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Thrifty ToursTrains, Fiords and Glaciers

Spoil yourself with a trip to beautiful fiords, stunning glaciers and the best scenic rail routes of New Zealand's South Island.

 New Zealand independent tour
 Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch
 6 days/ 5 nights
 Motels
  Customisable? YES Enquire Enquire
 Viewed 7 times in the last 7 days

Included in this tour package

Tour map
Tranzalpine train, New Zealand
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

At a glance - Trains, Fiords and Glaciers

Day 1: Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach. Accommodation: Bella Vista Dunedin

Day 2: Today head into the Taieri Gorge by train and then onto Queenstown. Accommodation: Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 3: A full day tour into Milford Sound including a cruise. Accommodation: Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 4: A full day to explore Queenstown at leisure. Entrance to the Skyline Gondola is included. Accommodation: Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 5: Travel through Lake Wanaka, Hawea and the Wild West Coast to Glacier Country. Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef

Day 6: Today cross the Southern Alps on the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train.

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Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Detailed Itinerary  

Day 1: Christchurch to Dunedin by Intercity coach

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 1

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: Bella Vista Dunedin

Bella Vista Dunedin is centrally located and offers clean, modern self-catering accommodation. The perfect base for exploring Dunedin.

Bella Vista Dunedin

Day 2: Today head into the Taieri Gorge by train and then onto Queenstown

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 2

Dunedin Accommodation to Train Station Transfer

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

Taieri Gorge Train and Private Transfer to Queenstown

This morning transfer to the railway station to board the historic Taieri Gorge train. Steeped in early settler history this journey features spectacular changing scenery with magnificent pioneer stone work and engineering along the railway. A combination of modern carriages with panoramic views and immaculately restored traditional versions make this a truly memorable train ride. Depending on the day the train will either finish at Pukerangi or Middlemarch. From there you will transfer to your private transfer vehicle and continue to Queenstown through the rugged rock landscape of Central Otago. During Winter months the Taieri Gorge Train Departs at a later time and travels through to Pukerangi, instead of Middlemarch.

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Queenstown

Bella Vista Motel Queenstown is just a 3 minute flat walk to Queenstown centre offering mountain views and great facilities for visitors to the alpine resort town.

Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 3: A full day tour into Milford Sound including a cruise

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 3

Milford Sound Day Tour from Queenstown with GreatSights (Includes Buffet Lunch)

Take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Milford Sound, New Zealand's most famous tourist destination. You'll experience the world-famous fiord in all its natural glory - surrounded by dense rainforest, glacier-carved valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Leaving Queenstown, travel in comfort through rugged mountain terrain past Te Anau, a quiet town on the shores of the largest lake in the South Island. Journey through the Southern Alps and along the picturesque Eglinton Valley, a place of ancient alpine forest and gushing waterfalls and one of only a few road-accessible glacier valleys in New Zealand. Take advantage of the photo opportunities on offer along the Milford Road, like the stunning Mirror Lakes. Travel through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km passageway drilled into solid rock, then experience The Chasm, a short but impressive walk over footbridges spanning a series of powerful, swirling waterfalls and rapids. At Milford Sound, board your 1 3/4 hour Southern Discoveries Scenic Cruise and set off to explore the region that Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Travel the length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, gliding past glacier-scarred rock walls and waterfalls that tumble through valleys and crash into the sea far below. Lush native forest clings to steep cliffs, while seals, penguins and dolphins are regular visitors to the icy waters. At the pinnacle of the sound, Mitre Peak rises dramatically from the depths to a height of 1,692 metres above sea level. Along the way your captain will provide lively and informative commentary. Your cruise will take place on a modern, purpose-built catamaran with large viewing windows, outdoor decks, panoramic views and warm indoor seating. After your cruise, return to Queenstown by coach.

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Queenstown

Bella Vista Motel Queenstown is just a 3 minute flat walk to Queenstown centre offering mountain views and great facilities for visitors to the alpine resort town.

Meals included: Lunch

Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 4: A full day to explore Queenstown at leisure. Entrance to the Skyline Gondola is included

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 4

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

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 Heli-ski.

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: Bella Vista Queenstown

Bella Vista Motel Queenstown is just a 3 minute flat walk to Queenstown centre offering mountain views and great facilities for visitors to the alpine resort town.

Bella Vista Queenstown

Day 5: Travel through Lake Wanaka, Hawea and the Wild West Coast to Glacier Country

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 5

Queenstown to Franz Josef with GreatSights

From Queenstown to Franz Josef discover the wild beauty of New Zealand's West Coast. Leaving Queenstown, 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 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. Before arriving 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 Valley Eco Tours 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 Eco Tours shuttle.

Your Accommodation: Bella Vista Franz Josef

Bella Vista Franz Josef is located right in the heart of the village close to shops, cafes and restaurants and offers excellent facilities.

Bella Vista Franz Josef

Day 6: Today cross the Southern Alps on the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train

Trains, Fiords and Glaciers - Day 6

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with GreatSights

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

From humble origins in 1868, the Monteith's family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast's most popular brewery for its strong tasting, full-bodied ale. The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today's Monteith's Brewing Company. In this informative brewery experience, you will learn about the heritage and traditions of the brewing business. Witness the making of a fine beer in open fermenters by coal-fired boilers, using only the finest ingredients. Watch the brewers carefully hand craft the beer in small batches to develop the full natural flavours. When each batch is ready, the brewers employ a brilliant time honoured tradition for quality control - they taste it.

On completion, you will receive a tasting a 3 beers of your choice from the tap at the Brewery bar, plus your very own personalised Monteith's 500ml bottle with your name on it - a personalised endorsement from the head brewer himself.

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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