South Island Explorer

Natural New Zealand featuring glaciers, fiords, and rain forests with hiking
Overview

overview

Our South Island Explorer is for travelers who want to go deep into a variety of environments in the company of a seasoned, brilliantly informed guide. The accommodations are small and magnificently sited and are reserved by our operator two years in advance. Each day brings new activities, new vistas, and new experiences. Evenings bring good food and warm conversation that inevitably heighten understanding of the region and its people. You'll find your hosts to be open, good-spirited, and deservedly proud of their precious birthright, New Zealand.

On this South Island adventure, you will first explore Christchurch and witness the spectacular scenery of Arthur’s Pass and Fox Glacier. Next, take in the sights of Lake Moeraki, experience the natural beauty of the surrounding rain forests, and observe the flora and fauna of the area. From here, you will pass by glacial lakes on your way to Queenstown, where you will have a full day to enjoy any number of activities from hiking to shopping. Finally, you will visit Milford Sound, an absolutely breathtaking section of Fiordland National Park, filled with glaciated valleys, lush rain forests, and stunning alpine views.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Christchurch

    Upon arrival in Christchurch, you will be met by your guide and and driven through the “Garden City” and up onto the Port Hills, the flanks of one of the ancient extinct volcanoes that form the 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 beckon you to discover them.
    Having orientated yourselves in Christchurch, you will then 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 highcountry, a high tussock grass basin bounded by the Torlesse Mountains to the east and the Craigieburn Mountains to the west.
    Travelling through this region you will pass glacial formed lakes and the limestone formations of Castle Hill which dominate the landscape. Farther on, you will reach the wide expanse of the Waimakariri River and the Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass.

    Meals
    Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging
    Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass
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  • Day 2: Arthur's Pass

    This is a day where you can explore and discover the alpine plants and animals of Arthur’s Pass, and take in the spectacular Southern Alps. Experience the workings of a high country sheep farm and help with the day-to-day activities such as feeding out, mustering, or working with the dogs. Walking, canoeing, and mountain bike riding are activities available at the lodge, or, if you prefer, just relax and enjoy the views of the Southern Alps.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging
    Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Arthur's Pass/Hokitika/Fox Glacier

    After breakfast, cross the pass that was once used as a gold rush link and by the Maori in their search for greenstone, and travel through Arthur's Pass National Park, home of the kea, the world's only alpine parrot. Continue down the spectacular Otira Gorge, follow the rivers to the West Coast, and walk an old gold miner's trail. Visit Hokitika, once a very large gold mining town, and walk through an ancient coastal forest. At the Bushman's Centre, meet a "Coaster" and some of the locals. Heading further south, see the west coast bush and the kettle lakes that were created by the melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. Then, travel to Fox Glacier - a truly incredible sight! Stay overnight at Te Weheka Lodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea
    Lodging
    Franz Josef or Fox Glacier or similar
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  • Day 4: Fox Glacier/Lake Moeraki

    Today you will explore the glaciated landscape of the Fox Glacier region, where you can take a hike up to the ice with an experienced alpine guide. For those who would like something a little more passive, enjoy a walk to a glacier viewpoint or take an optional helicopter ride to view the Southern Alps, with a special landing on the upper reaches of the glacier. After lunch, you can take a beautiful and tranquil walk to Lake Matheson, where incredible reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman can often be seen. From Fox Glacier, journey farther south to Lake Moeraki, an area of pristine rainforest and spectacular coastline. This is the breeding place of the rare Fjordland Crested penguin (seasonal) and also hosts a seal colony, Hectors dolphins, and numerous native birds. Stay overnight at the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, a Tourism Award Winner.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging
    Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Lake Moeraki

    Your day will be spent at Lake Moeraki, a nature lover's paradise. Here, you will experience spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins and see untouched lowland rainforests. These rainforests are interspersed among pristine lakes and rivers, which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps. Activities include guided walks to get close to the wildlife, to learn about the forest, and to experience the 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.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging
    Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Wanaka/Arrowtown/Queenstown

    Depart for Wanaka crossing over the Haast Pass where you will notice the land changing dramatically as the road climbs from the dense rainforest of the West Coast to the drier tussock lands of Otago. Pass Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, ancient glacial lakes, before heading over the rugged and remote Crown Range, the sight of gold diggers in the 1860's then on to Arrowtown. Visit the old Chinese gold miners' settlement and view this quaint old miner's village. Afterwards, continue on to Queenstown where you overnight at the Millbrook Country Resort for the next three nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea
    Lodging
    Millbrook Country Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Queenstown

    You will have a free day to experience some of the many optional activities that Queenstown has to offer. Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the old steamship Earnslaw, the lady of the lake, or perhaps try an exhilarating jetboat trip through the Shotover Canyon. Shopping, staking in the spectacular views from the gondola, bush walks, or an arts and crafts trail are just of the few things you can do here. For those who wish to hike, a climb up Queenstown Hill offers spectacular views. Your guide will be available to assist with transfers as required.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Millbrook Country Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Milford Sound Excursion

    The road to Milford Sound through the Fjordland National Park is absolutely breathtaking with its sheer U-shaped glaciated valleys, waterfalls, and lush, temperate rainforests. The Homer Tunnel, entry to the Cleddau Valley and Milford Sound, is a tribute to the engineers' skills in the 1930s. Explore the fjord on a cruise through deeply carved glacial valleys, past ancient forests and incredible rock formations before heading back to Queenstown. Catch a glimpse of the extremely rare Takahe, a flightless bird, at a sanctuary in Te Anau, and take a short walk to see waterfalls, alpine views, and lakes. Optional alternatives include a helicopter trip which can include a snow landing or perhaps a return to Queenstown by scenic flight (not included in tour cost).

    Meals
    Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea
    Lodging
    Millbrook Country Resort or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Queenstown/Onward

    After breakfast, you will have time for some last minute shopping or to experience that last piece of adventure before you bid farewell to New Zealand.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Nov 14-22, 2014
Dec 6-14, 2014
Jan 10-18, 2015
Feb 7-15, 2015
Mar 14-22, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$6,995
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$1650
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

PLEASE NOTE: Prices may fluctuate based on the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the New Zealand Dollar.

Duration:
9 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
4
deluxe wilderness lodges
Group Size:
4-6
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
deluxe wilderness lodges
Terms & Conditions: 

New Zealand

Please note: Prices may fluctuate based on the exchange rate between the US Dollar and the New Zealand Dollar.

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation & check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure. Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditionsas noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Sydney Stopover

Duration: 4 days

Sydney is a great place to spend more than just a day, whether you are looking for an exciting place to explore or hoping to just sit back and relax. Discover Sydney's unique dining, shopping, and recreational options in one of the world's most attra... read more

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