9 Days Southern Circle with TranzAlpine Train
9 Days | South Island
A journey of contrasts visiting the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park with its spectacular peaks and including the world renowned TranzAlpine train journey.
(01 Oct 2017 - 30 Apr 2018)
NZ$1325 per person
(01 May - 30 Sep 2017)
NZ$1145 per person
- 6 nights gold and 2 nights blue motel accommodation
- 8 days small rental car hire
- TranzAlpine train journey from Greymouth to Christchurch
- welcome voucher wallet & driving maps
- expert itinerary planning & booking service
- 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Prices are per person, share twin/double room and in NZ$
Explore the Otago Peninsula from Dunedin and eco wonders of remote Milford Sound. Wine and adventure of Queenstown resort on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the beautiful, lush West Coast glacier region where the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier tower behind dense rainforests. The world renowned TranzAlpine train, one of the world's great train journeys, promises to be the trip highlight.
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 - Twizel (approx 4 hours) Travel through rolling green farmland and several quaint rural towns including charming Geraldine with its chocolate shop and renowned Barker's jam store, Fairlie and Kimbell. Continue to the stunning turquoise blue glacial lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki before reaching today's destination - the alpine village of Twizel. An optional side trip to the Mt Cook village in the heart of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is worthwhile if time allows. Twizel is a small township located near Aoraki Mount Cook which was originally created to provide a home for workers involved with the Upper Waitaki Power Scheme. Today it is a well-positioned base for exploring the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.
Day 3 - Drive Twizel - Dunedin (approx 3 hours, 45 mins) Pass beautiful Lake Ruataniwha to Omarama then follow the shores of Lake Benmore, Lake Aviemore and Lake Waitaki as you steadily descend to the coast. Oamaru's white sandstone architecture and historic Victorian precinct make this town a worthwhile stop. Perhaps visit the huge spherical Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach, an amazing geological phenomenon, and quaint fishing village of Moeraki. Destination is Dunedin, the vibrant "Edinburgh of the South" with its Victorian and Edwardian architecture and close proximity to the wildlife habitats on Otago Peninsula.
Day 4 - Drive Dunedin - Te Anau (approx 4 hours, 10 mins) Pass Lake Waihola and cross the Taieri Plains to the Clutha River at Balclutha before heading inland and on to the Southland Plains. Sheep farms dominate the velvet green landscape to the rural hub of Gore before reaching Te Anau, the gateway to the majestic Fiordland National Park. A short side trip to beautiful Lake Manapouri is worthwhile. Te Anau's strategic location to both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves and its own magical surroundings make it a perfect destination.
Day 5 - Drive Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown (approx 1 hour, 45 mins + 4 hours) Follow Lake Te Anau's sweeping shores into the stunning Fiordland National Park. Suggested view points include the glassy Mirror Lakes and tranquil Lake Gunn before entering the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel for the descent into magnificent Milford Sound. Mitre Peak dominates the serenity of this dramatic fiord, fringed by lush rainforest and sheer rock walls with cascading waterfalls. Retrace the spectacular Milford Road to Te Anau, before heading northwards towards Queenstown. Enjoy the extraordinary drive alongside Lake Wakatipu, with the majestic backdrop of the Remarkables Mountains, as the vibrant alpine resort comes in to view.
Day 6 - Queenstown at leisure. Queenstown's vast array of outstanding activities includes thrilling river jet boating, out back 4WD trips, white water rafting, bungy jumping, tandem skydiving, hot air ballooning, mountain bike and hiking trails. For a more relaxing day perhaps choose a scenic lake cruise in the historic TSS Earnslaw, visit a high country farm, play a round of golf at one of the many world class courses, ride on the Skyline Gondola for breathtaking views, take a guided Lord of the Rings film site tour or a guided winery tour. Visit historic Arrowtown for insights into the early gold mining days. Queenstown's enticing cafes, restaurants and nightlife will complete the day.
Day 7 - Drive Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier (approx 4 hours, 40 mins) Drive along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea with their impressive mountain backdrops and on through the imposing Mount Aspiring National Park with it's extraordinary beauty. Continue through Haast Pass, then follow the Haast River to the coast. Stop at Knight Point for outstanding coastal views of the Tasman Sea, peaceful Lake Moeraki and Lake Paringa to enter the Westland National Park. Pass through the Fox Glacier village to Franz Josef Glacier township with its exciting outdoor activities such as guided glacier hikes, scenic helicopter flights, kayaking on nearby lakes. A soak in the hot pools completes a star studded day.
Day 8 - Drive Franz Josef - Greymouth (approx 2 hours, 20 mins) Drive through lush native forests past the mirror lakes of Mapourika and Ianthe to Hokitika. Steeped in rich gold mining history, Hokitika is also known for it's "pounamu" (greenstone or jade) studios. If time permits perhaps an optional stop at the Treetops Walkway for outstanding alpine and forest views. Continue on to the river town of Greymouth, the largest town on the South Island's West Coast. Drop off your rental car and board the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiseled alpine landscape will take your breath away at every turn. Continue to enjoy more thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River onto the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and on to your final destination, Christchurch.
Day 9 - Depart Christchurch. 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!