Best Of Southern New Zealand Trip Notes

Trip Overview


Welcome to an extraordinary 10-day expedition through the enchanting landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island! This immersive trip to New Zealand will take you on a captivating adventure through some of the most picturesque and diverse regions, each offering its own unique blend of natural wonders and cultural experiences. Our adventure kicks off in the vibrant city of Christchurch, known for its resilience and revival following the earthquake of 2011. From there, we’ll embark on a mesmerizing coastal journey to Kaikoura, a place where mountains meet the sea, providing an opportunity to witness remarkable marine life, including whales and dolphins. Continuing our exploration, we’ll head to Westport, a charming coastal town nestled amidst lush rainforests and rugged cliffs. The journey then leads us to Franz Josef, where we’ll explore the stunning Franz Josef Glacier and its surrounding rainforest. Our adventure will culminate in Queenstown, often referred to as the adventure capital of the world.

Throughout these 10 days, you’ll be enchanted by the natural splendor, invigorated by the adventure, and inspired by the rich culture of New Zealand.

Duration : 10 Days

Destination : New Zealand

Start/Ends in : Christchurch / Christchurch

Group Size : 13-35 People

Age Req. : 18+

Trip Theme : Classic, Overland

Hotels : 4 and 3 Star Hotels & Local Lodges

Departs : All Year Round

Why you will love this tour

  • * This 10-day tour promises an abundance of awe-inspiring natural beauty, from the stunning coastal vistas of Kaikoura to the majestic Franz Josef Glacier and the serene lakeside charm of Queenstown.
  • * Kaikoura is renowned for its abundant marine life, offering the opportunity to witness magnificent whales and playful dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s a wildlife enthusiast’s dream come true.
  • * From exploring lush rainforests to taking glacier hikes and enjoying adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown, this tour provides a perfect balance of exploration and adventure for the adventurous traveler.ape to the tranquility of remote coastal towns and pristine national parks.
  • * Along the way, you’ll have the chance to engage with the local Kiwi culture, learn about the Maori heritage.

  • * Savor the flavors of New Zealand with delectable cuisine that includes fresh seafood, farm-to-table dishes, and world-class wines. Each destination offers a unique culinary experience that will tantalize your taste buds.

  • * Travel with ease and comfort, knowing that our meticulously planned itinerary, cozy accommodations, and knowledgeable guides ensure you have a worry-free and enriching experience. This tour is designed to cater to your every need, allowing you to focus on the beauty and excitement of your surroundings.

Arrival Details

The group welcome meeting with your guide and other travelers is held around 18:30 at the hotel lobby on Day 1 of your tour unless otherwise notified.

The Meeting and Finishing Point:

Distinction Hotel Christchurch – Christchurch

Address :  14 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

Phone : +64 3 377 7000

Emergency Number: +44 203 14 99 200


Christchurch: Often called the “Garden City,” Christchurch is known for its beautiful parks, post-earthquake rebuilding, and English heritage.

Greymouth: Greymouth is a West Coast town known for its rugged beauty, mining history, and as a gateway to the stunning Southern Alps.

Franz Joseph: Franz Josef is a glacier village on the West Coast, offering thrilling glacier hikes and helicopter tours amid stunning alpine scenery.

Queenstown: Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, where visitors can bungee jump, ski, or simply enjoy the stunning Lake Wakatipu.

Twizel: Twizel is a charming town near Lake Pukaki, popular for its access to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and stargazing opportunities.

Mt Cook: Mount Cook, or Aoraki, is New Zealand’s highest peak and a haven for hikers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts seeking alpine beauty.


Please note that the itinerary may be subject to small changes depending on the conditions during the tour. Alternative accommodation of similar standards may be used depending on the group size and hotel availability.

Upon your arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand’s largest metropolis, make your own way to your hotel for the evening. Take the evening to explore the city at your own pace and prepare for your coach trip on the next day.

  • Accommodation
    Distinction Hotel Christchurch- 4 Star

You’ll be greeted by a coach for your journey northward. You’ll pass through the Waipara wine-growing region, traverse the charming town of Cheviot, cross the Hundalee Hills, and witness the breathtaking East Coast of the South Island unfold before your eyes. The vistas along this route as you approach Kaikoura are truly remarkable, featuring stunning and rugged coastlines with endless sea views stretching to the horizon.

Nestled amidst this picturesque coastal scenery is the town of Kaikoura, celebrated for its abundant marine life, picturesque coastal trails, and, of course, its delectable seafood, including crayfish/lobster. Kaikoura stands as an iconic New Zealand coastal town that embodies the untouched natural beauty of New Zealand’s coastline.

  • Accommodation
    Sudima Kaikoura – 4 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Scenic Drive to Kaikoura

Starting your journey from Kaikoura, travel through the quaint town of Waiau, and then venture across the alpine Lewis Pass toward the West Coast of the South Island. Proceed further inland to Reefton, a town whose name harkens back to the late 1860s when extensive gold-bearing quartz reefs were discovered. Reefton still exudes a charming historic character and earned the moniker ‘the town of light’ for pioneering electric street lighting in the southern hemisphere as early as 1888. Additionally, it’s famous for its exceptional freshwater fishing, with 12 different river systems accessible within a 40-minute drive from the town center, earning it a worldwide reputation.

Continuing your route, you’ll pass through the cozy village of Charleston before reaching Punakaiki. Prepare to be amazed by the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, where water columns erupt dramatically from formations that resemble enormous stacks of pancakes. From here, proceed with your journey to Greymouth.

  • Accommodation
    The Ashley Hotel Greymouth – 3 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Visit to Reefton
    Visit to Punakaiki

This morning, you find yourself in Greymouth, a town steeped in the legacy of gold mining and once the location of the Maori pa known as Mawhera, named for its strategic river mouth location. Greymouth holds the distinction of being the central hub of the West Coast and is also the largest town on the South Island’s west coast. Departing from Greymouth, your journey southward takes you along the picturesque and untamed coastline, winding through luxuriant native rainforests, and passing by numerous stunning lakes en route to Franz Josef.

  • Accommodation
    Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier – 4 Star
  • Meals Included

This morning, you’ll awaken in the welcoming town of Franz Josef, which serves as the gateway for exploring the glacier bearing the same name. This glacier descends from the Southern Alps and extends into the temperate rainforest, reaching just 300 meters above sea level.

  • Accommodation
    Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier – 4 Star
  • Meals Included

This morning, you’ll awaken in the welcoming town of Franz Josef, which serves as the gateway for exploring the glacier bearing the same name. This glacier descends from the Southern Alps and extends into the temperate rainforest, reaching just 300 meters above sea level.

Your journey today takes you south along the West Coast to Haast. From there, you’ll venture inland through Haast Pass, eventually arriving at the charming town of Wanaka. Continuing on your route, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Arrowtown, a picturesque and historically significant village, before reaching Queenstown.

Queenstown is a stunning alpine town nestled along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges. It’s a popular destination year-round, known for its distinct four seasons. Winter offers clear, blue-sky days, spring retains a touch of snow while transitioning into longer, warmer days, summer brings sunshine and extended twilight hours, and autumn paints the landscape with vibrant hues of red and gold.

  • Accommodation
    Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakefront – 4 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Visit to Arrowtown

Today, you have the freedom to discover the charm of this picturesque lakeside town. With its soaring mountains and the awe-inspiring natural splendor of the surrounding ranges and rivers, Queenstown offers something to delight every visitor.

  • Accommodation
    Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakefront- 4 Star
  • Meals Included

This morning, begin your journey from Queenstown, passing through the town of Cromwell, which was once a hub for gold mining and has now become known for its cultivation of stone fruits. Nestled along the shores of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell offers a scenic stop on your route. Continuing your expedition, you’ll traverse the dramatic Lindis Pass, a mountainous terrain that connects the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. For a good portion of the year, this region is often blanketed in snow, adding to its rugged charm. Here, snow tussock grassland prevails, creating a picturesque rolling landscape before you reach the Mackenzie region and the town of Twizel.

This area boasts some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking scenery, from stunning turquoise lakes to towering mountains. It’s also home to the Mt Cook National Park, which includes New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki Mt Cook, and its longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier.

  • Accommodation
    Distinction Mackenzie – Country Hotel
  • Meals Included

Leaving Twizel behind, your journey takes you to Tekapo, where you’ll be greeted by the mesmerizing turquoise-blue waters of Lake Tekapo. Here, against the backdrop of the Southern Alps, stands the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd. Your route then proceeds through the towns of Burkes Pass, Fairle, and Geraldine before crossing the Rakaia River. The Rakaia Bridge is a remarkable feat, as it stretches 1.8 kilometers, making it New Zealand’s longest road bridge. It spans the Rakaia River, one of Canterbury’s sizable braided rivers.

Continuing onward, you’ll cross the Canterbury Plains, passing through the outlying towns of Dunsandel and Rolleston, before ultimately reaching Christchurch, often referred to as ‘The Garden City.’ Christchurch is celebrated for its abundance of parks, gardens, and English heritage, with the tranquil Avon River meandering through the city center. Along the riverbanks, you’ll find cycling paths, and Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens provide expansive green spaces. Many visitors choose to explore the city by hopping on one of the trams, while others opt for a boat ride along the Avon. Alternatively, you can simply relax at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants along Oxford Terrace, savoring the charm of this inviting city.

  • Accommodation
    Distinction Hotel Christchurch – 4 Star
  • Meals Included
  • Included Activities
    Christchurch Visit

Embark on the final leg of your extraordinary journey as you bid farewell to Christchurch today, setting your sights on new adventures and exciting horizons.  Farewell, New Zealand!

  • Meals Included

Inclusions & Exclusions

The tour price covers the following services:

Accomodation : 4 and 3 star hotels & Local Lodges

Meals : 9 Breakfasts

Transportation : A/C Vehicles

Guide : Services of experienced Travel Talk local guides licenced by the Ministry of Tourism

Sightseeing :

Kaikoura, Reefton, Punakaiki, Greymouth, Tauranga Bay, Charlston, Punakaiki, Franz Josef, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Twizel, Mt Cook, Christchurch

What is NOT included in the tour price?

  • Any flights not mentioned above
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not stated above
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips & gestures
  • Entrance fees to the sights and museums
  • Optional activities
  • Other services not stated in the itinerary

Hotels & Accommodation

Solo travelers will be roomed with another solo traveler of the same gender in a twin or triple room or can upgrade to a solo room by paying the single supplement. You may choose the solo room option when booking online or contact us to arrange a private room. Your tour leader will allocate rooms upon arrival at the starting hotel in accordance with the rooming lists, last minute changes may not be guaranteed.

Sudima Kaikoura – KAIKOURA 4 Star

Sudima Kaikoura Hotel offers guests a picturesque coastal retreat in Kaikoura, New Zealand, where they can enjoy stunning ocean views and easy access to the region’s renowned marine wildlife and natural beauty.

The Ashley Hotel Greymouth – GREYMOUTH 3 Star

The Ashley Hotel Greymouth provides a welcoming and convenient stay on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, making it an ideal choice for travelers exploring the region’s rugged landscapes and historic attractions.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier – FRANZ JOSEF 4 Star

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier offers guests a comfortable and scenic base for exploring the awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier and the surrounding Westland Tai Poutini National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakefront – QUEENSTOWN 4 Star

Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakefront offers travelers a picturesque lakeside retreat in the heart of Queenstown, New Zealand, with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and easy access to the town’s vibrant dining, shopping, and outdoor adventure options.

Distinction Mackenzie – Country Hotel

Distinction Mackenzie Country Hotel provides a tranquil and scenic escape in New Zealand’s Mackenzie Basin, offering guests a serene atmosphere amid stunning mountain landscapes and proximity to iconic attractions like Lake Tekapo and Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park.

Distinction Hotel Christchurch – CHRISTCHURCH – 4 Star

Distinction Hotel Christchurch offers travelers a modern and comfortable stay in the heart of Christchurch, New Zealand, with convenient access to the city’s attractions, including the vibrant cultural and dining scene.


Please note that entrance fees to sights and optional activities are not included in the tour price.

Essential Information: New Zealand

Passport & Visas

If you are not from a visa-exempt country or if you plan to stay in New Zealand for a longer duration, you will typically need to apply for a visitor visa. This visa is suitable for tourists, family visits, and business trips. Some travelers may be exempt from obtaining a visa to enter New Zealand. These exemptions usually apply to citizens of visa waiver countries who intend to stay for a short period as tourists. Citizens of Australia do not require a visa to enter New Zealand.

Keep in mind that visa requirements can change, and the specific visa you need may depend on your nationality, the purpose of your visit, and other factors. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult the New Zealand Immigration website or contact the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate to get the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding visa and passport requirements before planning your trip.

Passport validity entry requirements: Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from New Zealand.

Travel Advice

We are closely monitoring the latest travel updates to New Zealand and following the advice of the UK Foreign Office (FCDO). For the latest travel advice from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, please visit

We recommend all travellers to check their Government National Travel Advisory prior to their departure:

Australia –

Canada –

New Zealand –


Travel Insurance

All passengers travelling with Travel Talk are required to have personal travel insurance before participating in any of our tours. Your guide will collect your travel insurance details on the first day of your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have an adequate and suitable travel insurance for you in place, you may read more at

Health & Safety

The health and safety of our passengers, staff and communities visited is of utmost priority. As we monitor and comply with the official advice from the UK Foreign Office, as well as World Health Organization and government authorities regularly, we have implemented several policies and precautions on our tours for your wellbeing. You may find our Safe Travels Protocols at

Travel Talk Adventures has received the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which allows travellers to recognise companies around the world that have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers canexperience ‘Safe Travels’.

Please make sure to regularly check your Government’s travel advice before travelling and be well-informed of any requirements. Your tour guide will also notify you of the regulations and protocols to follow throughout your trip with us.

Please note that if any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary or possess a potential risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to remove them from all or part of a trip.

Please consult with your doctor for the latest medical travel information and any vaccinations you may need. We recommend that you bring any personal medical requirements and medications with you as these may be difficult to obtain while on tour.


New Zealand’s weather varies across its North and South Islands, but the best time to visit depends on your interests. The North Island enjoys warm summers (December to February), perfect for beach outings and city exploration, while mild autumns (March to May) and springs (September to November) offer fewer crowds and excellent conditions for outdoor activities. Winters (June to August) are mild in the North Island. In contrast, the South Island experiences picturesque autumns with colorful foliage, and its winters are ideal for skiing in the Southern Alps regions. Spring and autumn are often considered the best overall times to visit due to pleasant weather and fewer tourists, offering a balanced experience across both islands. Always be prepared for sudden weather changes in this diverse and stunning country.

Money Matters

Travelers to New Zealand will find a straightforward and well-equipped system for managing money matters. The official currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), which is readily available in coins and banknotes. ATMs are widespread and accept major international debit and credit cards, making it convenient to withdraw local currency. Credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for various transactions, but carrying some cash is advisable, especially in smaller towns or remote areas. Currency exchange services are available at airports, banks, and exchange offices. Tipping is not common, but it’s appreciated for exceptional service. Overall, New Zealand offers a traveler-friendly environment for managing finances.

Eating & Drinking

New Zealand cuisine is a fusion of influences from Māori traditions, British heritage, and Pacific flavors. Seafood, including green-lipped mussels, crayfish, and various fish, is abundant due to the country’s extensive coastline. Lamb and venison are prominent meats, known for their quality. Māori dishes like hangi and indigenous ingredients like kumara offer a taste of the country’s heritage. Savory pies are a popular on-the-go snack, and New Zealand’s dairy products, including cheese and butter, are renowned. The country’s wine regions produce world-class Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, while the cafe culture and coffee culture are thriving in urban areas. Overall, New Zealand’s cuisine celebrates fresh, locally sourced ingredients and offers a diverse culinary experience.

Hangi: A traditional Māori method of cooking where food, such as meat, root vegetables, and sometimes seafood, is slow-cooked in an earth oven. The result is tender and flavorful.

Pavlova: A popular dessert made from a meringue base topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, typically strawberries, kiwifruit, and passionfruit. There’s often a friendly debate with Australia over who invented it.

Whitebait Fritters: Whitebait, tiny translucent fish, are mixed with egg and lightly pan-fried to create a delicate and delicious fritter.

Kumara: These sweet potatoes are often roasted, mashed, or made into fries, and they are a staple in New Zealand cuisine.

Manuka Honey: While not a traditional drink, Manuka honey is a unique New Zealand product known for its medicinal properties. It’s often used in hot drinks like tea to soothe sore throats.

Essentials to Bring & Internet

-Face mask/cover and hand sanitiser enough for your personal use throughout the trip – See more at

-Travel Documents: Passport, Visa (if required), flight or transport ticket (and photocopies)

-Travel Talk Tour Voucher (printed or digital)Travel Insurance Policy (and photocopy)

-Personal medical kit and medicine

-Money (cash, credit card, travellers’ cheques)

-Power Adapter

-Reusable water bottle

-Ear plugs and eye mask

-Sun protection – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen

-Comfortable, closed walking shoes

-Wind/water proof jacket

-Warm clothes, hat, and gloves for cold weather

-Sandals, swimwear, shorts for warm weather

Internet Access

Internet access in New Zealand is widespread and generally reliable, particularly in urban areas where high-speed broadband connections are common. Wireless and mobile internet services are well-developed, with 4G and 5G networks providing coverage across much of the country. Public Wi-Fi is readily available in cafes, restaurants, and public spaces in major cities. While satellite internet serves remote and rural areas, it may offer slower speeds. Data caps on some plans should be considered, and costs vary based on location and connection type. Overall, New Zealand provides adequate internet access for most travelers and residents, with the quality and speed varying depending on location and provider.

Culture, Religion, and Traditions

New Zealand’s culture is a rich tapestry woven from the threads of its diverse population and a deep connection to its stunning natural landscapes. The country’s indigenous culture is embodied by the Māori people, who arrived in New Zealand over a thousand years ago. Māori culture is celebrated through art, music, dance (such as the haka), and traditional ceremonies like the powhiri (welcome) and hangi (earth oven cooking). New Zealand is also a multicultural society, with people from various ethnic backgrounds contributing to its cultural mosaic. Religion in New Zealand is diverse, with Christianity being the predominant faith, but there is also a growing number of people who identify as non-religious or practice other faiths, including Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism. Kiwis, as New Zealanders are known, take pride in their outdoor lifestyle, and many traditions revolve around nature, such as hiking (known as tramping), barbecues (known as “kiwi barbies”), and celebrating Waitangi Day, which marks the signing of New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi. Overall, New Zealand’s culture is a blend of indigenous heritage, multicultural influences, and a deep respect for the environment.

Etiquette and How to Dress

New Zealanders are known for their friendly and relaxed demeanor, and etiquette in the country reflects this laid-back attitude. Politeness and respect are highly valued, so saying “please” and “thank you” is customary. When meeting someone for the first time, a firm handshake is a typical greeting. New Zealanders generally maintain a casual and informal style, so you’ll find that dressing comfortably is more important than formal attire. In urban areas, such as Auckland and Wellington, business-casual attire is common for work settings, but a more casual dress code is the norm in most other situations. However, when visiting Māori marae (meeting grounds) or attending formal events, it’s advisable to dress more conservatively. As New Zealand experiences diverse weather, it’s also practical to dress in layers, as temperatures can change quickly, especially in the South Island’s mountainous regions. Overall, blending comfort with respect for the occasion is the key to dressing appropriately in New Zealand.

Solo Travellers

We have many solo travellers joining our tours. Solo travellers will be roomed with another traveller of the same gender. If you would like a private solo room, please contact us. You may see out solo travels page for more details.

Rules to Follow

We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. We do not tolerate any form of violence (physical or verbal), bullying or harassment involving customers, partners, Travel Talk staff or locals. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a passenger are forbidden.

We will not tolerate any illegal activity, including but not limited to: use and possession of illegal drugs, trespassing, and disrupting public order. If you consume alcohol, please ensure that you drink responsibly and follow the local laws and regulations.

You must follow the advice of your tour leader and local officials regarding health and safety measures. We operate all tours under Safe Travels protocols for the wellbeing of our passengers, staff and communities visited. Please ensure that you have read the and are fully prepared for your trip.

If someone is acting inappropriately regarding these matters, please notify your tour leader immediately or contact us on the emergency contact number provided below.

Your tour leader has the right to remove from the group anyone not abiding by these rules, with no right of compensation or refund. See more at

Please remember that our travellers come from different parts of the world and will have various needs and preferences. Be understanding and patient with your fellow travellers, and always strive to be on time.

Responsible Travel

We believe that travel is a force for good and show our support through various initiatives and charity organizations, as well as keeping the principals of responsible and sustainable travel at the core of our ethos. These values are engrained in our business culture and the design of our trips just the same. Together with you, we strive to make a positive impact on local people and economies, respecting the local culture, environment, social fabric and customs; encouraging respectful and meaningful cross-cultural exchange. Read more at

Open until midnight

+44 20 809 995 96
[email protected]

Monday - Friday: 09:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: Closed
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