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Revel in the spectacular natural beauty of the South Island’s glaciers and sounds on this thrilling 8-day road trip. This package is perfect for first time visitors wanting to see and experience the best of Te Wahipounamu.
Tucked away at the bottom of the world, New Zealand is a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty: snow-capped mountains, sparkling fiords, shimmering lakes, lush rainforests, fast-moving glaciers and more. The South Island is especially breathtaking as the home of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area. This 26,000 square kilometre (10,039sqmi) encompasses several national parks in southwest New Zealand – Mount Cook (Aoraki, Fiordland, Mount Aspiring and Westland National Park. On this road trip, you will visit them all!
Departing from Christchurch, hit the road to see and experience the best of Te Wahipounamu. Drive ...
Departing from Christchurch, hit the road to see and experience the best of Te Wahipounamu. Drive New Zealand’s most scenic roads including the Crown Range and Milford Road. Admire the remarkable turquoise coloured Lake Tekapo and bask in the brooding shadow of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain. Cruise the majestic Milford Sound and hike the famous Routeburn Track as well as the mighty Franz Josef Glacier. You will also embark on one of the world’s great rail journeys, the TranzAlpine, and have the opportunity to explore diverse cities and towns including Christchurch and Queenstown at your own pace.
This exciting 8-day nature-focused self-drive package includes 7-nights’ superior hotel accommodation on a twin share basis. At the end of each fun-filled day, you will sleep in comfort and have access to luxurious facilities and amenities including swimming pools and spas. Six days full size car rental is included as well as activities and sightseeings as specified in the itinerary. Daily breakfast provided.
Discover the splendor of the South Island on this 8-day self-drive road trip. This sensational loop route is the perfect introduction to New Zealand’s glaciers and sounds.
This tour is eligible to earn ONLYLUXE reward points.
Driving Information: N/A
Arrive into Christchurch Airport and pick up your rental vehicle to begin your South Island biking and hiking adventure.
Spend the rest of the day exploring Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. Despite suffering extensive damage in the 2011 and 2016 earthquakes, Christchurch has blossomed into one of the world’s most unique destinations, combining urban regeneration and innovation with heritage, culture and exhilarating activity. Expect some of New Zealand’s oldest buildings alongside street art and innovation projects, a bustling hospitality scene and established green spaces. It’s easy to see why it is nicknamed “The Garden City”.
You’ll stay the night at The George. Centrally located overlooking Hagley Park and the Avon River, this 5-star boutique hotel typifies luxury at every level. Cosy up in one of 53 comfortable and stylish guestrooms featuring the bedding configuration of your choice, ensuite bathroom with premium toiletries, LCD TV, digital movie system and more. When you’re ready, the cafes, restaurants and bars are but a short walk away.
Driving Information: - Christchurch to Lake Tekapo: 225km/140mi | 2hrs 45min - Lake Tekapo to Queenstown: 256km/160mi | 3hrs
This morning make your way to the rental car airport depot, where you will collect your rental vehicle.
Departing Christchurch, travel inland along the Inland Scenic Route. This route will take you across the Canterbury Plains, an area of braided rivers and pastoral perfection between the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps. As flat as a billiard table, the plains are a remarkable sight – a patchwork of agricultural activity that ranges from grazing grass and wheat to herbs and sunflowers. The area produces more than 80% of New Zealand’s grains, crops and seeds.
About 3 hours into your drive, make a stop at Lake Tekapo. Located in the Mackenzie Basin, the township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky turquoise colour from the fine rock flour (ground by glaciers), which is suspended in the water. On the shores of the lake, you’ll see the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, where the alter window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the lake.
When you’re ready, continue south to Queenstown. Surrounded by the towering Remarkables mountain range and positioned on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a hub of adventure, thrumming with adrenaline and an omnipresent sense of fun. You’ll stay the next 3-nights at Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort. Boasting immediate lake frontage, this 4.5-star resort offers luxurious and spacious apartments, most with gas fireplaces and balconies with spectacular views. Make the most facilities including landscaped courtyard with barbeque facilities, gymnasium and sauna.
Driving Information: N/A
Rise early to tick off a bucket list item, the fantastical Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound (Piopiotahi).
Departing Queenstown at 7:00am, travel south through farming countryside to Te Anau aboard a new, glass-roof coach. From Te Anau, the overland journey to Milford Sound (via the Milford Road) is a showcase of sheer mountains and towering cliffs, rugged valleys and native rainforest surrounded by cascading waterfalls and glacial lakes. Experienced drivers tailor each journey to ensure the best photo stops along the way.
On reaching Milford Sound, embark on a scenic cruise along the length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea. Aboard a modern, spacious catamaran, discover wildlife including dolphins, seals and penguins and witness the phenomenon known as deep-water emergence, where species usually found at great depths are found just metres below the surface. An informative commentary is provided highlighting points of interest, and the wheelhouse is open to speak with the skipper. A picnic lunch is provided on board.
Following the cruise, return to Queenstown by coach or scenic flight (additional cost). The 40-minute scenic flight offers panoramic views over untouched wilderness and stunning alpine scenery, with breathtaking views of Milford Sound and the Southern Alps.
Walking Information: Routeburn Track: 13-18km/8-11mi | 5hrs (9 hours including travel time) | Moderate
Today, you will embark on a full day trek on the famous Routeburn Track. A link between the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks, the track is famous for its soaring mountain peaks, huge valleys, waterfalls and jewel-like lakes.
This Great Walk begins with a gradual ascent through a magical world of ferns, mosses, lichens and beech forest. Explore the forgotten paths of the Maori as you travel along their old greenstone (Pounamu) trails, finding enchantment around every corner. You will be teased with views of the burn and high peaks between the trees. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of native and migratory birds including tomtits, robins, fantails, wood pigeons and bellbirds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the cheeky kea, the world’s only alpine parrot.
Just 2.5 hours down the track, the woodland parts to reveal the rich alpine pastures of the Routeburn Flats, overlooked on all sides by sky scraping mountains, some so high they have permafrost. The Flats is a pristine spot to stop for a Kiwi style picnic lunch.
After lunch, turn and enjoy the valley in reverse. Each new angle is sure to reveal new treasures!
Driving Information: Queenstown to Franz Josef: 351km/218mi | 4hrs 40mins
Hit the road for the scenic drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef. The drive is lengthy but beautiful, with a number of interesting stops along the way.
Departing Queenstown, travel north via the Crown Range. The road over the range, known as the Crown Range Road, is the highest main road in New Zealand. As you navigate the bends, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains, lakes and old gold mining country.
First stop, Wanaka. Named for shimmering Lake Wanaka, this genuine alpine town has a reputation for great food and wine, with a wide variety of lakefront bars, cafes and restaurants serving exceptional local cuisine, plus a wealth of artisans producing award-winning wine, beer, spirits, bread, and even ice cream. Be sure to visit the local farmer’s markets to try some of the region’s best produce.
Continue on westwards towards Haast, a region so spectacular UNESCO awarded it World Heritage status. From Haast to Jackson Bay, there are beautiful beaches, dunes, lakes and wetlands, with many Department of Conservation walks for you to explore. Jackson Bay is one of the most remote villages in New Zealand. Make sure to sample the local whitebait – the tiny, transparent fish are considered a delicacy!
Arrive into Franz Josef, a small but lively village surrounded by lush rainforest with high snow-capped Alps above. You’ll stay the night at Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier. Located in the heart of the village, this 4-star hotel offers everything you need to be able to explore this dramatic region in comfort and style. With an exceptional restaurant serving heart West Coast fare, and the Moa Bar with its open fireplace, you are never without choice. Plus, with the private hot pools and the Amaia Luxury Spa close by, you can enjoy time out to rejuvenate after your long drive.
Take flight in a helicopter for jaw dropping aerial views of the mighty Franz Josef Glacier (Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere). While glaciers around the world are retreating, the Franz Josef Glacier – named for an Austrian emperor – still flows almost to sea level around 10 times faster than most valley glaciers. Your pilot will land you high up on the glacier itself, where your guide will help you make the final preparations for your hike before you head off to explore the pristine features of this incredible landscape.
Your highly skilled guide will lead you through the safest and most spectacular route available on the glacier. Because the glacier is so fast moving, its features are constantly changing – you might find yourself sliding through a narrow crevasse or between towering walls of ice, crawling through blue tunnels, or witnessing the glacier calving. You can be sure that you are seeing the glacier in a unique state and no 2 trips are ever quite the same.
During your hike your guide will share with you the story of Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, their knowledge of the glacier and surrounding area and insight on why Franz Josef is so unique. You'll come away from your trip not only with a sense of awe at this majestic beauty, but a whole new understanding of why this precious landmark is so special.
After the heli-hike, venture over the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools to warm up. Nestled in lush rainforest, these hot pools are a haven of natural tranquillity. Make your way through the 3 main pools and enjoy temperatures ranging from 36 to 40 degrees Celsius (97 to 104F).
Driving Information: Franz Josef - Greymouth
Travel north this morning up the wild, west coast. You may wish to make time to detour to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, a limestone landscape of pancake-shaped rock formations, blowholes and surge pools. Blow holes form from a mixture of compressed water and air escaping through the caverns below and being forced upwards, creating a huge wall of spray. They are at their best around high tide when there is a southwesterly swell.
Arrive at Greymouth and return your rental car to the train depot. You may then embark on one of the world’s great rail journeys aboard the TranzAlpine train. Along this 223-kilometre (139mi) journey, you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. You’ll also traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, which you will undoubtedly remember from the start of your holiday.
Upon arrival in Christchurch, enjoy a private transfer to your accommodation at The George.
All good things must come to an end! Check out by 11:00am and transfer to the airport.
NOTE: This itinerary is provided as an example only – prevailing conditions and local arrangements may cause variation.
Daily departure on request. Please contact us for private departures and group bookings. Single Supplement is available. Surcharge applies to festival/holiday season.
- The start and finish point is Christchurch, New Zealand
New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as – 10°C (14°F) in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine.
Because New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel south. The far north of the country has an average temperature of about 15°C (59°F), while the deep south has a cooler 9°C (48°F) average. January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest.
Onlyluxe Travel acts as travel agency and work with different tour operators.Payment DetailAll pricing is in Australian dollars and are quoted on a per person twin share basis. A supplementary price is available (see below). Bookings are not confirmed until full payment and the signed Booking Form has been received by Onlyluxe Travel.A non-refundable 30% deposit is payable within 7 days of your booking, with the final balance due 60 days prior to departure. If a booking is made 60 days or less before departure, the full payment is payable immediately. Last minute bookings are payable before arrival. Failure to pay on time may result in automatic cancellation of a booking with cancellation penalties payable to Onlyluxe Travel. If you pay by credit card or PayPal a surcharge will be added to the total price.Single SupplementAll accommodation is twin share. Single guests will share with someone of the same gender. If a single room is demanded, a supplementary price of will apply. The supplementary price refers to our quotation and needs to be stipulated at the time of booking.General Cancellation Policies- Outside of 60 days monies will be refunded less 30% of full fee- Within 60 days prior to arrival all monies will be forfeited- No refunds will be given in the event of non-arrival, any unused services or unused nights due to flight or weather disruption- We strongly recommend guests protect themselves with travel insurance and medical insurancePlease Note: Cancellations must be advised in email and will take effect from the date they are received.LiabilityThe participant agrees to indemnify Onlyluxe Travel, and its servant, tour operator and agents, in relation to any liability, loss and damage which the tour operator, or its servants and/or agents may incur as a result of the participants, negligence or misconduct during the tour.Smoking is not permitted on the bus, or in tents or in other accommodation being used by tour operator at the time that a trip is being conducted.Child PolicyPlease consult travel consultant on age limit.Changes to ItinerariesLocal conditions may necessitate changes to sightseeing, walking and driving routes, camping and accommodation locations. While every effort will be made to provide the services and experiences as offered in our brochure, on our website, and in our trip letters, we reserve the right to vary your itinerary. In the event that we are forced to change your arrangements, substitute arrangements of a similar standard will be provided. The tour operator will not be liable where interruptions to itineraries are caused by weather conditions, technical problems to transport used by the tour operator, industrial action, political or civil commotion or other circumstances beyond our control. We refer you to the conditions regarding travel insurance.Changes in PricesWhile we will do its utmost to honour its pricing unforeseen circumstances may mean that prices may be subject to change without notice.Pre-Existing Medical Conditions and Age LimitsYou need to advise Onlyluxe travel and the tour operator on any pre-existing medical condition, mobility impairment and/or disability that might reasonably be expected to increase the risk of your requiring medical attention, or that might affect the normal conduct of a trip and the enjoyment of other trip members. Onlyluxe Travel and the tour operator may require an assessment of your medical condition from a qualified medical practitioner. If you fail to adequately notify the tour operator of any pre-existing medical conditions and/or disability, the tour operator reserves the right, at its reasonable discretion, to cancel your participation in a trip at any time, including after the commencement of your trip, with no right of refund if your medical condition, mobility impairment and/or disability could be reasonably expected to affect the normal conduct of the trip and the enjoyment of other trip members.Cancellation by The Tour OperatorThe walks take place in very special wilderness settings. The tour operator is at the mercy of nature in all her beauty and all her fury. The tour operator will under no circumstance knowingly place at risk the health and well-being of our guests and guides. In the case of natural threats, acts of God and the like (e.g. bushfires, impassable snow, etc) the tour operator may need to cancel a walk with very little notice. In some cases, this can occur after the walk has commenced. The tour operator reserves the right to cancel any walk up to 60 days prior to departure if a minimum of 4 walkers are unable to meet for a tour. If the tour operator needs to cancel for any reason, the cost of the walk or any other costs associated with travel to the designated pick up point, overnight accommodation, meals, etc will not be covered by the Onlyluxe Travel and therefore we strongly recommend travel insurance be taken out prior to travel.Force Majeure'Force Majeure' means (without restriction) any event which Onlyluxe Travel or its third party providers could not, even with due care, foresee or avoid. Force Majeure covers events such as, but not limited to, adverse weather conditions, fire and all similar events beyond our control. In the case of Force Majeure Onlyluxe Travel will not accept liability, and reserves the right to change and cancel trips.EvacuationsIn rare circumstances, due to injury or unforeseen illness, the tour operator may need to evacuate you from a remote part of the walk. Helicopter evacuations are expensive and in most cases will be at a cost to the customer.For Australian residents, under the Australian Government Medicare Act, it is prohibited for any domestic travel insurance product to provide any financial reimbursement with regard to ambulance or air ambulance services. We therefore strongly advise our customers to take specific ambulance cover through their health insurance provider. Evacuation cost will not be covered by the Onlyluxe Travel and therefore it is also strongly recommended that our customers take out travel insurance to cover (amongst other things) the costs associated with evacuation.Travel InsuranceIn view of the heavy cancellation penalties applied to cancelled reservations in certain circumstances, we strongly recommends suitable travel insurance be purchased at the time the holding deposit is paid. We recommend insurance cover that covers any loss which may be suffered due to cancellation. We also strongly recommend comprehensive travel insurance against loss of baggage and medical expenses.