Mountains & Fiords of the South Island

  • World-class mountain landscapes of Wanaka
  • Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
  • Abundant wildlife of the Otago Peninsula
New Zealand
Trip Type: Sample Itinerary
Trip Length: 12 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour, Day Hiking, River Cruising
Trip Extensions: Natural North New Zealand

New Zealand is a gem of a country and it shines brightly on this elegantly paced Custom Trip to its South Island. (While you're at it, take a look at Natural North New Zealand; we suspect you’ll be tempted to combine these trips.)

In Mountains and Fiords (they’re "fiords" in New Zealand, not the more familiar "fjords"), you begin with a good look at Christchurch before taking the TranzAlpine train into the Southern Alps. Then you're off to Franz Josef, the tranquil village nestled among the native forest of the West Coast, and its mighty namesake glacier. Your eye-caressing drive continues to Lake Moeraki, where you can hike and kayak amid ancient rain forest, watching for crested penguins, fur seals, and unusual birds.

Next you’re whisked by helicopter from the lakeside town of Wanaka into Mount Aspiring National Park for relaxing walks among ice-carved mountains, native forest, and river valley. After lunch at a picturesque vineyard, journey over the Crowne Range to Queenstown, cherished for its dramatic setting below the Remarkable Ranges. An overnight cruise in famed Fiordlands National Park takes you through magnificent Doubtful Sound—lengthier and far less visited than its better press-agented neighbor, Milford Sound—a delightful cap to your journey.

Please note: We're happy to tie into your adventure one of the famous lodge-to-lodge treks—the Routeburn or Milford Track. They rank high on the list of the planet’s finest short treks.

South Island travel tour map

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Days 1 & 2: arrive Christchurch, sightsee and harbor cruise
  • Day 3: TransAlpine train to Greymouth, drive to Franz Josef
  • Day 4: scenic glacier flight, drive to Lake Moeraki
  • Day 5: Lake Moeraki
  • Day 6: inland to Wanaka
  • Day 7: Mount Aspiring via helicopter
  • Day 8: winery lunch, cross Crowne Range to Queenstown
  • Day 9: Queenstown
  • Day 10: cruise in Doubtful Sound
  • Day 11: disembark cruise, return Queenstown
  • Day 12: depart.

  • Optional Routeburn Track Extension:
  • Day 11: disembark cruise, travel to Te Anau
  • Days 12–14: trek across the Divide to Lake Mackenzie, Routeburn Falls, Routeburn Road; return to Queenstown
  • Day 15: depart.

  • Optional Milford Track Extension:
  • Day 11: disembark cruise, travel to Te Anau
  • Days 12–16: trek to Glade House, Pompolona Lodge, Quintin Lodge, and Mitri Peak Lodge; return to Queenstown
  • Day 17: depart.