Experience the best of New Zealand’s South Island on this guided tour. Your private guide will meet your group at the airport and take you on an insider’s tour of New Zealand, visiting iconic landmarks and local secrets alike.

Offering New Zealand’s top escorted tour operators and highly experienced tour guides, we cater for groups between 1-20 people. With no date or itinerary restrictions, your New Zealand tour can be completely customised.

14 Day South Island Guided Tour Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Christchurch

Your fantastic guided holiday begins in Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City.” With a thriving restaurant scene, a string of beautiful parks, and a historic town centre, Christchurch is an excellent holiday destination.

Explore Christchurch with your guide, visiting the botanic gardens, the Christchurch Cathedral, the RE:Start Container Mall, and the Canterbury Museum.

Stay 1 night in Christchurch.

Day 2 Mackenzie Country Tour

Travel time Christchurch to Lake Tekapo – 3 hours 

Your scenic journey through the Mackenzie Basin begins today as you cross over Burkes Pass. As the Southern Alps loom before you, there will be photo opportunities around every corner.

While you rest and explore the quaint lakeside town of Lake Tekapo, paying a visit to the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, you have the option to add on a flight-seeing tour of the Southern Alps or a nighttime observatory tour at Mt John.

Stay 1 night at Lake Tekapo.

Day 3 Queenstown + Steamship Cruise + High Country Dinner

Travel time Lake Tekapo to Queenstown – 3 hours 

As you continue the spectacular drive south, you have the option to make a side trip to Mt Cook Village – ask your guide for more details.

Along the way to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, your guide will take you to sample the fresh fruit from the orchards of Cromwell. You also have the option to visit several top wineries with your guide on the drive through the Kawarau Gorge.

In the evening, relive the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel with a cruise aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm for a stunning gourmet BBQ meal and farm tour.

Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.

Day 4 Doubtful Sound Cruise

Journey into the heart of New Zealand today on a scenic coach tour to Manapouri. Cruise across Lake Manapouri and drive over Burkes Pass to Doubtful Sound, where you will enjoy an unforgettable wilderness cruise on this awe-inspiring, remote fiord.

Day 5 Glenorchy Lord of the Rings Tour

Explore the Lord of the Rings locations around Queenstown with your guide today on an excursion to the stunning Glenorchy region. Stop along the way for majestic views up Lake Wakatipu, and visit the stunning Paradise Valley and Dart Valley at the head of the lake. Along the way, you will get the chance to see the filming locations for Isengard, Lothlorien, and Ithilien Camp.

Stop in Glenorchy for a coffee or a relaxing lunch, and soak in the incredible views of snow-capped peaks and turquoise rivers.

Day 6 Arrowtown + Crown Range

Travel time Queenstown to Wanaka – 1 hour

Visit Arrowtown with your guide on your way to Wanaka, and explore the quaint historic mining settlement. If there are any Lord of the Rings fans in the group, your guide will show you the filming locations for Minas Tirith, Argonath, the Misty Mountains, and the Ford of Bruinen.

Your scenic tour will continue as you enjoy the drive over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Your guide will stop along the way for photos at fantastic viewing points.

Explore the alpine town of Wanaka in the afternoon – your guide could take you to Puzzling World or Rippon Winery, or you could simply relax on the lakefront and do a bit of boutique shopping.

Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.

Day 7 Wanaka

Explore Wanaka with your guide today. You could take a scenic drive into Mt Aspiring National Park, visit the Warbirds and Wheels museum, try the maze and experience the illusions at Puzzling World, or simply relax in town and stroll along the lakefront.

Day 8 Franz Josef Glacier + Scenic Heli Flight with Snow Landing

Travel time Wanaka to Franz Josef – 4 hours 

The Haast Pass Highway is one of the most scenic alpine routes in New Zealand. Explore the pass with your guide, stopping to view cascading waterfalls, broad alpine meadows, craggy snowcapped mountains, and the turquoise depths of the Blue Pools.

Continuing along the West Coast, your guide will take you to the base of Fox Glacier, where you have the option to enjoy a 1-hour return walk to a viewing point over the mighty glacier.

In the afternoon, take an unforgettable helicopter flight over Franz Josef Glacier, where you will land in the snow to enjoy incredible views of the majestic Southern Alps.

Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.

Day 9 Hokitika

Travel time Franz Josef to Hokitika – 2 hours 

Continue north on your tour of the rugged West Coast. Once you reach Hokitika, you have the option to visit Hokitika Gorge or Lake Kaniere with your guide. Your guide will show you around the town, stopping at the Jade Factory, where you can view artisans carving masterpieces from the precious greenstone, and Sunset Point, where you might be lucky enough to catch a famous West Coast sunset.

Stay 1 night in Hokitika.

Day 10 Pancake Rocks + Nelson

Travel time Hokitika to Nelson – 5 hours 

Visit the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on your drive north, where you will get the chance to marvel at the strange limestone formations that have been weathered by the relentless sea.

Explore Nelson independently in the evening, visiting local shops and enjoying a delicious dinner with fresh local seafood and produce.

Stay 2 nights in Nelson.

Day 11 Abel Tasman Cruise

Travel time Nelson to Abel Tasman – 1 hour  

Only a short drive away is Abel Tasman, renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, rich unmodified estuaries, long sunshine hours, and the world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Take a boat cruise into Abel Tasman National Park, where you can relax on the hot golden sand, enjoy a day walk, or simply remain aboard for a return boat cruise. Soak in the natural beauty and enjoy!

Day 12 Kaikoura

Travel time Nelson to Kaikoura – 3 hours 

Today your guide will take you on a scenic drive through the Marlborough wine region, with the option to stop at a winery (or two!) along the way for samples of the award-winning wines.

Spend the evening in Kaikoura, a stunning coastal town with a backdrop of majestic mountains. Be sure to sample the superb local seafood at dinner! You have the option to add on a cruise or flight to view the majestic sperm whales off the Kaikoura coast.

Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.

Day 13 Hanmer Springs

Travel time Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs – 1.5 hours 

When you reach the quiet mountain town of Hanmer Springs, relax and unwind in the hot springs or go for a short guided forest walk with your escort.

Stay 2 nights in Hanmer Springs.

Day 14 Jet Boat + Hot Pools

As your holiday comes to a close, rest and rejuvenate in the thermal springs and make the most of your time in Hanmer Springs.

In the afternoon, experience the thrill of travelling up the dramatic Waiau river gorge on a jet boat!

Day 15 Depart Christchurch

Travel time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch – 2 hours 

Your guide will deliver you to Christchurch Airport for your departing flight.

 

Highlights Include: 

  • Driving through the Mackenzie Basin, with countless photo opportunities along the way – see the craggy, snow-capped Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain), drive past two stunning turquoise lakes, and witness the grandeur of the Southern Alps.

Aoraki/Mount Cook, Mackenzie Basin, New Zealand guided holidays

  • Staying in the vibrant alpine resort town of Queenstown.

Queenstown New Zealand

  • Reliving the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel with a steamship cruise across Lake Wakatipu.

TSS Earnslaw Walter Peak Queenstown

  • Experiencing farm life and enjoying a gourmet dinner at Walter Peak High Country Station.

TSS Earnslaw Walter Peak Queenstown

  • Journeying through the heart of New Zealand and experiencing the grandeur of Doubtful Sound, New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring fiord, on an unforgettable wilderness cruise.

Doubtful Sound New Zealand

  • Venturing into paradise on a stunning scenic tour of Glenorchy, where you will find countless Lord of the Rings film locations surrounded by snow-capped mountains and turquoise river valleys.

Paradise Valley, New Zealand Lord of the Rings tour

  • Exploring the quaint historic mining settlement of Arrowtown.

Arrowtown, Queenstown

  • Driving over the lofty Crown Range and stopping for sweeping views of the valley below.
  • Travelling through Haast Pass, past hanging glaciers and pounding waterfalls and turquoise rivers.
  • Flying over the magnificent Franz Josef Glacier on a helicopter tour, and landing in the pristine snow!

Glacier helicopter guided tour New Zealand with snow landing

  • Hunting for Pounamu (also known as greenstone, or jade) on the beach in Hokitika and watching master artisans carve jewellery and sculptures from the precious stone.
  • Cruising along the rugged coastline of Abel Tasman National Park, and lounging on one of the remote golden-sand beaches.

Abel Tasman New Zealand

  • Sampling the famous crayfish, blue cod, and paua in Kaikoura, a spectacular seaside town ringed by mountains.

Kaikoura New Zealand

  • Relaxing and unwinding in the hot springs town of Hanmer Springs.
  • Jet-boating up the dramatic Waiau Gorge.

Hanmer Springs jet boat

Your privately guided tour includes:

  • All transportation within New Zealand – you will be collected at the arrivals hall of the Christchurch, and dropped off at the departures hall of the Christchurch Airport
  • Excellent 4-star accommodation
  • Private tour guide
  • Sightseeing and Photo Stops En Route
  • TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise and High Country Farm Dinner
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise ex Queenstown by Scenic Coach
  • Scenic Heli Flight over Franz Josef Glacier with Snow Landing
  • Abel Tasman Cruise
  • Thrillseekers Jet Hanmer Springs

** Your privately guided tour does NOT include flights, food (except where included in activities) or travel insurance.

 

Pricing

As guide prices are split between travellers, the pricing will vary depending on the number of travellers on your tour.

1 Traveller:    NZD$23,399

2 Travellers:  NZD$12,449 per adult | NZD$11,799 per child

3 Travellers:  NZD$9349 per adult | NZD$8699 per child

4 Travellers:  NZD$7799 per adult | NZD$7149 per child

5 Travellers:  NZD$6849 per adult | NZD$6249 per child

6 Travellers:  NZD$6249 per adult | NZD$5599 per child

7 Travellers:  NZD$5799 per adult | NZD$5149 per child

8 Travellers:  NZD$5499 per adult | NZD$4849 per child

9 Travellers:  NZD$5449 per adult | NZD$4799 per child

10 Travellers: NZD$5249 per adult | NZD$4599 per child

11 + Travellers:  Please enquire for your custom quote