Summary of The Day: Today we'll begin our fantastic tour of New Zealand's South Island, starting with our departure city, Christchurch. While Christchurch was seriously damaged during earthquakes a few years ago, the city is undergoing a wonderful transformation and has nothing but potential.
We’ll explore the iconic downtown area and check out the cool ways the city has reunited and is being rebuilt. With lots of quirky shops, specialized cafes and spots to dine, along with a young fun Kiwi culture, Christchurch shouldn’t be missed.
Then we'll make our way to Tekapo, one of New Zealand’s most famous lakes. Surrounded by the jagged Southern Alps, the bright turquoise Lake Tekapo will leave you questioning if someone dropped blue food coloring in it.
Minerals left by ancient glaciers give the lake its iconic turquoise color. Combine this with the towering mountains and purple and pink Lupin flowers along its banks, Lake Tekapo couldn’t be prettier.
Once the sun goes down, it gets even better. Thanks to the super clear skies, the area around Tekapo has been declared a “Star Reserve” and is the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies above. Watch the stars appear over the lake from the hostel that’s just a few feet from the shore.
Summary of The Day: The road to Queenstown (scattered with dozens of glacial blue lakes, soaring mountains and lush valleys) is almost as beautiful as the town itself. Between wine tasting in the famous Otago region, to exploring some of the local salmon farms, we’ll have the chance to see a more diverse side of the South Island.
The undisputed adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is always at the top of the list of any trip around the South Island. Surrounded by the stunning Remarkables, some of the most beautiful mountains in NZ, and sprawling along the banks of the dazzling Lake Wakatipu, its location is straight from a postcard.
Together we’ll hop on up the gondola and see Queenstown from above. There is nothing like watching the sunset over New Zealand’s prettiest town with new friends before experiencing the famous nightlife in town.
We’ll crash for the night at the Haka Lodge in Queenstown, cook some meals together, and chill out in this luxury hostel-lodge. Tomorrow is going to be action packed, so be sure to get at least a few hours sleep!
Summary of The Day: With a full day in Queenstown, you can pack in as many bucket list activities as you wish. There are many different options to choose from: paragliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping while your Haka friends cheer you on, horse riding through some stunning Lord of the Rings locations in Glenorchy and swinging through a canyon Tarzan-style with a new friend. Queenstown is definitely a highlight of any trip to New Zealand.
Queenstown is also home to New Zealand’s most famous burger: Fergburger. Why not grab one with your new friends as you explore the town?
If you’re into hiking, you might even be able to hop on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and tackle part of the Routeburn track.
One of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Milford Sound, is not to be missed. Driving into the park is stunning in and of itself, but just wait ‘til you get on the water! Sailing around the fiords beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular spots in New Zealand.
Beautiful in rain or shine, Milford is universally loved by all, and takes the biscuit as one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful areas of the South Island. With the occasional sea lion or dolphin popping up to say hello, it makes the journey there and around even more special.
Summary of The Day: The drive to Wanaka from Queenstown is spectacular, filled with great views, beautiful stops and plenty of surprises. We’ll stop in the stunning and historic Arrowtown for a bit of exploring.
En route to Wanaka, we stop in at New Zealand’s oldest pub for a drink or two in Cardrona before arriving at the lakeside holiday town of Wanaka.
A year round destination, Wanaka is surrounded by towering mountains and a glacial blue lake with plenty of things to do and with a thriving young vibe in town. In the warmer months, there are tons of lake activities to choose from, such as swimming, waterskiing, kayaking and wakeboarding. There are beautiful hikes and bike rides all around the lake and plenty of adventure activities to choose from too.
In the winter, Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s most popular snow sports destinations, with several great ski fields close by. Hit the cafes on the lakefront for a drink at the end of the day with the group to unwind.
Summary of The Day: Start the day off right with a skydive over Wanaka, taking in the spectacular glaciers we’ll head to later in the day, and even get views of Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. If you’re feeling nostalgic, take a step back in time with a flight over the lake and town in a vintage Tiger Moth biplane.
You’ll also have the chance to mountain bike along the lake, climb up the iconic Mt. Iron in town for some sweet views or hit up the iconic Puzzling World for a bit of fun and games.
We’ll then make our way towards the wild west coast of the South Island, traversing the beautiful mountains in Haast and getting a good look towards the sea. Get excited, this is one of the most scenic and iconic road trips around New Zealand. Apart from the sick west coast views, there are plenty of surprises and secret spots in store today.
Between September and December it’s whitebait season (a small fish that’s a delicacy in New Zealand). Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it’s a local treat in New Zealand and shouldn’t be missed. We’ll stop at a one of the secret local spots to try it out.
Summary of The Day: Another New Zealand favorite: Franz Josef Glacier. You’ll marvel at the sight of bright blue ice fields, surrounded by luscious green mountains, dropping down into a temperate rainforest (the only kind in the world). Relatively easy to access, hiking on or around the glaciers is a must-do.
There are plenty of different ways to enjoy Franz Josef; you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike on the glaciers, try ice-climbing for the first time, or relax in the hot springs down below. You can even carve your own Greenstone necklace in town.
Apart from the beautiful glaciers, there are also plenty of opportunities for kayaking, quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke in Franz Josef!
With Mt. Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand.
Summary of The Day: Many Kiwis are fond of saying that the west coast of the South Island is what all of New Zealand used to look like. Sweeping, ancient rainforests drop down to rugged coastlines where huge waves crash onto beautiful beaches with the magnificent Southern Alps in the background. It doesn’t get much prettier than that!
Driving along the coastal road and exploring the lush forests around Punakaiki, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time before people even arrived in New Zealand. Get excited; the knowledgeable guides have some surprises up their sleeves for this part of the trip, including a spot or two to get your feet wet.
Te Waipounamu (which means ‘the water Greenstone’ in Maori) is the name given to the South Island because of the abundance of Greenstone (jade) to be found there. We’ll get to visit one of the famous artisan Greenstone factories in Hokitika as we make our way north, as well as passing through many old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki.
North of Punakaiki’s famous Pancake Rocks, we’ll get to sleep in the rainforest next to the beach at the unique Te Nikau Retreat, one of the best places to sleep in the area. Watching the sunset over the ocean with the Haka family, while building a bonfire on the beach, is the perfect way to enjoy this wild part of New Zealand.
Summary of The Day: Today we'll awake to the clap of waves on the The Pancake Rocks, one of the South Island’s many natural wonders; formed by huge basalt columns along the coast, at high tide seawater shoots up through the many blowholes creating a roaring performance.
Around Punakaiki you’ll find surfing, kayaking, caving and even the chance to make your own knife (the perfect souvenir to take home). There are also opportunities for horseback riding and walks along the Paparoa National Park.
Summary of The Day: Making our way north from Punakaiki, the scenery and weather gets better and better. There’s plenty here to keep you busy: explore caves, visit fur seal colonies, hunt secret water holes, fly a stunt plane, skydive or go hang gliding. You’ll be sure to find various adventure activities to keep you satisfied.
Eventually we’ll arrive at one of the gems of the South Island: Motueka - the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches meet up with tranquil lagoons and crystal clear water to make the Abel Tasman the perfect getaway from the mountains.
Summary of The Day: Enough of the big mountains, it’s time for some sandy beaches. Abel Tasman can be explored many different ways, by walking, kayaking, water taxi or a combination of all three. There are also opportunities for getting out on the water for a bit of a sail or getting adventurous and canyoning.
One of New Zealand’s great walks, the Abel Tasman trail is easy and meanders along the coastline. Anyone can do it. There are great viewpoints, secluded beaches and even waterfalls hidden about this part of the South Island. And the best part: it’s one of the sunniest regions of New Zealand!
In the park we’ll get to overnight on a boat-turned-hostel, have a BBQ together on the deck, swim off the boat and hang out together under the stars. This is one of the most unique experiences you can have in New Zealand. How often do you get to sleep on a boat under the stars in a national park?
Summary of The Day: Nelson, the sunniest place in New Zealand, is a traveler’s paradise. From beautiful beaches and bays with drastic tidal flows, to bright blue skies and more vineyards than you can imagine, Nelson has a lot to offer.
In addition to beautiful landscapes, Nelson also has great cafes, unique art galleries and boutique shops to explore. In Havelock, on the way to the port, we may even get to try some famous New Zealand mussels.
We’ll journey on back to Picton to catch the ferry as the sun sets over the Cook Strait on our way back to Wellington. Be on the lookout for leaping dolphins!
Summary of The Day: Today we'll say farewell and checkout of the YHA Wellington at 9:00am.
* Customers under 18 years old are not permitted on this tour.|
* The included accommodation is dorm share with maximum 6 guests.
* Due to limited availability at time of booking, multi-share accommodation for two or more guests may be provided in separate rooms. Every endeavor will be made to ensure this does not occur, but should this be necessary you will be advised at check-in.
* Tour prices are based on NZD and are converted into USD. Prices will change day to day, due to the currency exchange rates. Tours booked and paid for will be charged at the current rate at which the tour price is shown. We will not refund any price differences, should prices drop for the tour. Tours will be subject to Cancellation Fees, should any changes be made for a reservation.
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