South Island Highlights
PLEASE NOTE: We can help you add, adjust and tailor the itinerary to suit your requirements. Each clients itinerary is different. We work to your budget and take advantage of current specials in the marketplace for your time of travel.
Destinations: Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Franz Josef, Nelson
Experiences: Culture, Scenery, Wildlife, Adventure, Relaxation
No. of days: 13 day/12 nights itinerary
Starting in Christchurch the South Islands largest city you can explore the shopping, cafes and art galleries or venture further afield for award winning attractions. Dunedin showcases New Zealand’s Scottish heritage and wildlife experiences. Then you’re off to scenic Queenstown for fun and relaxation. Driving through to the West Coast will take you past stunning coastal scenery to Franz Josef for an awe-inspiring glacier tour. Finish your time in New Zealand in picturesque Nelson known for its local arts and crafts, galleries and beaches.
DAY BY DAY:
Day 1: Arrival in Christchurch. You'll be met at the airport for your transfer into Christchurch. (2 nights Christchurch).
Day 2: Spend the day in Christchurch at your leisure. Wander the cafes and shops in Christchurch or ride the Gondola for great views of the city. Make sure you visit the beautiful botanic gardens, while you're there go punting on the Avon River.
Day 3: Today you're off to Dunedin via a coach transfer. (2 night Dunedin)
Day 4: You're off to explore the Otago Peninsula this morning. Begin with a scenic bus tour of the beautiful Otago Peninsula out to the Royal Albatross Centre, where you can view the majestic Royal Albatross in their natural environment. Next is a guided land tour of a Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve to see the rarest penguin in the world - found only on the south-east coast of New Zealand. Afterwards, experience a fully guided tour of Larnach Castle - New Zealand's only castle, originally built in 1871. Finish the day with a wildlife cruise aboard the M.V. Monarch from Wellers Rock Wharf. See what cannot be seen from the land: Albatross, NZ Fur Seals and up to 20 species of bird and marine life. You may also see dolphins and even some sea lions.
Day 5: Leaving Dunedin today you're on a coach transfer to Queenstown. (3 nights Queenstown)
Day 6: Today you're exploring deep into the heart of the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park on a half day jet boating adventure. You’ll experience a unique combination of breath-taking scenery and an exhilarating ride as we follow the braided, glacier-fed rivers by jet boat.Your guides give you their authentic touch, talking about the area’s rich history, the Greenstone trail and countless Maori legends. We’ll also take the chance to tie up the boat and let you walk amongst the ancient beech tree forests – an atmosphere you may recognize from The Lord of the Rings films.
Day 7: You have the day at leisure in Queenstown today. You have many options for activities today. We recommend riding the Skyline Gondola for views of the lake and township. Have fun on the luge and soak up the scenery. You can even do star gazing at night after dinner. If you're after something more adventurous there's bungy jumping or skydiving. Don't forget about the chance to visit local wineries and food artisans.
Day 8: Today you pick up a rental car and drive to Franz Josef. (2 nights Franz Josef)
Day 9: You're off exploring the Franz Josef Glacier today. After a thrilling flight high above the rugged terrain you will land on the glacier, ready to undertake a three hour guided glacier hike. Your friendly guide will lead you through some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring glacier scenery in the world. You'll soon be making your way through an extraordinary land of towering peaks and glistening blue ice (spend up to three hours on the ice). After spending time on a glacier, nothing sounds better than hot pools. Nestled in lush rainforest, the hot pools are a haven of natural tranquility and the perfect way to relax and unwind after exploring the glacier region.
Day 10: You leave Franz Josef today and drive through to Nelson. (3 nights Nelson)
Day 11: You get to explore Abel Tasman National Park today on a full day sailing adventure. Depart Kaiteriteri cruising past Split Apple Rock and along the bush clad coastline. Take in the golden beaches and bays, lagoons, islands and birdsong. There is opportunity for a short walk. An hour long lunch stop at Anchorage Beach allows for exploring, swimming or relaxing. Continue on your cruise checking out the antics of NZ fur seals and catching the afternoon seabreeze back to Kaiteriteri. Have a go at sailing or just sit back, relax and enjoy.
Day 12: Spend the day at leisure in Nelson.
Day 13: Depart for home
* Coach tours can be arranged if you would prefer not to drive.
* This itinerary is designed for you to have time to explore at your leisure. We can arrange more activities if you wish.
2 nights Christchurch
2 nights Dunedin
3 nights Queenstown
2 nights Franz Josef
3 nights Nelson
Otago Peninsula scenic tour
Otago Harbour Cruise
Royal Albatross and wildlife tour
Guided tour of Larnach Castle
Dart River Wilderness Safari, jet boating
Franz Josef Glacier guided hike and hot pools
Abel Tasman National Park sailing adventure
All aspects of this itinerary can be changed to suit your requirements.
The itineraries provided are great introductions to your chosen destination. You can create a travel plan using the itinerary provided or make modifications to destinations, activities and accommodation and create the dream trip you want.
Not every traveler is the same, we get that and so that’s why we recommend making changes to suit your needs. In fact, we insist - we want you to have the best trip.
If you would like any recommendations for dinner or shopping areas please let us know we are happy to help and make bookings for you where necessary.
To travel to Australia you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and we can process an ETA Visa for free for US Citizens. We will need a copy of your Photo Page of your Passport. Nationalities of any other countries please enquire with your agent to see if you are eligible for a free ETA Visa or if you need to apply for a Visitor Visa.
To travel to New Zealand you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. More information on the NZeTA application requirements and process can be found on our FAQ page here.
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment. We will provide a travel insurance quote at the time of booking, and you are free to use our recommended insurance with Travelguard, find your own, or book without insurance.
A product that we can offer is a Cancel For Any Reason policy that will provide you with 80% back in refunds. If the cancellation is for medical reasons there is a 100% refund..
Downunder Journeys services travel requests from the United States and Canada for travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tahiti. All pricing on this website is in US Dollars.
All of the sample itineraries on this website do not include airfares as the airfare price changes daily and to ensure you get the best possible price we will work with the best airfares at the time. If you happen to buy your airfare first and then need a package to fit it, we can certainly help with that as well, just let us know.
As an idea for a 2-week vacation to Australia or New Zealand we recommend a budget of around $8,000-10,000 (including economy airfare), this would be for a 4 star and above itinerary, a little cheaper if we did more moderate accommodations.