New Zealand South Island Express
From 11/12/2023 to 10/06/2025
Starting off in Christchurch, see the cool and creative ways the city has rebuilt post-earthquake before heading to the stunning shores of Lake Tekapo.
Calling all adventure seekers! Queenstown is overflowing with adrenaline-pumping activities, so dive straight in or sit back with a glass of world-class local wine.
It just doesn’t get better looking than Wanaka.
From its centrepiece lake to surrounding mountains, uncover all this pretty little spot has to offer.
Stand in awe of the epic Franz Josef glacier and visit a local gallery to learn about the significance of pounamu (greenstone) to Maori culture while carving your own pendant.
All aboard for one of the world’s most spectacular train journeys – take the famous TranzAlpine through the Southern Alps for the final stretch of your adventure.
Breakfasts Included: 7.
Multi-share hostel with shared facilities (7 nights).
Age: min 15.
Group Size: 6 - 16.
Lake Tekapo - Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Christchurch - City Tour.
Queenstown - Kawarau Gorge.
Arrowtown - Village visit.
West Coast - Haast Pass.
West Coast - Lake Hawea Lookout.
Franz Josef - Carve your own Pounamu Necklace.
Greymouth - Tranz Alpine Train Journey.
Hokitika - Mountain Jade Greenstone Factory.
Itinerary / more information
1 - Christchurch Welcome to New Zealand! Your adventure begins in Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island. Meet up with your local leader and fellow travellers at 8am this morning to find out about what lies ahead on your journey, then head out to get to know Christchurch. After being rocked by an earthquake in 2011, much of Christchurch's downtown was destroyed, but the locals are a resilient bunch and examples of the cool and creative ways they've rebuilt can be seen across the city. Perhaps the best example of this is the Christchurch Cathedral - rebuilt out of cardboard, this is now one of the city's most interesting architectural features. Then it's time to get on the road and drive to Lake Tekapo, a truly stunning sight with its bright blue waters and surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for newlyweds snapping pictures in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd, boasting one of the world's most inspiring backdrops! Just when you thought things couldn't get better here, nighttime reveals a whole new side of Tekapo. A designated Dark Sky Reserve, this is one of the top spots in the country for stargazing.
2 - Queenstown Rise and shine! If you'd like to really embrace the morning, a hike to the summit of Mt John rewards with showstopping views of the Southern Alps. If you skip out on the walk, don't worry, there's still plenty of incredible views to be seen today. Drive past the tussocklands of the Mackenzie Basin and snow-dusted peaks of the Southern Alps as you travel down to Queenstown, making plenty of photo-worthy stops along the way. Swing by the Kawarau Gorge, where you'll have the chance to take the plunge with a bungy jump if you're feeling brave! Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world and your home for the next two nights. Whether you're into high-adrenaline experiences or sitting back with a glass of wine, Queenstown is sure to tick all your boxes.
3 - Queenstown The day is yours to experience all Queenstown has to offer. If you want to get your heart racing, look no further! Paragliding, jet boating, mountain biking, canyon swinging and bungy jumping could all be on the cards for you today - just speak to your leader about arranging these optional activities. For Lord of the Rings fans, a 4WD adventure through scenery where the film was shot is a real highlight. Wine lovers are in the right place - this is one of the top wine-producing regions in the world and there's no shortage of fantastic wineries where you can sample some for yourself. Queenstown's nightlife punches above its size, and with more than 40 bars to choose from, you're guaranteed a good night ahead.
4 - Queenstown Take the morning to tick off anything you didn't get to see or do yesterday, then leave Queenstown in the rear-view mirror and begin the super scenic drive across the Crown Range to Wanaka. Along the way, stop off in the lovely little gold-rush town of Arrowtown, where the high street's historic facades make it easy to imagine what life here once looked like. Arrive into Wanaka and enjoy a slower pace than high-octane Queenstown. With Lake Wanaka as the star of the show and surrounding mountains only complimenting its beauty, there's no doubt this is one of the most attractive towns in New Zealand. Hit a hiking trail, explore on a bike or find a cosy cafe to admire the view.
5 - Wanaka Enjoy a morning at leisure for your own explorations of Wanaka. There's no shortage of amazing things to see and do here, so be sure to chat to your leader for their top tips. You may like to take a pleasant bike ride along the shores of Lake Wanaka or get on the water and cruise to Mou Waho Island, where you'll find an island in a lake on an island in a lake! There are heaps of beautiful short walks in the area, and a visit to the famous #thatwanakatree is a must. Depart Wanaka in the afternoon and venture further north, stopping off at a lookout point over either Lake Wanaka or Lake Hawea, depending on conditions. Your eyes will be glued to the window for this journey as you pass the impressive waterfalls of the Haast Pass and more spectacular coastline (your leader will make a few special stops along the way too!). Arrive to Franz Josef village, your base for the evening.
6 - Franz Josef Franz Josef is the stuff of dreams, where glittering glaciers and soaring peaks provide a spectacular background to daily life. This part of the country is known as Te Wahi Pounamu, meaning 'the place of greenstone', due to the region's abundance of this culturally and spiritually significant stone. Pay a visit to a local gallery and carve your own pendant while learning about pounamu's importance to Maori culture. This afternoon, if you'd like to get closer to the Franz Josef Glacier, speak to your leader about the option of booking a helicopter ride to drop you on the snow, allowing you to then hike over the glacier's surface. There's also the chance to kayak over a glacial lake or chill out in natural hot springs. No matter how you choose to spend the day here, it's set to be one to remember.
7 - Hokitika Travel up the wild and wet West Coast, where the country's highest annual rainfall means the landscapes are unbelievably green and lush, standing in striking contrast to the blue ocean. Stop off in the town of Hokitika and pop into a pounamu factory where you'll have the chance to pick up any final souvenirs to remember your trip. If time allows, you may have the chance to visit a kiwi centre, where delightful kiwi birds can be observed in a nocturnal house. Your journey may be nearing its end, but the last leg may just top them all. Hop aboard the iconic TranzAlpine train as you cross the Southern Alps through Arthur's pass on your way back to Christchurch - you're going to want to have your camera ready for this one! Arrive to Christchurch in the evening and perhaps head out for dinner and drinks with your group.
8 - Christchurch Your adventure comes to an end this morning, but if you're not ready to go home yet, just get in touch ahead of time and we can arrange additional accommodation in Christchurch (subject to availability).
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