13 day Southern Parks and Scenic Train
13 days from Christchurch to Christchurch,
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

13 day Southern Parks and Scenic Train

This 13 day tour follows the classic route around the South Island but with multiple night stays in Queenstown, Mt Cook and Dunedin.  Also includes Doubtful Sound and the West Coast Glaciers as well as the scenic Tranz Alpine train journey.

Tour summary and feature

This tour features

Departs every day - flexible independent travel

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,311 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

13 days/12 nights

Motels

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 Viewed 138 times in the last 7 days

This tour departs every day and also includes

All coach tour transport as specified in this tour package

Private train station transfers

Private airport transfers

Detailed itinerary
Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch, transfer to accommodation, rest of day at leisure

Private transfer Christchurch Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Hop On Hop Off City Tour - 24 Hour Pass

Discover the true magic of city sightseeing on-board this city tour bus. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views. Join friendly local guides as they take you on a journey of discovery through Christchurch. Listen to "live" entertaining and informative commentary and learn about the fascinating history, from pioneering days to modern times.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 2 - Christchurch to Mt Cook National Park

Christchurch to Mount Cook with GreatSights

Depart Christchurch in the morning and travel through the Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. Leaving Tekapo, continue into the Southern Alps towards Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to New Zealand's tallest mountain.
The tour concludes on arrival at Mount Cook Village, where you can explore and soak up the views of Aoraki / Mount Cook.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

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Day 3 - Explore the World Heritage area that is Mt. Cook National Park

Aoraki-Mt. Cook National Park

At 3754 metres Aoraki-Mt. Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, located deep in the heart of the Southern Alps. From the Visitor Centre at the southern end of Lake Pukaki, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of this immense peak. As well as its impressive beauty, Mt. Cook National Park is also home to a huge range of awe-inspiring sights and activities. Take to the air with Mt. Cook Ski Planes for a scenic flight that includes a glacier landing. At around 27 kilometres long the Tasman Glacier is New Zealand's longest and a Glacier Explorers tour will give you the opportunity to see its unique features.

There are many short hikes in and around the park and these are well signposted. For a fascinating guided tour the Mt. Cook Encounter Guided Walk is a must-do and those with an interest in the night sky should take a stargazing tour of the Mt. John Observatory. The region is considered to have one of the clearest night skies in the world and is one of the few gold-rated dark sky reserves worldwide.

The Hermitage Hotel complex offers fine dining, multiple cafes and a bar. Due to the remote location of the property, there are no shops and limited supplies at Mt Cook Village. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre for insight into this region's mountain climbing history. You'll also learn of Sir Ed's incredible achievements and his dedication to helping others around the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mount Cook Encounter Guided Walk of the Hooker Valley Track

The Mount Cook Encounter Walk is an 8km guided tour of the Hooker Valley, providing breath-taking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Your knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide will talk about the unique flora and fauna of the region and the local history as you trek through this amazing landscape.  From The Hermitage Hotel, head to the White Horse Hill camping ground. The journey takes in the poignant Alpine Memorial and passes over the turbulent Hooker River twice by swing bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers and mountains, then continue to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier.  A Packed lunch is included on this full day walk.

Your accommodation: Mt Cook Lodge & Motels

Mt Cook Lodge and Motel is located in the centre of Mt. Cook village. The self-contained units are spacious and all are surrounded by alpine mountain views. If you don’t feel like cooking either visit the Chamois Bar and Grill onsite or take the courtesy shuttle to Hermitage Hotel.

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Day 4 - Mt Cook National Park to Dunedin

Mount Cook to Dunedin with Iconic

In the afternoon you will be picked up from your accommodation in Mt Cook Village for the journey through to Dunedin. Along the way you stop for a short break in Omarama, then onto Oamaru for a scenic tour of the historic Whitestone Prectinct. You will then enjoy a guided walk along Koekohe Beach at Moeraki Boulders before reaching Dunedin, where you will be dropped off at your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

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Day 5 - Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Monarch Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour & Penguin Place

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour of the high road on the Otago Peninsula.

Your accommodation: Motel on York

Motel on York is located in the heart of Dunedin city. The property offers superior accommodation only 300 metres away from cafes and restaurants.

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Day 6 - Dunedin to Queenstown by Intercity coach

Dunedin Accommodation to Coach Stop Transfer with Iconic

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to the coach stop in time for your departure.

Dunedin to Queenstown by InterCity Coach

Your coach trip today takes you through the Otago Goldfields of yesteryear. The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra were once booming gold rush towns, with populations many times more than their current small town image would imply. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy. The Kawarau River then steers you away from the Clutha and carves a steep and rugged gorge through to the Gibbston Valley. Continuing through Lake Hayes you soon arrive into the bustling alpine adventure town of Queenstown.

Private Transfer Queenstown Coach Stop to Accommodation (LSQ)

On arrival into Queenstown you will be met at the coach stop and a transfer will deliver you to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 7 - Free day to explore Queenstown

Free day in Queenstown

Although celebrated as New Zealand's ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday. Settled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath a soaring panorama of the Remarkables Mountain Range, this alpine town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head down the Gibbston valley wine trail to sample some of the region’s best Pinot or catch a ride on the 100 year old Steamship - the TSS Earnslaw -  to Walter Peak Station for dinner and a farm tour. Browse the waterfront cafes and have lunch at Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata.’ Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown. Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country - or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. And after all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water rafting.
 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Nomad Safaris Macetown 4WD Adventure Tour

A true four-wheel drive, off-road adventure exploring the abandoned gold mining settlement of Macetown. Follow the miners’ old wagon trail and explore the historic gold mining town. Long since abandoned after the gold rush, Macetown has now been transformed into a Department of Conservation reserve. Experience the narrow, rugged road and learn about the tumultuous history of the region as you take in the town remnants and spectacular scenery.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Day 8 - Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with Real Journeys

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise from Queenstown

Boarding the coach in Queenstown, enjoy a relaxing trip along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through the rolling countryside to Manapouri. The spectacular Lake Wakatipu guides you south towards Te Anau and Fiordland. At the southern end of the lake tiny Kingston Township is home to a classic steam train, The Kingston Flyer and rides are offered during the summer months. The rolling farmland of Southland accompanies you as you pass through Garston, Athol and Five Rivers before turning west towards Mossburn and Manapouri. A Doubtful Sound overnight cruise on board the Fiordland Navigator offers a very special dinner, bed and breakfast wilderness experience. Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight vessel, the Fiordland Navigator, is designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect Fiordland's heritage. The purpose built vessel accommodates passengers either in private cabins with ensuite bathrooms or in quad-share bunk style compartments with shared bathroom facilities. The vessel has spacious deck areas for viewing the wilderness scenery and wildlife of Doubtful Sound. Of particular interest, if sighted, are fur seals, dolphins, and in season, rare penguins.
Departing Manapouri at 12:30 you enjoy a short cruise across beautiful Lake Manapouri and after a coach trip over Wilmot Pass, you will board the Fiordland Navigator at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. There is plenty of time on your overnight cruise to enjoy the stunning views and to discover the hidden arms of Doubtful Sound. There is also time for you to kayak around the shoreline or go exploring in the tender craft with your nature guide. As the shadows lengthen, drop anchor at a favourite mooring for the night. After the days activities, enjoy a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining saloon. After enjoying the sunrise in the sound a hearty breakfast awaits before your journey back to Manapouri where you disembark at around midday.

Your accommodation: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon and observation lounge.

Meals included: Dinner

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Day 9 - Return to Queenstown from Doubtful Sound

Real Journeys coach Manapouri to Queenstown

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday. Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. On the southern shore of Lake Wakatipu sits Kingston, home to classic steam train, The Kingston Flyer. Following the lake north the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

Meals included: Breakfast

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Day 10 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier by Newmans coach

Queenstown to Franz Josef with GreatSights

Leaving Queenstown, travel by luxury coach through the stunning scenery of the South Island. Your driver guide will provide entertaining commentary and point out sites of interest as you pass by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Dunstan, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. After a morning tea break in Makarora on the border of Mount Aspiring World Heritage Park, you'll travel through the Haast Pass, journeying through native beech forest and over the Southern Alps, before emerging on the West Coast, arriving in the afternoon at the small village of Franz Josef.
From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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Day 11 - Explore Franz Josef and the Glacier region

Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef is a small but lively town in the heart of the West Coast, known for its 12 km long glacier. Surrounded by lush rainforest-clad mountains the township has a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. To see the ice from a viewpoint you can walk along the valley floor to the terminal face without a guide. However, to go on the glacier itself you must take a licensed helicopter tour.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Glacier Hot Pools

Nestled within the lush rainforest surrounds, the Glacier Hot Pools is a haven of tranquility. Unwind in one of the three main pools. Temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees and the water comes directly from a glacial stream. Wash off the day and rejuvenate in this unique forest paradise.

Your accommodation: Punga Grove Motel & Suites

Punga Grove is right in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village and offers affordable and stylish accommodation in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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Day 12 - Franz Josef to Greymouth train station, Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch

Franz Josef to Greymouth Train Station with GreatSights

This morning travel north through the small townships of Whataroa and Harihari. Stop at the Bushman's Centre for refreshments and a chance to experience a bit of West Coast humour. Continue through the township of Ross, which in the late 1800s was the centre of one of New Zealand's richest alluvial goldfields. On arrival in Hokitika there is time to purchase lunch and explore the town centre.
Continue onto Greymouth Railway Station from where you catch the world famous TranzAlpine train across the Southern Alps to Christchurch.

TranzAlpine Scenic Train: Greymouth to Christchurch

Considered one of the world's great train journeys, the TranzAlpine Scenic Train takes you from Greymouth to Christchurch. You'll travel across the South Island from the west to the east coast through Arthur's Pass National Park. From the comfort of your carriage see lush beech forest, deep river valleys and the spectacular peaks of the Southern Alps. Descend to the windswept Canterbury Plains before arriving in the city of Christchurch.

Private Transfer Christchurch Train Station to your accommodation

On arrival at the Christchurch train station, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Day 13 - Depart Christchurch today

Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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