7 Day Scenic Tour

A fully escorted, 7-day scenic tour of the South Island custom designed for a couple with limited time and who wanted to experience the wilderness area of the West Coast as well as Fox Glacier. They wanted to as much walking as their time would allow, that they were bird watchers and they enjoyed wine. Starting and finishing in Queenstown, we based the trip on the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki and enjoyed the wineries at Wanaka on the return to Queenstown.

  • Tour Location
    South Island, NZ
  • Tour Type
    Nature, Scenic
  • Tour Activities
  • Activity Level Easy
    3/10
  • Group Size Small Group
    2
7 Day Scenic Tour Overview

Explore the natural wonders and heritage of New Zealand’s magnificent South Island. Walk through primeval forests, along deserted beaches and view glaciers pushing into rainforests, all on a Pacific Island! Your privately guided South Island tour will include the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area with Glacier Country and Lake Moeraki, the rugged peaks of the Southern Alps and the awe of Piopiotahi/Milford Sound.

  • 7 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 private “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 and Westland National Parks
  • South-West New Zealand, a World Heritage Area
  • Piopiotahi/Milford Sound Day 2 – Fly/Cruise/Fly to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound from Queenstown
  • Six night’s accommodation in exquisite lodges and luxury small hotels
  • Breakfasts on seven mornings
  • Dinners on three nights
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of the tour.

Suggested optional activities such as helicopter flights, cruises (other than Milford Sound) and jetboats.

  1. Day One Christchurch arrival

    After being met by your guides and hosts, Brian and Paula at Queenstown Airport, you will be taken on a familiarisation tour of Queenstown and Arrowtown, and if you wish, you can visit a winery or two in the Gibbston wine area located in the Kawarau Gorge.

    After this, you will be transferred to your accommodation located in Arrowtown. Your location is a just a short walk from a selection of cafes and restaurants in Arrowtown.  Arrowtown is charming and quirky – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River.

  2. Day Two Piopiotahi/Milford Sound excursion

    Milford Sound is an area of extraordinary beauty. It offers a majestic fiord, dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery and prolific flora and fauna. Although the flight to and from Milford Sound has regularly been described as the most stunning part of our tour options, combining this with a Milford cruise on the fiord happens to be the most popular option.

    Each tour begins with a complimentary pick-up from your central Queenstown accommodation provider (charges may apply to rural locations). After check-in completion, your pilot will give a thorough pre-flight briefing on the route and scenic highlights likely to be encountered. These include the famous Skippers Canyon, the Paradise region (recently made popular as film locations for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Trilogies) as well as the Donne glacier among many other awe-inspiring features. Your 35-minute flight concludes with an over flight of the fiord of Milford Sound, prior to landing.

    The second half of the adventure begins in Milford Sound, where your pilot personally escorts you to the boat docks to board the ‘Pride’ to enjoy your Milford Sound Scenic Cruise. This purpose-built catamaran is operated by Southern Discoveries, which traverse the full length of the 12km fiord right out to the Tasman Sea. Air Milford guests receive reserved seating on the boat, with complimentary tea and coffee.

    Spacious outdoor viewing decks allow you to take in the Fiordland scenic highlights, including waterfalls taller than Niagra Falls, and an array of indigenous flora and fauna.

    Following your Milford Sound cruise your return flight takes in many of the pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls that Fiordland National Park is recognised for, including the Sutherland Falls which span 580m (1904ft). Flight time is another 35 minutes, with a total trip time of approximately 4 hours.

    If the flying option does not happen due to adverse weather, you will have the option of doing a Drive/Cruise/Drive with Wildsouth. Sometimes the flight to Milford is cancelled and then the weather clears allowing for a return flight from Milford to Queenstown. Following is a description of the day to 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.

    This is especially so 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.

    Accommodation:      Arrowtown Boutique Hotel

    Included meals:        B, L

  3. Day Three Queenstown to Lake Moeraki

    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.

    Short walks along the way will allow you to experience the changing landscapes. It is just north of Haast that the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki is located. The scenery changes from Queenstown to Lake Moeraki is startling – from mountains and schist outcrops, tussock covered hills, lakes and rainforests, native beech, mixed broadleaf and podocarp forests (dinosaur trees!).

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

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

  4. Day Four 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. We will be available to take you on guided walks should you prefer to do this.

    The night sky at Moeraki (if clear) is absolutely amazing, with the Milky Way arching across. One of the complimentary activities after dinner is a walk to view the night sky. As you have three nights at Moeraki, you have a very good chance of doing this.

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

    Included meals:        B, D

  5. Day Five Lake Moeraki to Fox Glacier

    Depart lake Moeraki for a day excursion to Glacier Country. It is just over an hour’s drive to Fox Glacier, and once there, walks can be made to view the glacier’s terminal face.

    Other walks can include rain forest walks and a walk to, or around Lake Matheson (famous for its reflections on a still day).

    If the skies are clear, there are astounding views of the snow-covered Southern Alps, including Mounts Cook and Tasman, our highest peaks.

    At Fox, there is the opportunity to take a helicopter flight and land on the neve of either Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers.

    At the end of the day, head back to Lake Moeraki.

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

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

  6. Day Six Lake Moeraki to Arrowtown

    Depart Lake Moeraki for a return trip to Arrowtown.

    At Wanaka, you will go a different way to Arrowtown and this will take you through the Kawarau Gorge, and more wineries. Before the start of the gorge, a side trip can be made to Bannockburn, famous for its collection of boutique wineries. These Otago wineries are especially famous for their Pinot Noir.

    Accommodation:      Arrowtown Boutique Hotel

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  7. Day Seven Farewell

    Today can be spent exploring the Queenstown district. Perhaps shopping or a delightful walk around a remote lake not far from Queenstown. There are also activities such as a steamship cruise across the lake, jetboat cruises and a walk through the Botanic Gardens. We will be there for you to take you on your preferred experience.

    At around 3.00pm, we will transfer you to Queenstown Airport for your departing flight.

    Included meals:        B

  8. Day Nine Bruce Bay - Haast Pass - Wanaka - Arrowtown

    From Bruce Bay, you will head south again to Haast where the road turns east, following the Haast River and the Haast highway into the Southern Alps.

    You can now observe how the landscape again changes dramatically as the road climbs over the Haast Pass from the dense rain forest of the West Coast to the drier tussock lands of the Otago province. On the way, there are short walks to see waterfalls and if there has been recent rainfall, the Haast River passing through the gorge known as the Gates of Haast can be truly spectacular.

    From Haast Pass the road eventually skirts first along the banks of Lake Wanaka and then making a slight turn and rising over a ridge, Lake Wanaka is left behind and Lake Hawea is before you.

    The road follows the shoreline of this lake and then we reach the alpine village of Wanaka, a mountain resort on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka. From Wanaka, pass the old gold mining village of Cardrona and head over the rugged and remote Crown Range, the site of gold diggings in the 1860’s. From the top of the Crown Range there are dramatic views of the Queenstown district. You will then descend and reach the quaint and historic village of Arrowtown.

    It is then a short drive to your Arrowtown accommodation.

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  9. Day Ten Arrowtown - Piopiotahi / Milford Sound - Arrowtown

    This day, you will take a scenic flight over Fiordland National Park to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, once described as the eighth wonder of the world. Once you arrive at Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, you will transfer to the “Spirit of Milford” catamaran which explores nooks and crannies along the edge of the fiord, and nudges into sheer rock faces to examine flora and fauna in detail. Your cruise will be for 2 hours.

    This is an intimate experience with numbers capped at 150, and on-board Nature Guides offer personal attention. This ‘ecotour’ is perfect for close-up shots of seals, birds and other Fiordland wildlife, including dolphins ‘riding’ the bow wave.

    The smaller boat helps you appreciate the sheer size and grandeur of the fiord’s cliff faces rising hundreds of meters out of the water, scarred here and there by tree falls. You’ll get within touching distance of impressive geological features and close enough to catch and drink pure glacial water, or feel the full force from the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls (they have got jackets on board to keep you dry!). Join the skipper on the bridge for a birds-eye view and see first-hand how the boat operates. A delicious buffet lunch included in this trip. At the end of your cruise, you will fly back to Queenstown. The balance of your day can be spent exploring the Queenstown district.

    Included meals:        B, L

  10. Day Eleven Arrowtown - Christchurch

    Depart Queenstown and head north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge (valley of many shrubs) and visit old Cromwell town, formally an old gold mining centre. From there you will travel along the shores of the hydro lake, Lake Dunstan and then over the Lindis Pass into MacKenzie Country. The Mackenzie District has New Zealand’s highest mountains, and its waters have become one of the country’s most important sources of energy. The wild rugged scenery is broken up by a number of turquoise coloured lakes. These lakes are all connected by a series of canals that form a massive hydro scheme providing over one third of New Zealand’s power. Views can also be made of Paritea / Clay Cliffs, an example of “badlands”.

    Your journey continues north through MacKenzie Country and past Lake Tekapo  where a drive can be made to the top of Mt John for spectacular views of the lake and mountains. You will then head over Burke’s Pass and enter rolling farm country. A stop can be made at Geraldine for a cheese tasting and then from here, your final leg of your journey will take you across the wide expanse of the Canterbury Plains and across a number of wide river beds and their braided channels which drain the Southern Alps. You will then arrive in Christchurch and be dropped off at your city accommodation.

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  11. Day Twelve Farewell

    Today, Brian and Paula will transfer you to Christchurch Airport for your journey home, and bid you farewell.

    Included meals:        B

Accommodation Included in this Itinerary

Arrowtown House Arrowtown House

Arrowtown House is situated in a peaceful setting in the heart of historic Arrowtown, a charming village perfect to relax and unwind in the fresh alpine air.

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.

Arrowtown House

Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge