13 Day Southern Expedition
Starts in: Christchurch Ends in: Christchurch
Experience the South Island like never before on our 13 Day New Zealand Expedition, designed to showcase the most uniquely beautiful destinations. This off-the-beaten-track small group tour allows you to explore the South Island in a more relaxed and less structured way.
With no more than 24 guests, this tour combines the ‘must see’ highlights with many exclusive activities. Stay in quality hotel accommodation and enjoy dining at some of New Zealand’s leading restaurants and wineries.
This tour 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.
- World class Tour Guide
- Luxury accommodation
- Coastal Pacific Train Ticket
- Omaka Museum Guided Tour
- Abel Tasman National Park Vista Cruise
- Visit the Cape Foulwind seal colony
- Pancake Rocks and Blowholes walk
- Greenstone and Glass Blowing Factory visit
- Visit Arrowtown and Wanaka
- Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
- Curio Bay and Slope Point walk
- Nugget Point Lighthouse walk
- Dunedin Street Art Walking Tour
- Moeraki Boulders conservation fee
ItineraryView Tour PDF
Pick-up location & instructions: Please make your way to the Christchurch Railway Station for 6:30 am. Give your reference number to the desk to check-in.
Note: We provide a shuttle to the Railway Station from Rydges Latimer. Please let us know if you require this.
Haere Mai and Welcome! Prepare for an early start this morning, as you make your way to the Christchurch Train station for 6.30 am. Here you’ll jump on board the magnificent Coastal Pacific and journey up to the top of the South Island in luxury, soaking up the gorgeous scenery en-route.
The Coastal Pacific Train sector is not guided by Kirra. Your guide will meet you in Picton after an amazing morning on the Coastal Pacific Train.
May 2021 Tour Update: please be aware that in May 2021 (and only in May 2021), you won’t be travelling on the Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch to Picton. In May 2021, you will travel this leg with your Guide on the Coach. The pickup for this departure will be from the Rydges Latimer, Christchurch at 7am.
Arriving in the picturesque seaside town of Picton, you’ll take a water taxi to Lochmara Lodge. The lodge is nestled in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, which make up 25% of New Zealand’s coastline.
Enjoy a walk around the beautiful surrounding area before indulging in some refreshments and nibbles afterwards. We’ll then head to our accommodation for the evening, Chateau Marlborough, where you can enjoy a delicious group dinner.
Visit: Picton, Lochmara Lodge, Marlborough Sounds
Stay: Chateau Marlborough
Activity: Coastal Pacific Train
Meals: Afternoon Tea, Dinner
After breakfast this morning, you’ll take a guided tour around the Omaka Museum and relive the magical early days of aviation. The museum has had influence and support from Peter Jackson and is an absolute must-see! Arriving at our destination mid-afternoon, the coach will take you on a scenic drive along the seaside. This evening there’s plenty of time to relax, explore the area and the option to taste some of Nelson’s fine local beverages.
Visit: Picton, Nelson
Stay: Hotel Nelson
Activity: Omaka Museum
Optional Activities: Hike to the centre of NZ, Craft beer tasting, wine tasting
Travel to the seaside resort town of Kaiteriteri and spend the morning cruising the stunning Abel Tasman National Park – a coastal paradise known for its golden sand beaches. See the iconic Split Apple Rock and call in to the most popular beaches along the coastline as you sail up to Totaranui and back. This afternoon we’ll take the scenic route and arrive back in Nelson mid-afternoon.
Visit: Kaiteriteri, Abel Tasman National Park, Totaranui Beach
Stay: Hotel Nelson
Activity: Abel Tasman National Park Vista Cruise
This morning we’ll travel through the Buller Gorge, home of New Zealand’s longest swing bridge. We’ll stop off at Westport, where we’ll have lunch before heading to Karamea, right at the northern end of the west coast of the South Island. You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the views of the Tasman coast, river valleys, lush rainforest and untouched mountain ranges. Tonight we’ll stay at the Last Resort, a locally-owned, secluded eco lodge right on the coast and completely off the beaten track.
Visit: Murchison, Buller Gorge, Westport, Karamea
Stay: Last Resort Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Gaze at untamed beaches and spectacular rainforest as we drive down the incredibly scenic ‘wild’ West Coast. We’ll stop at Cape Foulwind to visit the fur seal breeding colony before stopping shortly after at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes to take a walk around these fascinating geological formations. We’ll then drive through Greymouth, a historic town known for jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods before arriving into the vibrant, artistic town of Hokitika. We’ll visit the amazing Greenstone and Glass blowing factory and watch some talented artists at work before getting settled in at the Beachcomber. You’ll have the option of visiting The National Kiwi Centre this afternoon before we meet for dinner at the hotel.
Visit: Cape Foulwind, Tauranga Bay, Punakaiki, Greymouth, Hokitika
Stay: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika
Activity: Greenstone and Glass Blowing Factory visit
Optional Activities: The National Kiwi Centre
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Travel south along the coast to 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 Franz Josef township for morning tea and drive to the glacier viewpoint. The afternoon drive to Jackson Bay is spectacular 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 back towards Haast. Tonight we stay at the Heartland Hotel, a popular local establishment where the locals come to mix and mingle at the Frontier Bar.
Visit: Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Jackson Bay, Haast
Stay: Heartland Haast
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
View incredible scenery as you travel past the untouched wilderness and pristine lakes of the Mt Aspiring National Park. We’ll stop in Wanaka along the way, a popular township on the lake’s edge with a spectacular mountain backdrop. Next we visit Arrowtown, an area steeped in fascinating history relating to early settlement and the gold mining era. Finally, we’ll skirt around the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the picturesque alpine resort of Queenstown. Enjoy some downtime this evening, as you kick back, relax and admire the amazing alpine and lake views!
Visit: Wanaka, Arrowtown, Queenstown
Optional Activities: Helicopter experience
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.
Optional Activities: Skyline Gondola, Jet boating, Wine tours, walks & hikes
Travel around Lake Wakatipu and through lush farmland to Fiordland National Park. On to Manapouri, where you 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. Tonight we’ll have dinner at the Distinction Hotel, Te Anau.
Visit: Lake Manapouri, West Arm, Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau
Stay: Distinction Luxmore Te Anau
Activity: Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
Optional Activities: See the glowworms
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Skirting around the Fiordland National Park and along the rugged south coast we’ll head for Tuatapere, the most south westerly town in New Zealand with a rich sawmilling history. From there we’ll visit Riverton, the “Riviera of the South”. At nearly 200 years old, Riverton was one of the very first European settlements in New Zealand. Next stop is Bluff to stand on Stirling Point and see the famous signpost and the chain representing the Maori belief that Stewart Island is anchored to the South Island, from here vista’s of Stewart Island and surrounding Mutton Bird Islands can be viewed. We’ll arrive in Invercargill in the afternoon and the rest of the day is yours to explore – we recommend the Transport Museum for the history buffs!
Visit: Tuatapere, Riverton, Bluff, Invercargill.
Stay: Kelvin Hotel
Optional Activities: Queen’s Gardens, Southland Museum, Truck & Classic Car Museum
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
The Catlins are rugged, beautiful and ecologically unique. We’ll stop frequently along the coastline to explore. If we’re lucky we may see the Hector’s Dolphins at Curio Bay and its 180 million year old forest of fossilised trees at Slope Point. We’ll detour off the main route to Nugget Point Lighthouse where we’ll take a short walk to see penguins, seals, sea lions and a variety of coastal birds. We’ll stop in the main settlement of Owaka before heading through to Balclutha and on to Dunedin. Dunedin is the South Island’s second-largest city and is often referred to as the Edinburgh of the South for its unique Scottish heritage. Tonight, dinner is included at the Southern Cross Hotel and Casino.
Visit: Curio Bay, Nugget Point, Owaka, Balclutha
Stay: Southern Cross
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Today is a free day to experience Dunedin and the greater Otago Peninsula. This heritage city offers stunning examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, most of which can be viewed on a downtown walking tour. Visit the natural history exhibits of the Otago Museum or take an interactive tour of the iconic Speight’s Brewery. Take a guided tour of Larnach Castle to learn about its tragic and mysterious history. For those seeking outdoor adventures, the dramatic Otago Peninsula offers opportunities to search for albatross, penguins, seals and sea lions as well as a variety of walking and biking trails. In the evening, embark on a walking tour to learn more about the history and culture of Dunedin and get up close and personal with the city’s vibrant street art scene. End your tour at one of the cool burger joints, bars or wine cellars on Vogel Street.
Stay: Southern Cross
Activity: Street art walking tour
Optional Activities: Otago Museum, Speight’s Brewery, Larnach Castle
After breakfast this morning, we’ll stop to view the mystical Moeraki Boulders, geological marvels that began to form about 60 million years ago and were exposed by the erosion of sedimentary rocks over time. Then we’ll continue to the township of Oamaru, home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand. Our journey north takes us up the coast and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, where your trip comes to an end. 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.
Visit: Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru, Christchurch