21 day Classic South Island
Queenstown to Queenstown
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

21 day Classic South Island

This comprehensive tour of the South Island begins with a West Coast exploration, including the majestic glaciers.  You then carve a figure 8 through Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura and on to the top of the South Island.  Enjoy a detailed exploration of Abel Tasman National Park before heading south to Punakaiki and the upper West Coast.  After boarding the TranzAlpine scenic train you travel through to Christchurch, where you have a free day to explore.  Then continue south along the East Coast to Dunedin, then onto the Magical Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound before you return to Queenstown after your epic South Island adventure.

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Quick Itinerary Details

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,262 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Queenstown, finishes in Queenstown

21 days/20 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 24 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

- Private Transfer Queenstown Airport to your Accommodation
- Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation
1 lunch
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 2: The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Day 3: 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 4: Explore the untouched wilderness of Westland National park
Accommodation: Aspen Court Franz Josef

Day 5: Skirt the wild Tasman Sea as you drive north, then head inland to Arthur's Pass National Park
Accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 6: Continue over the Southern Alps and descend towards the Pacific Ocean and Kaikoura
Accommodation: Quality Suites Kaikoura
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.5 hours

Day 7: Explore Kaikoura home to an abundance of marine wildlife
Accommodation: Quality Suites Kaikoura

Day 8: Travel via the coastal road before reaching the vineyards of Blenheim
Accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 9: Journey along the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive and through the Rai Valley to Tasman Bay
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 10: Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals
Accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

Day 11: Valleys and forest clad hills lead you back to the West Coast
Accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 12: Its a short drive south to Greymouth where you board the Tranz Alpine scenic train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Quest Cathedral Junction
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 42 kms / 26 miles : 0.6 hours

Day 13: Your rental car is delivered, then you have a free day in Christchurch
Accommodation: Quest Cathedral Junction

Day 14: Just a short drive over Bank's Peninsula to the French influenced village of Akaroa
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 15: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Mountain Chalet Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 448 kms / 278 miles : 5.4 hours

Day 16: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Cable Court Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 17: Discover the history of Dunedin or the wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Cable Court Motel

Day 18: Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Anchorage Motel, Te Anau
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 19: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road for your cruise on the fiord
Accommodation: Anchorage Motel, Te Anau
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 20: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 21: Depart Queenstown today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 21 day tour starting in Queenstown

Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown
21 day Classic South Island - Day 1
Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities Queenstown is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Private Transfer Queenstown Airport to your Accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Queenstown accommodation.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.
Day 2 - The day is yours to discover all the scenic spots and fun activities on offer in Queenstown
21 day Classic South Island - 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.

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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&rsquo...

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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.

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Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.
Day 3 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
21 day Classic South Island - Day 3
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 4 - Explore the untouched wilderness of Westland National park
21 day Classic South Island - Day 4
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Nature Tour

Nestled in thick historic West Coast forest and a stone's throw from wild black sand beaches, this is one of the world's most unusual glaciers. Beauti...

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Nestled in thick historic West Coast forest and a stone's throw from wild black sand beaches, this is one of the world's most unusual glaciers. Beautiful blue skies or magical misty rain, whatever the weather - you will feel like you are in Narnia or LOTR.
With easy walking at your pace, information on glaciology, geology, geomorphology, flora and fauna, local legends, history, and small guided groups with fantastic guides, you will experience this glacier in style and in the best hands with the only local company. Wander past glacier rivers and streams and through beautiful podocarp forest; discover hidden natural treasures such as native snails, wild native mushrooms, and dozens of species of native orchids; listen to native bird song and waterfalls; see if you can spot a Chamois or a Tahr on the huge snow-capped mountains above while drinking a cup of tea and talking one-on-one with your guide. This tour will be a highlight of your travels in New Zealand.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen ...

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Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. 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's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

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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 5 - Skirt the wild Tasman Sea as you drive north, then head inland to Arthur's Pass National Park
21 day Classic South Island - Day 5
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.
State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular, even in the rain and there is a pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush-clad hillsides, it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made their seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.
The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the world's only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.
Arthur's Pass Township is a bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Walking tracks in Arthurs Pass National Park

Within Arthur's Pass there are many short walks to suit all ages and abilities. Located in the Arthur's Pass Village is a Department of Conservation information centre where you can get updates on track conditions and track suitability as well as learn about the natural history of the area and its people.
Listed below is a selection of short walks.
1. Millennium Walk - Time: 10 minutes return
2. Devils Punchbowl Waterfall Walk - Time: One hour return
3. Arthur's Pass Walking Track - Time: One hour 20 minutes (one way)
4. Dobson Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
5. Old Coach Road Walk - Time: 30 minutes return
6. Cockayne Nature Walk - Time: 30 minutes return

Your accommodation: Arthurs Pass Alpine Motel

Located right in the village this is the ideal location to enjoy and explore Arthur's Pass National Park. Close to cafes and the visitor centre your accommodation is in comfortable self contained units.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 6 - Continue over the Southern Alps and descend towards the Pacific Ocean and Kaikoura
21 day Classic South Island - Day 6
Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura

Travelling from the Southern Alps to the Coast, this drive offers spectacular views of braided river valleys. You’ll travel through Castle Hill Scenic Reserve, dotted with remarkable rocky outcrops, popular for hiking.
Descending onto the Canterbury Plains, you’ll travel through the rich farmland surrounding Christchurch before turning North through the small towns of Rangiora and Oxford. You’ll then travel on State Highway 1 through the Waipara Valley. If you have plenty of time be sure to stop at Hanmer Springs for a soak in the hot mineral pools.
The road hugs the coast for the final stretch of this drive, before arriving at your destination, Kaikoura. Keep a lookout for dolphins as they are often seen swimming just off the coastline as well as New Zealand fur seals basking by the roadside.

Your accommodation: Quality Suites Kaikoura

Quality Suites Kaikoura offers beautifully apportioned accommodation within Kaikoura. With many of Kaikoura’s activities located just minutes from the complex itself, this is a fantastic economy option in Kaikoura.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.5 hours

Day 7 - Explore Kaikoura home to an abundance of marine wildlife
21 day Classic South Island - Day 7
Kaikoura

The Kaikoura Coast is renowned for its abundant marine life, and this is huge visitor drawcard. Due to the teeming food supply in its icy seas, whales, seals and dolphins are frequently spotted year round in the area. Observe the fur seal colony basking in the sun at the tip of the peninsula and be sure to take a trip by boat to view the whales.
If you prefer, hop aboard a 30 minute scenic flight and see the coast by air. But if you're feeling really adventurous take a dip with the resident seal population on either a land or boat based trip. Kaikoura township has a charming feel and after a day of marine adventures is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat. not to be missed is a meal of fresh crayfish - the town's signature dish. Before you leave, visit historic Fyffe House for insight into the region’s Whaling Past.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whale Watch Kaikoura

Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer a once-in-a-lifetime, up close encounter with the giant ...

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Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer a once-in-a-lifetime, up close encounter with the giant Sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on modern catamarans, specifically designed for whale watching, featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

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Your accommodation: Quality Suites Kaikoura

Quality Suites Kaikoura offers beautifully apportioned accommodation within Kaikoura. With many of Kaikoura’s activities located just minutes from the complex itself, this is a fantastic economy option in Kaikoura.
Day 8 - Travel via the coastal road before reaching the vineyards of Blenheim
21 day Classic South Island - Day 8
Kaikoura to Blenheim

Heading north from Kaikoura, the road hugs the shore for approximately 50 kilometres and offers many opportunities to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. One of the best seal watching locations is Ohau Point (25km north of Kaikoura), where you can observe the adults on the shoreline and the pups frolicking in the waterfall, just a short walk from the road (signposted). As you drive you will have turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean to your east and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine producing region. Blenheim sits right at the heart of Marlborough and is ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce. A great way to do this is to take a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Half Day Wine Tour

An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your...

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An afternoon among the vines! Be immersed in the Marlborough wine country with the Sounds Connection half day wine tour. You'll be collected from your accommodation and taken through three or four hand-picked wineries to taste the award-winning produce this region is known for. You'll also hear about the history of winemaking in Marlborough as well as learning the unique processes each winery goes through. A lunch stop is not included in this tour so we do advise you have something to eat prior to this activity. 

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Your accommodation: Lugano Motor Lodge

Located right across the road from picturesque Seymour Square, the Lugano Motor Lodge welcomes you to their outstanding motel located in the heart of Blenheim within walking distance of many great cafés and restaurants. Enjoy the use of golf club sets, mountain bikes and daily newspaper.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 9 - Journey along the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive and through the Rai Valley to Tasman Bay
21 day Classic South Island - Day 9
Blenheim to Abel Tasman National Park via Queen Charlotte Drive

Take a short drive to the small port of Picton where the Interislander ferry connects with Wellington. A bustling seaside destination, Picton is well equipped with shops, cafes and is also the starting point for the famous Queen Charlotte Walk. You’ll travel along Queen Charlotte Drive, traversing the length of the Marlborough Sounds coastline. Magnificent views are abundant so be sure to make time to stop and enjoy the scenery as you go.
Continue through the small port town of Havelock, home to a variety of cafes and restaurants. The highway between Nelson and Picton crosses the pelorus river, and at this junction you’ll find the famous pelorus bridge. From here there are a number of forest walks, the most popular a 30 minute loop through beech, rimu, and totara forest. Traverse Tasman Bay passing through Motueka to arrive on the outskirts of Abel Tasman National Park.

Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

The Ocean View Chalets are situated on a 50-acre farmlet, slightly elevated and nestled along the bush line with panoramic sea views. Great access the National Park and close to the friendly Marahau village.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 184 kms / 114 miles : 2.8 hours

Day 10 - Explore Abel Tasman National Park home to aqua blue waters and playful seals
21 day Classic South Island - Day 10
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Why not enjoy a scenic cruise through the Sounds or take a kayaking tour around its many sheltered bays? Relax to the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the parks many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals fur seals and dolphins.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip Including Picnic Lunch

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you'll meet your guide and joi...

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Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you'll meet your guide and join the 9.30 am Vista Cruise along the magnificent coastline to Torrent Bay. You'll then arrive at Torrent Bay Lodge and complete a full training session and safety briefing before moving on to the water in kayaks to discover beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers.
Stop for a picnic lunch in a sheltered cove and take some time to swim, explore or sunbathe on the sand. On your return trip, if the winds are favourable, sails will be hoisted and you'll sail back via Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony there - if you're lucky, you may even see some resident blue penguins at the same time. Arriving back at Torrent Bay Lodge, freshen up with a hot shower and re-join the vista cruise back to Kaiteriteri, arriving at 4.10 pm.
During the summer there is the option to enjoy an unguided two hour coastal bush walk after the kayaking trip. Walk around the picturesque Torrent Bay Lagoon via Cleopatra's Pool to the anchorage where you will re-join the boat back to Kaiteriteri.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Abel Tasman National Park Cruise and Walk Open Day Pass

Abel Tasman Cruises combined with short bush walks are a great way to experience this beautiful national park. Join Abel Tasman Wilson's Experiences' ...

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Abel Tasman Cruises combined with short bush walks are a great way to experience this beautiful national park. Join Abel Tasman Wilson's Experiences' boat at Kaiteriteri for your Abel Tasman National Park Cruise. The boat hugs the shore, travelling in close to the idyllic beaches. Your skipper provides a full commentary of the trip. Take you own lunch or pre - order a prepared lunch the night before. The following are some of the more popular cruise and walk options you can choose from.
Vista Scenic Cruise
Cruise from Kaiteriteri, through the Astrolabe Roadstead to Torrent Bay and Bark Bay, calling into picturesque beaches and coves where walkers and kayakers are transferred to golden-sand beaches. Pause to view the antics at Tonga Island Seal Colony in the Marine Reserve, then continue past isolated northern beaches to the long sweep of burnished sands at Totaranui.
Pitt Head Loop
Cruise through the sheltered waters of the Astrolable Roadstead to disembark at Anchorage Beach. There you can choose to take a leisurely stroll to Te Pukatea Bay or walk the Pitt Head Track. Alternatively relax on the beach and go swimming in the calm azure waters. Walking time is around 1 hour.
Seals and Beach
For the best of everything, this trip is for you. Take a scenic cruise into Tonga Island Marine Reserve, pausing to watch the antics at its resident Fur Seal Colony. Land at historic Tonga Quarry beach then take a walk for about 2 hrs 15 mins (4.1 kms, 2.5 miles) over a forested saddle and around spectacular Bark Bay estuary with its cascading waterfalls.
Bark Bay Falls
From the sheltered beach at Kaiteriteri, cruise past the sculpted granite headlands and islands. Pause to view the long, golden, forest-fringed beaches of Torrent Bay. Disembark at Medlands Beach. A short stroll takes you to popular, sheltered Bark Bay with its pleasantly shaded camping area. Swim in calm azure waters, sunbathe or relax in the shade of native forest trees. A forested track around the estuary takes you to Bark Bay Falls (approx. 1 hour return).
Swing Bridge, Bush and Beach
Cruise into the heart of the National Park with full commentary to introduce you to this fascinating coastline. Disembark at idyllic Medlands Beach, where you will walk to the long golden-sand beach of Anchorage, via Torrent Bay (approx. 4hrs) The track weaves through sunny groves of Manuka and fern between breathtaking views of the granite coast and lush gullies of mature forest, to reach tranquil forest pools. Cross the rushing Falls River by an impressive swing bridge. Allow extra time to take a short side track beside a crystal forest stream to visit tranquil Cleopatra's Pool.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Beaches, Bays and Seals Guided Sea Kayaking Trip Including Picnic Lunch

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you'll meet your guide and joi...

Read more

Combining the best of the Abel Tasman, this trip showcases incredible beaches, coastal walks and native wildlife. First you'll meet your guide and join the 9.30 am Vista Cruise along the magnificent coastline to Torrent Bay. You'll then arrive at Torrent Bay Lodge and complete a full training session and safety briefing before moving on to the water in kayaks to discover beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers.
Stop for a picnic lunch in a sheltered cove and take some time to swim, explore or sunbathe on the sand. On your return trip, if the winds are favourable, sails will be hoisted and you'll sail back via Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony there - if you're lucky, you may even see some resident blue penguins at the same time. Arriving back at Torrent Bay Lodge, freshen up with a hot shower and re-join the vista cruise back to Kaiteriteri, arriving at 4.10 pm.
During the summer there is the option to enjoy an unguided two hour coastal bush walk after the kayaking trip. Walk around the picturesque Torrent Bay Lagoon via Cleopatra's Pool to the anchorage where you will re-join the boat back to Kaiteriteri.

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Your accommodation: Ocean View Chalets

The Ocean View Chalets are situated on a 50-acre farmlet, slightly elevated and nestled along the bush line with panoramic sea views. Great access the National Park and close to the friendly Marahau village.
Day 11 - Valleys and forest clad hills lead you back to the West Coast
21 day Classic South Island - Day 11
Marahau to Punakaiki

The drive today takes you along the Buller Gorge and offers some wonderful scenery as you follow this magnificent river. The town of Murchison is a quiet place and a great lunch stop. Underneath its sleepy farming facade is an adventurers' paradise with white water rafting, kayaking, 4WD trips, and some great trout fishing.
The first major town (by this region's standard) is Inangahua and a small museum tells of the earthquake that hit the region in 1968 leaving 70% of the buildings damaged or inhabitable. Further along the river one of the must-stop places is Whites Creek and New Zealand's longest swing bridge. Crossing the river you get magnificent views of the gorge and once on the other side, there are short bush walks, jet boat rides, and some of the historic gold mining remnants.
The port town of Westport is the largest on the Northern West Coast. A history of gold mining, logging, fishing coal mining gives the town a hard-working feeling. And to reward the hard workers the town has an extraordinary amount of pubs.
There are plenty of activities here such as caving, bush walks, and surfing but one of the most popular is to take a trip to Tauranga bay and the seal colony. Just 15 kilometres south at Cape Foulwind (named by Captain Cook for the difficult sailing conditions and not the smell of the seals!), you will find a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. A well-marked and easy 10-minute walking track takes you to the colony where you can see the creatures lazing around or swimming in the ocean.
The spectacular West Coast coastline guides you to Paparoa National Park and to Punakaiki where a walk along the paths around the pancake rocks is a must. Please note there is no supermarket facilities in Punakaiki.

Your accommodation: Hydrangea Cottages (Self check in required)

On the South Island's rugged West Coast rests a slice of Kiwi heaven just waiting to be explored. The Hydrangea Cottages offer secluded, spacious and stylish accommodation within a stone's throw of one of New Zealand's most treasured and spectacular coastal landscapes - the Pancake Rocks.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 12 - Its a short drive south to Greymouth where you board the Tranz Alpine scenic train to Christchurch
21 day Classic South Island - Day 12
Punakaiki to Greymouth

You have plenty of time to explore Punakaiki this morning and to enjoy the scenic drive back along the coast to Greymouth to catch the TranzAlpine Scenic Train to Christchurch. Just south of the town of Greymouth is Shantytown a replica gold rush town with lots of great displays from yesteryear and a great place to spend a few hours.  Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before checking in for your train journey.

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: Quest Cathedral Junction

Quest Cathedral Junction serviced apartment style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Christchurch accommodation experience. Quest Cathedral Junction is located within the Christchurch CBD, only a short walk to Cathedral Square, New Regent Street Entertainment Precinct, Isaac Royal Theatre, Botanic Gardens.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 42 kms / 26 miles : 0.6 hours

Day 13 - Your rental car is delivered, then you have a free day in Christchurch
21 day Classic South Island - Day 13
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.

Explore Christchurch City

Following the 2011 earthquake that razed its centre and much of the outlying suburbs, Christchurch is well into a billion-dollar makeover. In the middle of the Canterbury Plains, bordering the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s newest city is an ideal gateway to exploring the middle of the South.
Go punting on the Avon River, take a historic tram ride, catch the gondola to the rim of an extinct volcano or do all three! See the world's only Cardboard Cathedral and for nature enthusiasts wander the renowned Christchurch Botanic Gardens, or head to Oxford Terrace in the city to find a great spot to eat or drink.
Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Visit the International Antarctic Centre or take a day to go on safari at Orana Wildlife Park. Take the winding Port Hills road to the French settlement of Akaroa and tour the vines in Waipara for an authentic New Zealand wine-tasting experience.  

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Hot Air Balloon Ride

Escape to a world of peace and tranquillity. Hot Air Ballooning is a magical experience and a flight with Ballooning Canterbury offers panoramic views...

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Escape to a world of peace and tranquillity. Hot Air Ballooning is a magical experience and a flight with Ballooning Canterbury offers panoramic views across the fertile Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. There is nothing quite so romantic and exciting as floating effortlessly over an ever changing landscape.
Before leaving the ground, the pilot will give you a briefing. During your flight you will experience spectacular views and have fantastic photo opportunities. Chilled champagne, orange juice and a light snack then be served. Hot air ballooning is a hands-on experience and you will be encouraged to assist with the setup and pack away of the balloon itself.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Nowhere else in New Zealand will you find such a wide range of New Zealand wildlife so close to you. Willowbank provides you with a "Kiwi Guarantee" a...

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Nowhere else in New Zealand will you find such a wide range of New Zealand wildlife so close to you. Willowbank provides you with a "Kiwi Guarantee" and is home to New Zealand's largest and most accessible kiwi viewing area. With this unique experience, you will see New Zealand's natural splendour first hand, and view Kiwis that are not hidden behind glass.  You will explore one of the most complete selections of New Zealand native and introduced wildlife in natural bush surroundings. Much of the Willowbank wildlife wander free and is able to be petted and fed.
Choose to explore the reserve yourself, or for an up-close Kiwi experience, you can take a guided tour.

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Your accommodation: Quest Cathedral Junction

Quest Cathedral Junction serviced apartment style hotel rooms offer guests a relaxed and comfortable Christchurch accommodation experience. Quest Cathedral Junction is located within the Christchurch CBD, only a short walk to Cathedral Square, New Regent Street Entertainment Precinct, Isaac Royal Theatre, Botanic Gardens.
Day 14 - Just a short drive over Bank's Peninsula to the French influenced village of Akaroa
21 day Classic South Island - Day 14
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife daily on a Black Cat Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. You’ll see the rare, native dolphin –...

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Experience majestic scenery and stunning wildlife daily on a Black Cat Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise. You’ll see the rare, native dolphin – the Hector’s or New Zealand Dolphin. There’s also the chance to spot the world’s smallest penguin, the White Flippered Little Blue Penguin, Fur Seals and other sea birds.
Other cruise highlights are some majestic volcanic cliffs (including the impressive Cathedral Cave) and signs of Akaroa’s fascinating past including early Maori, French and British settlements.

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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 15 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
21 day Classic South Island - Day 15
Akaroa to Twizel via (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, Geraldine offers an ideal stop before you head into Mackenzie country. Ascending Burkes Pass, you'll enter New Zealand's high country. The picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, is the first of the large Southern Lakes on your journey. Enjoy the magnificent views from the shore, boat or air by taking a scenic flight. On arriving at Lake Pukaki, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular views of Aoraki Mount Cook, towering over the lake. Driving along the lake, you'll find your destination, Mount Cook Village. Enjoy Aoraki Mount Cook National Park by having a glacier landing with ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake or by walking one of the many tracks. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre is a must see. Return along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Twizel, your base for the evening.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers, the centre showcases the Aoraki Moun...

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A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers, the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

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Your accommodation: Mountain Chalet Motels

Mountain Chalets is situated in Twizel, just 40 mins drive from Mount Cook. This picturesque site is on the doorstep to some of New Zealand's finest scenery. All units are equipped with kitchenettes and air conditioning.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 448 kms / 278 miles : 5.4 hours

Day 16 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
21 day Classic South Island - Day 16
Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Your accommodation: Cable Court Motel

Situated in the heart of Dunedin, Cable Court Motel offers quality self contained accommodation close to the city centre. Only a ten minute walk to the Octagon, restaurants, cafes and bars.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 249 kms / 155 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 17 - Discover the history of Dunedin or the wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
21 day Classic South Island - Day 17
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Tour Including Wildlife Cruise

A small-group bus tour from Dunedin. Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the...

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A small-group bus tour from Dunedin. Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You'll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems. Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Wellers Rock Wharf, for a Monarch Wildlife Cruise. You'll travel out of the harbour, around Taiaroa Head, and out to sea. Watch royal albatross glide across the water and return to their breeding colony. Beneath a historic lighthouse is a colony of playful fur seals. You'll spot other rare seabirds and maybe blue penguins or other marine mammals. You are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with you. Snacks and drinks can be purchased whilst aboard the MV Monarch. We recommend having a good-sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin. The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You'll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world's rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour

Founded in 1876, the Speights Brewery still occupies its original Dunedin site - with several of its buildings dating back to the late 1800's. One of ...

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Founded in 1876, the Speights Brewery still occupies its original Dunedin site - with several of its buildings dating back to the late 1800's. One of the only remaining 'gravity breweries' in the world, this 60-minute tour explains its inner workings. There is an opportunity to taste six different beers as well as bottle, cap and brew your own personal Speights Gold Medal Ale - the brewery's flagship beer.

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Your accommodation: Cable Court Motel

Situated in the heart of Dunedin, Cable Court Motel offers quality self contained accommodation close to the city centre. Only a ten minute walk to the Octagon, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Day 18 - Travel through the rich farmland of South Otago and Southland to reach Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
21 day Classic South Island - Day 18
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound, renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Your accommodation: Anchorage Motel, Te Anau

The Anchorage Motel in Te Anau is located just 10 minutes walk from the town centre and 2 minutes from the lakefront. Well equipped 1,2 and 3 bedroom units are complimented by a cooked and continental breakfast service, guest laundry and barbeque area.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 19 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road for your cruise on the fiord
21 day Classic South Island - Day 19
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: Anchorage Motel, Te Anau

The Anchorage Motel in Te Anau is located just 10 minutes walk from the town centre and 2 minutes from the lakefront. Well equipped 1,2 and 3 bedroom units are complimented by a cooked and continental breakfast service, guest laundry and barbeque area.
Meals included: Lunch

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

Day 20 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
21 day Classic South Island - Day 20
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: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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

Day 21 - Depart Queenstown today
21 day Classic South Island - Day 21
Return your vehicle to Queenstown Airport

Explore more of Queenstown before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 8 kms / 5 miles : 0.2 hours

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21 day Classic South Island

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