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14 Days South Island Forests & Fiords

South Island

14 Days South Island Forests & Fiords

14 Days | South Island

A treasure trove of extraordinary contrasts from enchanting alpine villages & dramatic coastlines to ancient glaciers & fiords, all carefully scheduled into a relaxing 2 week vacation.

Indicative Price

01 October 2019 -
30 September 2020

NZ$1,733 per person

Price Includes: 

  • 13 nights accommodation
  • 13 days small rental car hire
  • welcome voucher wallet & driving maps
  • expert itinerary planning & booking service
  • 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Prices are per person, share twin/double room and in NZ$

Trip Details

Circle the spectacular South Island, featuring the pretty alpine town of Hanmer Springs with its famous hot pools, the golden sand beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park, lush West Coast forests and glaciers, the turquoise-blue southern lakes and easy vibe of Dunedin city.

Chokka Full With Byways!

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch, pick up rental car on arrival. 

Kia ora, welcome to Christchurch, the largest city of the South Island.  Christchurch offers pockets of perfect as the central city rebuilds after the 2011 earthquakes. Located on the vast Canterbury Plains, with the sweeping coastal curve of Pegasus Bay and the volcanic hills of Banks Peninsula, Christchurch offers surprisingly diverse landscapes. Stroll the graceful Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park, relax beside the gently flowing Avon River or take in the expansive city and mountain views from the Christchurch Gondola.

Day 2 - Drive Christchurch - Hanmer Springs (approx 1 hour, 55 mins) 

The short drive north crosses the braided Waimakariri river and takes you past the beaches of Woodend, Waikuku, Leithfield and Amberley, which are wide open and foaming with surf to the Waipara region known for its vineyards and olive groves. The highway continues through farm land and the Weka Pass with its grand limestone rock formations and rolling tussock hills.  Drive through the quaint rural towns of Waikari and Culverden as you continue across the Amuri Plain before reaching, Hanmer Springs. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and towering forests this charismatic alpine town is bustling with outdoor activities, from forest hiking to mountain biking, to jet boating, and even bungy jumping for some high octane outdoor adventure.  Once you've caught your breath, a soak in the hot spring pools is highly recommended - and if you're looking to really relax, treat yourself at their spa.

Day 3 - Drive Hanmer Springs -  Motueka (approx 3 hour, 40 mins) 

Lush beech forests and snow-capped Alps feature during the drive across the Lewis Pass to Springs Junction, follow the Maruia River past the natural hot pools of Maruia Springs to the rural town of Murchison. Murchison looks after the farming community and also has a fantastic range of outdoor activities including rafting and kayaking. The Kahurangi National Park dominates the drive north to the town of Motueka,  renowned for it's arty culture, surrounding vineyards and close proximity to the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park.

Day 4 - In Motueka at leisure 

Motueka is a colourful town, home to a wealth of artists and craftspeople, and therefore, naturally, great galleries and shops.  The town is important for its fishing, hops, pip fruit, kiwifruit and vineyards.  Near a number of idyllic beaches, the town is within a short drive of Kaiteriteri, Marahau, Abel Tasman National Park and the Motueka River.  It can be used as a base to the walking trails of the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks.  The Abel Tasman may be New Zealand's smallest national park but it's big on exquisite natural features.  Take a water taxi to one of the golden sand beaches as far north as Totaranui or just take a 20 minute walk from Marahau to experience a few of the park's delightful bays.

Day 5 - Drive Motueka - Hokitika (approx 4 hour, 55 mins) 

The Motueka River Valley’s undulating hills of farmland and forest escort you via the small rural township of Tapawera southwards to the captivating Nelson Lakes National Park region.  Gateway to the southern entrance of the Kahurangi National Park, Murchison offers some of the best white-water kayaking and rafting on the nearby Buller River.  The Buller Gorge Swingbridge is NZ’s longest at  110m long.  Westport was first a gold town, then a coal town but now is known for its adventure activities, awesome scenery and local arts.  Nearby Tauranga Bay & Cape Foulwind offer an excellent walking track to NZ’s most accessible fur seal colony. The drive south hugs the dramatic coastline to remarkable Punakaiki with its enormous stacks of rocks and blowholes, known as Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.  The blowholes perform best around high tide. The cool little town of Hokitika offers a coastal experience that’s great in any weather.  A walk along the wild and driftwood-strewn beach lets you feel the power of the Tasman Sea.  Local “must do’s” are its art and craft trail, nearby scenic Lake Kaniere, stunning Hokitika Gorge and an evening stroll to the local glow worm dell.

Day 6 - Drive Hokitika - Haast (approx 4 hour, 10 mins) 

Leaving Hokitika, the beautiful green native forests thicken as you continue south and into the glacier region, crossing blue flowing rivers and passing scenic lakes of Ianthe and Wahapo - which also make for great lunch spots! Pass through the glacier town of Franz Josef and through the impressive wild West Coast style forest of Westland National Park set against dominating alpine peaks as you approach the charming town of Fox Glacier.   Further south the settlement of Haast offers mainly outdoor attractions such as hiking, nature tours, scenic flights, river safaris and jet-boat rides.  The area is also a haven for bird-watchers with fantail, tui, bellbird, pigeon, silvereye, kaka and kiwi all located in the lowland forests.

Day 7 - Drive Haast -  Wanaka (approx 2 hour, 25 mins) 

Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you leave the coast and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The Haast Highway snakes through the Mt Aspiring National Park with the vegetation becoming more sparse as you travel inland.  The highway is considered by some to be New Zealand's most stunning one-day journey.  The Haast Highway has numerous lookouts, walks and waterfalls.  The Blue Pools of Haast are this road's main attraction, being just an easy one hour return walk from the road.  The wilderness town of Makarora is a chance to refuel and refresh. Skirt the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea to the lakeshore township of Wanaka. 

Day 8 - Drive Wanaka - Cromwell (approx 40 mins) 

A short drive along the shores of Lake Dunstan to reach Cromwell, the “fruit bowl of the south”.  Set amid a rocky, barren landscape the relatively recent burgeoning wine industry has transformed the town.  Now surrounded by vineyards as well as fruit orchards, Cromwell’s historic past is one of its famous gold fields. Go fishing, mountain biking or jetboating.  Check out Highlands Motorsport Park, an international-standard racing circuit.  Local winery restaurants and cafes will be very tempting.

Day 9 - In Cromwell at leisure 

Relax in this charming Central Otago rural town.  Perhaps explore one of the many cycle trails, including the Rail Trail which offers spectacular outback scenery on a well graded gravel cycle trail once used by steam trains. Remote settlements and cafes welcome cyclists with warm hospitality and refreshments.   Or visit the renowned Bannockburn wineries, historic Old Cromwell Town or the new Highlands Motorsport Park. Alternatively, the resort town of Queenstown is a mere 45 minutes drive away and makes a comfortable day trip.

Day 10 - Drive Cromwell -  Te Anau (approx 3 hours) 

Leave Cromwell /  Queenstown and follow the road to Te Anau as it winds round the gentle curves of Lake Wakatipu. The scenery here is stunning - lakeside vistas are framed by the rugged face of the magnificent Remarkables mountain range. Easy rolling countryside soon leads you to the shores of Lake Te Anau, the biggest of the South Island’s many lakes. Nestled on the shores of the lake is the township of Te Anau which offers a picturesque landscape with its blue lakes, spectacular mountains and lush forests as well as being the gateway Milford's spectacular walking tracks and famous fiords.

Day 11 - In Te Anau at leisure 

As gateway to the Fiordland National Park, Te Anau's proximity to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound make it a very popular destination.  Take a guided hike on to the Milford Track, a day excursion to Doubtful Sound from nearby graceful Lake Manapouri, visit the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, thrilling river and lake jetboating, trout fishing and star gazing.  There are choices galore!

Day 12 - Drive Te Anau -  Dunedin (approx 4 hours 10 mins) 

Depart Te Anau and travel across the Southland Plains through the small townships of Mossburn, Lumsden and rural hub of Gore, sheep farms dominate the landscape. Continue to the Clutha River at Balclutha before heading north crossing the Taieri Plains, pass Lake Waihola to Dunedin. Note you can travel to Dunedin via the rugged Catlins coast, part of the Southern Scenic route, known for its wildlife and fossalised forest. You would need to allow extra time for this drive. Dunedin is said to be the Edinburgh of New Zealand with its well preserved Victorian and Edwardian heritage present throughout the city. Surrounded by hills and featuring a wide harbour, Dunedin's Taieri Gorge, Railway, chocolate factory and Speights Brewery are rewarding visits. A scenic drive along the Peninsula with its rugged beaches and local wildlife is recommended.

Day 13 - Drive Dunedin -  Christchurch (approx 4 hours 45 mins) 

The sweeping Pacific Ocean coastline features during the drive north.  The unique Moeraki Boulders are definitely a worthwhile stop.  Enjoy the white sandstone architecture of Oamaru, recently awarded the title "Sharpest Town in New Zealand" with its pretty Victorian precinct featuring restored warehouses, hotels and commercial offices of the 1870's which are now workplaces for retailers, artists and artisans. Further north, there are ocean views from Caroline Bay at Timaru before reaching Christchurch city.

Day 14 - Depart Christchurch, drop off rental car at airport. 

You have the day at leisure until you make your way to Christchurch Airport for your departure flight.  

This South Island KiwiCombo road trip itinerary can be travelled in reverse and can be modified to suit your individual requirements. Suggested activities are a guideline to some of the special and unique experiences offered in each region but are optional and not included in the KiwiCombo Pass. However we can make reservations for you, just ask!

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