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The top 5 South Island Itineraries

Can't decide between South Island Itineraries? Read on! We’ve got you covered.

Sunset at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Can't decide between South Island Itineraries? Read on! We’ve got you covered.

Travelling to the South island  New Zealand and can’t quite decide where to go? Look no further! Here’s five of our favourite South Island itineraries. 

Before we get into it - we should mention we’re a little biased when it comes to the South. And not just because we live here. I mean, it’s known as ‘God's Country’ for a reason. And when there's snow-capped mountains, glacial valleys and subtropical rain forest all in the same vicinity, ‘God’s Country’ does seem rather fitting. Oh, and sweeping plains, rugged coastlines, glassy lakes and braided rivers. 

We should also mention the extremely friendly and down-to-earth locals. Like us! We’re extremely friendly. And down-to-earth. And actually really helpful! So - in the spirit of being helpful - here's the five touring routes we LOVE to take ourselves. 

Pancakes, Glaciers and Mountains

If you're wanting to go off-the-beaten-track this is the tour for you. Beginning in Christchurch you’ll journey down the wild West Coast through Punakaiki - home to the unique Punakaiki Pancake Rocks - to the spectacular glacier region. You’ll then loop through Wanaka and Mount Cook before returning to Christchurch through the Mackenzie Country.

A shorter - but no less remarkable -  itinerary, you’ll go beyond the tourist trail to see the real New Zealand.

Highlights:

  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Fox and Franz Josef Glacier
  • Wanaka
  • Mount Cook
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Christchurch

Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki

Queenstown to Queenstown Southern Journey

Where better to begin an action packed adventure than in the ‘adventure’ capital of the world? Starting and finishing in Queenstown, this comprehensive itinerary is for those wanting to visit ‘must-see’ South Island attractions.

You’ll take a day trip to world renowned Milford Sound before visiting Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo on your way up the country. From Christchurch catch the Coastal Pacific train to Picton and the Abel Tasman National Park, then head down the West Coast through Punakaiki and the glacier region, to end where you began in Queenstown.

Highlights:

  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound
  • Mt Cook
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Fox and Franz Josef glacier
  • Coastal Pacific train

Southern Wildlife, Fiords and Mountains

This sensational tour of the south starts in Dunedin and explores the Otago Peninsula and Fiordland before a short stay in Queenstown kicks off a spectacular West Coast journey through subtropical rainforest, glaciers, and rugged coast.

You’ll visit the unique Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, then return to the old gold mining town of Greymouth for an epic journey on the world renowned TranzAlpine train though the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

Highlights:

  • Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Milford Sound
  • Te Anau
  • Franz Josef
  • Queenstown
  • TranzAlpine Train
  • Southern Alps

Exploring glaciers at Franz Josef

Top of the South

On this tour you’ll discover the lesser known delights of the upper South Island. Crossing the Canterbury Plains you’ll make your way to marine reserve Kaikoura, then onward to Abel Tasman National Park. Sample your way through the Marlborough wine region - home to some of New Zealand's best sauvignon blanc - before heading South through Nelson Lakes National Park and the West Coast.

You’ll return to Christchurch via Arthur's Pass, a small township in the Southern Alps Known for its stunning alpine scenery and cheeky Kea birds.

Highlights:

  • Kaikoura
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Nelson Lakes National Park
  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks
  • Marlborough
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Nelson Lakes National Park

Milford Track and Southern Encounter

As well as being one of New Zealand's ‘Great Walks,’ the Milford Track is globally renowned. On this tour you’ll not only discover why the Milford Track is one of the best in the world, but experience some of New Zealand's iconic locations as well. Beginning in Queenstown, you’ll take a coach to Te Anau before embarking on the five day guided Milford Walk.

Including all meals and premium lodge accommodation. Following your hike, you’ll also visit Mount Cook and a High Country sheep farm.

Highlights:

  • Mount Cook
  • Milford Track
  • A high country sheep farm
  • Te Anau

These five touring routes are a great start to building your perfect South Island itinerary. But we’re here to help you turn your ideas into a dream once -in-a-lifetime vacation!

Arthur Valley on the Milford Track