• Hiking Lake Wanaka
  • Yellow Eyed Penguins tour Dunedin
  • Skydive trip Queenstown
Hiking Lake Wanaka1 Yellow Eyed Penguins tour Dunedin2 Skydive trip Queenstown3

12 Days South Island New Zealand

12 Days Discover the South - take your time...

Travel itinerary 12 Days South Island holidayThe South Island of New Zealand is one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on Earth!  If you're short on time, this 12-day South Island itinerary is perfect. Fly by helicopter onto a glacier, go caving, explore the Abel Tasman National Park and do a few scenic hikes. Don't try doing it all. The more quality time you spend in New Zealand, the better the experience!
  • Mt. Cook National Park and Glacier lakes
  • Dunedin’s Penguins + Albatross colonies
  • Hiking Fiordland & visit Milford Sound
  • Outdoor Action Capital Queenstown
  • West Coast Glaciers, Pancakes & Forest
  • TranzAlpine train via Southern Alps

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Your journey day by day...

Day 1 Arrive in Christchurch and collect your rental car
After arrival at Christchurch Airport, go to the rental car counter to collect your reserved rental car. The central city is only a short drive away (15 minutes).
Day 2 Travel via Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook region
Travel on the Inland route (via the scenic Rakaia Gorge) through South Canterbury to Geraldine then into the Mackenzie country to Lake Tekapo and Twizel Village.
Day 3 Explore Mt. Cook National Park and continue to Dunedin
The Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie region lies at the centre of the South Island and enjoys clear starry nights with brilliant sunny days. Join a glacier lake tour.
Day 4 Penguin and albatross colonies tour near Dunedin
Explore the Scottish influenced city of Dunedin and in the afternoon, do a guided Albatross and Penguin tour with Elm Wildlife Tours - an absolute must-do!
Day 5 Travel the Scenic Coastal Route to Te Anau / Fiordland
Travel the agricultural heart of the Southland region or via the Southern Coastal route to Te Anau/ Fiordland. (Dunedin to Te Anau via Invercargill and Riverton)
Day 6 Explore Fiordland and Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a mixture of spectacular natural features and visual beauty. Carved by successive glaciers during the ice ages, it is awe-inspiring.
Day 7 Travel to Queenstown or Wanaka
This morning, depart Te Anau for a leisurely drive to Queenstown/Wanaka. The drive to Queenstown takes only 2.5 hours and to Wanaka, 3.5 hours. Both Queenstown and Wanaka have great outdoor adventures.
Day 8 Explore the Queenstown / Wanaka area
Wanaka provides activities for all seasons, including skiing, fishing, hiking, wine tasting, scenic flights, skydiving and 750 kms of cycle trails. Visit the nearby towns of Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra.
Day 9 Travel to Fox Glacier
From Central Otago, travel to the rainforest and beaches of the rugged beautiful West Coast. Between Haast and Jackson Bay you'll see beaches, lakes, wetlands and the Southern Alps.
Day 10 Fox Glacier to Greymouth/ Punakaiki area
The West Coast region is sparsely populated with few towns along the 600kms of coastal road between Karamea and Jackson Bay. Stock up on supplies before leaving.
Day 11 TranzAlpine train journey to Christchurch
Plenty of time today to see more of the Paparoa National Park before leaving Greymouth for Christchurch via the TranzAlpine scenic trail ride. The TranzAlpine scenic train is a relaxing way of sightseeing, before reaching the flat Canterbury Plains.
Day 12 Depart ex Christchurch
Depending on your flight, you may have plenty of time to relax or explore the Canterbury region before leaving. If leaving in the evening, Akaroa would be a perfect day trip (only a 1.5 hour drive away (one-way).
Christchurch with tram

Day 1 - Christchurch


Day 3 - Glacier Lake Explorer Mt. Cook


Day 4 - Wildlife Tour Dunedin


Day 6 - Milford Sound Nature Cruise


Day 8 - Wanaka Sightseeing tour


Day 9 - Fox + Franz Josef glaciers


Day 11 - TranzAlpine train journey

New Zealand Yellow Eyed Penguins in DunedinClick here for the full itinerary...
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