16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour
Christchurch to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour

This loop of the lower South Island follows much of the spectacular coastline where wildlife abounds.  In Dunedin you’ll enjoy a full day encounter with the unique marine life that inhabits the Otago Peninsula before heading south along the wild Catlins coastline to the deep south.  A real highlight of this tour is exploring the remote Stewart Island, including a guided walk on Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary. As well as the iconic Milford Sound, you’ll also venture into Mt Aspiring National Park on a Dart River Jet boat Safari from Queenstown.  On the beautiful West Coast you’ll marvel at the glaciers during your on-ice adventure, before crossing the Southern Alps on board the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train back to Christchurch.

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Quick Itinerary Details

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,821 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

16 days/15 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 26 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Day 2: Take the scenic drive to the French settlement of Akaroa, where you can swim with the hectors dolphins
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 3: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 4: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Motel on York
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 5: Discover the variety of wildlife that live on the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Motel on York

Day 6: Take the Southern Scenic Route through the beautiful Catlins region
Accommodation: Admiral Court Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 236 kms / 146 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 7: Fly to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park
Accommodation: Kaka Retreat

Day 8: Explore Stewart Island and take a guided trip to the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Island
Accommodation: Kaka Retreat

Day 9: Back on the Mainland, continue on the Southern Scenic Route to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 10: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound, allowing plenty of time for photo stops
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 11: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 12: The ultimate jet boat adventure along the Dart River into Mt Aspiring National Park
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 13: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 14: Get up close to the glacier with a thrilling Helihike
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Day 15: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 16: Depart Christchurch today

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 16 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore is to take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights or ride the historic trams across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral, that's right it is built of cardboard!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Discover Christchurch Afternoon Tour

A half day sightseeing tour of Christchurch highlighting both the damage to the city inflicted by several large earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the r...

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A half day sightseeing tour of Christchurch highlighting both the damage to the city inflicted by several large earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the rebuild which is currently in progress, together with the surviving beauty of the city and the historical landmarks. Experience the grand architecture, beautiful gardens and scenic viewpoints on a half-day city tour of Christchurch.
The tour commences in the central city of Christchurch and covers the area which was completely devastated by the Christchurch earthquakes in February 2011. The guide will explain both the history of the city and the effects of the earthquake. On leaving the inner city, the tour travels to Mona Vale a historic homestead and gardens. Then you will travel to the Sign of the Takahe, a historic building with a lookout providing spectacular views over the city, Canterbury Plains and to the Southern Alps. The tour then travels via the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour by way of the Sign of the Kiwi and Governors Bay to the Port of Lyttleton. The tour proceeds through the Lyttleton harbour tunnel to the seaside suburb of Sumner and cave rock before returning to the central city where the tour will conclude.

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Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.
Day 2 - Take the scenic drive to the French settlement of Akaroa, where you can swim with the hectors dolphins
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 2
Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUV's.

GPS navigation

Navigating New Zealand can be done easily in two ways. If you have a smartphone, you will be able to connect it to the USB of your rental car and your maps and other apps will display on the screen in the centre console of your vehicle, with the sound coming through the car speakers.
If you don't have a smartphone, chat to us to ensure we book you a car with a portable GPS system. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface, with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions, which announces street names. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Swimming with the Dolphins Cruise

Akaroa Harbour formed as a result of an extinct volcanic crater being flooded by the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful place with sheer cliffs and the picturesque township of Akaroa at its heart. New Zealand's only native dolphin, Hectors dolphin, makes this sheltered harbour its home and its here you can take a 2 ½ tour to see and if you wish actually swim with these incredible creatures. Following a ½ hour briefing you depart on a 2 hour cruise of which around 1 hour is spent in the water with the dolphins. Black Cat Cruises has been operating since 1985 and their success rate at sighting dolphins is over 98%. Swimming with dolphins is not always possible either due to sea conditions, the dolphins' willingness to stay and play and other environmental reasons such as not swimming when there are babies around. You still manage to swim though on over 80% of their tours.

Your accommodation: Criterion Motel

The Criterion Motel offers studio apartments with spectacular views over Akaroa Harbour. You're also just a short walk from the fantastic cafes and restaurants that Akaroa offers.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 3 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 3
Akaroa to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.
Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.
Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. In Mount Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see.
Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and one ...

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Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat. These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier The Tasman.

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Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 4 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 4
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama, the gliding capital of New Zealand, be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.
Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre The Octagon.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 5 - Discover the variety of wildlife that live on the Otago Peninsula
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 5
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Castle to Cruise Tour and Penguin Place

Today you'll explore the wildlife and history of the Otago Peninsula. You'll be welcomed to the MV Monarch for a wildlife cruise around Taiaroa Head, home to the world's only mainland nesting site for royal albatross. Scattered along the rocks you'll also see New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun and possibly New Zealand sea lions on the beach. In the water you may also see penguins, dolphins and other marine birds. Back on land you'll take a guided tour of New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle built in 1871. Learn of the scandals and history of the castle and explore the beautiful garden of international significance. Your final stop of the day is to Penguin Place, a natural nesting site for the rarest penguin in the world, the Yellow Eyed Penguin.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.
Day 6 - Take the Southern Scenic Route through the beautiful Catlins region
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 6
Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route

The scenic route from Dunedin to Invercargill takes you via the Southern Scenic Route. Well signposted from Dunedin the route takes you along the rugged Otago coastline and its many secluded beaches and bays and many are great places to spot New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. At Nugget Point, penguins and elephant seals can also be spotted. Curio Bay is home to a 160 million year old fossilised forest. Get an early start for this drive as you can easily pass the whole day exploring the many attractions along the Southern Scenic Route.

Your accommodation: Admiral Court Motel

Admiral Court Motel & Apartments is a modern, warm, spacious, ground floor accommodation complex, with 17 units available including 5 luxury units. Centrally located on Tay Street, Admiral Court is within minutes of all the amenities, including the City Centre, iSite, Queens Park and various sporting and family attractions.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 236 kms / 146 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 7 - Fly to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 7
Invercargill to Stewart Island with Stewart Island flights

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft. The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Stewart Island (Rakiura National Park)

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, approximately 75 kms long and 45 kms wide and separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait. The Island is relatively low lying and undulating with the highest point, Mt Anglem/Hananui just 981 metres high. The island is largely uninhabited and unmodified which led to 85% of the island being declared a national park in 2002, named Rakiura National Park.
The name "Rakiura" is the Maori name for the island which means "Glowing Sky", apt as Stewart Island enjoys spectacular sunrises, sunsets and aurora. The island is mainly covered in native bush, with wetlands, sand dunes and a varied coastline from sandy beaches to sheer cliffs. The coastline is fringed with vegetation and bordered by crystal clear waters hosting an abundance of marine life, fantastic for fishing and wildlife watching. 
Stewart Island is New Zealand's southernmost populated area, but has less than 400 residents who mostly live around Halfmoon Bay. With just 28km of roads and 280km of walking tracks, the island is all about appreciating the natural wilderness. Nearby Ulva Island is an idyllic, predator-free bird sanctuary for rare and endangered bird and plant species, a paradise for birds and bird lovers. The highlight for any visit to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park is the isolation and the untouched, unspoilt wildlife and native bush.

Your accommodation: Kaka Retreat

Nestled amongst beautiful native bush, Kaka Retreat guests can appreciate the peace and tranquillity of a unique island setting where silence is broken only by the calls of the Tui, Fantail, Kakariki birds and, of course, the infamous cheeky native parrot, the Kaka.
Day 8 - Explore Stewart Island and take a guided trip to the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Island
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 8
Ulva Island

Ulva Island is a predator free sanctuary just 12 minutes by water taxi from Golden Bay on Stewart Island. Sitting in Paterson Inlet the island is just 269 hectares and has no permanent human inhabitants. Some great well signposted and easy paths allow you to spend as little time as you wish or the whole day. Some of the best golden sand beaches in the South Island can be found here but the real attraction is the flora and fauna. Following some great conservation work Ulva Island is now predator free which means it's a safe place for many rare and endangered native species including kiwi, the rare South Island saddleback, Stewart Island robin, the inquisitive weak, yellowhead, rifleman, bellbirds and kaka to name a few. Here you will also find some of the best examples of native podocarp forest anywhere and the hugely varied flora is worth the visit alone. Access is easy, just arrange a water taxi to take you from Golden Bay and arrange a collection time to be picked up. About 4 hours allows you to comfortably explore all the tracks on the island.

Ulva Island Explorer

A leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in the renowned bird sanctuary of Ulva Island. The cruise showcases some stunning scenery including the hidden coves and unspoilt beaches of Paterson Inlet. The local guides are passionate about this area and provide informative commentary during the scenic cruise. While on board look out for fur seals and penguins – there are a lot of them around. At Ulva Island there’s a 45 minute, easy guided walk. The island is a renowned wildlife sanctuary where many rare and endangered native species of birdlife and plants flourish in a predator free environment. Home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads among other species. The tracks are well-formed and suitable for most ages and fitness levels and small group sizes make it highly personalised.
Includes Picnic Lunch.

Your accommodation: Kaka Retreat

Nestled amongst beautiful native bush, Kaka Retreat guests can appreciate the peace and tranquillity of a unique island setting where silence is broken only by the calls of the Tui, Fantail, Kakariki birds and, of course, the infamous cheeky native parrot, the Kaka.
Day 9 - Back on the Mainland, continue on the Southern Scenic Route to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 9
Stewart Island to Invercargill with Stewart Island flights

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft. The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route

Taking the Southern Scenic Route the drive from Invercargill to Te Anau passes through some wonderful and often overlooked regions of Southland. Riverton is Southland's oldest community established by whalers in the 1830's and many of the original cottages have survived throughout the town. The Riverton Early Settlers Museum tells the story well. Orepuki on the coast was once 'almost' a gold town but the fine dust proved too hard to extract commercially. You can still sometimes see gold dust in the beach sand at Monkey Bay. The early sawmilling settlement of Tautapere is next. Known as the 'hole in the bush' the town features an attractive domain.  A little further north is the Clifden suspension bridge which dates back to 1899. The Blackmount Road offers some great side trips if you have the time and one in particular is the 50 kilometre round trip to Lake Haruoko, New Zealand's deepest lake. The Blackmount Road continues to the small township of Manapouri, the departure point for cruises to Doubtful Sound. Te Anau the gateway to Milford Sound is just a further 20 kilometres north.

Your accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 10 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound, allowing plenty of time for photo stops
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 10
Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

The road to Milford Sound offers some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country. From crystal clear lakes and towering mountains to lush glacier formed meadows, this area is dramatic and unyielding. Stretch your legs on the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see several powerful waterfalls. Continue on through the Homer Tunnel, an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford,you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord before back-tracking the way you came.

Milford Sound Cruise with RealNZ

Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on a leisurely cruise of this spectacular fiord. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains to lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest.

Your accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Meals included: Lunch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 11 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 11
Te Anau to Queenstown

Today you’ll cross vast tussock lands on your way to Queenstown. Pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation. Continue on through the Southland countryside where the road begins to hug the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range towers over your approach into the adventure capital of New Zealand.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience, a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting. Take in the stunn...

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Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience, a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

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Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 12 - The ultimate jet boat adventure along the Dart River into Mt Aspiring National Park
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 12
Dart River Wilderness Jet

Journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life. As one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities, the Wilderness Jet adventures on a spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park.

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast-paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. If you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or Heli-ski.
Finally, if you're lucky enough to visit in winter (July-September) there are four ski resorts close by. You can head up to Coronet Peak and the Remarkables close to Queenstown, or head to Wanaka for Cardrona and Treble Cone.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Day 13 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 13
Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

From Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range, the highest sealed road in New Zealand to arrive in the Alpine town of Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Skirting the shores of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you will enter the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools for a 1 hour return walk through native beech forest to a glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the wild West Coast, a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 14 - Get up close to the glacier with a thrilling Helihike
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 14
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the viewpoint below the terminal face. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Aspen Court Franz Josef is set amongst native bush providing a very peaceful ambience. Internally the motel units are large, practical and modern with all containing quality furnishings and fittings.
Day 15 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 15
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 16 - Depart Christchurch today
16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 16
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour

Step 1: Choose a preferred start date here
Step 2: Choose a preferred car type for travelling New Zealand
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Step 3: Select number of guests and room configuration
Select number of adult per room type
Double room (based on 2 adults in 1 room, 1 bed)
Twin room (based on 2 adults sharing 1 room with 2 beds)
Single occupancy (based on 1 adult in one room)
Select number of child per room type
Child (5-14yrs inclusive) Child cost when sharing with at least one adult
Child (0-4yrs inclusive) Child cost when sharing with at least one adult
Step 4: Add these options
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Your quote for this tour:
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This quote is based on vehicles to accommodate your party in the vehicle type. We suggest changing the car type or contacting us for the best options.
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NOTE: Instant quotes are subject to availability of specific accommodation and other inclusions. Our NZ touring experts will be in touch with you regarding this. Costs quoted in currencies other than New Zealand dollars (NZ$) are based on todays exchange rate and are  subject to change. Refer to our terms and conditions.

Remember - we can create this itinerary with any style of accommodation or customise to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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