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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour 

16 days from Christchurch to Christchurch

This loop of the lower South Island follows much of the spectacular coastline where wildlife abounds.  In Dunedin you’ll enjoy a full day encounter with the unique marine life that inhabits the Otago Peninsula before heading south along the wild Catlins coastline to the deep south.  A real highlight of this tour is exploring the remote Stewart Island, including a guided walk on Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary. As well as the iconic Milford Sound, you’ll also venture into Mt Aspiring National Park on a Dart River Jetboat Safari from Queenstown.  On the beautiful West Coast 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)
 16 days/15 nights from Christchurch to Christchurch
 Accommodation suggested on this tour is: Boutique lodges & hotels (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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Akaroa, Banks Peninsula
Franz Josef Glacier
 

16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - at a glance (See detailed itinerary)

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch City
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Day 2: Take a day trip to the French settlement of Akaroa
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 153 kms / 95 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 3: Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 4: Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 5: Discover the variety of wildlife that live on the Otago Peninsula
Accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Day 6: Take the Southern Scenic Route along the South Otago and Catlins coastline to Invercargill
Accommodation: Safari Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 236 kms / 146 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 7: Fly from Invercargill to Stewart Island
Accommodation: Sails Ashore Stewart Island

Day 8: Explore remote Stewart Island and guided trip to the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Island
Accommodation: Sails Ashore Stewart Island

Day 9: After landing in Invercargill take the Southern Scenic Route to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 10: Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound where you'll enjoy an amazing nature cruise
Accommodation: Te Anau Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

Day 11: Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 12: Dart River Wilderness Safari, then explore Queenstown
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Day 13: Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

Day 14: Explore the Franz Josef Glacier region by air and foot
Accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Day 15: Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch
Accommodation: Orari Bed and Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 170 kms / 106 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 16: Depart Christchurch today

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 1

Day 1 - Arrive into 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.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Known as New Zealand's garden city, Christchurch is a vibrant metro area. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. Take the double decker hop on/hop off bus for an easy way to see the sights, or ride a historic tram across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the cardboard Transitional Cathedral.

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: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.
Orari Bed and Breakfast

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 2

Day 2 - Take a day trip to the French settlement of Akaroa

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.

Akaroa and The Banks Peninsula

Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. An easy 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 plus, wineries, great cafes and restaurants and abundant wildlife.
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 Governors Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula 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: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 153 kms / 95 miles : 2.4 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 3

Day 3 - Today you'll enjoy a scenic drive through Canterbury and the MacKenzie Country

Christchurch to Mt. Cook National Park

Drive through the heart of the South Island today, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Stop for a breather in Geraldine before continuing into Mackenzie Country. As you head over Burkes pass you'll come to the picturesque lakeside town of Tekapo.

Follow the road and take in the view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand's tallest mountain) from the shores of Lake Pukaki, renowned for its incredible turquoise hue. Skirt the lake edge to arrive at your final destination Mt Cook Village.

 

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Tasman Valley 4WD Tour

A rugged back road 4WD adventure accessing awe inspiring views over the Tasman Glacier and its gigantic moraine wall. You will get to stop at several vantage points and have the opportunity to walk up to the top of the Tasman Glacier moraine wall to view some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities within the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Your professional guide has a wealth of knowledge of the Aoraki/Mt Cook area. Learn about the area, its unique geology, local flora and fauna and get an entertaining insight into the rich pioneering history and stories of the past 150 years.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

The Hermitage Hotel ringed by magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, is a world-renowned tourist destination and has been an icon of superior accommodation and dining since 1884.

Meals included: Breakfast

Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 4

Day 4 - Leaving the MacKenzie Country you'll follow the Waitaki River to the coast, where you'll turn south for Dunedin

Mt. Cook National Park to Dunedin

Today you'll leave Mt Cook National Park and travel past Twizel, one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings films. Go through Omarama - gliding capital of New Zealand - but be sure to stop at The Wrinkly Ram, a great local cafe also offering sheep shearing demonstrations. Driving through the Waitaki Valley follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast.

Stretch your legs in Oamaru, known for its white stone buildings constructed with the local Oamaru Stone. If you were a little late off the mark this morning you may get the chance to see the blue penguins come ashore at dusk.

Continue south down the coast to Moeraki, and take a detour towards the beach to see the Moeraki Boulders, a unique geological feature well worth a look. As you arrive in Dunedin, take in the city’s Edwardian and Scottish heritage reflected in the buildings around the city centre - The Octagon.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city, Fletcher Lodge offers the charm and personal attention of a bed and breakfast whilst extending the amenities associated with full service luxury Hotels. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Fletcher Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 318 kms / 197 miles : 3.7 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 5

Day 5 - Discover the variety of wildlife that live on the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Otago Peninsula Wildlife Premier Tour Including Larnach Castle

This premier package gets you closer to our unique southern ocean wildlife. See the worlds= only mainland nesting place for the Northern Royal Albatross. NZ fur seals also breed here and the impressive NZ Sealions may be seen on sandy beaches. Often seen are other albatross species, petrels, penguins, dolphins and more. You will also take a tour of Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin's great landmarks where the expert guides take you on a journey back in time; into the rich, turbulent and scandalous lives of the Larnach family. Enjoy the history and superb craftsmanship of New Zealand's only castle. Climb to the parapets for 360 degree views of the Otago Peninsula and explore the stunning gardens of international significance.

Your accommodation: Fletcher Lodge

Located just a few minutes walk from the hub of the city, Fletcher Lodge offers the charm and personal attention of a bed and breakfast whilst extending the amenities associated with full service luxury Hotels. Nestled in a secluded, established garden the lodge is conveniently located within minutes of many of the city's finest and most popular cafes and restaurants.

Meals included: Breakfast

Fletcher Lodge

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 6

Day 6 - Take the Southern Scenic Route along the South Otago and Catlins coastline to Invercargill

Dunedin to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route

The scenic route from Dunedin to Invercargill takes you via the Southern Scenic Route. Well signposted from Dunedin the route takes you along the rugged Otago coastline and its many secluded beaches and bays and many are great places to spot New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. At Nugget Point, penguins and elephant seals can also be spotted. Curio Bay is home to a 160 million year old fossilised forest. Get an early start for this drive as you can easily pass the whole day exploring the many attractions along the Southern Scenic Route.

Your accommodation: Safari Lodge

Safari Lodge is a Heritage Lodge surrounded with Edwardian charm. Just 300 metres from Invercargill's botanic garden, Queen's Park, and the Golf Course it is also only 15 minutes walk to city centre. Superb luxury in a fine stately home.

Meals included: Breakfast

Safari Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 236 kms / 146 miles : 3.0 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 7

Day 7 - Fly from Invercargill to Stewart Island

Invercargill to Stewart Island with Stewart Island flights

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft . The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Stewart Island (Rakiura National Park)

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, approximately 75 kms long and 45 kms wide and separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait. The Island is relatively low lying and undulating with the highest point, Mt Anglem/Hananui just 981 metres high. The island is largely uninhabited and unmodified which led to 85% of the island being declared a national park in 2002, named Rakiura National Park. 

The name "Rakiura" is the Maori name for the island - which means "Glowing Sky", apt as Stewart Island enjoys spectacular sunrises, sunsets and aurora. The island is mainly covered in native bush, with wetlands, sand dunes and a varied coastline from sandy beaches to sheer cliffs. The coastline is fringed with vegetation and bordered by crystal clear waters hosting an abundance of marine life – fantastic for fishing and wildlife watching.  

Stewart Island is New Zealand's southernmost populated area, but has less than 400 residents who mostly live around Halfmoon Bay.  With just 28km of roads and 280km of walking tracks, the island is all about appreciating the natural wilderness. Nearby Ulva Island is an idyllic, predator-free bird sanctuary for rare and endangered bird and plant species, a paradise for birds and bird lovers.  The highlight for any visit to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park is the isolation and the untouched, unspoilt wildlife and native bush.

Your accommodation: Sails Ashore Stewart Island

Sails Ashore bed & breakfast offers the perfect base for exploring Stewart Island. Designed to reflect the close relationship the Island enjoys with the sea it overlooks Halfmoon Bay and the islands of Foveaux Straits. Set in a private native and flower garden, it is just a short 4 minutes stroll from the village and waterfront.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sails Ashore Stewart Island

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 8

Day 8 - Explore remote Stewart Island and guided trip to the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Island

Ulva Island

Ulva Island is a predator free sanctuary just 12 minutes by water taxi from Golden Bay on Stewart Island. Sitting in Paterson Inlet the island is just 269 hectares and has no permanent human inhabitants. Some great well signposted and easy paths allow you to spend as little time as you wish or the whole day. Some of the best golden sand beaches in the South Island can be found here but the real attraction is the flora and fauna. Following some great conservation work Ulva Island is now predator free which means it's a safe place for many rare and endangered native species including kiwi, the rare South Island saddleback, Stewart Island robin, the inquisitive weak, yellowhead, rifleman, bellbirds and kaka to name a few. Here you will also find some of the best examples of native podocarp forest anywhere and the hugely varied flora is worth the visit alone. Access is easy, just arrange a water taxi to take you from Golden Bay and arrange a collection time to be picked up. About 4 hours allows you to comfortable explore all the tracks on the island.

Ulva Island guided walk with Peter Tait

Stewart Island is a magical place, best savoured in peace and at a relaxed pace and guided tours with Peter Tait offer exactly this and never have more then 6 guests. 35 years as Forest Ranger, commercial fisher and now as Dept of Conservation concession granted guides, Peter explains the history, flora and fauna, and what Island life is like and how it all melds into the magic that is Rakiura – Stewart Island.
Peter’s duties as Forest Ranger many years ago included overseeing and managing Ulva Island. He was involved with some projects that are now an integral part of Ulva Island management. His guided walks and commentary explains these and also subsequent projects that have resulted in the Ulva Island of today. Iris is Peter’s wife and her long involvement was recognised when she was appointed a foundation Trustee of Ulva Island.
There are lots of opportunities for photographs of both birds and the forest. Using their own boat for access allows time for your visit to take advantage of weather windows when conditions are boisterous. It also gives you the flexibility to avoid times when the Island may be busy with other visitors.

Your accommodation: Sails Ashore Stewart Island

Sails Ashore bed & breakfast offers the perfect base for exploring Stewart Island. Designed to reflect the close relationship the Island enjoys with the sea it overlooks Halfmoon Bay and the islands of Foveaux Straits. Set in a private native and flower garden, it is just a short 4 minutes stroll from the village and waterfront.

Meals included: Breakfast

Sails Ashore Stewart Island

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 9

Day 9 - After landing in Invercargill take the Southern Scenic Route to Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland

Stewart Island flight - Stewart Island to Invercargill

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft . The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Invercargill to Te Anau via Southern Scenic Route

Taking the Southern Scenic Route the drive from Invercargill to Te Anau passes through some wonderful and often overlooked regions of Southland. Riverton is Southland's oldest community established by whalers in the 1830's and many of the original cottages have survived throughout the town. The Riverton Early Settlers Museum tells the story well. Orepuki on the coast was once 'almost' a gold town but the fine dust proved too hard to extract commercially. You can still sometimes see gold dust in the beach sand at Monkey Bay. The early sawmilling settlement of Tautapere is next. Known as the 'hole in the bush' the town features an attractive domain.  A little further north is the Clifden suspension bridge which dates back to 1899. The Blackmount Road offers some great side trips if you have the time and one in particular is the 50 kilometre round trip to Lake Haruoko, New Zealand's deepest lake. The Blackmount Road continues to the small township of Manapouri, the departure point for cruises to Doubtful Sound. Te Anau the gateway to Milford Sound is just a further 20 kilometres north.

Your accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Te Anau Lodge began its existence as a Catholic convent in 1936 before being converted into a wonderful lodge. A beautiful Rimu wood interior awaits you and each of the 7 rooms house furniture made from stunning native woods.

Meals included: Breakfast

Te Anau Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 10

Day 10 - Journey along the magnificent Milford Road to Milford Sound where you'll enjoy an amazing nature cruise

Te Anau to Milford Sound and return to Te Anau

Today, see some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the country when you take the road to Milford Sound. With crystal clear lakes, towering mountains and lush glacier formed meadows, this area is abundant with picture perfect scenes and countless photo opportunities. Take the Chasm Walk, a short stroll through native beech forest to see several powerful waterfalls. Continue on through the Homer Tunnel, an engineering marvel at 1219 metres long. Arriving into the village of Milford, you will be greeted with an amazing view of Mitre Peak. A day cruise into the heart of the sound with Real Journeys is not to be missed. You’ll learn about how this magnificent area was formed and experience the wonder of the falls that line the Fiord.

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

A two and a half hour nature cruise of spectacular Milford Sound. On board one of three purpose built vessels you'll experience tumbling waterfalls, towering peaks, lush rainforest and native wildlife. Learn about the region, its history and natural surroundings while enjoying a delicious picnic lunch. As you cruise, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and penguins - frequent visitors to the fiord. Includes picnic boxed lunch.

Your accommodation: Te Anau Lodge

Te Anau Lodge began its existence as a Catholic convent in 1936 before being converted into a wonderful lodge. A beautiful Rimu wood interior awaits you and each of the 7 rooms house furniture made from stunning native woods.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Te Anau Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 233 kms / 145 miles : 3.6 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 11

Day 11 - Travel through rolling Southland countryside then follow Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown

Te Anau to Queenstown

Today make your way to Queenstown across vast tussocklands. Head through Mossburn, the deer capital of the nation then continue on through rolling southland countryside. Soon the road skirts the lake edge and the Remarkables mountain range makes for an impressive welcome to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Hop aboard the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw for an iconic Queenstown experience. Take in the local scenery as you cruise Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, a working sheep farm. On your arrival at Walter Peak you'll stroll through its stunning lakeside gardens to the homestead for a gourmet barbeque dinner. Watch your chef prepare your meal from a delicious seasonal menu and choose from a tempting selection of New Zealand meat and local produce. Complete your meal with an indulgent dessert, New Zealand cheeses and freshly brewed tea & coffee. Following dinner enjoy an entertaining demonstration of life on a high country farm. The return cruise offers a chance to enjoy a singalong with the ship’s pianist or simply breathe in the crisp night air on the moonlit decks as the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge and open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast

The Dairy Private Hotel

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 164 kms / 102 miles : 1.9 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 12

Day 12 - Dart River Wilderness Safari, then explore Queenstown

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.

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.

Your accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

The Dairy is a small private luxury hotel providing exquisite bed and breakfast accommodation. Just 1 minutes walk from Queenstown Centre it also features a large lounge and open fire, outdoor spa and a bar.

Meals included: Breakfast

The Dairy Private Hotel

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 13

Day 13 - Take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka before travelling the spectacular Haast Pass to the West Coast

Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier (via Wanaka)

Leaving Queenstown you'll cross the Crown Range - the highest sealed road in New Zealand - and pass through Wanaka, gateway to Mt Aspiring national park. Following the shoreline of both Lake Wanaka and Hawea, you'll come to the small town of Makarora. Stop at Blue Pools, a ten minute walk through native beech forest to an icy glacier-fed swimming hole. Continue on through the remote seaside settlement of Haast before heading up the West Coast - a 600 km stretch of bush and native rainforest. Fox Glacier welcomes you first, then comes your destination for the night - Franz Josef township.

Your accommodation: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg is: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.6 hours

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 14

Day 14 - Explore the Franz Josef Glacier region by air and foot

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Located in In the heart of the West Coast, Franz Josef is small but lively town. Known for its 12 km long glacier and surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains, the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To get close to the ice, walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself or get within 100m you must take a licensed tour. Strap on some crampons and give it a go with Franz Josef Glacier Guides or take the easier option and book in a helicopter landing instead. Whichever way you choose to ascend, once on top you’ll have the chance to explore the crevasses, caves and ice flows.

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: Westwood Lodge

Westwood is a purpose built lodge, crafted entirely from wood and exquisitely decorated throughout. The lounge is the place to meet to watch the Southern Alps turn a soft pink in the setting sun.

Meals included: Breakfast

Westwood Lodge

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16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour - Day 15

Day 15 - Drive north along the stunning West Coast Road and take the TranzAlpine train 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

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: Orari Bed and Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast offers elegant and inviting accommodation in the heart of Christchurch city. This heritage building has all the charm of a grand Victorian home, but with modern comforts providing for an enjoyable stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Orari Bed and Breakfast

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

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Day 16 - 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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Suggested similar tours

- 16 Day Southern Coast and Stewart Island Nature Tour, Staying in Motels

- Queenstown to Queenstown South Island highlights, Staying in Motels

- 15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour, Staying in Motels