New Zealand’s Spectacular South Island

Adventures abound on New Zealand's South Island, where you explore pristine lakes and the spectacular landscapes of Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s premier attractions. Go trekking, mountain biking and enjoy dolphin encounters.

Country Information

New Zealand

There is no bad time to visit New Zealand. Plan your trip around your interests, whether that is skiing the Southern Alps or kayaking on mountain lakes. The Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are the opposite of those in North America. Summer lasts from December to February. Spring is September through November. Autumn is from March to May. Winter runs June through August.


New Zealand's Spectacular South Island Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

New Zealand

(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel


Adventure Travel

(Tour Length)

8 Days

Tour Highlights

Starting at: $9,190
  • Explore pristine lakes and landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island
  • Visit Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most spectacular valleys, lakes and summits
  • Discover the wealth of adventure option in Queenstown, ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ from mountain bikes to trekking in stunning landscapes to hot air ballooning
  • Take in Christchurch, where you also have the opportunity to swim with dusky dolphins in their natural environment off the coast, and go on a whale watching excursion to see sperm whales
  • Big Five seeks to work with sustainable entities wherever possible, and that includes areas such as the township of Kaikoura, which, in 2002 was the first local authority in the world to become a Green Globe certified community.  In addition, nearly every local hotel such as Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses have clearly defined sustainable goals such as restoring habitat through planting native trees and re-introducing native bird species


Day 1:  Arrive Queenstown, New Zealand
Upon arrival at Queenstown, you will be welcomed by a representative, who will hand over your New Zealand documentation, and assist you with getting your full-size automatic rental car.  The rental includes daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  You drive to your lodge, which will be your home for the next three nights.  Queenstown is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’.  Set on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, amid the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, the scenery provides a perfect backdrop for endless activities and an idyllic haven in which to relax.  The lodge has only ten rooms, and is set in nine acres of native and exotic bush, boasting outstanding uninterrupted lake and mountain views.  You can opt for a relaxing spa treatment in New Zealand’s first organic spa.  Matakauri Lodge Closeburn – Double/Twin Deluxe Suite (D)

Day 2:  Milford Sound
Today you experience majestic Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural areas.  Upon arrival at Milford Sound, board a specially designed vessel for a breathtaking cruise on the fiord to the Tasman Sea.  Sheer rock walls, waterfalls and the mile-high monolith of Mitre Peak, a remarkable presence dominating the skyline, serve as the backdrop for a memorable picnic lunch.  Your return to Queenstown late afternoon is via a scenic flight over alpine lakes and the glaciers of the Olivine Ice Plateau (weather dependent).  Upon arrival at Queenstown Airport, you return to your lodge by coach.   Matakauri Lodge Closeburn – Double/Twin Deluxe Suite (B,L,D)

Day 3:  Queenstown
Today is to spend as you wish.   The area has an abundance of optional activities from which to choose.  On the menu: private guided tours to boutique wineries of Central Otago, golf, hot air ballooning, a visit to the surreal landscapes where the ‘Lord of the Rings’ was filmed, a gondola ride to Bob’s Peak, and a look at the historic gold mining settlement of Arrowtown.  Horse riding, hiking, whitewater rafting and sky diving are also on the list.  Matakauri Lodge Closeburn – Double/Twin Deluxe Suite (B,D)

Day 4:  Queenstown / Christchurch / Kaikoura
This morning, drive to Queenstown Airport and return your rental vehicle.  Board your onward flight to Christchurch.  On arrival at Christchurch Airport, you will be pick up your next full-size automatic rental vehicle, including daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  Drive north to Kaikoura (approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes).  Kaikoura is a seaside settlement on a peninsula on the rugged east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, with often snowcapped mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop.  Hapuku Lodge – A Double/Twin One Bedroom Tree House (B,D)

Day 5:  Kaikoura
This morning, enjoy a Dolphin Encounter cruise, with the pioneers of dolphin swimming in New Zealand.  They have developed and refined their programs for those wishing to enhance their understanding of dolphins in their natural environment, a truly unique experience.  The dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters off Kaikoura all year round, making this a unique site where wild dolphins can be encountered every day, weather permitting.  (Approximately 3 hours duration).  Optional excursions include a whale-watching excursion that provides the opportunity to see sperm whales, dolphins and fur seals.  The giant sperm whales are also year-round residents.  You may also see humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales.  Kaikoura often sees the appearance of the world's largest dolphin, the Orca, as well as being home to the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's.  An optional Maori excursion lets you discover the culture and hospitality of the Maori people.  Kaikoura is rich in Maori history.  The stories of ancestors echo through the voices of today.  Hapuku Lodge – A Double/Twin One Bedroom Tree House (B,D)

Day 6:  Kaikoura / Wellington / Palliser Bay
This morning, you drive to Picton Ferry Terminal and return your rental vehicle (approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes drive).  Board the InterIslander Ferry for the 92-kilometer/57-mile journey between Picton and Wellington on the North Island.  The journey takes only three hours and has been described as "one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world".  Take in the spectacular views of Queen Charlotte Sound, the wide expanse of the Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour.  On arrival at Wellington Ferry Terminal, collect your full-size automatic rental vehicle, which includes daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  Drive to north via the Rimutaka Ranges to Palliser Bay (approximately 2 hours drive) Wharekauhau Estate and its three adjoining properties comprise a 2023-hectare/5,000-acre working sheep station spread among  forests, lakes, mountains, bush and open country as well as 16 miles of dramatic coastline.  Wharekauhau Country Estate – Double/Twin Cottage Suite (D)

Day 7:  Palliser Bay
This morning, you will explore this remote working ranch by 4x4 vehicle.  It is surrounded by ancient, native forests, spectacular beaches, bountiful rivers and tranquil lakes.  The main Lodge is modeled on the lines of an Edwardian country mansion with grand hall, open wood-burning fireplaces, mullioned windows and country style kitchen.  The remainder of the day here is at leisure for you to enjoy optional activities that include archery, clay target shooting, jet boating, ATV Quad bikes, horse trekking, spa treatments, scenic helicopter flights, and seal colony and lighthouse tour.  You can also choose to explore the Martinborough wine-growing region, an easy drive from Wharekauhau.  Martinborough’s wines are internationally acclaimed, particularly its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Wharekauhau Country Estate – Double/Twin Cottage Suite (D)

Day 8:  Palliser Bay / Wellington / Auckland / Depart
This morning drive to Wellington Airport (approximately 2 hours drive).  Return your rental vehicle prior to boarding the flight to Auckland.  On arrival at Auckland Airport, you will be met by your private car and driver and transferred to the International Airport for your onward flight.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $9,190

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