Days 8
South ISLAND BASED
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US3699 +tax
SEE OUR TRIPS SIDE-BY-SIDE
Days 13
South ISLAND BASED
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US5999 +tax
SEE OUR TRIPS SIDE-BY-SIDE
Days 14
South ISLAND BASED
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US4999 +tax
SEE OUR TRIPS SIDE-BY-SIDE
Days 14
South ISLAND BASED
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US4799 +tax
SEE OUR TRIPS SIDE-BY-SIDE
Days 5
North ISLAND BASED
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US2599 +tax
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THE ESSENTIAL SOUTH ISLAND

Short on Time?
No worries.

Many of you told us you simply couldn’t get away for more than a week. We didn’t want you to have to wait until you had more time, so we’ve cherry picked some of the best adventures, hikes, paddles and bike rides on the South Island and cleverly squeezed them into an unforgettable trip that will have you feeling refreshed in just 8 days. Will you see everything? Of course not. But it’ll be a great start until you can come back! 

Short South HIGHLIGHTS

Heaps of adventure packed into a week - an unforgettable introduction to New Zealand.

7 biking ride lake pukaki group

Bike the Alps to Ocean trail

Change up the pace biking on the Alps to Ocean Trail and and cover more ground on a bike around Queenstown.

New-Zealand-Hectors-Dolphin-Jumping

See Hectors Dolphins

2 hiking hollyford track fiordland southland 1

Routeburn Track

Fill your lungs with fresh air hiking part of the famed Routeburn Track.

8 akaroa dolphin swim new zealand

Swim with dolphins

Fulfill a childhood fantasy by swimming with dolphins in Akaroa.

1 kayaking tour milford sound fiordland

Sea Kayak Milford Sound

Sea kayak in iconic Milford Sound to sneak up on the local wildlife and give your legs a rest.

4 wilkin river jet boat group

Jetboat the Wilkin River

Ever ride in a boat that could race along in just inches of water? You will in Mount Aspiring National Park.

4 scenic flight mount aspiring nz 3

Scenic flight to Siberia Valley

Start with an incredible scenic flight into the remote Siberia Valley and hike out to the jetboat that will take us back to civilization. The ultimate way to unplug and reconnect.

13 tasman glacier canterbury new zealand

Glacier encounter

Never set foot on a glacier? Option to add a glacier heli-hike or glacier boat tour.

TRIP EXPLORER

Day 1

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Kayak Milford Sound
Overnight Boat

Includes

Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Boat Cruise
Sea Kayaking

Accommodation

Real Journeys Milford Sound Boat
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Day 1 – Welcome, Sea Kayak and Overnight Cruise Milford Sound

We’ve picked all of the best bits around the South Island and cleverly squeezed them into eight unforgettable days, packing as much fun as possible into your Short South trip. And it all begins today!

Your long-awaited New Zealand adventure starts with a bang! After meeting your guides and fellow travellers in Queenstown, we’ll get straight into it by heading for Milford Sound on arguably the most spectacular road in the country or anywhere -- the scenery is mind blowing. This afternoon we'll have a chance to meet the local wildlife of Fiordland National Park while out sea kayaking and spend our first night on a boat in Milford Sound.

Overnight boat in Milford Sound

Following our arrival at the most famous attraction in Fiordland National Park, we’ll jump on board our vessel for the night to explore majestic Milford Sound. It’s hard to take in the enormity of our environment, with mile-high granite cliffs towering above us, thundering waterfalls crashing back to earth and dolphins playing around the boat, it really is a feast for your senses. We’ll get settled on board in our cosy cabins and then spend the rest of the afternoon checking out the length of the fiord and getting to know each other – what a great way to start a trip!

Sea Kayak Milford Sound

We'll anchor in a calm and secluded cove deep in Milford Sound for the night and head out with specialist guides in kayaks or in a tender with a naturalist guide. No experience is required to give sea kayaking a go here. Your excellent team of sea kayaking guides will explain everything and be near you and your travel companions, making sure you are comfortable in your person-powered vessel. If you're in familiar territory, grab a paddle and go explore the peace and tranquillity of the fiord. 

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Day 2

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Fiordland NP
Routeburn Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Boat Cruise
Hiking

Accommodation

Te Anau
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Day 2 – Hike the Routeburn Track

Wake up in gorgeous Milford Sound this morning to birdsong and the quiet, reassuring lapping of the water against the hull of the boat. Enjoy the crisp, fresh air and leave behind all the worries of the ‘real’ world – this is what rejuvenating holidays are all about. After we cruise back to the dock and disembark, we'll carry on to hike part of the famed Routeburn Track up to Key Summit for beautiful views. Overnight on the shores of Lake Te Anau.

Hike the Routeburn Track to Key Summit

Heading deeper into the wilderness of Fiordland National Park, we’ll stop to get our hearts pumping on the world famous Routeburn Track with a climb up to Key Summit. A well-formed track through an other-worldly beech forest allows you to really take in your surroundings - from the towering tree ferns, minuscule mosses that seem to have created their own micro-civilisations, to the plethora of birds providing the soundtrack to our hike, it’s hard not to love it here. The view from the top, across to the Darran Mountains and down the Hollyford Valley to the Tasman Sea, is the icing on the cake.

Tonight we're staying on the lakeshore and you'll have some time to explore Te Anau. 

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Day 3

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Bike Queenstown
Explore Wanaka

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Biking
Sightseeing

Accommodation

Makarora
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Day 3 – Bike near Queenstown & Explore Wanaka

Today we leave the rainforest of Fiordland and head for the arid high country lakes of Central Otago. Explore some of the best bits on two wheels outside of Queenstown, from a historic gold mining town to the vineyards of Gibbston Valley, before we continue to the mountain resort town of Wanaka. Tonight we'll stay in Makarora, at the doorstep of Mt Aspiring National Park. 

Bike near Queenstown

The air in Queenstown practically exudes adrenaline and physical activity, and visitors and locals alike feed off this buzz. You’ll see people out running, riding their bikes, climbing mountains or paragliding from the hilltops – living in nature's playground has its advantages! One of these is the fantastic new purpose-built bike trails that wind their way around the Wakatipu Basin. We'll be fitted with bikes in Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with rich Chinese mining history, then ride following the Kawarau River out towards the Gibbston Valley vineyards and the world’s first commercial bungy bridge. 

Explore Wanaka

A short hop over New Zealand's highest sealed road at 1022m takes us to Wanaka, a favourite holiday spot for Kiwis. Set in a lake-filled mountainous basin, Wanaka is the more relaxed cousin to Queenstown. The township is a great spot to explore on your own for a bit, trying out some of the local delicacies including meat pies, gelato with local flavours, great coffee and a local brew or two.  

From here we'll take a short trip around the top of the lake to the small settlement of Makarora, where we spend the night surrounded by mountains on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park. 

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Day 4

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Mt Aspiring NP
Siberia Valley

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Scenic Flight
Hiking
Jetboat

Accommodation

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

Get ready for a real Kiwi backcountry experience in style - this is the stuff legendary holiday stories are made of!  First fly deep into Mt Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and get dropped off for a picnic with views that will blow you away. Then hike back down to the river where a jetboat will be waiting to whisk you back to civilization and a comfortable bed in Wanaka tonight after a taste of wilderness.

Scenic Flight into Mount Aspiring National Park

Today's adventure begins on one of Southern Alps Air’s Cessna bush planes enjoying the views of the 355,000ha UNESCO World Heritage listed Mount Aspiring National Park. You will be surrounded by spectacular views of braided rivers, virgin beech forest, glaciated valleys, alpine lakes, glaciers and towering peaks before landing amongst the Southern Alps on the remote Siberia Valley air strip. Upon landing, we'll head up the valley to a backcountry hut with outrageous views of the surrounding peaks.  

Hike Siberia Valley

After a yummy picnic lunch on the deck of the hut, we'll begin walking along a well-marked track through the natural native forest linking the Siberia Valley to the wilderness of the Wilkin Valley 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 a cattle track used by Mount Albert Station to take stock into the valley for grazing. In total the track is 6.8 km in length, the first half of which climbs gently a total of 200m elevation from the airstrip before travelling downhill for the second half of the walk - a total drop in elevation of 470m.

Wilderness Jet Boat Trip

Jet boats were invented in New Zealand by Sir William Hamilton in 1954 for the shallow waters of NZ’s 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, our jet boats will be waiting to take us for a thrilling 30-minute scenic ride down the Wilkin River Valley and Makarora River back to Makarora Village. Watching the world rush by, feeling the wind in your hair and getting a whole different perspective on this stunning valley is a pretty cool way to travel! 

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

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Day 5

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Aoraki/Mt Cook
Hiking or Biking

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Biking

Accommodation

Mt Cook Village
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Day 5 – Hike or Bike Wanaka & Aoraki/Mount Cook

If you're keen, we'll do an early morning hike up Roy’s Peak to get the heart pumping. If you prefer a more relaxed start, you can do a self-guided walk on a track leaving from the accommodation, or we can organize a bike for a self-guided ride on the Hawea - Wanaka track around the lake. This afternoon, watch the scenery completely change before your eyes as we move from beech forests to the high tussocks, huge skies and glacial lakes of the Mackenzie country. We’ll stay at the foot of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, for the next couple of nights.

Day 6

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Aoraki/Mt Cook
Your choice

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Choices

Accommodation

Mt Cook Village
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Day 6 – Your Choice in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home to not only its namesake -- our highest and most sacred peak known as "the Cloud Piercer" to Maori looming at 3724m (over 12,000 feet) - but 19 peaks in total over 3,000 meters. This rugged land of rock and ice is a hiker's paradise, and you have several experiences to choose from today, including a chance to get up close to some icebergs on a glacier boat trip or even walk on the ice on a glacier heli-hike (both options are at additional cost) or hiking and sightseeing.

Some of the best alpine hikes in New Zealand are here in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. These are the mountains where Edmund Hillary honed his mountaineering skills before he and Tenzing Norgay became the first pair to summit Mount Everest in 1953.

The beauty of the hikes we've selected for today is that you don't have to be a mountaineer to enjoy some jaw-dropping views. Or, if you'd like to give your legs a break today, there are a couple of very special optional activities below at additional cost. With two guides, we can almost always offer everyone their first choice.

Day 6 Continued

Whichever option you choose, you won't be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we'll meet up and return to our cosy accommodation for a delicious dinner and trade stories of the day. We're staying within one of the best Dark Sky Reserves in the world so tonight you can simply walk outside to enjoy some of the best stargazing anywhere.

Choice 1

Hike to Mueller Ridge (Challenge)

The most physically challenging option is a hike up to Mueller Hut via Mueller Ridge for spectacular alpine views. It's a steady and steep climb on a well-built track (think: Stairmaster) but the views are worth every drop of sweat, even by South Island standards.

Choice 2

Walk the Hooker Valley Track

This is one of the South Island's most popular trails in glacier country. When you look down from the impressive swing bridges down to the rushing river below that leads you all the way to an alpine lake complete with icebergs, you'll understand why. For flower lovers, the Hooker Valley is one of the best places to see Mount Cook lilies in season.

Choice 3

Free time around Mt Cook Village

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

Day 6 Optional Add-ons

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

Glacier heli hiking

Take a chopper and land high up on the Tasman, New Zealand's longest glacier, where you'll don crampons and explore the dramatic ice caves and clear blue ice with a specialist guide.

USD$390+TAX

Glacier lake boat tour

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

USD$110+TAX
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Day 7

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Aoraki/Mt Cook
Bike around Lake Pukaki

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Biking

Accommodation

Akaroa
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Day 7 – Bike Alps to Ocean Track & Explore Akaroa

We’ll start the day today with a gorgeous cycle through the picturesque Mackenzie Country alongside the surreal turquoise Lake Pukaki. Then it's on to Akaroa, a historic French settlement on a quiet harbour, for our last night together.  

Towering mountains give way to fertile farm land and eventually the sheltered Akaroa harbour, as we make our way east today.

Alps to Ocean Track

It's easy to see why Sir Peter Jackson often returns to film here. With Mount Cook standing tall in the background, you'll feel like a movie star riding on a set. We'll cycle a gorgeous section of the Alps to Ocean, a purpose-built, multi-day cycle trail that winds its way from Mount Cook all the way out to the ocean in Oamaru. After getting some fresh air into our lungs, we'll carry on through the tussock-filled basin east to the historic French settlement of Akaroa.

Explore Akaroa

Akaroa, nestled on a quiet harbour surrounded by the remnants of an old volcano and rich in both Maori and French history, is the perfect place for our last night together. We’ll get there by late afternoon with plenty of time to get a good feel for the town, its colonial architecture, arts, crafts and the locals that call this place home.

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Day 8

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Akaroa
Dolphin Swimming

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Activities

Swim with Dolphins

Accommodation

Today we finish the trip in Christchurch
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Day 8 – Akaroa Dolphin Swim & Finish in Christchurch

We’ve saved one last 'only in NZ' adventure for our last morning together -- a chance to get up close to very rare Hector's dolphins. Whether you choose to swim with them or watch from the boat, this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then we'll say our farewells in Christchurch this afternoon and send you home absolutely buzzing.

Akaroa Dolphin Swim

It’s our last morning together and we haven’t quite finished our adventure yet! Today we board a small purpose-fitted boat with our specialised guide to experience Akaroa Harbour and the rich marine wildlife that thrive here. After getting suited up in our wetsuits, we’ll take to the water to meet native Hector’s dolphins, the world’s smallest and rarest, in the only place in the world you can take a trip to swim with them. Whether you choose to swim or watch them from the boat, this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience - it’s even on the Lonely Planet guide as one of the ‘Top 10 Marine Mammal Experiences in The World’!

Finish in Christchurch

This afternoon we finish our adventure in the South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch. It’s only a couple of hours from Akaroa to Christchurch so we’ll have you there with plenty of time for flights out, or we can drop you at your accommodation if you’d like to spend some time exploring this rejuvenating city. This trip fits in really well with our Sweet North trip if you’re keen to explore the North Island as well.

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Tour Price

8 Day South Island Tour - Queenstown to Christchurch US$36993699 + tax, per person (twin or double share)

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We do have shorter trip options and solo travellers don’t pay more, unless you’d like an upgrade to a private room. PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample of our current itinerary. Keep in mind we are constantly fine-tuning and improving our trips based on feedback from our guests and guides, availability, etc. So your trip will be at least this good, but we reserve the right to make slight alterations without notice to make it even better!

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