15 Day Scenic Tour

A tailor made 15 day scenic tour of the South Island of New Zealand for 4 people. This was a repeat trip for grandparents with other grandchildren, from Mexico. They wanted an extended tour starting and finishing in Christchurch and wanted to stay at Arthurs Pass and Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodges again. Because of the children, the emphasis was to be on wildlife, landscapes, natural heritage and adventure activities. The grandmother especially requested that we again include the delicious morning and afternoon teas.

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

Wildsouth Discovery offers their exclusively guided, private tour of South Island. Your experienced, friendly local tour guides Brian and Paula, or Kevin and Karen personally guide and host all tours and are passionate about New Zealand.

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

  • 15 days of scenic splendour
  • Spellbinding 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.

Meal codes:
B: Full breakfast; MT: Picnic morning tea; L: Lunch;
AT: Picnic afternoon tea / NZ wine, cheese & crackers; D: Dinner

  1. Day One Christchurch arrival

    After being met by your guide and host, 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 gorgeous 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. This historic town is a highlight and descendants of the original French pioneers still reside here. The harbour was a safe haven for early whalers and sealers working in the wild southern ocean beyond its striking headlands. 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. Also found in these waters are New Zealand fur seals, little blue penguins, orcas and a myriad of bird life. 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.

    Enjoy the quaint colonial style architecture and wander around the old charming French harbourside village of Akaroa with its museum of settlers’ history, art and craft shops and studios, cafes and wine bars. Visit the Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory for a cheese tasting of locally made cheeses, the only remaining cheese factory on the peninsula. Your nature / harbour eco-cruise is packed with highlights including the rare, NZ native dolphin – the Hector’s Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. You’ll also see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa’s fascinating past.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal
    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  3. Day Three Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass

    Today, you will escape the city and start your journey west across the Canterbury Plains. As the distant mountains become closer, you may wonder, just like the Maori and the early settlers before us how you will find a way through. Crossing Porter’s Pass, a dramatic landscape change occurs as you enter the high country, an inter-montaine plateau bounded by the Torlesse Mountains to the east and the Craigieburn Mountains to the west. Travelling through this glacial shaped region, you will pass glacial formed lakes and the stunning spiritual limestone formations of Castle Hill which dominate the landscape. Further on, you will reach the wide expanse of the Waimakariri River and the Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass.

    Accommodation:      Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

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

  4. Day Four A day in the mountains

    This is a day to discover the real high country – a day in which you can explore and learn about the alpine landscape, plants and the animals in the spectacular Southern Alps.

    A tour of the high country sheep farm which is part of the lodge, will enable you to view and learn about the ways of sheep farming in the high country.

    From the lodge you will 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!

    Accommodation:      Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass

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

  5. Day Five Arthur’s Pass - Punakaiki

    A day of contrast as you travel from the alpine area, down the Otira Gorge and then reach the Tasman Sea. Along the way, pass Moana, on beautiful Lake Brunner where a walk across the Arnold River and through the podocarp rainforest can be made. Depart Moana and travel to the Grey River, one of the largest rivers on the West Coast. A short stop in Greymouth and then it is north to Punakaiki where the famous Pancake Rocks are found and where you will stay for two nights at the Punakaiki Resort.

    Accommodation:      Punakaiki Resort

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  6. Day Six Punakaiki / Charleston area

    A highlight today is the Charleston Gloworm Cave Tour.  A simply stunning Wilderness Eco-tour through the enormous Nile River Cave System deep in the Paparoa National Park. You will be met at our modern Charleston Base where you will be equipped with a caving helmet and meet one of our passionate guides. A short drive will take you to The Nile River Canyon to board the ‘Nile River Rainforest Train’. This is the start of your journey into the lush Rainforest, surrounded by uniquely nature carved rock formation and impressive limestone cliffs.

    On your short walk to the cave you will enjoy the tranquil beauty of the lush native bush in this ‘Untamed Natural Wilderness’ environment. On leaving the river bed you will climb 131 steps to the cave entrance while gaining stupendous views back down to the river below.

    Leaving daylight behind you will explore the enormous Nile River Caves System, seeing, feeling and getting close to an ancient wonderland sculptured by water and decorated with fragile calcite formations. You will get really close to amazing galaxies of glow worms. The guides will enrich your journey with captivating illustrations, explanations and stories before returning to the surface for a short stroll back to the train. A journey that takes you into one of the few cave systems you can see in its natural untamed wilderness state. Afterwards, a walk can be taken to see Cape Foulwind, the NZ Furseal colony and remote beautiful beaches.

    Accommodation:      Punakaiki Resort

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  7. Day Seven Punakaiki to Franz Josef Glacier

    Today you will travel south through Greymouth and then onto Hokitika, once the capital of Westland and a roaring gold mining town and also a place where the Maori sought their treasured greenstone (pounamu / jade). Greenstone is a feature in the town’s bustling centre of art and craft shops.

    A walk can be made through some old gold mining tunnels and a walk can also be made to the beautiful Hokitika Gorge. From Hokitika it is then south again to Franz Josef. Along the way, you will pass through villages that were once bustling and one now has a population of 2 (three, including the dog!). Heading on, see the West Coast rainforests and further evidence of the last Ice Age in the kettle lakes created by the melting ice sheets.

    Accommodation:      Te Waonui Forest Retreat

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

  8. Day Eight Franz Josef - Lake Moeraki

    A day to explore the glaciated landscape of Glacier Country. Walks can be made to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier and to a glacier viewpoint to witness the Fox Glacier’s descent down the mountain into the rainforest.

    An option is a beautiful and tranquil walk which can be taken around the edge of Lake Matheson. It is here that incredible views (and sometimes reflections) of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in the lake can often be seen. Alternatively, a drive through the lush rainforest to a remote beach on the Tasman Sea for views of the Alps and where we can look for the rare Hectors Dolphins. Optional guided hike on the Fox Glacier with an alpine guide or an exciting helicopter ride with a snow landing on the upper reaches of the glacier are available.

    From Fox Glacier, travel south to the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, set in the heart of Te Wahi Pounamu – the South West New Zealand World heritage area. This lodge is a Tourism Award Winner providing a first class wilderness experience.

    Accommodation:      Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

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

  9. Day Nine 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 also home to the Hectors Dolphins (the world’s smallest dolphin) and numerous varieties of native birds. 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, MT, L, AT, D

  10. Day Ten Lake Moeraki - Haast Pass - Wanaka - Arrowtown

    Depart Moeraki and travel south to Ship Creek. Here, from a viewing tower on the beach there is a good chance of seeing the rare Hectors Dolphin playing beyond the surf. Walk through a primeval swamp forest to see ancient ”dinosaur” trees, view a coastal lagoon and fossick for greenstone on the remote beach.

    From here, you will head south again to Haast where the road turns east, following the Haast Highway. 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.

    Accommodation:      Millbrook Resort
    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  11. Day Eleven 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. Help yourself to free tea and coffee, with a delicious buffet lunch included in this option. At the end of your cruise, you will fly back to Queenstown.

    Accommodation:      Millbrook Resort
    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  12. Day Twelve Arrowtown - Aoraki / Mt Cook

    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”. You will then follow Lake Pukaki to Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park and the Mount Cook village. Aoraki / Mount Cook is spectacular at 3754 metres and there are 27 other mountains in this alpine backbone which peak at over 3,050 metres. Hundreds of others not far short of that all making up the famous Southern Alps. Walks can be made to experience the alpine vistas and to view the Tasman Glacier, the longest glacier in the world that exists in a temperate zone.

    Accommodation:      The Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki / Mt Cook

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

  13. Day Thirteen Aoraki / Mt Cook

    A day to explore the national park. Suggested activities are a Skiplane Flight to land on the Tasman Glacier or a boat trip to view the Tasman Glacier and its terminal lake.

    The hermitage Hotel also has the Hillary Centre which celebrates Sir Edmond Hillary, the first person to climb Mt Everest. There are numerous walks that can be made to experience the grandeur of Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park.

    Accommodation:      The Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki / Mt Cook

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  14. Day Fourteen Aoraki / Mt Cook - Christchurch

    Today, you will leave Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park and travel to 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.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal
    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  15. Day Fifteen Farewell

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

    Included meals: B, MT, L, AT

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.

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.

Punakaiki ResortPunakaiki Resorts

The Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and 300m from the Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat logo Te Waonui Forest Retreat

A foray into New Zealand’s pristine wilderness – Te Waonui Forest Retreat is truly a place to relax and refresh.

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.

Millbrook Resort logo Millbrook Resort

Stay at our multi-award winning resort set just outside of Queenstown. Peaceful and tranquil setting, Millbrook Resort provides first class accommodation and is the ultimate in five-star luxury.

The Hermitage Hotel The Hermitage Hotel

The Hermitage Hotel is the perfect place to base your adventure and discover why this region has endeared itself to Kiwi adventure seekers for so long.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Punakaiki Resort

The Hermitage Hotel