12 Day South Island Private Tour
This 12 Day South Island private vacation will have you fall in love with the South Island of New Zealand and show you a little more of what this beautiful island has to offer in comparison to the Highlights tour. We’ll explore the rebuilt city of Christchurch, kayak in a National park, whale watch and cruise on the oldest steam ship in New Zealand. And that is not all! This itinerary is full of experiences that you will remember for a lifetime. This is all while riding in the comfort of your own vehicle with a very knowledgeable, experienced Driver/Guide.
Day 1 Arrive into Christchurch Airport
Welcome to Aotearoa, New Zealand! You will be met at the airport by your Tour Driver/Guide and begin your New Zealand adventure. Today we will join a tour of the Antarctic Centre, this museum houses injured penguins as well as experiencing the weather forces of Antarctica. Once we finish the tour we will have a city tour including the 185 White Chairs Earthquake Memorial, The Cathedral, The new Cardboard Cathedral and Botanical Gardens. Afterwards your Guide will take you into town where you can enjoy the city at your pace. Check out the container mall or you may like to try Punting on the River.
Day 2 Christchurch to Kaikoura
Today we make our way north travelling through the open sheep farming countryside before hitting the scenic Kaikoura coastline. We are on the water this afternoon, this time it is on one of the local Whale Watch Encounter boats. These fascinating sea mammals are in their natural environment on the Kaikoura coast and you’ll be amazed being up close to them. This evening you have to try some of the local kai moana (Maori for seafood), such as scallops and lobster.
Day 3 Kaikoura to Nelson
This morning we will wind our way up the coastline into the world renowned wine region of Marlborough. Hopefully we will get up close to some of the local seals that call the shores their home along the way. After some lunch in Blenheim we will travel past the Mussel capital of New Zealand, Havelock and through Rai Valley into Nelson. This is the exact centre of New Zealand as well as the city with the most sunshine hours.
Day 4 Abel Tasman Day Trip
Today we will head out to Abel Tasman Nation Park and explore the area but boat, kayak and some hiking. The beautiful inlets, golden sand beaches and clear waters make this one of the most visited destinations in the Tasman district. Weather and tides permitting you will paddle out to Pinnacle Island to watch the antics of the local seal colony.
Day 5 Nelson to Punakaiki
Once we have had breakfast we will continue our journey south through the lush pine forests and dairy farms before stopping in the historic Buller Gorge. Famous for its gold mining history but also the longest swing bridge in New Zealand. We’ll take part in some easy hiking before continuing on our journey to the West Coast shoreline. Just before we check in we will stop to check out the famous Pancake Rocks. We will arrive at our Hotel in time for dinner and to watch the sunset over the Tasman Sea.
Day 6 Punakaiki to Franz Josef
After a peaceful night’s sleep we will make out way south into a once booming gold mining town of Hokitika. This is home to local Greenstone artists where from stone they carve by hand pendants, earrings and Maori cultural necklaces, just to name a few. Continuing south we make our way into Franz Josef, where this afternoon you will be joining a Heli Hike Tour. This trip will see you taken to and from the ice by helicopter, spend two hours walking amongst the ice formations and led by a professional ice guide.
Day 7 Franz Josef to Queenstown
This morning we travel to Lake Matheson for a short walk to the Mirror Lake where on a still day you can see the reflection of our highest mountain, Mount Cook. We will also travel through the majestic Haast Pass and around into the Southern Lakes District. These deep blue lakes are amazing in colour as we arrive into Wanaka. We will also take the time to have some fun at Puzzling World, great to keep the mind active and have some fun in the maze.
We are on the move again for the short trip over the winding Crown Range into Queenstown.
Day 8 Queenstown Sights
Today you are in for a treat; this afternoon you will be treated to the highly rated Shotover Jetboat ride. This trip was enjoyed by Prince William and Kate on their visit to New Zealand. Then we are off to the Gibbston Valley for a Prestige Wine Tour with a two course lunch. Once we return to Queenstown we will take a ride in the Skyline Skyrides Gondola where you can enjoy awesome views over the city, Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Lake Wakatipu. This evening you will take a cruise on the MV Earnslaw, the oldest coal fired steamship in New Zealand and have an evening meal at Walter Peak Farm.
Day 9 Milford Sound Day Trip
Today is a day to sit back and take it all in. We will be travelling one of the finest alpine roads in the world. Fiordland National Park is a step back in time and is famous for its glacier carved fiords. Today we will join a scenic tour of Milford Sound, about 2 hours of stunning natural bush, wildlife and fiords. We will travel back to Queenstown and arrive late afternoon.
Day 10 Queenstown to Lake Tekapo
Once we have loaded up we will make the short drive through the Gibston Valley to the AJ Hackett Bungy site, the first commercially operated site in NZ. After watching others take the leap we will travel a little further to the fruit bowl of New Zealand, Cromwell. Here you will get the chance to try and purchase some of the best produce and real fruit ice cream New Zealand has to offer. We continue north travelling through Omarama and the Lindis Pass where the high country sheep call their home. This is also the home to the Ice Breaker Clothing sheep. We will arrive into Lake Tekapo in the early afternoon where you can enjoy dinner by the lake as the sun sets and the stars come out.
Day 11 Lake Tekapo to Christchurch
After breakfast we have our final day of travel together. We will stop in the historic village of Geraldine. Some of the local creations here in Geraldine are a must try, such as Geraldine’s cheese maker, chocolatier and the internationally recognised Barker's fruit products - all of which have outlets in the town. After lunch we will make our way into Christchurch where you will have some time for some last minute souvenir shopping and time to enjoy your last night in New Zealand
Day 12 Christchurch Departure
Today your Guide will take you to Christchurch Airport for your departure flight. After an exciting and in-depth tour of New Zealand’s South Island and we hope you’ve loved New Zealand as much as we have loved showing it to you!
What is included in this tour?
11 Nights’ Accommodation (4 Star)
7 Breakfasts, cooked or continental
Whale Watch Scenic Boat Cruise
Abel Tasman Beaches, Bays and Seals day trip
International Antarctic Centre Entry
Franz Josef Heli Hike
Puzzling World Entry
Gibbston Valley Prestige Wine Tour with Two Course Lunch
Shot Over Jet Boat Ride
Milford Sound Scenic Cruise
Skyline Gondola Ride
Walter Peak Dinner Cruise
Want to see more? Feel free to contact us and customise this itinerary to suit your needs! Add additional days, activities and more.
Want to upgrade to luxury travel and accommodation? Contact us for a quote to upgrade this trip to suit your tour needs.
Want to go budget? No worries! Contact us for a quote to change this trip to hostel accommodation without breakfasts.
All pricing is in New Zealand Dollars.
Airfares are not included.
Travel Insurance is not included.