Duration: 9 Days
From the east coast to the west and back again, this 9-day journey through New Zealand’s South Island comes filled with soul-stirring scenery and unique experiences. Beginning in Christchurch, you’ll travel counterclockwise around the island, with overnight stays in Franz Josef, Wanaka, Te Anau and Queenstown.
Don’t forget your camera - photo opportunities abound throughout this tour! Explore picture-perfect Queenstown, framed by the aptly named Remarkable Mountains; embark on a cruise through UNESCO World Heritage Site Milford Sound and discover one of the most beautiful places on earth; spot endangered Hector dolphins while onboard a nature cruise in Akaroa; and be sure to grab a window seat as you board the TranzAlpine - one of the world’s greatest train journeys.
On this South Island tour, you’ll also get the chance to learn about Māori culture. Watch a jade (pounamu) carving demonstration with a traditional carver and learn about its cultural significance, before exploring the icy depths of Franz Josef glacier on a guided walk, where you’ll learn about the Māori legend behind this breathtaking landscape.
With the perfect balance of active adventure and relaxation, this Cosmos tour is the best way to explore the spectacular South.
Photo © KiwiRail
Welcome to Christchurch! Please meet your Tour Director at your leisure in the hotel lobby from 2.00pm - 5.30pm to complete the tour check-in process. Later, join your Tour Director and travelling companions for a welcome meeting and drink.
Travel to the charming village of Akaroa, a former French and British settlement. Take a nature cruise on Akaroa Harbour for a chance to see some of the native wildlife, including New Zealand fur seals, the white flippered blue penguin, and the Hector's dolphin, one of the smallest and rarest in the world. After lunch, you will have time to explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries and cafes. Return to Christchurch where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B,L)
Today, travel on the scenic TranzAlpine, one of the world's great train journeys. From the comfort of first-class carriages, see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmlands, followed by the spectacular gorges and rivers of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthur's Pass National Park. The train features large panoramic windows, an onboard cafe, and in-seat audio commentary. Disembark in Greymouth and attend a private jade carving demonstration with a traditional carver. Spend the next two nights in the small town of Franz Josef, located at the base of the impressive Franz Josef Glacier. (B)
This morning, explore this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage area. Your Glacier Valley walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier's path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier's history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka Roimate o Hine Hukatere. After a brief climb, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing face of the glacier. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You may opt to take a kayak tour, explore more walking tracks on your own, take a scenic flightseeing or helicopter tour, spend time at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, or relax in one of the glacier hot pools. (B,L)
Today's journey takes us along New Zealand's rugged west coast, through rainforests, and over Haast Pass to the resort town of Wanaka. Before arriving at your hotel, visit Cardrona Distillery for a visit and tasting. Free time this afternoon to explore as you wish. Recommendations include paddle boarding or kayaking along Lake Wanaka, take a horseback riding tour, or climb to the top of Mt Iron for amazing views of the Southern Alps, Pisa Range, and Lake Wanaka. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
This morning, explore more of this exciting resort town, before embarking on a scenic drive across the heart of the South Island to the picturesque township of Te Anau. Known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, the town sits on the edge of the largest lake in the South Island, with Mt Luxmore and Murchison Mountains providing a magnificent backdrop. Your evening is at leisure. (B)
This morning, embark on an unforgettable cruise through Milford Sound (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience as you cruise past stunning waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and towering mountain peaks, while keeping a look-out for New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and Fiordland-crested penguins. Disembark the ship and continue to Queenstown, the "Adventure Capital of the World". As your evening is at leisure, why not take a gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak for breathtaking views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkable Mountains? (B,L)
Enjoy a day at leisure. Options for your free time include an exciting jet boat ride on the Dart River, a self-guided cycling tour, see movie locations on a Lord of the Rings tour, grab a burger at the famous Fergburger, sample some of the region's best wines, go to new heights on a scenic helicopter flight, or browse the many shops and art galleries in town. Tonight, join your Tour Director and fellow travel companions for a fun, progressive farewell dinner through the streets of Queenstown. (B,D)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. You may also choose to extend your time in Queenstown and explore more on your own. Extra nights are available for purchase. (B)