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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour 

15 days from Christchurch to Christchurch

Explore and enjoy some of New Zealand's unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 15 day South Island tour.  You begin with an Akaroa Harbour Nature cruise which takes you out to see the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.  In Dunedin you’ll enjoy a full day encounter with the unique marine life that inhabits the Otago Peninsula before heading south towards Fiordland National Park.  Experience the ‘Sound of Silence’ with an overnight cruise in the remote untouched wilderness of Doubtful Sound. No South Island trip is complete without time spent in the alpine playground of Queenstown then you continue to the beautiful West Coast.  Here you’ll marvel at the glaciers during your on-ice adventure, before crossing the Southern Alps on board the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train back to Christchurch.

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 This suggested tour costs from per person (twin share, low season) (get instant quote here)
 15 days/14 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Motels (Can be customised? YES )
 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible
 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers
 Tour pack: Includes detailed driving instructions, maps, guide books and much more
 This tour can be customised to suit you precisely - just request here

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TranzAlpine train, New Zealand
Fur seal, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin
 

15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch City
Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

Day 2: Your rental car is delivered then travel over the Port Hills to the French settlement of Akaroa before exploring the wildlife of the harbour
Accommodation: Criterion Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 3: Akaroa to Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage Area. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre
Accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 4: Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South
Accommodation: Motel on York
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 312 kms / 194 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 5: Explore Dunedin Peninsula and visit one of the world's rarest birds, the Yellow Eyed Penguin
Accommodation: Motel on York

Day 6: Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Accommodation: Lakefront Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

Day 7: Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

Day 8: You return to Manapouri at midday then head north to Queenstown
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

Day 9: Explore and enjoy Queenstown at leisure today
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Day 10: Queenstown to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 11: Explore the flora and fauna of this unique West Coast Lodge
Accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Day 12: Lake Moeraki to the West Coast Glaciers
Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.4 hours

Day 13: Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers with an exciting Heli-hike
Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Day 14: Head north to Greymouth before catching the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch
Accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 15: Depart Christchurch today

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch City

Private transfer Christchurch airport to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by a private driver and delivered to your Christchurch accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Ticket

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

Originally built in the 1880's, Merivale Manor has been transformed into elegant motel and apartment accommodation. Less than 200 metres to central Merivale with its premier shopping, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Merivale Manor Motel

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 2

Day 2 - Your rental car is delivered then travel over the Port Hills to the French settlement of Akaroa before exploring the wildlife of the harbour

Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.  To help you on your way GPS is included with all rentals.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised. 

Your accommodation: Criterion Motel

The Criterion Motel offers studio apartments with spectacular views over Akaroa Harbour. You're also just a short walk from the fantastic cafes and restaurants that Akaroa offers.
Criterion Motel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 3

Day 3 - Akaroa to Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage Area. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.

Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

The Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre pays tribute to one of New Zealand's greatest characters - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers. Showcasing the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium. this informative experience is one to remember.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.
Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South

Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

A short drive south along the spectacular Mt Cook Highway to join the main road south and onto Twizel. Twizel occupies a central location in the Mt. Cook/ Mackenzie region, with the Southern Alps as a backdrop, the town is close to five picturesque lakes, including a world-standard rowing course and Formula One class boating area at Lake Ruataniwha. It’s a fishing mecca so if catching salmon, brown or rainbow trout is what you dream of then don’t go past any of Twizel's rivers, lakes or canals. For the adventurous Twizel's terrain is ideal for skydiving, rock and mountain climbing and close by is Ohau ski field and in Tekapo Round Hill ski field is ideal for families. Twizel has a rich but brief history linked to the development of the massive Waitaki Valley hydroelectric scheme. The town started life as a temporary place for the workers on the scheme and when completed the land and buildings were sold off in government lotteries. Now it’s a holiday home paradise.

Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. It offers superior luxury accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants. Qualmark 5 star rated.
Motel on York

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 312 kms / 194 miles : 3.6 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 5

Day 5 - Explore Dunedin Peninsula and visit one of the world's rarest birds, the Yellow Eyed Penguin

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. It offers superior luxury accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants. Qualmark 5 star rated.
Motel on York

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 6

Day 6 - Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Dunedin to Te Anau

Go through classic Southland farming scenery as you make your way to Te-Anau. Follow the coastline instead of the inland route for a more scenic drive. Pass the The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point for a spectacular view of majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Bypass Invercargill en-route to Riverton and Colac Bay, then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.
You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation: Lakefront Lodge

Stylish self contained motel units less than one minute walk from Te Anau Lakefront. Close to shops, cafes and restaurants.
Lakefront Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness

Te Anau to Manapouri

Head along lake Te Anau through lush southern farmlands to the township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon and observation lounge.

Meals included: Dinner

Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 8

Day 8 - You return to Manapouri at midday then head north to Queenstown

Manapouri to Queenstown

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussocklands, pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through lush Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over your approach to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 166 kms / 103 miles : 2.0 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 9

Day 9 - Explore and enjoy Queenstown at leisure today

Experience the wonders of Queenstown

Renowned as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ Queenstown is not just an action destination. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the (truly remarkable) Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is a melting pot of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Follow the vines through Gibbston Valley as you sample the region’s best wine. Stop at the Chard Farm cellar door, visit the award-winning Peregrine vineyard or take a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship - the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

Your accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

The Garden Court Suites and Apartments are located just seven minutes walk from the heart of Queenstown. Self contained apartment rooms provide everything you need for your stay.
Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 10

Day 10 - Queenstown to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

Queenstown to Lake Moeraki

Crossing the Crown Range, the highest sealed road in the country, you arrive into the alpine town of Wanaka. The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the township of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Blue Pools here are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. The tranquil bush surroundings of Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki are just a few extra kilometres.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins, untouched lowland rainforests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow capped Southern Alps. Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki in the heart of the 2.7 million hectares South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Meals included: Dinner

Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.9 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 11

Day 11 - Explore the flora and fauna of this unique West Coast Lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Complimentary Guided Nature Activities:

Twice daily complimentary activities are led by expert naturalists and introduce guests to the area remarkable natural history (approx. 1-hour duration each). Some of the activities on offer include:

  • Discovery the Ancient Rainforest: Join an ecologist guide to learn about the remarkable diversity of life in the rainforest
  • Freshwater Ecology and Giant Eel Feeding: Discover what lies beneath the surface of the Moeraki River and handfeed the world’s largest freshwater eels.
  • Glow Worms and Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A relaxed stroll after dinner to see glow worms light up the forest and marvel at a sky completely free from light or atmospheric pollution.
  • Learn Easy Kayaking: Learn to use a safe and stable ‘minnow’ kayak and explore the calm waters of Lake Moeraki

Longer Charged Guided Activities:

Join a guide to explore further afield. These trips are generally 3 to 4 hours in length and are a great way to learn about wild New Zealand. Some of the activities on offer include:

  • Tawaki Penguin Discovery Hike: Join a guide and hike to a secluded wilderness beach. Watch Tawaki penguins emerge from the Tasman Sea and make their way to their rainforest nests.
  • Hard Seacoast, Tawaki Penguin and New Zealand Fur Seals Wilderness Adventure: This is a dramatic and challenging wet footed walk. It involves wildlife viewing, scrambling over beach rocks and along spectacularly wild beaches. A good level of fitness required.
  • Easy Seacoast, Hector's Dolphin and Beach Fossicking Adventure: Explore a dramatic expanse of wilderness seacoast. Watch dolphins ride the breakers, search for jade and other beach treasures and learn about marine life of the rock reefs and tidepools.
  • Lake Moeraki Kayak Safari to Glacier Beach and The Giant Matai Trees: Join a guide in our safe and stable kayaks to paddle Lake Moeraki. Enjoy refreshments on a sandy beach and walk beneath giant rainforest Matai trees.
  • Lower Moeraki Rainforest Hike and Kayak to the Tasman Sea. Marvel at the diversity of life in the rainforest. Hike and kayak through ancient rainforest to the mouth of the Moeraki River, search for jade and enjoy refreshments beside the wild Tasman Sea.

Self-Guided Activity Options:

  • Explore a 10km network of walking trails. Stroll beneath 1000-year-old rainforest trees, along rivers and lakeshores and visit a beach home to Tawaki penguins.
  • Borrow a complimentary guest kayak and discover the calm waters of Lake Moeraki. You may like to hire a fishing rod and try your luck catching a brown trout.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and soak up the rainforest and river views.

Your accommodation: Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins, untouched lowland rainforests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow capped Southern Alps. Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki in the heart of the 2.7 million hectares South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 12

Day 12 - Lake Moeraki to the West Coast Glaciers

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Continuing along the wild west coast you pass through ancient podocarp forests. At Knights Point Lookout an interesting display tells of shipwrecks in the region and at the right time of year you can see elephant seals basking on the far beaches.
First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township. Historic Gillespie's Beach, a wilderness of crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains, known for its seal colony and colourful gold mining history, is 25 minutes west by car. Access to Fox Glacier is well signposted from the highway and a short walk will reward you with some great views of the largest of the West Coast glaciers.
Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes and a great way to experience the glaciers is with The Helicopter Line or Mt. Cook ski planes.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twin Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight with The Helicopter Line

Take a spectacular scenic flight over two of New Zealand's most famous glaciers. Land at the head of one and view the incredible sight of this frozen river as it winds its way through ancient carved valleys. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line's operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

Meals included: Breakfast

Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.4 hours

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 13

Day 13 - Explore Franz Josef and the glaciers with an exciting Heli-hike

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.
Punga Grove Motel & Suites

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 14

Day 14 - Head north to Greymouth before catching the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Your drive today takes you north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. This seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s and is known for its Greenstone (Pounamu). Take in the endless sea-views from the coast and pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops before moving on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monteiths Brewery Personalised Bottle & Tour

From humble origins in 1868, the Monteith's family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast's most popular brewery for its strong tasting, full-bodied ale. The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today's Monteith's Brewing Company. In this informative brewery experience, you will learn about the heritage and traditions of the brewing business. Witness the making of a fine beer in open fermenters by coal-fired boilers, using only the finest ingredients. Watch the brewers carefully hand craft the beer in small batches to develop the full natural flavours. When each batch is ready, the brewers employ a brilliant time honoured tradition for quality control - they taste it.

On completion, you will receive a tasting a 3 beers of your choice from the tap at the Brewery bar, plus your very own personalised Monteith's 500ml bottle with your name on it - a personalised endorsement from the head brewer himself.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Crossing the south from Greymouth to Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine is considered one of the worlds greatest train journeys. You'll travel from east to the west of the south island through Arthur's Pass National Park.

From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private transfer Christchurch train station to your accommodation

On arrival into the Christchurch train station you will be met by a private transfer driver and taken to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Merivale Manor Motel

Originally built in the 1880's, Merivale Manor has been transformed into elegant motel and apartment accommodation. Less than 200 metres to central Merivale with its premier shopping, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Merivale Manor Motel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

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Day 15 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer to Christchurch airport

You will be collected from your accommodation and a private transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport in time for your departing flight.

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