TOURS & BUS PASSES / 9 Day South Island Explorer Tour

9 Day South Island Explorer Tour

New Zealand’s South Island is a land of contrasts; white sand beaches and towering snow-capped mountains, dense rain forest and barren tussock clad mountains, quiet vineyards and extreme sports. It’s an epic place, and this 9 day guided South Island tour allows you to experience the best of it.

The South Island is the real New Zealand, and we guarantee you’ll love it.


  • Hokitika Bushman’s Centre
  • Franz Josef Glacier / Mt Aspiring National Park
  • Fiordland National Park
  • Overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound (summer)

What's Included

All transport: You'll travel in our comfortable mid-sized coaches around New Zealand.

Experienced tour guide: Expect entertaining commentary, insight into local secrets and extra support from your tour guide.

Accommodation: 8 nights’ quad share accommodation in a variety of quality backpacker hostels, wilderness lodges and cabins. Upgrades to twin (NZD $275pp) and single (NZD $485) rooms are available.

Meals: 8 breakfasts and 4 dinners

Top rated activities:

- TranzAlpine train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth
- Walk around Lake Matheson
- Admire the stunning colours of the Blue Pools
- Thrilling Jet Boat Ride in Mt Aspiring National Park
- Overnight cruise on a custom designed ship in the Doubtful Sound - this is one of New Zealand's most premier off the beaten track experiences!
- Sea kayaking in Doubtful Sound
- Scenic bike ride around Lake Wanaka
- Walk the Hooker Valley Track in the Mount Cook National Park
- Explore Lake Tekapo.

Important Notes

  • Departure Time / Location: 815am at Christchurch Train Station
  • Finish Time: 5pm in Christchurch

Book Now

PRICE: $2,285 NZD

Number of Days 9

Starts: Christchurch Finishes: Christchurch

Tour Type: Small Group Tour


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Tour Itinerary EXPAND ALL

Your adventure begins with one of the world’s greatest train journeys, a ride on the TranzAlpine train. Check-in at the Christchurch Railway Station at 7:45am, then sit back to watch the South Island’s most stunning scenery roll by just outside your window. You’ll travel across the vast Canterbury Plains, cross winding ice-fed rivers and traverse the majestic Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass. Your train journey ends on the West Coast in the historic gold mining town of Greymouth, where you will meet your driver guide and coach. From there, we carry on to our overnight stop in the quaint little town of Franz Josef, home to the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. Includes dinner.


Rainforest Retreat


Pounamu jade factory, scenic Arthur's Pass. 

The day is spent in Franz Josef, a World Heritage area. As well as the glacier, the area is famous for its excellent walking trails (and lots of rain!). There are many great options for activities but a highly recommended guided trip (own expense - Franz Josef Glacier Hike) will enable you to get a hike ON the glacier, with a helicopter trip from the village nonetheless. Tonight is self-catering; there are plenty of local cafes and restaurants to enjoy or make use of the self-catering kitchen. Includes breakfast.


Hostel close to all attractions


Franz Josef Glacier Hike (extra expense) or loads of other activities. 

We head down the coast towards Mount Aspiring National Park and along the way see some breathtaking scenery including Lake Matheson, NZ’s most photographed lake. We also visit a waterfall and travel over a spectacular alpine pass. Once we arrive at the National Park there’s plenty of time to enjoy some of its activities including walking, scenic flights or jet boating (own expense). We spend the night in Chalets. Includes breakfast and dinner.


Unique mountain chalets


Walk around Lake Matheson - Mirror Lake, walk through beech forest to the Blue Pools

Fiordland National Park is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, with stunning ice-carved fiords, valleys, lakes and mountain scenery; it is our first port of call today. Within Fiordland we visit Doubtful Sound, the deepest of all the fiords, surrounded by towering peaks and huge waterfalls.

We will board a purpose built boat and enjoy complimentary afternoon tea while cruising past fur seals, penguins and dolphins. There are also sea kayaks to explore the fiord. (B,D)


Overnight on the boat, anchored within a secluded bay in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


 Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise, sea kayaking, wildlife spotting.

We depart Doubtful Sound around midday, leaving behind the stunning Fiordland to head for the ‘adventure capital of the world’ Queenstown. Includes Breakfast.


Lodge located close to town with awesome views.

The world's your oyster in Queenstown. Head out on a Day Tour to Milford Sound, take advantage of loads of walks or choose from a whole range of adventure activities. Adventure not your thing? How about a day sampling wine in Gibbston Valley. Either way you have two FREE days to explore Queenstown. Optional activities and meals are at own expense. Overnight accommodation included. Breakfast included. 


Lodge located close to town with awesome views


Milford Sound Day Tour, Wine Tasting, adventure activities, relax, go for hike (activities at extra expense) 

We’ll jump back on the bus for a short drive to Wanaka, where we’ll spend the morning biking some of New Zealand’s most scenic lakeside trails. After lunch, we head over the Lindis Pass through the picturesque Mackenzie region to the base of the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. There is time for a hike through the Hooker Valley for breathtaking views of the dramatic mountain landscape, or opt to take an alpine scenic flight (own expense). This is also one of the best places in New Zealand to join an evening stargazing tour. Includes breakfast and dinner.


Stunning alpine lodge


Included: scenic bike ride in Wanaka, scenic walk along the Hooker Valley track

Optional paid activity: Big Sky Stargazing or scenic heli-flight

Today we make our way through a landscape made famous in the 'Lord of the Rings' films. We’ll take a break for a stroll around Lake Tekapo, iconic for its historic church and turquoise waters. Between Tekapo and Christchurch there is an option for thrill seekers to hop-off and join a top-notch Grade 5 white water adventure on the Rangitata River (own expense). Those not rafting will continue on to Christchurch, where your driver guide will point out the highlights of the South Island’s largest city. The rafters will rejoin the group in Christchurch this evening. This is where your tour comes to an end – we hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey! Includes breakfast.


Optional paid activity: Rangitata white water rafting

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