New Zealand South Island 9-day explorer trip

Day 1

Arrival day to Christchurch

Haere Mai (Welcome) to your New Zealand adventure starting in Christchurch known as the Garden City, a city where old meets new.

Spend your afternoon wandering the city streets and laneways to discover creative street art and hidden eateries. See how Christchurch earned its nickname as the Garden City by visiting the Botanic Gardens.

Take a walk to see the ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral and the earthquake memorial of 185 White Chairs. This evening you’ll have dinner at the hotel and meet your Guide and the group you’ll be travelling with.

Arrival: Anytime

Visit: Christchurch

Accommodation: Rydges Latimer or similar

Meals Included: Dinner (arrival time dependent)

Day 2

Christchurch to Dunedin

After breakfast this morning, we’ll journey south down the coast and across the Canterbury Plains. We’ll pass through the township of Oamaru, home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand before heading onto the mystical Moeraki Boulders.

These geological marvels began to form about 60 million years ago and were exposed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks over time. We’ll arrive in Dunedin with plenty of time to make the most of this Scottish City.

Visit: Christchurch, Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin

Accommodation: Scenic Dunedin City or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3

Dunedin to Te Anau

We’ll visit the iconic Larnach Castle of Dunedin this morning for a stroll through the magnificent gardens before departing for Te Anau.

First, we’ll make a stop in Gore for a trip to the Illicit Past… Gore’s colourful past as a centre for illicit whisky distilling and bootlegging is brought to life at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum. The adventures of the Scottish settlers and their exploits to avoid run-ins with the law are kept alive through dioramas, audio-visuals and artefacts.

You can taste Old Hokonui made from the original recipe at the end of your visit, or even take a bottle home with you. Afterwards, we drive to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland, where we’ll spend the evening.

Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Te Anau or similar

Activity: Larnach Castle, Hokonui Moonshine Museum

Optional activities: Speight’s Brewery, Dunedin Train Station

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4

Te Anau via Doubtful Sound to Queenstown

Depart from Te Anau this morning to Manapouri, where you’ll enjoy a leisurely cruise across the lake to West Arm. This is followed by a short coach trip on New Zealand’s most expensive road, travelling over Wilmot Pass and pausing along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening far below.

At Deep Cove, board a modern catamaran and allow the majesty and vastness of the fiord to take your breath away. Enjoy the on-board commentary that provides insight into the region’s history, flora and fauna as you view spectacular towering mountains and wildlife.

Later we’ll drive to Queenstown, skirting through lush farmland and around Lake Wakatipu to the picturesque alpine resort of Queenstown.

Visit: Lake Manapouri, West Arm, Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, Queenstown

Accommodation: Heritage Queenstown or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Activity: Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

Day 5

Day at leisure in Queenstown

Today is yours to experience New Zealand’s adventure capital for yourself. Queenstown boasts an incredible array of activities and your Coach Captain can assist with booking any optional extras you’d like to do.

Take a ride on the world-famous Shotover Jet Boat, travel to the top of Bob’s Peak by gondola for spectacular views, take a tour to the gold mining area of Skippers Canyon, or for the adventurous, try white water rafting or bungy jumping. Alternatively, browse in the many shops and galleries in town or relax at one of the many cafes or bars along the lakefront.

Accommodation: Heritage Queenstown or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 6

Queenstown to Haast via Jackson Bay

View incredible scenery as you travel through Arrowtown, an area steeped in fascinating history relating to early settlement and the gold mining era. Next, we visit Wanaka, a popular township on the edge of the lake with a spectacular mountain backdrop.

Then we’ll enter Jackson Bay, a spectacular place and one not many people will be able to say they’ve done! Jackson Bay marks the farthest point of the West Coast’s road network. We’ll have an amazing West Coast lunch at The Craypot – a quirky, little caravan style restaurant situated on the esplanade before heading towards Haast, our destination for the evening.

Tonight we stay at the Heartland Hotel, a popular local establishment where the locals come to mix and mingle at the Frontier Bar.

Visit: Wanaka, Arrowtown, Jackson Bay, Haast

Accommodation: Heartland Haast or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7

Haast to Franz Josef

Travel north along the coast of the Westland National Park, home of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. This remarkable part of the country was shaped by the dynamic glaciers and boasts lush temperate rainforest growing beneath towering mountains.

We’ll stop in Fox Glacier with the option to walk the gentle 2.6km track around Lake Matheson. Nestled amongst ancient forests and famous for mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, Lake Matheson is a serene and beautiful place to spend time.

This evening we’re spending the night in the Franz Josef township, surrounded by lush rainforest and impressive mountains. We’ll enjoy a delicious group dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Canavans.

Visit: Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson

Accommodation: Scenic Franz Josef or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Optional activities: Glacier Viewpoint

Day 8

Franz Josef to Christchurch

Today you’ll travel to the vibrant, artistic town of Hokitika where we’ll visit the amazing Greenstone and Glass blowing factories and watch some talented artists at work before continuing on to Greymouth, a historic town known for jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods.

Once there, you’ll make your way to the Greymouth Train Station, where you’ll board the Tranzalpine train. Considered to be one of the world’s greatest train journeys, prepare to be blown away by these epic vistas of forests, plains and mountains. Upon arrival in Christchurch, you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred to the hotel.

Visit: Greymouth, Christchurch

Accommodation: Rydges Latimer or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Activity: TranzAlpine train

Day 9

Christchurch Departure Day

The final day is today and your trip comes to an end, enjoy a hearty breakfast and say goodbye to your group and leader. Whether you decide to head home today or to stay in Christchurch for a few extra days, we hope you leave with many happy memories of your trip with us.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Explore the South Island in 9 days, 8 nights. This small-group tour combines New Zealand highlights with incredible lesser-known destinations will leave you in awe of New Zealand’s spectacular landscapes, heritage and culture, impressing even the most discerning traveller, and creating plenty of memories and stories to share for years to come.

Travellers worldwide still have fond memories and still share stories of their Kirra Tour. We have been creating memorable New Zealand experiences since 1968. Our passion for this country is displayed through our unique itineraries.

  • TranzAlpine Train Experience
  • Greenstone and Glass Blowing Factory visit
  • Seafood Experience in Haast
  • Scenic trip through the spectacular Haast Pass
  • Blue Pools Walk
  • Visit Arrowtown and Wanaka
  • Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
  • Hokonui Moonshine Museum
  • Larnach Castle
  • Moeraki Boulders

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  • Experienced Tour Guide
  • Luxury Coach
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • 8 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 3 Dinners

Southern Dream (Twin Share)

Adult( 18 - 99 ) From $3,312

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