14 Day Nature & Adventure Tour

This fully escorted, 14-day nature and adventure tour of the South Island was a request for an extended trip for a family with two adolescent children who wanted to do a lot of varied exciting activities. We included a range of activities that encompassed wildlife, nature and adventure and the children especially enjoyed the many varied activities around Queenstown. As well, the wilderness areas, the remote accommodations and varied landscapes were included in this private South Island tour.

  • Tour Location
    South Island, NZ
  • Tour Type
    Nature, Scenic
  • Tour Activities
  • Activity Level Easy
    3/10
  • Group Size Small Group
    4
14 Day Nature & Adventure Tour Overview

Wildsouth Discovery offers their exclusively guided, private tour of the South Island of New Zealand, tailor made for the discerning traveller.

This private South Island tour is fully escorted with guided walks, first class service, superb food and exquisite accommodations.

  • 14 days of scenic splendour
  • Spectacular landscapes
  • Experience the diverse ecologies
  • A photographer’s dream!
The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of the tour.
  • Fully escorted small group “off the beaten track” tour
  • Personal, experienced and knowledgeable local guides
  • Travel by deluxe mini-coach
  • The incredible scenery of New Zealand’s South Island
  • Guided walks and excursions to experience the diverse and varied landscapes
  • Fiordland, Westland and Arthur’s Park National Parks
  • Christchurch – the Garden City
  • South-West New Zealand, a World Heritage Area
  • Akaroa Day 2 – Akaroa harbour swim with the dolphins
  • Kaikoura Day 3 – Whale watch cruise
  • Oamaru Day 4 – Blue penguin observation
  • Dunedin Day 6
    • Monarch cruise in Otago Harbour
    • Royal Albatross Colony tour
    • Yellow-eyed penguin colony tour
  • Piopiotahi/Milford Sound Day 8
    • Fiord nature cruise
    • Private helicopter flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown
  • Queenstown Day 9
    • Sunrise Balloons morning hot air balloon trip
    • Hydro Attack
    • Flyboard
    • A J Hackett Nevis Swing trip
  • Queenstown Day 10 – Private fishing trip
  • Fox Glacier Day 12 – “Twin Glacier” helicopter flight from Fox to Franz Josef with snow landing. (Please note – this is not a private flight)
  • Thirteen night’s accommodation in exquisite lodges and luxury small hotels
  • Breakfasts on ten mornings
  • Dinners on four nights
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of the tour.

Suggested optional activities.

  1. Day One Christchurch arrival

    After being met by your guides and hosts, Brian and Paula at Christchurch Airport, you will be driven through the “Garden City” and up onto the Port Hills, the flanks of one of the ancient extinct volcanoes that form Banks Peninsula. From the hills there are spectacular views of the city and the Kaikoura Range can be seen far to the north, while the Pacific Ocean sparkles to the east. To the south and west the vast Canterbury Plains stretch to the horizon and in the distance, the Southern Alps. This is an opportunity to talk about where you will be going and what you will see and do on your tour. A tour of the city will follow and you will see some of the damage caused by the February 2011 earthquake, and the rebuild that is taking place.
    We will then transfer you to your city accommodation.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal

  2. Day Two Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

    Dramatic and beautiful Banks Peninsula (Te Pataka o Rakaihautu) was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Harbours and bays radiate out from the peninsula’s centre, giving it an unusual cogwheel shape. Sighted by Captain Cook in 1770, the Peninsula was then inhabited by Maori. In 1840 French settlers arrived at Akaroa, which had just been claimed under the Treaty of Waitangi by the English. Akaroa (Long Harbour in Maori) is the oldest colonial town in South Island and is famed as New Zealand’s sole French Settlement. The beautiful harbour dominates the landscape and its sparkling waters and the waters around Banks Peninsula are home to the smallest and one of the rarest dolphin species, the Hector’s Dolphin, found only in NZ waters.

    Travel over the beautiful Banks Peninsula to Akaroa via a high back road summit route. This drive around the edge of one of the original craters gives glorious views of the Canterbury Plains, the distant Southern Alps, the remote bays and farmlands and of Akaroa Harbour. It is here that you join the dolphin swim to truly experience the rare dolphins. Also found in these waters are New Zealand fur seals, little blue penguins, orcas and a myriad of bird life.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  3. Day Three Christchurch to Kaikoura

    On this amazing day, you will experience scenically breathtaking Kaikoura and experience an excellent balance of eco-adventure and indulgence. Sitting beneath the towering 2600 metre high snow-capped Kaikoura Mountain Ranges, Kaikoura is located on a rocky peninsula which protrudes into the Pacific Ocean.

    Originally an island, the peninsula has since been joined to the mainland by steep plains built up of debris swept down from the mountains by rivers. In Maori lore, the peninsula was the place where Maui braced his foot when he fished up the North Island and it was named the seat of Te waka a Maui – Maui’s canoe. The name Kaikoura means “meal of crayfish”.

    In the waters off the peninsula, a complex marine system provides an abundantly rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds. The deep ocean canyons provide a home to an exciting array of sea creatures, including the Giant Sperm Whale. Whales live there all year round making this one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Depart Christchurch and travel through the beautiful rural pastoral scenes of North Canterbury to Kaikoura, where the mountains meet sea.

    At Kaikoura, a whale watch cruise with Whale Watch Kaikoura is taken. On your trip, sightings can be made of Sperm Whales and Dusky Dolphins. Sightings can also include Southern Right, Humpback, and Pilot whales, as well as numerous species of seabirds. Enjoy a café lunch in Kaikoura and then we will make our way to a lookout to enjoy spectacular views of this pretty seaside town, the majestic mountains and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. From here, a short drive is made to visit a NZ Fur Seal colony.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  4. Day Four Christchurch to Oamaru

    Today, depart Christchurch and head for Oamaru. This town is renowned for its Victorian architecture and Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony where you can see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment. Penguins began nesting in a rock quarry at the edge of Oamaru Harbour in the early 1990s. The journey to Oamaru will be via the Scenic Inland Highway which skirts alongside the foothills of the Southern Alps.

    This will include the Rakaia River and Gorge, one of the three large rivers that originate in the alps and flow to the Pacific across the Canterbury Plains. The plains are home to many sheep, deer and dairy farms and are also used for growing wheat, barley, oats and vegetables. A stop can be made at the country town of Geraldine before joining the main highway south to Oamaru.

    As you enter Oamaru, a stop can be made at the Rainbow Lollies factory (lollies are NZ candy). This is an opportunity to purchase some examples of NZ’s iconic candy. Oamaru is also the Steampunk capitol of New Zealand. Time can be spent browsing the galleries and shops in the old Victorian quarter before you head to your accommodation, Pen-y-bryn. This is a luxury lodge housed in an historic mansion, offering the finest in service and accommodation. After dinner at a local seaside restaurant, you will check in at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony to view the penguins arrive home from their days fishing.

    Accommodation:      Pen-y-bryn

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  5. Day Five Oamaru to Dunedin

    This is a day to experience the beautiful coastline south of Oamaru. You will take side trips to get off the main highway and see the Pacific and the rugged coastline. Walks can be made to view the incredible Moeraki Boulders and colonies of New Zealand Furseals. The turnoff to the fishing village of Karitane comes just after leaving Waikouaiti and along with its own scenic charms, getting off the main road allows for a coastal detour through Seacliff and down into the

    beach side community of Warrington.

    You then have two options to finish your journey to Dunedin. The quickest is on SH1 taking about 20 minutes and arriving in North Dunedin, but the road over the hill into Port Chalmers offers coastal views and also passes by the Orokonui ecosanctuary which, if time permits, features an extensive collection of native birds and plant life.

    You will then travel through Dunedin city to the seaside suburb of St Clair where your accommodation is located. Adjacent to your accommodation are numerous cafes and restaurants.

    Accommodation:      Hotel St Clair – Executive Studio Units

    Included meals:        B, AT

  6. Day Six Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

    A day of discovery on the Otago Peninsula.

    Your day will start with a drive on the peninsula for views of the harbour, city and ocean before heading to Weller’s Rock. Here, you will join your cruise around the Otago Harbour heads where you should see numerous seabirds, furseals and views of the cliff faces. After this, it is a short drive to the Royal Albatross Colony for a tour of the colony and surrounds. Later, a tour of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Place, where our most endangered penguins should be seen.

    Accommodation:      Hotel St Clair – Executive Studio Units

  7. Day Seven Dunedin to Queenstown

    A day of travel to get to Queenstown. The scenery will change dramatically as you head inland to Queenstown. Along the way you will visit Clyde, a beautiful old gold-mining town. New Zealand’s third largest hydro power station is the Clyde Power Station situated near the township of Clyde. Onto Cromwell alongside the man-made Lake Dunstan and the Cromwell Gorge. Only 50 minutes from Queenstown, Cromwell is located beside Lake Dunstan and a visit can be made to the historic Old Cromwell Town that is now home to local craftspeople. From Cromwell, the drive will take you through the Kawarau Gorge. It is here that you will be in the Kawarau Gorge winery area (Gibbston). The Gibbston Valley is like no other wine region to be seen! Don’t expect to see your usual view of acres and acres of flat land and vineyards as is typical of a working vineyard, instead expect to be met with vineyards squeezed precariously between a deep, rocky gorge and jagged mountains of schist! Kawarau Bridge is also the site of the first bungy jump.

    Before heading into Queenstown, a visit can be made to Arrowtown which is a quaint old gold mining village. It is then a short drive to your Queenstown accommodation.

    Accommodation:      The Rees Hotel

    Included meals:        MT, L, AT

  8. Day Eight Queenstown - Piopiotahi/Milford Sound

    The road to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound through the Fiordland National Park is justifiably almost as famous as the sound itself. To Te Anau there is farmland, then there are lakes and tussock flats and then the breathtaking sheer U-shaped glaciated valleys. As the road proceeds, the landscape becomes more rugged and the sound of water becomes more prominent, especially after rain when it roars and there are waterfalls everywhere. On the journey to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound, you can see waterfalls, spectacular alpine views and lakes.

    The Homer Tunnel started in the Great Depression is a tribute to the labourers who made this route possible. Dug through the Darran Mountains into the Cleddau Valley, it gives access to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound, a truly majestic place voted as one of the seven scenic wonders of the world.

    Once through the Homer Tunnel, the road zig-zags down into the depths of the Cleddau Canyon and turns under a dense canopy of rainforest into the village at the head of the sound. The grand scale of Piopiotahi/Milford Sound is best appreciated on a boat cruise, which you will join. Most travel out to the open sea, passing under a waterfall torrent to thrill the passengers. The excellent commentary explains how a giant glacier gouged out the sound leaving its terminal moraine at the entrance, thus impeding tidal flows and allowing fresh water to form up to a 10-metre layer on the surface of the sound.

    Across the silky-black waters, a sharp-edged pyramid of rock rises abruptly out of the depths and soars 1,692 metres to a conical peak that appears to pierce the sky. This glaciated, sheer-sided slab of rock called Mitre Peak, dominates the sound. The waterway’s entire 22 km length is enclosed with similar vertical rock faces topped by mountain peaks. It is a mystical, breath-taking scene and perhaps New Zealand’s most renowned iconic landmark.

    Upon your return to the Piopiotahi/Milford Sound boat terminal, you will be transferred to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound Airport where you will join a private helicopter flight back to Queenstown. This heli experience will show you the glacial beauty of Piopiotahi/Milford Sound and spectacular views of Mitre Peak before heading to Mount Tutoko, the highest peak in Fiordland National Park. See Lake Quill the source of New Zealand’s second highest waterfall, the Sutherland Falls, the Hollyford Valley and the Humboldt mountain range. You will then fly over the Livingstone and Earl mountain ranges and the head of Lake Wakatipu before landing at Queenstown.

    (Please note: the helicopter flight is subject to the weather conditions and the route may vary, or may be cancelled)

    Accommodation:      The Rees Hotel

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  9. Day Nine Queenstown

    Your day starts with an early (sunrise) hot air balloon flight with Sunrise Balloons, which takes place in the valleys between Queenstown and Arrowtown with magnificent views of the unique terrain. As you rise to altitudes as high as 6000ft and drift with the breeze, you will witness quite possibly the best panoramic views of Queenstown and its surrounds – “The Hobbit” filming locations, Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables mountain range, NZ’s finest golf courses and much, much more. You will be encouraged to assist the crew to inflate the balloon and to help pack it away after the flight. Celebrate your once-in-a-lifetime experience with a delightful champagne celebration with pastries and muffins in the field after your flight. The launch site is only a 15-minute drive from downtown Queenstown.

    After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred to the lakeside for your Hydro-Attack experience, a high-speed thrill ride in the ultimate blend of shark and machine.

    Reaching speeds of 80 kph on the water and 40 kph diving under the water, a one-on-one trip in Hydro Attack Queenstown’s shark is a unique adrenaline ride. You’re inside what feels like a cross between a fighter jet and a torpedo. It’s skimming across the top of the lake at 80kph then it dives under the water, surrounding you in serene liquid blue. Next your pilot points the shark at the sky and it blasts back out again, straight up into the air before shattering the lake into a million crystal shards on a screaming re-entry. Hydro Attack is the world’s first commercial operator of these unique semi-submersible machines.

    After your Hydro-Attack experience, it is a 10-minute walk alongside the lake to your next adventure – Flyboard. Having the Flyboard, or rocket boots as we like to call them, strapped to your feet allows you to go up to heights of 10 metres in the air, dive under the water and shoot straight out again, exactly like a dolphin. Flyboard is an activity anyone can learn and only taking 5 – 10 mins. The experienced Flyboard instructors will train you before and during your experience and we guarantee you will fly.

    From Flyboard, you will be transferred to “The Station” (in Queenstown) where you will join the A J Hackett team for your Nevis Swing experience. They will then transfer you by their bus to the Nevis Swing site. Nevis Swing – the most famous swing in the world – and we don’t say that lightly. It’s big, it’s bad and it’s loud (if you consider every shriek of every person who’s had a go). Swing by yourself or tandem with a friend – forwards, backwards, upside down – you choose.

    You’ll complete the 300m arc, bellowing at the top of your lungs, wanting to do it all over again once you’re back on solid ground.

    At the completion of your Nevis experience, you will be transferred back to The Station.

    (Please note: You will need to call Sunrise Balloons 45 minutes before pick-up time to find out if flight is operating – weather permitting).

    Accommodation:      The Rees Hotel

    Included meals:        B

  10. Day Ten Queenstown to Lake Moeraki

    After breakfast, you will join your fishing guide for approximately 3 hours of private fishing. Your journey today is one of contrast. From Queenstown, you will travel over the Crown Range, a stark, bare rocky mountain block with incredible views of the Queenstown area. You will then descend into Wanaka township passing down the Cardrona Valley. Considered one of New Zealand’s best all season’s resort, Wanaka is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka and is in the Southern Lakes region of the lower South Island. It is nestled on the shores of the stunning clear lake with breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.

    From Wanaka, the highway skirts alongside another high-country lake – Lake Hawea. A short distance later, you will re-join Lake Wanaka and travel alongside this lake past its northern end and enter the native beech forests of Mt Aspiring National Park. The highway travels over Haast Pass and you will leave Otago province and enter Westland. The highway then follows the Haast River to the Tasman Sea and then head north. It is just north of Haast that the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki is located.

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT, D

  11. Day Eleven Lake Moeraki

    Untouched lowland rain forests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps – this is Lake Moeraki.

    Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of Lake Moeraki in the heart of the 2.7 million-hectare Te Wahi Pounamu – Southwest New Zealand World Heritage
    Area. The landscape has been shaped by successive glaciations into fiords, rocky
    coasts, towering cliffs, lakes and waterfalls. Two-thirds of the area is covered with
    southern beech and podocarps, some of which are over 800 years old. This special place is home to numerous varieties of native birds and Lake Moeraki is a nature lover’s paradise.

    Visits can be made to wild and remote beaches and activities include guided walks to get close to the wildlife, learning about the forest and experiencing amazing scenery. If you prefer to have a restful day then you can take a canoe out on the tranquil lake or just relax in the lodge.

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

    Included meals:        B, D

  12. Day Twelve Lake Moeraki – Arthur’s Pass

    Depart Moeraki and travel north to Fox Glacier. After an hour’s drive, you will arrive at Fox Glacier and join a “Twin Glacier” helicopter flight to get amongst the Southern Alps and the ice of both the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Your flight will include a snow landing on the neve of one of the glaciers. You will be met at Franz Josef village and then carry on with your journey to Arthur’s Pass.

    Along the way, a stop can be made at the coastal town of Hokitika which is the jade (pounamu) centre of New Zealand. Jade/pounamu is prized by the Maori people as a taonga (treasure) and one of its main sources is a river just north of Hokitika. From Hokitika, the journey heads east and follows the large Taramakau River and then up the spectacular Otira Gorge. At the top of the gorge is Arthur’s Pass and you will leave Westland and enter Canterbury province. It is then a short but beautiful drive to the Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass.

    Accommodation:      Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT, D

  13. Day Thirteen A day in the mountains

    This is a day to discover the real high country – a day where you can explore and learn about the alpine landscape, plants and the animals in the spectacular Southern Alps. The lodge offers guided activities but if these do not suit, then you can head into the heart of the Southern Alps – Arthur’s Pass National Park which has an incredible diversity of flora and landscape. They range from the eastern beech clad hills and tussock grass valleys to the luxuriant rain forest in the west.

    In Arthur’s Pass National Park, you may take walks to see waterfalls, learn about the forests and alpine plants of this area and experience the alpine landscape. Explore the glacial landscape and learn about the features that the Ice Age left behind.

    Seek out and hopefully find a unique South Island personality who is mischievous, inquisitive, comical and rowdy; the cheeky kea – the world’s only alpine parrot. You may have to defend your mini coach, as they have been known to try and remove aerials and door trims with their beaks!

    A tour of the high-country sheep farm, which is part of the lodge will enable you to visit the woolshed and see a sheepdog demonstration.

    For those who might be escaping from a busy lifestyle and are seeking some quiet relaxation, the lodge’s guest lounge is just the place to relax and gaze at the surrounding peaks or perhaps take a short nature walk.

    (Please note: the farm tour is available every second day)

    Accommodation:      Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

    Included meals:        B, D

  14. Day Fourteen Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch

    Today, you will travel through the high-country and view a rock area where “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was filmed. A dramatic landscape which changes once you pass over Porter’s Pass and enter the vast expense of the Canterbury Plains.

    Brian will transfer you to Christchurch Airport for your departing flight, and bid you farewell.

    Included meals: B

Accommodation Included in this Itinerary

Hotel Montreal logo Hotel Montreal

Christchurch’s most worldly stay. Whether you’re here as a hotel guest or meeting friends, you’ll always feel first in class at Hotel Montreal.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge logoPen-y-bryn Lodge

Pen-y-bryn Lodge is an elegant, spacious, Victorian mansion, steeped in history, and offers fine accommodation, epicurean cuisine and exceptional hospitality in an environment that combines the opulence of the 19th Century with the modern conveniences of today.

Hotel St ClairHotel St Clair

One of New Zealand’s best luxury hotels, Hotel St. Clair offers unparalleled oceanfront vistas and proximity to the many attractions of the St. Clair Esplanade and is a popular accommodation choice for those seeking the finest hotel rooms during their stay in Dunedin.

The Reese Hotel logo The Rees Hotel

The Rees Hotel Queenstown is a sophisticated five-star hotel situated right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki logo Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

Few places on earth can match the stunning natural setting of Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, surrounded by lakes, rivers, rainforest and seacoast in the heart of Te Wahipounamu, the southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area. This is a paradise for nature lovers, active travelers and wilderness seekers.

Wilderness Lodge Arthurs Pass logo Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

Midway between Christchurch & the South Island’s West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass sits on a 4000 acre farm & nature reserve surrounded by spectacular Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge

Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge