New Zealand's South Island


Enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the South Island on a tour taking you from the stunning coastline of Nelson, to the glaciers of Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Relax at lakeside lodges—fishing, boating, and going on 4WD and jet boat excursions—and experience the tranquility of Milford Sound on an overnight boat trip. Tour vineyards in the Otago Valley, and get a bucket-list adrenaline fix with one of Queenstown’s many adventure sports.

Days: 15
Best time to visit: February-May, September-November
Ideal for: Active Couples and Families

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – Settle in on the South Island

Arrive in Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand, which sits on the water of Tasman Bay at the northwest corner of the South Island. Settle into your hotel and then enjoy a leisurely day to visit craft breweries, local award-winning wineries, or stroll along the waterfront. Nelson is the gateway to the spectacular beaches and forests of Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes national parks.


Day 2 – Abel Tasman National Park

Enjoy a full-day excursion to Abel Tasman National Park. Get out on the water on a kayak tour along the cliffs, arches, and headlands of the park, where you can spot seals and resident blue penguins. Spend the afternoon in comfort on a cruise into Tonga Island Marine Reserve, stroll along golden-sand beaches and tramp through coastal palm forests, and go for a swim in crystal clear, azure waters. Return to Nelson for the evening.


Day 3 – Explore Nelson

Spend a relaxing day exploring the area around Nelson on your own. Browse craft shops and markets in the city, or consider driving to Marlborough Wine Country for vineyard tours and tastings. If you are feeling adventurous, head south to the forested mountains and glacial lakes of Nelson Lakes National Park, or spend the afternoon taking advantage of activities at your resort.


Day 4 – Travel to Christchurch

Fly to Christchurch, and settle into the Garden City. Pop-up restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, open-air markets, and renowned Botanic Gardens make Christchurch a perfect urban stopover before heading back into nature.


Day 5 – Scenic Train Tour to Greymouth

A morning departure from Christchurch Railway Station is the beginning of an unforgettable journey through rolling farmlands, along the icy Waimakariri River, and through the rugged Southern Alps. The train ride ends in Greymouth—a gateway to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery—where your glacier expedition begins. After you settle into your hotel, explore Westland Tai Poutini National Park’s coastal lagoons, or stretch your legs on an afternoon hike.


Day 6 – Glaciers to Lake Moeraki

Take to the skies above the Franz Josef Glacier on an exhilarating Heli-hike. The glacier stretches more than 7 miles, with pinnacles of ice towering like multi-story buildings—getting an aerial view of the glacier gives a true sense of scale before you touch down to hike. A professional guide will take you trekking through this ancient world of powdery blue ice, where otherwise only the most experienced mountaineers could explore. Afterwards, drive south along the Great Coastal Road to your lodge in Lake Moeraki.


Day 7 – Lake Moeraki & the West Coast

Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge is a picturesque eco-lodge set along the banks of the Moeraki River, just downstream from the lake and surrounded by West Coast wilderness. Staying here is all about the serene setting and the activities on offer—there are canoes, kayaks, fishing rods, and in-house guides to lead water adventures or bush walks. Hike to Robinson Crusoe Beach between July and December to see rare Fiordland Crested Penguins, and visit the hidden glowworm grotto in the evening.


Day 8 – Lake Moeraki Outdoor Adventures

Enjoy another day discovering the natural splendor of the wild West Coast. Join a team of naturalist guides led by conservation ecologist and Wilderness Lodge founder Dr. McSweeney to learn about the flora and fauna of this spectacular region, almost unchanged from the time of Polynesian arrival to New Zealand.


Day 9 – Te Anau & Fiordland National Park

A scenic drive south along the coast and around Mount Aspiring National Park brings you to the lakeside retreat of Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park. Settle into this peaceful haven, nestled into nearly 3 million acres of mountains, lakes, fiords, and rainforest, and rest up for your adventure tomorrow.


Day 10 – Jet Boat on the Waiau River

Enjoy the incredible beauty of Fiordland National Park on a day-long excursion by air, water, and land. Jet boat and fish for trout on the Waiau River, take to the skies and soar among the mountains on a scenic helicopter flight, and stretch your legs along a section of the famous Kepler Track. Walk along limestone bluffs and through pockets of lush forest on the way to Brod Bay before boating back to Te Anau.


Day 11 – Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

Start the day with a 2-hour drive along a beautiful road to Milford Sound—with plenty of opportunities to stop along the way—to embark on an overnight cruise in one of New Zealand’s most impressive natural settings. Enjoy this majestic landscape in style aboard a luxury cruise, sailing along mountains surging from the dark waters and waterfalls cascading into the sound.


Day 12 – Queenstown

Return to port and head to Queenstown, the epicenter of New Zealand’s adrenaline sports scene. Spend a relaxing day walking through the Queenstown Gardens, cruising on Lake Wakatipu on an old steamboat, or take the Skyline Gondola for incredible views of the area. Delve into the city’s cosmopolitan restaurant scene, or if you are feeling bold, go bungee jumping off of Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge.


Day 13 – Dart River Wilderness

This morning, embark on an exhilarating Dart River Wilderness Jet safari deep into the wilds of Mount Aspiring National Park. Journey along rivers painted a surreal palette of blues from glacial melt, traveling between mountainous slopes covered in ancient forests. In the afternoon, head into the rugged terrain of Skippers Canyon on a 4WD track, a landscape carved by the Shotover River and once a thriving gold mining area. Return to Queenstown in time for dinner.


Day 14 – Otago Wine Region

With so many adventure sports to choose from, Queenstown’s more refined pursuits are often overlooked. Spend an afternoon exploring the spectacular scenery of the Central Otago wine region with tastings and gourmet food at an array of boutique vineyards. A region once defined by gold mining, Central Otago is a fascinating blend of history, style, and incredible landscapes.


Day 15 – Departure

Transfer to the airport for your international flight home.

Remarkable Journeys has partnered with Lost World Adventures to create this journey. We partnered with Lost World due to their well-mannered relationships with tour guides, hotellers, airlines, and ground management services in the region. In our opinion, they offer the best value and experience in the region.

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