Frequently asked questions
Here you will find answers to our most frequently asked questions. If your question isn’t listed below please use our contact form or give us a call and we would be more than happy to assist.
Wildsouth Discovery is a wholly privately owned NZ company based in Christchurch, operating 4 fully customised deluxe tour vehicles. We offer a professional service and have over 25 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry.
We are a tour company offering exclusive, private fully guided and hosted private tours in South Island, New Zealand. Your tour guides are New Zealand local guides with extensive knowledge of all the places you might visit, stay at, or explore.
Our tour guests are travellers who…
- desire a private tour experience or a true small group tour,
- are over 40,
- are well travelled,
- would like, and expect top service,
- wish for 4 to 5 star accommodations,*
- seek to experience the beauty, the heritage and diverse landscapes of NZ,
- are travellers seeking an informative and interactive experience,
- are from North and South America, the UK or Europe, and are for those who do not wish to be part of a large group or totally on their own,
- and who would like to be guided, escorted and hosted by friendly, knowledgeable local guides who take pleasure and pride in looking after their tour guests, and showing them the best of South Island.
No, all of our tours are offered on an “on demand basis.”
The tours that we offer …
- are personally guided and hosted private small group tours,
- are professionally guided, and
- are for the discerning traveller.
The tour options that we offer are…
- custom made exclusive, privately guided and hosted tours, and
- a range of private tours ranging from 1 day upwards.
Mistaking New Zealand for a tiny country in which one may easily move around within is one of the most common mistakes made by people who DIY their trip. So many visitors end up trying to fit in too much during their time, and end up seeing the country from inside the window of their car.
Although about half the size of California, New Zealand does not have 5 lane freeways to move people throughout the country. Roads are tight and narrow and one should not expect to get from place A to place B anywhere near the time frame typically taken in the USA.
Our customised tour vehicles are extremely well appointed and offer superb comfort and uniqueness. They are fitted with individual high back seats, stereo p/a systems and are air-conditioned. As well, our vehicles are fitted with refrigerators and fully equipped for picnics. Reference books, binoculars, maps, and chilled water and “nibbles” for our guests are also carried on board.
New Zealand is much larger than many people realise. It’s slightly larger than the UK and about the same size as California. On top of this is the fact that the country is split into 3 main islands and the roads are generally narrow and windy and often hilly when compared to other places in the world. To comfortably visit both North and South Islands by a road tour, you will need at least 14 days. This time can be reduced if you include some longer drives or if you decide to fly between destinations (for example, from Rotorua to Christchurch).
From our experience and as a general guide, the following are examples of what can be achieved…
- 3 to 5 day tour will allow you to do a short trip from one of the main centres such as (for example) Christchurch or Queenstown.
- 5 to 10 day tour will allow you to take a tour of either parts of South or North Island with time to explore and some 2 night stops.
- 10 to 14 day trip will allow you to visit both North and South Island, starting in one and finishing in the other (for example, starting in Auckland and finishing in Queenstown).
- 14 days+ tour allows for a much more extensive trip with many 2 night stops and time to include locations such as the Catlins which might not be possible on shorter trips.
No, we do not operate in North Island. We can refer you to Kiwi Dundee Adventures who offers a top service in North Island .
There is actually a lot of variety to see in New Zealand and South Island. The diversity of the landscapes is a real feature and truly amazing. Depending on the tour you will probably experience…
- incredible scenery
- rugged alpine vistas
- primeval rainforests
- rural countryside
- the garden city of Christchurch
- remote beaches and rocky headlands
- beautiful lakes
- clear rivers, creeks and streams
- country towns and villages
- wildlife sanctuaries and reserves
- art & craft stores and galleries
Wildsouth Discovery offer tours that are exclusive, personally guided, bespoke small group tours for groups of up to 10 guests. They are generally inclusive of guided walks although tours are offered without walks. The personalisation means that you get a variety of extras not possible on a coach tour. For example, you get to stop at any stage for scenic sights or photographs or where we stop for lunch and the picnic morning and afternoon teas are a delightful addition (usually made at a beautiful location).
The wilderness aspect means you get to go to places and go along roads that coaches do not and cannot go. Your guides converse with you rather than talk at you and will answer all your questions and explain in as much detail or as little as you would like.
We also know of some special secret places which other tour operators and coach tours do not.
As we only offer private tours, you will not be in a vehicle with “strangers”. You will be with your own travel companions.
As a general rule, “travelling” days include a range of short walks ranging from 5 minutes up to a couple of hours. Longer walks can be made when we stay at a particular location for two nights or more.
If you are not much of a walker, then the tour can be varied accordingly. With our exclusive private tours and tailor made tours, walks and activities can be included to suit the guest’s own personal wishes.
Our flexibility allows for a group of guests with varying degrees of fitness to choose to enjoy a guided walking activity and also to allow for more passive options for other members of your party.
We normally stay at the best accommodation venues available in the region. Generally, we incorporate 4 to 5 star accommodations and tend to stay away from the larger hotels (although this is sometimes not possible). The accommodations can certainly be varied to suit any particular wish that you may have.
Most visitors to New Zealand do not require a visa to enter New Zealand for the purpose of a holiday or vacation, or under the visa waiver program. Please check the New Zealand Immigration website here.
If you do need a visa to visit New Zealand, please contact your travel agent or your nearest New Zealand consulate in your home country.
Please Note – nearly all visitors to Australia require a visa to enter, even if you only transit. It is the responsibility of the travel agent or airline to advise you of this requirement but please make sure you ask about this if you know you are travelling via Australia.
As we include guided walks on our tours, it is advisable to bring along sturdy walking shoes or boots. Due to the weather possibly producing “4 seasons in one day“, we also suggest that you bring along a wind proof jacket and clothes suitable for cooler weather. On the longer tours, it is definitely advisable to bring along a rain-proof jacket as we usually include a rainforest walk.
- Warm jacket for possible cool mountain weather (preferably rain proof)
- Personal items
- Flat walking shoes
- Binoculars although our vehicles carry them
- Notebook or diary
New Zealand is an informal country and so strict dress codes are rare. Comfort and practicality is the key as New Zealand is a very relaxed destination. Open collared shirts for men are a good idea as some of the locations where we could stop for evening meals have what we call a neat-casual dress standard.
Bring clothes that travel well and can be added and removed in layers to adjust to the conditions. Cotton and wool are best and of course make sure it is New Zealand merino wool so you don’t offend our 27 million sheep.
Flat soled shoes for walking. Solid hiking boots are generally excessive however light weight hiking boots are good. A hat is also suggested as the sun can be intense here in New Zealand.
A rain / windproof proof jacket is advisable as our weather conditions change regularly, even in the height of summer. If your tour includes a trip to Fiordland National Park (Milford or Doubtful Sound) or the West Coast Glaciers, then there is a strong possibility of rain. These are amongst some of the wettest places on earth and this is also what makes them so special.
Yes. We pick up and drop off from all city hotels, motels, homestays, B&B’s and airports. If you are staying in a residential accommodation, then it is also possible to pick you up from there.
New Zealand operates on a 240 volt system and most cameras, phones, laptops and electronics are dual voltage but you may want to bring a voltage adapter just in case. Most accommodations have hairdryers but If you need to use one every day, please check with us to make sure that each property provides them.
If you have specific medication that you need to bring with you, bring enough with you for the length of your visit and a little longer in case of travel delays, as some medication may not be available in New Zealand. Do make sure that you bring a copy of your prescription or a letter from your prescribing doctor, for Customs purposes.
We try and restrict the actual “driving” time to no more than 30 minutes or so before a stop is made to take photographs, to take a short walk or have a picnic morning / afternoon tea stop. The idea is not to travel all day but to allow time to explore along the way. Generally, there is usually only 3 – 4 hours total driving on the “travelling” days and minimal driving when we are have a two night stay at a particular accommodation (only walking to explore the surrounding landscapes, activities or relaxing).
This depends on the tour that you take. Trips that stay at the more exclusive lodges and accommodation venues generally include breakfasts and dinner. You’ll find that things like morning and afternoon teas are also included (served with delicious New Zealand cookies!). Depending on the trip, picnic lunches on “travelling days” may also be included. The trip itineraries show what meals and snacks are included in your tour package. The afternoon tea stop can also include NZ wine and cheese if you wish.
If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, please let us know well in advance before the trip starts.
New Zealand has the ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) and ACC is an organisation that provides 24 hour, seven day a week injury cover for everyone in New Zealand, including visitors. If you are injured during your visit to New Zealand, you may be able to receive a range of help from ACC and this includes help to pay your treatment costs. Please check www.acc.co.nz for more information.
However, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance at the same time you book your tour and flights. In the event of having to make a claim, this will make dealing with your claim that much easier when you return home. There are many possible circumstances that could cause you to cancel or change your trip, such as illness or family reasons. Having insurance cover which has cancellation and interruption cover is also wise.
Only New Zealand currency is legal tender in New Zealand. Some shops and venues may also offer pricing in other currencies but the final transaction must be in New Zealand dollars. Please do check carefully the conversion rates offered.
The bank chains are the best places to change overseas currency to New Zealand dollars. Nearly every town has at least one bank and the rate offered on any day by banks does not vary at different locations. Banks are generally open from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday and in some larger centres banks open on Saturday mornings.
Yes, and Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted cards. Please note that American Express and Diners cards are not widely accepted in New Zealand.
Most accommodations offer wifi or in room internet access. Some properties may require a payment for access or there may be a charge for high use. Many cafes also have internet access and in some towns, places such as libraries provide free internet access.
Please note that in some remoter places, there is no mobile phone access.
Unfortunately, no. All goods and services purchased while you are here in New Zealand are liable for all local taxes (all prices in New Zealand must by law include taxes).
However, some stores will post your purchases (at your cost) which will negate the GST charge. Stores which have a duty free agreement will be able to sell you items without duty and GST applied and then these are likely to be sent to airports or directly to your home overseas to collect. Usually this is only possible on larger or higher value items.
Smoking and vaping is prohibited by law in all cafes, bars, restaurants and other public buildings. Very few accommodation venues allow smoking inside their rooms and some properties are also entirely smoke free, even in their grounds. Wildsouth Discovery is also smoke free but we do have numerous stops when travelling.
Toilets can be few and far between in some of the more remote regions. However, there are usually public toilets along the way. We always promote the “environmental care” guidelines and promote the use of toilets, as against using the “green door”, no matter how rustic some of the more remote facilities may be!
Dates may vary by a few days from school to school but most New Zealand schools are on holiday on these dates.
Please check The Ministry of Education for more information.
Please see the average sunrise and sunset times across four different New Zealand regions and seasons. Our summers (December through March) have long days and are great to fit the most into your holiday.
The further south in New Zealand you are the longer the days last in summer. In winter the further north you are the longer the days.
COVID-19 conditions – Book with no obligation!
Due to the global impact of COVID-19, we continue to provide the greatest client flexibility in this ever-changing situation. Where itineraries need to be changed due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will work closely with our suppliers to seek that they do the same.
Yes, clients are making bookings for travel in 2022 and 2023 in anticipation of the borders reopening in 2022. They are making their bookings now before the anticipated rush when the borders do reopen.
You can contact us now to organise your trip in 2022 or 2023, and no deposit is required while the borders are closed.
Once the borders are open with no restriction (no isolation required on arrival), we will update your quote according to your travel dates and flight details. A 20% deposit will then be required to book your holiday with us.
The balance is due 60 days prior to your travel date.
Should the New Zealand borders close and prevent you from being able to enter the country to complete your trip as planned, we will offer the following options…
- We will refund your deposit (and balance if paid).
Please note: Should any of our suppliers apply cancellation fees, they will be deducted from the refund.
- All monies received will be put into credit (less any cancellation fees / unrecoverable costs from suppliers). This money will be held in a client trust account until you are ready to rebook new travel dates.
Please note: Additional charges may apply should any of our suppliers apply updated rates for their services at the time of rebooking..
We highly recommend that all of our clients seek local and professional advice on their specific insurance needs at the time of making their reservation. Many insurance providers can include cancellation or interruption cover and many now offer coverage for COVID-19-related disruptions.
Yes you can.
However, please note that if you make any changes within 60 days of your travel date, then cancellation fees may apply with regard to any accommodations or activities that are included in your itinerary.
We cannot guarantee the availability of changes made by you after your booking confirmation but we will try our best to amend your booking.
We're here to assist you every step of the way on your journey
Have any further questions? Fill out our online form, or contact us for more information in helping book your magical guided South Island tour of New Zealand, completely customised to suit you.