15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour
15 day South Island Self Drive, from Christchurch to Christchurch
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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour

Explore and enjoy some of New Zealand's unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 15 day South Island tour. You begin with an alpine guided walk in Mt Cook National Park, were Sir Edmund Hillary trained for his Everest adventure. 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, spend some time here before continuing 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 TranzAlpine scenic train back to Christchurch. In the evenings you will relax in tranquil luxury lodges situated in secluded locations for the ultimate wilderness experience.

Tour summary and feature
Itinerary details at a glance

South Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$7,829 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

15 days/14 nights

Luxury Lodges & hotels

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 18 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - 15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch City
Accommodation: The George Hotel

Day 2: Your rental car is delivered then travel south to Mt Cook National Park, A World Heritage Area
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 350 kms / 217 miles : 4.1 hours

Day 3: Enjoy a guided exploration of Mt Cook National Park
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Day 4: Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South
Accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle
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: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

Day 6: Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Accommodation: Fiordland Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 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: Azur Lodge
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: Azur Lodge

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: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
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 Ice Explorer tour
Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

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

Day 15: Depart Christchurch today

Detailed itinerary
See a day by day description including activities & accommodation suggestions for this itinerary example
Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch City
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

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

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Ko Tāne Māori Experience and Guided Kiwi Tour

Get a unique glimpse into the indigenous Māori culture when you visit the Ko Tāne Living Māori Village and Willowbank Wildlife reserve. This activity begins with a guided kiwi tour of the reserve with one of Willowbank's experienced guides. Following this enjoy the Māori cultural performance, you will be entertained with a kapa haka performance which includes action songs, poi dances, haka, stick games and weapons displays. The performance also gives you, an opportunity to learn the poi and the haka, then enjoy a four-course hāngī dinner.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.
Day 2 - Your rental car is delivered then travel south to Mt Cook National Park, A World Heritage Area
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 2
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 Mt. Cook National Park

Today you'll drive through the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury plains. Catch your breath in Geraldine before continuing through Fairlie. Ascending 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, known for its glacier fed turquoise blue color. Continue along the lake to your final destination Mt Cook Village. 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.

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: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 3 - Enjoy a guided exploration of Mt Cook National Park
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 3
Mount Cook Encounter Guided Walk of the Hooker Valley Track

The Mount Cook Encounter Walk is an 8km guided tour of the Hooker Valley, providing breath-taking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Your knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide will talk about the unique flora and fauna of the region and the local history as you trek through this amazing landscape.  From The Hermitage Hotel, head to the White Horse Hill camping ground. The journey takes in the poignant Alpine Memorial and passes over the turbulent Hooker River twice by swing bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers and mountains, then continue to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier.  A Packed lunch is included on this full day walk.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mt. Cook Ski Planes Glacier Highlights Scenic Flight including Glacier Landing

Take in the spectacular Southern Alps - including New Zealand's highest peak Aoraki Mount Cook - and the constantly changing glacial landscape. See the Hochstetter Icefall as you fly beneath the face of Mount Cook then along the length of the Tasman glacier before landing on the glacier itself. Experience the silence of the mountains, broken only by the rumbling of an avalanche and creaking of the snow and ice beneath your feet. You'll take off again for another incredible flight over peaks, ice falls, alpine lakes and climbing huts. This flight offers fantastic close up views of Aoraki Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and the Southern Alps from Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

Your accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium Plus

Experience the best views in the park from the spacious top floor rooms of the magnificent Hermitage Hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 - Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 4
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: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house, situated 500m from Larnach Castle. The house is built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate offers total privacy, with entry to Larnach Castle and grounds included.

Meals included: Breakfast

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
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 5
Monarch Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour & Penguin Place

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 of the high road on the Otago Peninsula.

Your accommodation: Camp Estate at Larnach Castle

A luxurious country house, situated 500m from Larnach Castle. The house is built from blue stone and features a spectacular marble staircase. The rooms are all double glazed and the reception rooms are all heated by open fires and underfloor heating. Staying at Camp Estate offers total privacy, with entry to Larnach Castle and grounds included.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6 - Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park.
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 6
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf. Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and 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.

Fiordland Lodge

Set on a superb site with commanding views out across Lake Te Anau this is a rural setting with rolling grass lands surrounding the Lodge, Lake Te Anau being a mere ten minute walk away. Across the lake to the west lie the mountains of Fiordland National Park, an area of over three million acres of untouched wilderness and part of the much larger South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Dining at Fiordland Lodge

The enjoyment of food and wine is integral to the experience on offer at Fiordland Lodge and the use of quality ingredients being seasonal and regional and largely organic are fundamental to their cuisine philosophy.  Food is a focal point at you'll be hard pressed to find something on the menu that isn't homemade or locally grown. Every item on the menu hails from the surrounding land, as an example within five minutes of the lodge there are at least 10 rivers that have fresh watercress sprouting and wild black berries. Items such as the breakfast jams will have been plucked from the onsite garden, venison and rabbit sourced from the local hunters themselves. Fresh organic vegetables, greens, herbs and eggs are harvested daily from the huge onsite vegetable garden so each season nature offers a new palette for the kitchen team to create dishes. Chef Loughnane is dedicated to sourcing the freshest of ingredients, creating relationships with local farmers and smaller producers and saturating the dishes he creates with local Fiordland and Southland ingredients.  A changing evening menu also means that guests get to experience as much of New Zealand’s wonderful food as possible.

Activities available from Fiordland Lodge – enquire for current pricing

Guided Fly Fishing - Fiordland is world renowned for the quality of its fly fishing in New Zealand. The crystal clear unpolluted waters are managed as a wild fishery producing good stocks of large Brown and Rainbow trout. Fiordland Guides specialise in upstream sight fishing and all fishing is catch and release. Over 40 uncrowded rivers and streams are within 1.5 hours drive of the Lodge.

Guided Nature Walks -there are a wide choice of scheduled trips available from half day walks every day of the week to interesting local areas, some of which are rich in local history, to hikes of a number of days or more into the remoter regions of Fiordland.

Conservation Gold Sponsor - donations of $400 or more towards the Kepler Peninsula conservation project.  Beginning with the ‘box seat’ in an early morning helicopter ride, you will join a local volunteer for a day on the Kepler Peninsula checking the pest trap line. You will be required to assist as a scribe, noting any wildlife along the way.  This is a unique full day experience walking the 8km track through pristine native beech forest, checking traps along the way.  The walking is leisurely with frequent stops.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Lodge

Set in a World Heritage area Fiordland Lodge offers the discerning traveller comfort and privacy. The elegance and splendour of the Lodge is mirrored in the breathtaking views of Lake Te Anau and Fiordland. Private and serene, the Lodge is perfect for relaxation, or as a base for your Fiordland experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 396 kms / 246 miles : 5.0 hours

Day 7 - Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 7
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 tranquillity 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 with 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: Breakfast, Dinner

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

It's hard to imagine a more perfect view than the one from Azur Lodge, this luxury accommodation offers amazing vistas of Lake Wakatipu & the surrounding mountains. As well as the luxury guest villas, there is a main lodge for guest use, breakfast dining room & stunning guest lounge.

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 9 - Explore and enjoy Queenstown at leisure today
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 9
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders.
Head down the Gibbston Valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown.
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. And 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 Heli-ski.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Safari of the Scenes Wakatipu Basin Tour

For those keen on the Hobbit and Lord of The Rings films, join Nomad Safaris for an unexpectedly delightful journey. In safari-equipped 4WD vehicles, you will be taken on a true off-road adventure. Experienced guides will take you on a breathtaking excursion through diverse scenery around the Wakatipu Basin. See historic Arrowtown and go over the Arrow River, as well as experiencing the truly remarkable views of the lake and mountain surround from the Skippers Canyon Saddle. Although no sets remain intact, the landscapes are instantly recognisable. Some of the sites you will visit during this tour include the Misty Mountains, Pillars of Kings and the Ford of Bruinen.

Your accommodation: Azur Lodge

It's hard to imagine a more perfect view than the one from Azur Lodge, this luxury accommodation offers amazing vistas of Lake Wakatipu & the surrounding mountains. As well as the luxury guest villas, there is a main lodge for guest use, breakfast dining room & stunning guest lounge.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10 - Queenstown to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 10
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

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. 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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

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. 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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 - Lake Moeraki to the West Coast Glaciers
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 12
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.

Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Your accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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 Ice Explorer tour
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 13
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike

Fly over the Franz Josef glacier and see all three of its icefalls with the Helicopter Line and Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Landing high up on its face, take a two hour guided walk through towering pinnacles, and brilliant blue ice formations. See panoramic views of the glacier and surrounding mountains as you learn more about how this huge river of ice was formed. Relax and enjoy the moment as your guide leads you into spectacular terrain usually only seen by experienced mountaineers.

Your accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef is a very special five-star retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rainforest and accommodated in natural and sustainable luxury.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14 - Head north to Greymouth before catching the world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 14
Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station

Today you’ll head north through the historic gold mining region of Hokitika. Known for its Greenstone (Pounamu) this seaside town has a rich history dating back to the 1860’s. Head to the coast and take in the endless sea-views or pick up a souvenir at one of the many craft shops. Continue on to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and the starting point for the next leg of your journey - the TranzAlpine Scenic Train. Drop your rental car at the Greymouth Train Station depot located inside the train station building before boarding your train to Christchurch.

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 at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: The George Hotel

The George is the essence of supreme comfort. The award winning 5 star hotel is opposite Hagley Park and just a few minutes stroll from the Botanic Gardens. 2 superb award winning on site restaurants also feature.

Meals included: Breakfast

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

Day 15 - Depart Christchurch today
15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour - Day 15
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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