Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition
Escorted coach tour from Christchurch to Christchurch
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Kirra Tours

Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition

Experience the South Island like never before on this 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.

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Tour summary and feature

Escorted coach tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$5,495 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

13 days/12 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 29 times in the last 7 days

Coastal Pacific Rail Journey

Abel Tasman National Park Cruise

Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise

12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Christchurch to Blenhiem via Lochmara. Accommodation: Chateau Marlborough (or similar)

Day 2: Blenheim to Nelson. Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson (or similar)

Day 3: Explore the Abel Tasman National Park. Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson (or similar)

Day 4: Head further west to beautiful Karamea. Accommodation: Last Resort Hotel (or similar)

Day 5: Stop at Cape Foulwind on the way to Hokitika. Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika (or similar)

Day 6: See more of the rugged west coast as you head further South to Haast. Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Haast (or similar)

Day 7: Head to Queenstown via scenic Wanaka and quaint Arrowtown. Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside (or similar)

Day 8: Explore Queentown at your own pace. Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside (or similar)

Day 9: Hop aboard the Doubtful Sound Wilderness cruise on your way to Te Anau. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)

Day 10: Journey to the South Coast. Accommodation: Kelvin Hotel (or similar)

Day 11: Discover the Catlins as you head towards Dunedin. Accommodation: Dunedin Leisure Lodge – A Distinction Hotel (or similar)

Day 12: Explore historic Dunedin. Accommodation: Dunedin Leisure Lodge – A Distinction Hotel (or similar)

Day 13: Enjoy the drive back to Christchurch and say farewell to your group.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 13 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Christchurch to Blenhiem via Lochmara
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 1
5 Day Rail, Mountains & Sea

Haere Mai and Welcome! Prepare for an early start this morning as you make your way to the Christchurch Train station for 6.30am. Here you'll jump on board the magnificent Coastal Pacific Train and journey up to the top of the South Island in luxury, soaking up the gorgeous scenery en-route. 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 and a fully guided tour around the Underwater Observatory where you can feed stingrays and get up close to our NZ marine life in the seaside touch tank. You'll then head to your accommodation for the evening, Chateau Marlborough, where you can enjoy a delicious group dinner.

Your accommodation: Chateau Marlborough (or similar)

Chateau Marlborough, Marlborough's premier boutique hotel overlooking Seymour Square Gardens, prides itself on offering guests luxury accommodation with an enviable attention to detail. All just a short walk from Blenheim's town centre.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2 - Blenheim to Nelson
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 2
Blenheim to Nelson

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 your 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.

Your accommodation: The Hotel Nelson (or similar)

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Explore the Abel Tasman National Park
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 3
Abel Tasman National Park

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 into the most popular beaches along the coastline as you sail up to Totaranui and back. This afternoon you'll take the scenic route back to Nelson before arriving back in Nelson mid-afternoon.

Your accommodation: The Hotel Nelson (or similar)

The Hotel Nelson offers great facilities just 10 minutes walking distance from Nelson City Centre. Well equipped modern units with off street parking.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 - Head further west to beautiful Karamea
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 4
Nelson to Karamea

This morning you'll travel through the Buller Gorge, home of New Zealand's longest swing bridge. Stop off at Westport, where you'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 you'll stay at the Last Resort, a locally-owned, secluded eco lodge right on the coast and completely off the beaten track.

Your accommodation: Last Resort Hotel (or similar)

Escape to the West Coast's sunniest spot. To the East is native bush, palm trees, rain forest and the Kahurangi National Park, whilst to the West there's nothing but the Tasman Sea.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Stop at Cape Foulwind on the way to Hokitika
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 5
Karamea to Hokitika

Gaze at untamed beaches and spectacular rainforest as you drive down the incredibly scenic 'wild' West Coast. Stop at Cape Foulwind to visit the fur seal breeding colony before pausing at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes to take a walk around these fascinating geological formations. Drive through Greymouth, a historic town known for jade hunting, gold mining and dramatic river floods before arriving in the vibrant, artistic town of Hokitika. 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 meeting for dinner at the hotel.

Your accommodation: Beachfront Hotel Hokitika (or similar)

The unique location of the Beachfront Hotel Hokitika on the shores of the Tasman Sea and in the heart of Hokitika allows you to beachcomb and shop local artisans' galleries right from your doorstep.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 - See more of the rugged west coast as you head further South to Haast
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 6
Hokitika to Haast via Jackson Bay

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. You'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. You'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 you'll stay at the Heartland Hotel, a popular local establishment where the locals come to mix and mingle at the Frontier Bar.

Your accommodation: Heartland Hotel Haast (or similar)

In a location so special, it was named a World Heritage Area, sits the Heartland Hotel. Just 4 kilometres from the township of Haast it's the ideal place to discover this incredible area of New Zealand. Warm and comfortable accommodation will ensure a welcoming stay after a day exploring the natural wilderness surrounds between the West Coast and Southern Lakes.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7 - Head to Queenstown via scenic Wanaka and quaint Arrowtown
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 7
Haast to Queentown

View incredible scenery as you travel past the untouched wilderness and pristine lakes of the Mt Aspiring National Park. You'll stop in Wanaka along the way, a popular township on the lake's edge with a spectacular mountain backdrop. Next visit Arrowtown, an area steeped in fascinating history relating to early settlement and the gold mining era. Finally, you'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!

Your accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside (or similar)

Centrally located the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel is nestled beside Lake Wakatipu on which Queenstown sits. This fresh, modern hotel offers contemporary rooms plus superb, uninterrupted views of the lake, mountains or adjoining gardens.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Explore Queentown at your own pace
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 8
Day at leisure in Queenstown

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.

Your accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside (or similar)

Centrally located the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel is nestled beside Lake Wakatipu on which Queenstown sits. This fresh, modern hotel offers contemporary rooms plus superb, uninterrupted views of the lake, mountains or adjoining gardens.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9 - Hop aboard the Doubtful Sound Wilderness cruise on your way to Te Anau
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 9
Queenstown to Te Anau via Doubtful Sound

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 you'll have dinner at the Distinction Hotel, Te Anau.

Your accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)

The perfect base for all your Fiordland travel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable accommodation right in the heart of Te Anau.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 - Journey to the South Coast
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 10
Te Anau to Invercargill

Skirting around the Fiordland National Park and along the rugged south coast, you'll head for Tuatapere, the most south-westerly town in New Zealand with a rich sawmilling history. From there you'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. The 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. You'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!

Your accommodation: Kelvin Hotel (or similar)

Positioned in the heart of Invercargill, The Kelvin Hotel is just a short walk to major attractions, cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 - Discover the Catlins as you head towards Dunedin
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 11
Invercargill to Dunedin via The Catlins

The Catlins are rugged, beautiful and ecologically unique. You'll stop frequently along the coastline to explore. If you're lucky you may see the Hector's Dolphins at Curio Bay and its 180 million-year-old forest of fossilised trees at Slope Point. You'll detour off the main route to Nugget Point Lighthouse where you'll take a short walk to see penguins, seals, sea lions and a variety of coastal birds. You'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 uniques Scottish heritage. Tonight, dinner is included at the Southern Cross Hotel and Casino.

Your accommodation: Dunedin Leisure Lodge – A Distinction Hotel (or similar)

Nestled in landscaped gardens, the Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge is located within two acres of beautifully kept garden, and just a short drive to the city centre.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 - Explore historic Dunedin
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 12
Day at Leisure in Dunedin

This morning you'll take a guided tour of Larnach Castle. Walk through the Castle and the Grounds of this incredible mock castle and learn all about its tragic and mysterious history. The rest of the day 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. 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.

Your accommodation: Dunedin Leisure Lodge – A Distinction Hotel (or similar)

Nestled in landscaped gardens, the Heritage Dunedin Leisure Lodge is located within two acres of beautifully kept garden, and just a short drive to the city centre.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13 - Enjoy the drive back to Christchurch and say farewell to your group
Kirra Tours 13 Day Southern Expedition - Day 13
Dunedin to Christchurch

After breakfast this morning, you'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 you'll continue to the township of Oamaru, home to some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand. Your journey north takes you 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.

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