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Thrifty Tours8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes

This 8 day tour is great for those wanting to experience as much as they can on the journey from Christchurch to Queenstown. Begin with the renowned TranzAlpine scenic train, then there is time to explore the west coast glacier regions, the alpine towns of Wanaka and Queenstown and the breath taking Milford Sound. With plenty of family-friendly activities along they way, this tour has something for everyone!

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Queenstown
 8 days/ 7 nights
 Hotel 3 star
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 18 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

Tour map
Wanaka, New Zealand
Tranzalpine train, New Zealand

At a glance - 8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Day 2: Christchurch to Greymouth by Tranz Alpine Scenic Train then to Fox Glacier. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 3: Free day to explore the glaciers. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 4: Fox Glacier to Wanaka. Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel and Serviced Apartments

Day 5: Lake Wanaka to Queenstown. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Real Journeys Milford Sound day tour including a nature cruise. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 7: Explore Queenstown . Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown

Day 8: Depart Queenstown today.

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8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 1

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

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: Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is just minutes walk to boutique shopping at Merivale and Hagley Park. The distinctive architecture of the Heartland Hotel Cotswold reflects Christchurch's image as the most English of cities outside of England.

Heartland Hotel Cotswold

Day 2: Christchurch to Greymouth by Tranz Alpine Scenic Train then to Fox Glacier

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 2

Private transfer hotel to Christchurch train station

A private transfer will collect you this morning and deliver you to Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Christchurch to Greymouth

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train 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 lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.

Greymouth to Fox Glacier with GreatSights

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 in 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.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 3: Free day to explore the glaciers

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 3

Fox Glacier

The mighty Fox is the largest and longest of the magnificent West Coast glaciers. Remarkably, it ends in temperate rainforest, 250 metres above sea level only twelve kilometres from the sea.

There are more peaks at the head of the Fox Glacier than in any other valley in New Zealand.

The Fox Glacier, like all glaciers, advances and retreats. Evidence of the latest surge forward can be seen in the bulging lower ice fall. Alpine Guides has access onto the lower part of the glacier via a secret track that climbs through regenerating native forest. From the track, you will have stunning views into the upper parts of the glacier. Fox Glacier township is the more "laid back" of the twin Glacier Country townships of Fox and Franz Josef, and people often comment on having chosen Fox for its relaxed atmosphere.

An excellent selection of cafés and a wide range of accommodation complement are available.  The township enjoys breathtaking views of New Zealand's highest peaks - Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township and historic Gillespie's Beach, known for its crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains,  is only 25 minutes west by car.

 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fox Guides Walk to the Terminal of the Fox Glacier

On this leisurely guided walk to the terminal face of the glacier you'll venture right up to the face of the ice where you'll be able to view the cave from which the Fox River emerges. Your guide will give informative commentary about the role of the glacier in this ever-changing environment.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Explore the glacial icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier. Discover up close their neve and unusual ice formations - landing on the snowfields is a highlight and will make for superb photos, snowballs and memories. A 30 minute flight with snow landing. 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.

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.

Meals included: Breakfast

Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier

Day 4: Fox Glacier to Wanaka

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 4

Fox Glacier to Wanaka with GreatSights

Explore some of the South Island's scenic highlights on a sightseeing journey from Fox Glacier to Wanaka. Set off from the small village of Fox Glacier and travel along the isolated and dramatically beautiful West Coast with its awe-inspiring landscape of native rainforest, wild coastlines and imposing mountain ranges. Cross over the Southern Alps through Haast Pass, the southernmost pass between the East and West coasts of the South Island. Enjoy picture-postcard views of the Queenstown lakes district as you travel east, arriving in the early afternoon in the charming lakeside town of Wanaka.

Wanaka Coach stop to accommodation

You will be collected from the Wanaka coach stop and transferred to your accommodation.

Your Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel and Serviced Apartments

Clearbrook offers luxury apartment style and townhouse accommodation options and is located just metres from Wanaka's main street and its majestic lake front.

Meals included: Breakfast

Clearbrook Motel and Serviced Apartments

Day 5: Lake Wanaka to Queenstown

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 5

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions. Depending on the planting season, you can help The Reforestation of Mou Waho by planting a tree.

Wanaka to Queenstown with GreatSights

Today you will make your own way to the log cabin on the Wanaka lakefront. From there you will be picked up by your coach for this short scenic coach trip along the shores of Lake Dunstan, through the Kawarau Gorge and Gibbston Valley into the adventure and indulgence centre of Queenstown.

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: Real Journeys Milford Sound day tour including a nature cruise

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 6

Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Queenstown

Return luxury coach transport from Queenstown to Milford Sound, with an extended 2.5 hour Nature Cruise along the full length of the fiord. On board a Real Journeys luxury glass-roofed coach in Queenstown, 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 Milford Mariner for a leisurely extended cruise of the fiord. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rain forest, mountains and wildlife with extensive commentary by the on board nature guide. 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 7: Explore Queenstown

8 day Southern Alps to the Southern Lakes - Day 7

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.
 

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 - Appellation Boutique Wine Tour

Go off-the-beaten-track with this unique Central Otago wine tour. Taste wines at four of the best vineyards in the Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions. The wineries you'll visit are selected from the following: Peregrine, Chard Farm, Carrick, Mt Difficulty, Felton Road, Akarua and Olssens vineyards. This tour also includes a delightful gourmet platter lunch at the award-winning Carrick Winery Restaurant.
Departing Queenstown, you'll go through picturesque valleys, dramatic gorges and rolling vine-covered hills. See the Otago Goldfields, Historic Old Cromwell Town and Lake Dunstan and the Kawarau Gorge.

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 8: Depart Queenstown today

Private transfer from your accommodation to Queenstown Airport

You will be met at your accommodation by your private driver and transferred to Queenstown Airport for your onward journey.

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