South Island Explorer w/Air from $2,499

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Round-trip International Economy airfare from Los Angeles
  • Add-on airfares available from other cities
  • Domestic New Zealand flights
  • All airline taxes & fees
  • 8 days car rental
  • 1 night Christchurch 4* accommodation
  • TranzAlpine train Christchurch to Greymouth
  • 1 night Punakaiki 4* accommodation
  • 1 night Franz Josef 4* accommodation
  • 3 nights Queenstown 4* accommodation
  • 1 night Mount Cook 4* accommodation
  • ** Sightseeing options and packages are available **
South Island Explorer w/Air

From Christchurch in the east traverse the Southern Alps by TranzAlpine rail. Self drive the west coast with it’s national parks, rugged coastline, glaciers and awe-inspiring scenery. Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, and a great location to explore Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. Head north to the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park including the highest peak in Australasia, Mount Cook.

 

 

 

VIEW ITINERARY

Day 1 – Depart US

Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.

 

Day 2 – Cross International Date line

 

Day 3 – Arrive Christchurch (via Auckland)

Explore Christchurch at your leisure or consider adding one of our boutique tour options. Ask a travel team agent for details.

 

Day 4 – TranzAlpine Train – Greymouth – Punakaiki

Depart Christchurch at 815am. The TranzAlpine is world renowned as ‘The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure’. Crossing the huge and fertile patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, The TranzAlpine winds its way over massive viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys, before tracking slowly across the country’s greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps. Following rivers and skirting lakes, it descends through lush beech forest to the Tasman Sea and the town of Greymouth. Collect rental vehicle and begin driving north to Punakaiki.

 

Greymouth to Punakaiki 45 km (28 miles) Approximately 0.5 hour

 

The Pancake Rocks that Punakaiki is famous for, are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay.

 

 

Day 5 – Punakaiki – Fox Glacier

Continue self drive south on west coast.

 

Punakaiki to Greymouth  45 km (28 miles) Approximately 0.5 hour

 

The road to Greymouth is breathtaking. White capped breakers and rugged rocks on one side, bush-clad mountains on the other side. The town of Runanga is a classic mining village – it offers an interesting walk to nearby Coal Creek Falls. To see interesting old gold mining areas, look for the Point Elizabeth walkway.

 

Greymouth to Hokitika 40 km (25 miles) Approximately 0.5 hour

 

Greymouth has a long gold mining history. It’s the largest town on the west coast and is known for its awesome seascapes. The local brewery runs tours or you can catch up with west coast history at the museum. The road between Greymouth and Hokitika provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour.

 

Hokitika to Franz Josef  133 km (83 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

 

Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a ‘frontier town’, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. The road to the glaciers is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval.

 

Franz Josef to Fox Glacier 23 km (14 miles) Approximately 0.25 hour

 

The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. While in the area, you can choose from a wide range of adventure activities.

 

Day 6 – Fox Glacier

Consider adding one of our tour options (additional cost):

 

Flying Fox Helihike

The fly-in, fly-out helihike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Equipped with leather boots and other equipment, you board the helicopter for your first flight over the pinnacles of the lower icefall. Here, the ice is in constant motion. Take in views of the dramatic upper icefall and Victoria Falls, which is the melt river of the hidden Victoria glacier, before landing. Your landing site on the ice is a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, your guide outfits you with crampons, specially designed for these ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here

Fox Trail Terminal Face Walk

This is an informative and leisurely trip to the dynamic face of the glacier. It is here that the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. This trip is for people with limited time or for those who would find the walks onto the glacier too strenuous. Although you will not walk on the glacier your guide will take you to the final resting place of the ice that has travelled 12 kilometres from the base of the Southern Alps, all the way to the river valley floor.

 

Fox Glacier to Haast  122 km (76 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

 

Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Next is pretty Lake Paringa, where you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm.

 

Haast to Wanaka 139 km (87 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours

 

The settlement of Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west. Lake Hawea is the first scenic highlight of your journey, followed closely by the northern end of Lake Wanaka. At the wilderness town of Makarora you can fuel up and refresh before you take on the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you arrive in rainforest country.

 

Wanaka to Queenstown  103 km (64 miles) Approximately 1.25 hours

 

The lakeside resort town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River.

 

The alpine resort of Queenstown is exciting and fantastically attractive. It’s the place to source almost any kind of adventure, including bungy, jet boating, horse trekking, rafting and river surfing. It’s also a destination for luxury experiences – gourmet food and wine, spa treatments and leisurely games of golf.

 

Days 7 & 8 – Queenstown

Explore Queenstown at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options (additional cost) – Some of our favorites:

 

Milford Fly Cruise Fly/Dart River Safaris Combo

Join your Milford Sound Scenic Flights crew at Queenstown Airport, Sir Henly Wigley Dr, Frankton, to commence a full day Milford Fly Cruise Fly/Dart River Safaris Combo tour. Fly from Queenstown to magnificent Milford to enjoy a launch cruise travelling the full length of Milford Sound. Return by scenic flight landing at Glenorchy to join Dart River Safaris to journey into the untouched wilderness of a World Heritage Area before coaching back to Queenstown. Tour concludes approximately 10 hours after commencement, at Queenstown Airport.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

An on board nature guide with specialist knowledge of the region’s history, flora and fauna provides detailed interpretation in English with a roving microphone. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and the towering peaks; and keep a lookout for wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. Coach or flight transfers available.

Appellation Central Wine Tours

Appellation Central offers guided tours showcasing Central Otago’s fine wine and cuisine. These tours venture into the heartland of Central Otago visiting vineyards in Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell. Small groups and custom fit minibuses ensure a relaxed and interactive day out from Queenstown and a great way to experience Central Otago.

Nomad Safari – Skippers Canyon

A half-day heritage tour that follows the rugged and once treacherous Skippers Road. Hacked by hand into the sheer cliff sides of the Shotover River Valley. Navigate this awe-inspiring canyon and visit many historic sites such as the Skippers Suspension Bridge, township of Skippers, and the restored school house – gain a real insight into the local heritage through photos and histories of life in this tough environment.

Queenstown Rafting Triple Challenge – Shotover Jet,Helicopter & WhiteWater Rafting

The Ultimate Adventure. Begin with the shotover jet, speed through rocky canyons and experience the Hamilton 360 spins. Climb aboard a helicopter for a spectacular flight into Skippers Canyon. Land at Deep Creek and meet your rafting guide, peaceful waters at first before hearing the roar of the”mother” section.

Zipline Ecotour

Commence an ecotour on Queenstown’s original zipline course and the perfect starter to your adventure experience. Comprised of four ziplines, starting and finishing at the top of the Skyline gondola, the tour is designed to start low and slow and gradually build your confidence as it gets progressively longer, higher and faster. All ages love the interaction this guided aerial tour has to offer.

 

Day 9 – Queenstown – Mount Cook

Self Drive to Mount Cook.

 

Queenstown to Omarama 164 km (103 miles) Approximately 2 hours

 

You’ll know you’re in Omarama when you see the giant merino sheep statue. This area’s unique geography has made it a magnet for gliding enthusiasts. The northwesterly wind blows steadily to form the famous Northwest Arch, a thermal that can take the glider pilots to 10,000 metres. Scenic soaring can be arranged.

 

Omarama to Twizal 30 km (19 miles) Approximately 0.5 hours

 

The easy drive from Omarama takes you through picturesque sheep farming country fringed with mountain ranges. Twizel is a well-placed base for mountain climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, horse trekking and hiking. It’s also a place to spy on the rarest wading bird in the world – the Black Stilt. If you don’t have the time to catch your own salmon, the local salmon farm sells it – fresh or smoked.

 

The Aoraki Mount Cook National Park includes the highest peak in Australasia (Mt Cook – 3755m). The region attracts mountain climbers, hikers and scenery fanatics. Heli skiing, heli hiking and aerial sightseeing provide visitors with amazing memories. A variety of walking trails begin in or near Mount Cook Village – most take only a couple of hours. In the bar of the local hotel, huge windows provide a perfect view of Mt Cook.

 

Day 10 – Mount Cook National Park

Relax or activity – there are 10 short walks beginning near the village. All tracks are formed and well marked. The Red Tarns Track, Kea Point and the Hooker Valley Track each take around two hours return.

 

 

Day 11 – Mount Cook – Christchurch & Depart for US

This morning drive to Christchurch. Return your rental car and depart for the US.

Pricing & Departures

Choose your travel dates from $2,499


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*Additional dates & other destinations are available, call a Travel team Agent for details at 1-800-788-0829

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Notes:
  • International Round-trip airfare included
  • Domestic New Zealand flights included
  • all airline taxes & fees included
  • Prices are per person based on double occupancy
  • Prices are subject to availability
  • Prices in US dollars unless otherwise noted
  • We have limited space on this package and it is subject to availability and prior sale
  • All package prices are per person based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted
  • Prices reflect cash discount
  • Due to constantly changing policies to baggage restrictions, please check with your airline directly for latest updates and restrictions
  • Information, including prices are subject to change without notice
  • Restrictions and change and/or cancel penalties apply
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