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South Island Exploration the Eco Friendly Way

21 days from £7,070pp

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Tour highlights

  • Sail to hidden bays in the Abel Tasman National Park.

  • Watch native sperm whales breach in Kaikoura.

  • Sleep under the stars in a Dark Sky Reserve.

  • E-bike around the Clutha River and stunning Lake Wanaka.

  • Stay aboard an overnight cruise to explore the Doubtful Sound.

Price includes:

  • Scheduled international and domestic flights
  • Fully insured vehicle hire
  • All accommodation
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

With international flights from a choice of airports including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Auckland.

  • On-board your international outbound flight to Auckland.

  • This morning you'll fly down to Nelson and begin your South Island adventure. Collect your compact car and make your way to the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can immerse yourself in the wilderness for the next three nights as the park is only accessible on foot, by kayak or by boat.

  • Today's sailing adventure will take you around the hidden beaches and coves of the Abel Tasman National Park. If you're lucky you might spot dolphins or an orca. The New Zealand fur seals can be found sunning themselves on a rock.

  • Abel Tasman is well known as one of the best spots to sea kayak in New Zealand, as the waters and bays are calm, sheltered and great for beginners. Spend the morning paddling to Split Apple Rock, which takes you past lush vegetation and gives you a leisurely kayaking experience. The afternoon is at leisure to explore more of the national park or to relax.

  • Today drive down to Kaikoura through winelands and mountainous scenery that won't disappoint as the road winds along the dramatic coastline. Welcome to Kaikoura, where you will spend the next two nights. Here you can explore the mountainous region or head to town to try crayfish, commonly found off the shores of Kaikoura.

  • In the morning, you'll head out into the Pacific Ocean to see if you can spot sperm whales breaching, dusky dolphins playing or the majestic albatross gliding overhead. The afternoon is at leisure to walk along the cliff tops and to take in the dramatic mountain and ocean scenery.

  • By-passing the city of Christchurch, head down toward the pretty French town of Akaroa where you'll find culinary delights, hidden hikes and a fantastic harbour.

  • Today head out on a small boat to find Hector's dolphins, where you can get in the water with them to watch them swim past you and play in the water. Supporting these cruises helps the Hector's dolphin survive and spreads the conservation message.

  • Head off into the Southern Alps today, with mighty Mount Cook standing proud at the head of Lake Pukaki. On your drive across the Canterbury Plains, we recommend stopping at Lake Tekapo to walk up Mount John, marvel at the view and enjoy a hot drink in the Astro Cafe. Stay the night in Twizel, a great base for exploring the area, as there are a lot of great walks and it’s a short drive to the Mount Cook Village.

  • Spend the morning near Mount Cook Village, kayaking on a glacial lake and walking in the beautiful national park. There will be a striking difference from Abel Tasman, but this contrast is what makes New Zealand so special. This area is a part of the Dark Sky Reserve, so we recommend setting your alarm for the early morning and marvel at the abundance of stars overhead.

  • Depart from Twizel and head to Lake Wanaka, a must stop destination in New Zealand because there is so much natural beauty as the town borders the Mount Aspiring National Park. There's plenty of hiking and outdoor activities to be done here. The region also has some incredible wineries and fantastic restaurants.

  • Exploring a little off the beaten track this morning, your guide will take you over to Mou Waho Island which is in the middle of Lake Wanaka where they have reintroduced the native Weka bird. Due to their naive nature, the Weka is an ideal prey for introduced mammals. Thankfully the island is predator free and Wally the Weka is most inquisitive of visitors. Each visitor plants a tree as well to help contribute toward the re-growth of the island.

  • Ditch the car today and spend a day cycling alongside the mighty Clutha River with the latest e-bikes. These really take the effort out of cycling and mean that you can go further and over many different terrains with relative ease.

  • Depart from Wanaka and head to Manapouri and Fiordland National Park to board a boat across Lake Manapouri. After another short coach ride over the Wilmot Pass, finally you've made it to Deep Cove and your home for the night. Spend the afternoon and night sailing into the Tasman Sea before anchoring for dinner and heading out on the water on a small Zodiac or in kayaks.

  • In the morning, you'll wake in the tranquillity of the Doubtful Sound before tucking into a delicious breakfast. There's chance to spot penguins, dolphins and many birds before you head back to Queenstown. In the evening, take a walk around Lake Wakatipu or take the gondola up to the Skyline.

  • Spend the day on a guided walk of the Routeburn Track to experience part of one of the New Zealand Great Walks. The scenery throughout the day is spectacular.

  • Enjoy a sleep in this morning before being collected from your accommodation to head into the Otago wine region that is home to the world’s southern-most wine producer. You will spend the late morning and early afternoon exploring some of its cellars and trying the local produce of the region.

  • Today is spent in Queenstown relaxing or adventuring around one of the many hiking trails of the region.

  • Today make your own way to the airport in time for your onward flight home.

  • Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

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The specialist who designs your trip to New Zealand will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
Abel Tasman National Park
Akaroa & Banks Peninsula
Lake Tekapo
Mount Cook National Park
Lake Wanaka

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