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New Zealand Trails

5-14 day, all-inclusive, guided adventure tours

Intro Map Itinerary Reviews Dates Accommodation FAQs Summary

South Island New Zealand Tour - Pure South

A distillation of the very best.

Your vacation time is precious and even more so when you’ve only got a little of it. There’s no need to miss out on anything with our incredible 8-day New Zealand South Island tour. Each day is jam-packed with must-see hikes, walks, kayak adventures and way more. We’ve cherry-picked the very best destinations, hikes and experiences, combining them into an unforgettable South Island adventure.

If you’re short on time or you’re just after the epic highlight reel, our Pure South itinerary is the perfect bite-sized morsel. It’s everything you’ve heard about and want to see during your time in New Zealand but weren’t sure how to piece together in such a short time.

A distillation of the best hiking New Zealand and the South Island has to offer, as well as unique Kiwi experiences and action-packed adventures, our Pure South is a smorgasbord. Hike some of our legendary Great Walks. Soar over peaks and valleys on a scenic bushplane flight, Alaska-style, deep into the Kiwi backcountry. Gaze up at New Zealand’s highest mountains and discover our charming wildlife up close and personal from the hiking trail. And that’s just for starters!

With our wonderful Kiwi guides keeping you well-fed and entertained throughout the trip, you’ll quickly feel the stresses and strains of everyday life melt away. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the adventure. This is 8 days of the very best of the South Island and while you probably won’t want to go home at the end of it, you’ll be satisfied knowing that you made the absolute most of every moment! We think of it as a distillation of the very best!

8 Days

South
ISLAND

map
Biking Biking Biking Biking Biking Biking
Starts

Queenstown

Finishes

Christchurch

Activity level activity
Acommodation

Very comfortable lodging

Price
NZD$5599 AUD$5399 USD$3799 GBP£2999 CAD$5199+tax
ALL INCLUSIVE!

Check Dates Book now

Pure South Route Map

Map WEB PSTH2

Highlights of the Pure South

1: The Kepler Track
Hike on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, well-known for its awe-inspiring scenery.

2: Cruise Milford Sound
An early morning cruise through our most famous fiord.

3: The Routeburn Track
A heart-pumping day hike up to Key Summit for epic mountain views.

4: Siberia Valley
A scenic flight into the wilderness, followed by a hike and thrilling jetboat ride.

5: Mt Aspiring National Park
A morning hike takes you to the summit of Rocky Mountain for breath-taking panoramas.

6: Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park
Take on an epic hike up to Sealy Tarns or the Hooker Valley for views of the tumbling glaciers of Mt Cook.

7: The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail  
A stunning cycle alongside the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki with epic views of the Southern Alps.

8: Akaroa
Swim with the rarest and smallest dolphin in the world, the Hector’s dolphin.

Pure South Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day

1

Kepler Track
Te Anau

Includes

Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Hiking
Accommodation

Te Anau

Walk the Kepler Track on a New Zealand South Island guided tour
Enjoy the views of Lake Wakatipu while hiking New Zealand South Island Hiking the Kepler track ono a New Zealand South Island tour

Day 1 – Welcome & Hike Kepler Track

We’ve chosen the best bits for this South Island tour and cleverly squeezed them into eight unforgettable days, packing as much joy as possible into your Pure South trip without rushing. And it all starts today!

After meeting your guides and fellow travellers in Queenstown, you’ll embark on your long-awaited New Zealand adventure.

Hike the Kepler Track

The Kepler Track is renowned for its vivid green moss, native beech forest, and stunning mountain ranges. We’ll walk the section from Rainbow Reach up to Moturau Hut. Following the Waiau River through beech forest and wetlands until we emerge out onto the spectacular viewpoint at the lakeside Moturau Hut. Cast your eyes out over beautiful Lake Manapouri, framed against a backdrop of Fiordland peaks. What a way to welcome you to New Zealand! Afterwards, we’ll head to our accommodation in Te Anau for a delicious home-cooked meal and the chance to rest up before tomorrow’s adventures.

Day

2

Cruise Milford Sound
Hike Routeburn Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
BoatCruise Hiking
Accommodation

Te Anau

View from Key Summit makes this one of the best New Zealand walks South Island
Hike Key Summit on a New Zealand South Island guided tour Catch a sunrise in Milford Sound while hiking New Zealand South Island

Day 2 – Cruise Milford Sound & hike the Routeburn Track

It’s time to rise and shine for your first full day of activities. We’ll head straight to Milford Sound for a beautiful morning cruise. After our relaxing morning on the water, it’s time to take on the Routeburn Track to Key Summit before ending the day back at your accommodation in Te Anau.

Cruise Milford Sound

This morning, we’ll head to Milford Sound for our scenic boat trip. Enjoy the crisp, fresh air and feel your everyday anxieties slip away as the tranquillity of the fiord washes over you. Have your cameras ready as you snap reels of photos of cascading waterfalls, towering peaks and native wildlife in action. Eventually, we’ll cruise back to dock to discover Fiordland National Park on foot, with a hike on part of the Routeburn Track.

Hike the Routeburn Track to Key Summit

Once back on dry land, we’ll head deeper in Fiordland’s wilderness for a heart-pumping hike on the world famous Routeburn Track up to Key Summit. A well-formed track leads us through lush beech forest and past tall tree ferns, with velvety mosses blanketing the rich earth underfoot. Native birdsong provides a beautiful soundtrack to our walk and as we climb higher, views of the Darran Mountains and Hollyford Valley stretch out beneath us providing a fitting reward for our efforts. You’ll sleep soundly tonight in your lakefront accommodation in Te Anau.

Day

3

Bike Queenstown
Explore Wanaka

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Biking Sightseeing
Accommodation

Wanaka

Bike ride in Gibbston Valley on a New Zealand South Island tour
Biking the Kawarau River on New Zealand South Island tours Biking and hiking New Zealand South Island

Day 3 – Bike near Queenstown & Explore Wanaka

Today we leave the rainforests of Fiordland behind and head for the high-country lakes of Central Otago. We’ll climb on bikes to explore Queenstown’s stunning surrounds, before peddling our way to the world-class wine-growing region of Gibbston Valley. We then head over the Crown Range to the pretty mountain resort town of Wanaka and gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park, where we’ll spend the night.

Bike near Queenstown

Queenstown is an internationally acclaimed, adrenaline fuelled destination. The fresh mountain air exudes excitement, with locals and visitors alike feeding off the buzz. You’ll see people out running, riding their bikes, climbing mountains and then parachuting off them! Living in one of nature’s playgrounds certainly has its advantages, one of them being the fantastic purpose-built bike trails that weave their way round the Wakatipu Basin. We’ll get fitted out with bikes and gear in Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with a rich Chinese mining history, before heading out on the trail. We’ll follow the Kawarau River out towards the Gibbston Valley vineyards and the world’s first commercial bungy bridge.

Explore Wanaka

A short but incredibly scenic drive over New Zealand’s highest sealed road at 1022m takes us into Wanaka, a favourite holiday spot for Kiwis. Nestled at the foot of snow-capped mountains, this lakefront town is Queenstown’s more relaxed cousin, although its equal in stunning scenery. It’s a great place to explore on your own for a bit – be sure to try out some of the local delicacies including meat pies, fantastic coffee, uniquely flavoured gelatos and craft beers.

Day

4

Mt Aspiring National Park
Siberia Valley

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Plane Hiking Jetboating
Accommodation

Wanaka

Flying into New Zealand South Island Siberia Valley
Pure South Views from the sky in Siberia Valley

Day 4 – Scenic flight into Mount Aspiring National Park, Hike & Wilderness Jet boat

Get ready for a real Kiwi backcountry experience - this is the stuff legendary holiday tales are made of! We’ll begin the day with a scenic flight deep into the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We land in an isolated valley where we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with views that will knock your socks off. Sufficiently fortified, we’ll hike back down to the river where a jetboat will be waiting to whisk you back to civilisation and your comfortable bed in Wanaka.

Scenic Flight into Mount Aspiring National Park

Today's adventure begins on one of Southern Alps Air’s Cessna bush planes, taking in expansive views of the 355,000ha Mount Aspiring National Park. Look out across winding rivers, virgin beech forest, glaciated valleys, alpine lakes, glaciers and the towering Southern Alps, before landing on the remote Siberia Valley air strip. Once on the ground, we'll head up the valley to a backcountry hut with outrageous views of the surrounding peaks. 

Hike Siberia Valley

After a tasty picnic lunch on the deck of the hut, we'll begin our walk along a well-marked track through the thick forest linking the Siberia Valley to the Wilkin Valley wilderness below. Be on the lookout for native birds along the way and the many photo opportunities as you immerse yourself in nature. The track was originally used by Mount Albert Station to take stock into the valley for grazing. The track is 6.8km in length, the first half of which climbs gently 200m in elevation from the airstrip, before heading downhill for the second half of the walk - a total drop in elevation of 470m.

Wilderness Jet Boat Trip

Jet boats were invented in 1954 in New Zealand by Sir William Hamilton for the shallow waters of our braided rivers. Jet boating originally started on the Wilkin River in 1968 transporting venison out of the mountains before hiking and commercial work became more commonplace. On reaching the Wilkin River at Kerin Forks, jet boats will be waiting to take us for a thrilling 30-minute ride down the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers back to the Makarora Village. Get a whole different perspective on this dramatic valley as you watch the landscape rush by and feel the wind in your hair.

Tonight, we’ll head back around the lake to stay in Wanaka.

Day

5

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Hike Aspiring National Park

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Hiking
Accommodation

Mt Cook Village

New Zealand South tours in Wanaka
Rocky Mountain on New Zealand South Island hiking tours Aoraki Mt Cook on your New Zealand South Island itinerary

Day 5 – Hike Wanaka & Aoraki/Mount Cook

If you’re feeling energetic this morning, we’ll start the day off with a heart pumping hike up to Rocky Mountain. If you’d prefer a more relaxed start, you can wander the track that runs past the accommodation, the choice is yours. This afternoon it’s a change of scenery as we make our way to the Mackenzie Country, an area of jaw-dropping beauty, wide-open skies, glacial lakes and distant towering peaks. We’ll spend the next two nights staying at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook.

Day

6

Aoraki/Mt Cook
Your choice

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Accommodation

Mt Cook Village

View of Aoraki Mt Cook on a New Zealand South Island tour
Couple at Hooker Valley Track on New Zealand South Island hiking tours Couple at Sealy Tarns on New Zealand South Island hiking tours

Day 6 – Your Choice in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Home to not only its namesake, known as “the Cloud Piercer” to Māori looming at 3,724 metres (over 12,000 feet), Aoraki Mount Cook National Park boasts a further 19 peaks topping more than 3,000 metres. These are the mountains where Edmund Hillary honed his skills before becoming the first to successfully summit Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. This imposing land of rock and ice is a hiker’s paradise, and you have several experiences to choose from today. Get up close to the icebergs on a glacier boat tour, or even splurge on a heli-hike if you’d like. Check out the many hiking tracks and trails, or simply explore the village at your leisure. Whatever you decide, it’s an incredible place to spend the day.

Day 6 Continued

Whichever option you decide on, you won’t be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we’ll meet up and return to our accommodation for a tasty home-cooked meal and a chance to trade stories from the day as well as gaze up at the impressive night sky in this internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve.

Choice 1

Hike to Mueller Ridge

The hike up to Mueller Hut via Mueller Ridge is one of our favourites and with a bit of grit and determination, most can enjoy jaw-dropping views usually reserved only for serious mountaineers. It’s the most challenging option today and involves a steep but steady climb on a well-formed track. The views are worth every drop of sweat.

Choice 2

Walk the Hooker Valley Track

This is one of the South Island’s most popular glacier country trails. Looking down from swing bridges over rushing rivers, you’ll walk a track that leads to an alpine lake complete with icebergs. For those with an interest in New Zealand flora, the Hooker Valley is one of the best places to see Mount Cook lilies in season.

Choice 3

Free time around Mount Cook Village

Today is a great opportunity to explore on your own. Visit the museum and planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. Take some short walks around the area or just soak in the views with a coffee and good book.

Day 6 Optional Add-ons

Below are some of the optional add-ons you can also enjoy:


Glacier heli-hiking

Take a helicopter up to land high on the Tasman, New Zealand’s longest glacier. In the company of an experienced guide, you’ll don crampons to explore the dramatic ice caves of this frozen wonderland.

USD$390+TAX

Glacier lake boat tour

Hop aboard a Zodiac boat and set off across the iceberg-filled lake for an up-close encounter with the Tasman Glacier’s terminal face.

USD$110+TAX
Day

7

Aoraki/Mt Cook
Bike Lake Pukaki

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Biking
Accommodation

Akaroa

Alps to Ocean bike ride on New Zealand South Island tours
New Zealand South Island tours biking Alps to Ocean trail Lupins on New Zealand South Island tours

Day 7 – Bike Alps to Ocean Track & Explore Akaroa

We’ll start today with a bike ride through the picturesque Mackenzie Country following the surreal turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki. The Alps to Ocean track is just over 300km in length, and today we’ll discover some of its most striking stretches. We’ll then make our way to the charming town of Akaroa, a historic French settlement nestled in a quiet harbour, where we’ll spend our final night.

Alps to Ocean Track

It’s easy to see why Sir Peter Jackson often returns to this area to film. With Aoraki Mount Cook standing tall in the background, you’ll feel like a character on a movie set as you peddle through this impressive panorama. We’ll cycle a section of the Alps to Ocean track, a purpose-built bike trail that winds its way from Mount Cook all the way to the ocean in Oamaru. After a healthy dose of fresh air, we’ll travel on through the tussock-filled basin east to the historic French settlement of Akaroa.

Explore Akaroa

Akaroa sits on a quiet harbour surrounded by the remnants of an old volcano and is rich in both Maori and French history. It’s the perfect place to spend our last night of the trip together. We’ll arrive into Akaroa by late afternoon and you’ll have time to explore the township’s colonial architecture and its thriving arts and crafts scene, as well as meet a few of the locals.

Day

8

Akaroa
Dolphin Swimming

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Meals
Activities
DolphinSwimming
Accommodation

Today we finish the trip in Christchurch

Swim with dolphins in Akaroa on a New Zealand South Island guided tour.jpg
Visit the Hectors dolphins in your New Zealand South Island itinerary See the Hectors dolphins jumping on your New Zealand South Island tour

Day 8 – Akaroa Dolphin Swim & Finish in Christchurch

We’ve saved one last ‘only in New Zealand’ adventure for this morning – a chance to get up close to Hector’s dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. Whether you choose to swim with them or watch from the boat, this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This afternoon we’ll say our farewells in Christchurch, sending you home refreshed and revitalised with incredible stories to tell your friends and family.

Akaroa Dolphin Swim

It’s our last morning together and the adventure isn’t quite over just yet. We’ll board a small well-equipped boat with a specialised guide to experience Akaroa Harbour the abundance of marine life that make their home there. After donning our wetsuits, we’ll take to the water to swim with native Hector’s dolphins, enjoying their playfully curious antics. Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can take a specific trip to swim with them and this adventure is strictly regulated to ensure it doesn’t interfere with the routine and habitat of these incredible creatures.

Finish in Christchurch

This afternoon we finish our adventure in the South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch. It’s only an hour or two from Akaroa to Christchurch so we’ll have you there in plenty of time for your departing flight, or we can drop you at your accommodation if you’d like to spend some time exploring this cosmopolitan and transitional city. The Pure South works perfectly with our Sweet North trip if you’re keen to explore the North Island as well.

Don’t take our word for it...

5PSTH Patricia Smith2
We have traveled to many places in the world, but this trip really stands out. The activities were all highlights, and we feel we have experienced some of the best that New Zealand has to offer. We would certainly travel with New Zealand Trails again in the future if we decide to return to the beautiful New Zealand. We felt that we definitely got our money's worth with this trip. The accommodations and food were outstanding.
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Patricia Smith (Pure South, October 19)

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9PSTH Holly Bartholomew 1
It was a fantastic trip. We loved seeing and learning about New Zealand. The hikes and bike rides were excellent and never felt pressure that we were hiking too slow or if we wanted to go faster. The diversity of the activities was perfect. The guides listened to our wants and needs, and went above and beyond to bring the little extras to make a wonderful trip even better.
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Holly Bartholomew (Pure South, November 19)

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Customer rating:

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Frequently asked questions

It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our Short South trip. We’ve collected some of the questions we get asked most often and answered them below. Or visit our general FAQ page here for more answers!

And if you still can’t find the answers you need, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you out!

How fit do I need to be for the Pure South?

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What's included on my Pure South tour?

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Tour dates

Short on time? No worries. Discover the highlights of the South Island over 8 incredible days as you hike, bike, swim, cruise on and soar over iconic New Zealand sights. You’ll enjoy tasty home-cooked meals and local restaurant cuisine, resting your head at night in very comfortable and perfectly located accommodations.

If you have a little more time up your sleeve, experience the best of both North and South over 13 days by combining this trip with our Sweet North.

Find your ideal dates below using the date picker and keep an eye on availability as our small groups fill up fast.

2020

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Pure South – ready to book?

Ready to start your New Zealand adventure?

A distillation of the best hiking New Zealand and the South Island has to offer, as well as unique Kiwi experiences and action-packed adventures, our Pure South is a smorgasbord. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the adventure.

What’s included:

Local guides, small groups

All food (except where noted on itinerary), transportation and activities

All inclusive

All accommodation

NZD$8599 AUD$8199 USD$5799 GBP£4499 CAD$7799+tax
per person (twin or double share)

pure south island tour of new zealand2

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