Dramatic landscapes, rolling lush farmland and snow-capped mountain ranges; New Zealand's South Island is spectacular beyond belief. You will see the main highlights of the South Island and visit the best known locations. Scenic Highlights Tours
All tours are private, depart daily, and can be customized to suit individual interests and schedules. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0064-21-890611 for more information about our luxury New Zealand tours. Our Vehicles Travel Guide Profiles
Day 1: Christchurch arrival
You will be met on arrival at Christchurch International Airport by your Aroha NZ Tours Representative, and transferred to your accommodation in our luxurious vehicle. Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island. Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps. Described by the Lonely Planet as a "vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch is showing off its vibrancy with new developments popping up all over the place. The New York Times's 52 Places to Go in 2014, Christchurch ranked no. 2. Whilst part of the central city of Christchurch is still cordoned off due to the impact of a series of earthquakes, there’s plenty to do in and around this rapidly changing city, like visiting the Re:Start shopping area and Pop Up City bars. For those who arrive early, you may wish to take a tour to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum. Accommodation: Christchurch City Or start tour straight away!
Day 2: Christchurch - Arthurs Pass - Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) driving distance 1,5h
Start of private tour! Depart Christchurch through the scenic untouched areas and through Arthurs Pass. From your car you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Stop for a walk at Castle Hill Basin, characterised by its distinctive limestone rock formations. These limestone rock formations are the water eroded remnants of limestone formed during the Oligocene age 30-40 million years ago when much of present day New Zealand was covered by the sea. Pass Lake Pearson and relax in your stay near Arthurs Pass Village, the South Islands highest Settlement, surrounded by mountain peaks rising more than 2,000 meters. On arriving in Greymouth, your driver/guide will take you to the upper West Coast. The West Coast – New Zealand’s longest region – is a narrow 600km stretch of wild coastline, mountain peaks, glaciers, clear lakes and sparsely populated towns. This immense untamed natural environment is New Zealand’s most protected region. We stop at Punakaiki the jewel of the West Coast, Punakaiki is world renowned for its pancake rock formation and blowholes. Walk along some of the stunning and remote beach treks, though a dense rainforest with Nikau Palms and large ferns. Optional: (you will have to stay in Christchurch the night before) Tranz Alpine Train from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass: This is truly one of the world’s great scenic train trips through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christchurch, cross the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury Plains, follow the Waimakariri River, climbing into alpine scenery on a series of spectacular viaducts. Accommodation: Punakaiki
Day 3: Punakaiki - Franz Josef Glacier (Rainforest and Glaciers, Helicopter flight and landing on ice) driving distance 4h
Your day has an interesting flavour of mountains, and native flora and fauna, as you travel through the rugged terrain that divides the east from the west. Pass by Lake Brunner with its rolling foothills overlooking the largest lake in the northwestern South Island. By midday enjoy an exhilarating treetop adventure on New Zealand first treetop walk among temperate rainforest giants as you experience life with the native birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. It is an easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 meters high and over 450 meters long. Before midday we visit the historical gold mining town of Hokitika. Nearby take a walk over a swing bridge to the Hokitika Gorge, this is truly one of the beautiful places in New Zealand! The beautiful turquoise waters is quite breathtaking as is the gorge itself. We take a leisurely and scenic drive to the famous glacier region and your day’s itinerary will end in the tiny settlement of Franz Josef. In the afternoon experience awe-inspiring views of Mt Cook and Tasman, breath-taking views of the glaciers and neve's. The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery. Two glaciers are located only 25 km from each other and are unique in the world as they seem to nearly reach the ocean. Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier snowfields with a landing at high altitude. Step out of your helicopter and experience how it feels to stand in snow. The flight includes fantastic views of the Tasman Glacier and Mount Cook. Accommodation: West Coast
Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier - Haast - Mt Aspiring National Park - Queenstown (Rainforest walks, wetlands, and remote water-falls) driving distance 5h
In the morning visit nearby Lake Matheson. The forested path skirts the shores of the mist-shrouded lake and on a clear day, New Zealand’s highest peaks are spectacularly reflected in the mirror-like waters. A spectacular and scenic road links Haast and Wanaka. It reaches beyond wind-whipped Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, through golden tussock-covered hills, to wind among steep mountains cloaked in lush rainforest and cross tumbling rivers. Just 20 min from Haast take a 20 min walk to the Roaring Billy Waterfall, an easy fern line walk take you to the shores of the Haast River. Shortly later make a short stop at the 28m drop Thunder Creek falls. By midday, take a 30 min return walk to the Blue pools. It features a carefully maintained gravel path and boardwalks that wind through a native silver beech forest and lead to a swing bridge strung high above the Makarora River. The views back to the mountains of the Main Divide are absolutely breath-taking. The glacier-fed water in these deep pools is the colour of deep azure blue, and so clear that you can see right to the bottom, making the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in the air. As you exit Mt Aspiring National Park you will travel through what is known as “The Neck” a formation of land that separates two of our great South Island lakes, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. We take you to the nearby town of Queenstown. Accommodation: Queenstown
Day 5: Queenstown (Area tour, Arrowtown, Kawarau Gorge, Walter Peaks Farm Tour)
Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region and also its most scenic. Take the time to explore these incredible vineyards set in small microclimates in a landscape dominated by high snow-capped mountains, and tussock clad slopes. Drive through the famous Kawarau valley and gorge. Stop at, which is widely regarded as a safe spectator attraction, the famous Kawarau Gorge Bungy Jumping exhibition (this is free for spectators, however if you desire to make a jump the charge is additional to your tour package). Visit the surrounding areas to Arthur's Point stop in Arrowtown, a historic colonial village that takes you back into the Gold Mining days of the Otago region. From Kawarau Gorge you return to Queenstown where you can take the opportunity to explore the village area. Queenstown, New Zealand, is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier four season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising. In the early afternoon get a taste of New Zealand’s farming lifestyle at Walter Peak High Country Farm. Situated on picturesque Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores, the farm is the perfect place to spend a relaxing few hours. The Farm Tour itself is a wonderful, interactive experience for the whole family, with something to keep everyone entertained and happy. You rural host will meet you after you disembark from the TSS Earnslaw and take you for a walking tour of the farmyard. The first stop is the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep and deer, and even get up close to the Scottish Highland Cattle. Then stroll through the lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel’s Homestead for morning or afternoon tea. Afterwards the farmer will lead you over to the shearing shed where you can watch the farm dogs rounding up sheep from the hill paddocks, and see the farmer shear a sheep. You will then board the TSS Earnslaw for your cruise back to Queenstown.There’s a permanent buzz in downtown Queenstown, where you’ll find a fantastic choice of restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping. (Optional) Shot over jet boat experience. Recommended: (Optional) Jet boat ride: Take a unique breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons, and hold on tight for Queenstown’s only exhilarating full 360° spins. ‘Can you handle the canyons?’ Accommodation: Queenstown
Day 6: Queenstown - Fiordland National Park (Encounter Cruise, Mirror Lakes, Chasm) driving distance 5h
We are heading for the spectacular Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” which was carved out during successive ice ages and, at its deepest point off Mitre Peak, plunges to a depth of 265 meters. The awesome splendour of this region is unsurpassed anywhere else in the World, a daring claim in a country which offers extraordinary beauty around every corner. Getting there is half of the experience; we take you through the Fiordland National Park, past staggeringly beautiful valleys, lakes and creeks. If the time allows we will stop at the “Mirror Lakes”, before entering the narrow and dark 1km long Homer Tunnel. We take you on a day cruise into the magnificent wonder-world of the Milford Sound. You may encounter Kea’s, New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrots and we stop and explore some of nature’s wonders on the way. At Milford you board a vessel and cruise on the Fiord through sheer cliffs covered with vegetation that plunges into the sea. View the Bowen Falls, hurtling 165 meters into the sea, and the Stirling Falls further down the sound, set amidst the towering cliffs and dwarfed by Mitre Peak. On the way back take a board walk into the “Chasm” to see surreal, water-hewn rock sculptures. In the evening the journey takes to Lake Te Anau. Here you will be visiting one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand. The extraordinary scenic beauty has earned this region a reputation as a significant sightseeing and walking destination, and a 'must see' for anyone travelling to New Zealand. The scenery is spectacular and the track passes through many landscapes of the Fiordland National Park ranging from rocky mountain ridges to tall mossy forests along the lake shores. Accommodation: Te Anau
Day 7: Te Anau - Mt Cook (Lindis Pass, Mt Cook area, dark sky stargazing) driving distance 5h
After we have passed Lake Wakitipu and Queenstown again, we can view the “Lord of the Rings” misty mountains plus the Pelennor Fields and cross one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets, The “Lindis Pass”. Our trip will take us through some of the most evocative hill county in New Zealand. To the east lies the coastal town of Timaru while, to the west, the Mackenzie Country accounts for a large percentage of New Zealand’s sheep population. We travel deep into the heart of the Southern Alps and to the southern slopes of Mt Cook National Park. The region is renowned for its incredibly clear starry nights, brilliant sunny days, and remarkable turquoise blue lakes, valleys of emerald green and snow-capped mountains. Shaped by the giant forces of nature, massive glaciers have scoured the land leaving a trail of lakes and rivers across the landscape. You will encounter an array of spectacular mountain ranges including Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, rises 3,700 meters. As Mount Cook is far from the city lights it has some of the darkest skies in New Zealand and the world - perfect for viewing the southern night sky! Experience a mesmerising journey through space in the full dome digital Planetarium. Then explore the southern skies with your informative astronomy guide using purpose built telescopes. Optional - Glowworm Caves: Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of thousands of glowworms. Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau on one of our purpose-built scenic cruise vessels. Accommodation: Mt Cook
Day 8: Mt Cook - Lake Tekapo - Christchurch late departure (Glacier Lake Explorer cruise) driving distance 4h
Last day with private guide! In the morning we take you on a small boat trip to the bottom of Tasman Glacier. The only tour of its kind in New Zealand, and one of three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of these are accessible to the average person. We stop on the way at Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo shines all year round in a beautiful turquoise colour, and reflects the surrounding mountains. Relax at this mystical, tranquil place and take a stroll along the lake’s shores. Late afternoon we drive you through Canterbury to Christchurch. Optional - Tasman Valley 4WD & Agro Tours: A unique 4WD & Argo adventure with magnificent views of the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine walls. www.mountcooktours.co.nz. A short walk to a vantage point overlooking the Tasman Glacier and its terminal lake provides one of the most spectacular photographic opportunities in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
We are specialized in custom made tours for the desiring traveler. Each tour package will be tailored to your specific needs. Individual choices of accommodation style and the amount of activities you anticipate in will reflect on the general overall cost of the tour. Please make an enquiry.
We use quality accommodations which are handpicked and have great hosts and are located in beautiful locations. All rooms are modern with private on suites or bathrooms! If you decide on 5 Star travel that we will offer you the best boutique lodging that New Zealand has to offer.
We have decided not to include lunches and most dinners in the package (Exceptions’: Wilderness and Farm-stays and superior Lodges are inclusive private dinners), as we believe that each individual has different needs and tastes and that New Zealand had great restaurants in each area, that are within reach. It also allows you to choose places to your own budget. Your guide will advise you in each area about your best options. Special dietary needs can be catered for.
We pride ourselves on a wide range of activities in your tour package. We chosen those that we feel will enhance your New Zealand experiences. You can participate in as many or as few as you like. If you are unable to participate in any activity or there are weather restrictions, alternatives will be provided where possible. Please check our activity list on 'Links' site
All our vehicles are comfortable, luxury sedans (max 4 people) or luxury vans (max 10 people).
You will receive detailed pre-trip information. Including passport and visa requirements, packing tips and general travel information for New Zealand!
We have professional office staff to help you plan every aspect of your trip inside of New Zealand.