9 Day Southern Spotlight
Independent tour (bus & coach) from Christchurch to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

9 Day Southern Spotlight

Explore the South Island on this popular 9 day itinerary. Highlights include a night in Mt Cook National Park, Dunedin, Te Anau including a Milford Sound cruise, free time in Queenstown, an evening cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak station for dinner, the West Coast and Franz Josef Glacier plus the Tranz Alpine Train journey from Greymouth to Christchurch.

Tour summary and feature

Independent tour (bus & coach)

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,002 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

9 days/8 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 47 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

At a glance - 9 Day Southern Spotlight

Day 1: Arrive Christchurch. Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch to Mt Cook Natonal Park. Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel Room Mount Cook View

Day 3: Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin. Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 4: Dunedin to Te Anau. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

Day 5: Te Anau to Milford Sound then onto Queenstown. Accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

Day 6: Queenstown free day to explore, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak Station. Accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

Day 7: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 8: Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch. Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 9: Depart Christchurch today.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 9 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch

9 Day Southern Spotlight - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Pass

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Occupying a central location the Rendezvous Hotel has been voted as one of the trendiest hotels in the South Pacific. Recently refurbished modern rooms and suites provide all the facilities you would expect from a fine hotel.

Day 2 - Christchurch to Mt Cook Natonal Park

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 2
Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain. Along the way your driver guide will keep you entertained and informed with commentary on the area's history and sites of interest. The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook as it towers above. Please be aware, due to the remote location of the property there are no shops at Mt Cook Village. We recommend you stock up on any supplies you may want before leaving Christchurch.

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 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.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel Room Mount Cook View

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 3
Mount Cook to Dunedin with Iconic

In the afternoon you will be picked up from your accommodation in Mt Cook Village for the journey through to Dunedin. Along the way you stop for a short break in Omarama, then onto Oamaru for a scenic tour of the historic Whitestone Prectinct. You will then enjoy a guided walk along Koekohe Beach at Moeraki Boulders before reaching Dunedin, where you will be dropped off at your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4 - Dunedin to Te Anau

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 4
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Larnach Castle and Gardens

Larnach is New Zealand's only Castle, built in 1871 by politician and merchant, William Larnach, a man of great vision who helped shape New Zealand's early history. It was built for William's beloved first wife Eliza; it took 200 workmen three years to build the shell and a further twelve years were spent by master craftsmen to embellish the interior. The Castle is located high up on the Otago Peninsula and looks down on Dunedin city giving beautiful views. The gardens have an International Garden of Significance status and have a unique collection of specialised areas for you to explore. The Ballroom cafe is a fantastic place to rest and reflect on all you have seen while enjoying a delicious range of refreshments. As with the entire castle, the ballroom had an interesting and varied history prior to its beautiful restoration, uses ranged from a lunatic asylum, antique sales room to the penning of sheep.

Dunedin Accommodation to Coach Stop Transfer with Iconic

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.

Dunedin to Te Anau by InterCity Coach

Enjoy this scenic coach trip across the magnificent Southland Countryside from the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin, to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Private Transfer - Te Anau Coach Depot to Accommodation

On arrival into Te Anau, you will be met by a representative from Trips and Tramps and transferred to your Te Anau accommodation. Please advise your driver your transfer is pre-paid.

Your accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

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

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5 - Te Anau to Milford Sound then onto Queenstown

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 5
Milford Sound Nature Cruise with return luxury coach transfers from Te Anau, and onto Queenstown

From Te Anau, you travel by coach along the spectacular Milford Road. Photo stops are made on the way into Milford, with additional photo stops and a short walk on the return journey. Real Journeys experienced drivers enjoy sharing their knowledge of the area. On reaching Milford Sound, you join a Nature Cruise for a leisurely cruise the full-length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time is available to enjoy waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. A nature guide provides fascinating interpretation throughout the cruise. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

At the Heritage Hotel Queenstown, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a postcard. Soak in the amazing view of the towering Remarkables mountain range rising from Lake Wakatipu from the comfort of the hotel. Crafted from centuries-old schist stone and cedar, this sophisticated Queenstown hotel is the perfect base to explore the adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 - Queenstown free day to explore, TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak Station

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 6
Free day in Queenstown

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. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water rafting.
 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Shotover Jet Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride! Skim past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breathtaking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world-famous Shotover Jet full 360-degree spins!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

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

Go back in time on this return trip to Walter Peak High Country Farm aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamship. You'll be greeted off the boat and guided through beautiful lakeside gardens to the charming homestead.
Here you'll enjoy a Gourmet BBQ dinner which your chef will prepare in front of you. The seasonal menu includes an expansive array of local produce, including succulent meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Finish your meal with an irresistible dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea and coffee. After dinner, an entertaining and informative demonstration gives you a glimpse of life in the high country.
On your cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a singalong with the ship's pianist or breathe in the fresh night air as you watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: Heritage Hotel Queenstown

At the Heritage Hotel Queenstown, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a postcard. Soak in the amazing view of the towering Remarkables mountain range rising from Lake Wakatipu from the comfort of the hotel. Crafted from centuries-old schist stone and cedar, this sophisticated Queenstown hotel is the perfect base to explore the adventure capital.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Day 7 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 7
Queenstown to Franz Josef with Intercity

Leaving Queenstown early, travel by coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. You will pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast. This remote area has a ruggedly beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. Skirt the coast and see waves crashing on rocky beaches before returning inland. Before arriving in the afternoon at the small village of Franz Josef. From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

Glacier Valley Shuttle

You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Only a breath away from the Franz Josef Glacier, Scenic Hotel is located in the heart of Franz Josef Village. Here you will find all of the amenities you would expect, as well as being close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer in the beautiful Westland region.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8 - Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 8
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with Intercity

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. In 1903 the largest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand was discovered at Jones Creek, not far from the town centre. It weighed 2807 grams. The New Zealand Government later purchased the nugget and presented it as a coronation gift to King George V. On arrival in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre. Hokitika is the administrative and commercial centre for this part of Westland. The major primary industry is timber milling. Dairy and sheep farming, commercial fishing, white baiting and eel processing being the other major industries. Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps 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: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Occupying a central location the Rendezvous Hotel has been voted as one of the trendiest hotels in the South Pacific. Recently refurbished modern rooms and suites provide all the facilities you would expect from a fine hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9 - Depart Christchurch today

9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 9
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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