour nature cruise, then onto Queenstown

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 4

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Te Anau, and onto Queenstown

From Te Anau, you travel by coach along the spectacular Milford Road. Photo stops are made on the way into Milford, with additional photo stops and a short walk on the return journey. Real Journeys experienced drivers enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area. On reaching Milford Sound, you join a Nature Cruise for a leisurely cruise the full-length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. A nature guide provides fascinating interpretation throughout the cruise. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

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 Queenstowns main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 5: Free day to enjoy Queenstown. Take the Skyline Gondola ride for spectacular views

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 5

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 - and 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 and Coronet Peak - one of Queenstown's Ski field.

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 Queenstowns main centre, yet be elevated enough to take advantage of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu to the mountains.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park, lunch at the Hermitage Hote, Mt. Cook, then onto Christchurch

6 Day South Island Explorer - Day 6

Queenstown to Christchurch with GreatSights (Includes Lunch)

Travel to the foothills of New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook, on a full-day sightseeing tour from Queenstown to Christchurch. Setting off from Queenstown, travel through ruggedly beautiful landscape and over the Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Country. Enter the amazing Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's highest mountain, where there is time to stop for lunch and a chance to enjoy the amazing alpine scenery. During your stop at Mount Cook Village, enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous Hermitage Hotel. In the afternoon, travel past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, where you can view the solitary Church of the Good Shepherd against the backdrop of this vivid blue glacier-fed lake. Then continue through the diverse farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the Garden City, where your tour concludes.

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