Best of the Lower South Island - a new 9  day New Zealand Tour

Best of the Lower South Island

Queenstown, Arrowtown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Gore, Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru, Mt Cook, Mackenzie Country, and more…

Our new shorter "Best of the Lower South Island" tour showcases the ultimate sights of the lower South Island of New Zealand. This 8 day/7 night intinerary includes Queenstown (2 nights), Milford Sound, Te Anau (2 nights), Gore, Dunedin (2 nights), Oamaru, Mt Cook (1 night) and Christchurch. We cruise on the famous TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station, take the world renowned Milford Sound cruise. See the Catlins Coastline at Nugget Point, visit Larnach Castle in Dunedin and much more.  You can also add on our 6 day tour program from Christchurch to Nelson if you want. 

Whats Included:

  • 9 days of touring

  • 8 nights quality accommodation

  • Quality air-conditioned vehicle

  • Full commentary from your guide

  • All breakfasts and dinners*

  • Cruise on the historic TSS Earnslaw

  • BBQ lunch at Walter Peak Station

  • Sheep Show at Walter Peak Station

  • Skyline Gondola Queenstown

  • Milford Sound Cruise

  • Croydon Aviation Heritage visit

  • Nugget Point Lighthouse

  • Dunedin City & Larnach Castle Tour

  • Tour and morning tea at Totara Park

  • Dinner on the Christchurch Tram

Skyline Gondola, Queenstown

You will see:

  • Queenstown and Arrowtown

  • Lake Wakatipu & Walter Peak Station

  • Te Anau and Lake Te Anau

  • Milford Sound and Mitre Peak

  • Gore and The Catlins Coast

  • Dunedin and The Otago Peninsula

  • The Waitaki Valley and hydro lakes

  • Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook

  • Mackenzie Country

  • Lake Tekapo

  • Church of the Good Shepherd 





Not included:

  • Any lunches unless specified* 

  • Morning/afternoon tea stops*

  • Any alcoholic beverages with meals

  • Flights to Queenstown

  • Flights from Christchurch

If you want the ultimate South Island experience, why not add on the new "West Coast & Nelson" 6 day tour from Christchurch at the end of this tour.

DAY 1 Today you will fly into Queenstown to join the tour group, your transfer from the airport to our lakefront hotel is included. Depending on your flight arrival time you could have a look around the town, as its just a short walk along the lakefront. Enjoy dinner this evening at the hotel restaurant which offers stunning views of the lake and mountain ranges beyond. Tonight you will meet your tour guide and host and fellow travelers.

DAY 2 After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we first ride the Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak. Travelling up 450 metres above Queenstown, this must do attraction affords stunning views over Queenstown, The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu far below. Why not try your skill on the Luge track, (extra cost). 

We then head back down to the lakefront in time to board Queenstown’s most iconic attraction – the TSS Earnslaw. Cruising across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, this 107 year old steamship provides a taste of yesteryear. You can even view the engine room as she chugs across the lake. Our visit begins with a sumptuous BBQ style buffet lunch, after which you can explore the gardens and grounds or join the resident shepherd for a sheep farming demonstration. 

On return to Queenstown the rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to plan as you wish, you may not even need dinner tonight after your amazing lunch. 

DAY 3 Sadly we have to leave Queenstown behind as we make our way south towards Fiordland National Park, but not before our first stop this morning at the historic mining town of Arrowtown where you can explore the historic main street, the Chinese Village or just browse the interesting boutique shops for a while.

Departing Arrowtown, we visit the AJ Hackett bungy jump at Kawerau Bridge in the Gibbston valley, to watch the intrepid adventurers as they plunge head first towards the river 43 metres below. Fancy a go yourself - maybe not - but grab some pictures to remind yourself what you missed. We then head south along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, past Kingston and on Te Anau, our location for the next two nights where we stay at a lakefront motel, just a short walk to a top local restaurant in town where we will dine this evening.

DAY 4 Today its time for another of New Zealand's must see destinations - the majestic Milford Sound.  Departing our motel, the journey begins as we follow the shore line of Lake Te Anau offering amazing views across to Mount Lyall and other snow capped peaks. We then head into the mountains, through the beech forest of the Eglington Valley. We stop at the Mirror Lakes which offer stunning views of the Earl Mountains, and a short walk to the viewpoint allows us to stretch our legs.

Our journey continues as we travel ever higher to cross the central divide again [our third crossing after Arthurs Pass and Haast Pass]. The road offers views of the dramatic landscape as we head into the Hollyford Valley, crossing river after river, past lakes formed in deep glacial valleys until we reach the Homer Tunnel.  Completed in 1953, the 1.2kms long tunnel made the once impossible route to Milford Sound possible for all.

Arriving at Milford Sound there will be time to have lunch at a riverside lodge (at your cost) before we board our cruise vessel for a truly memorable experience.  Our cruise will take us out into the Sound where towering waterfalls cascade thousands of feet into the water and the majestic and aptly named Mitre Peak rises almost 6000 feet out of the deep blue waters.

On our route back to Te Anau after our cruise we will stop at Te Anau Downs on the lake shore where remnants remain of an early hydro-power scheme  to supply power to a large Sheep Station. We return to Te Anau for our last evening in the Southern Alps and will again dine out at another top local restaurant.

DAY 5 

After a relaxing start to the day we depart for Dunedin, travelling across the extensive Southland region, to our first destination - the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre. This nationally significant museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating New Zealand’s light civil aviation heritage.


On display is the largest collection of de Havilland aircraft in the southern hemisphere. Fancy a flight in a Tiger Moth biplane, it can be arranged!  This will also be our lunch stop today with time to browse the interesting gifts, homeware and clothing shop (something for the ladies perhaps).

After lunch we continue on to Gore, the self styled capital of the brown trout, chance for a photo of the iconic fish statue in the town square. Then we head to the northern part of The Catlins, this rugged and sparsely populated area offers a scenic coastal landscape where we visit a must see destination, the lighthouse at Nugget Point. A short and easy walk to one of the countries oldest lighthouses offers an iconic panoramic view of the coastline with the famous rocks named by Captain Cook because they looked like nuggets of gold. 


It is also home to some of the world’s rarest penguins and one of the only places you might see seals, sea lions and elephant seals in the same area. We then head back onto SH1 and northwards to Dunedin, our destination for the next two nights, tonight dining out at a great local restaurant just a short walk from our city central hotel.

DAY 6 

After a delicious breakfast this morning, we are met by a local guide who will show us around ‘The Edinburgh of the South’. Dunedin is a fascinating city full of history and character and we will get to see some of it's most iconic sights. We begin with a drive out to the beach suburbs of St Clair and St Kilda, to watch the Pacific Ocean waves crash ashore. 


Then its up onto the High Road of the Otago Peninsula to Larnach Castle, where after a guided tour of the castle and gardens you have time to enjoy your lunch of choice in the Castle's Ballroom cafe (at your cost) .

Heading back into the city along the harbour side Low Road we will get to see more of it's iconic sights including the ornate Railway Station, Baldwin Street (the world’s steepest), the Otago University and many other historic landmarks.  Our city central hotel allows you to continue your own exploration on foot if you wish, before or after dinner this evening, perhaps trying some ales at either of the two local breweries.







Departing Dunedin early today, we head north along the coast to see the world famous Moeraki Boulders. These strange rock formations can be seen on the beach just a few steps down from the cafe car park. Though not unique (as similar boulder formations exist in the Hokianga Harbour in the Far North) their origins are still not 100% known.

Continuing north we stop at one of New Zealands's most significant early sheep stations at Totara Estate. Here you will have a guided tour of the original farm buildings followed by refreshments similar to those served to the workers in the 1880's. We then continue on to Oamaru with its lovely Victorian limestone buildings and home of the "Steampunk" movement. Time here to wander the interesting art and craft shops for a while or buy a snack from any of the many cafes.

We then head inland up the Waitaki Valley, passing some of the hydro-electric lakes that power much of the country. Continuing on, the mountains get closer as we head further inland, along Lake Pukaki, to our overnight stay at Mt Cook village. With New Zealand’s highest mountain towering over us, we will enjoy a stay at The Hermitage – one of New Zealand’s most iconic hotels.

DAY 8 Before we depart The Hermitage, we have time to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre where we can discover the history of this iconic region.  This tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary (humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers) showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, its people and its history. 

We then depart towards Christchurch, our first stop today being the lakeside town of Lake Tekapo - made famous by its iconic chapel situated on the shores of the lake. Set against a stunning backdrop, the Church of the Good Shepherd was built to the glory of God and as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country. We then continue on the more interesting inland scenic route to Christchurch, with a stop for a light lunch in Fairlie at its famous bakery (at your cost).

A special dinner has been planned this evening - on board the iconic Christchurch Restaurant Tram, dine in style tonight as we travel through the city's central district on the recently refurbished historic tram (subject to timetable availability).

*Our Christchurch guests will be leaving us after dinner this evening and those from other regions will stay an extra night at our Christchurch Hotel before they fly out in the morning (note that flight costs to Queenstown and from Christchurch at the end of the tour are not included in the tour cost if required). There is also a $100 per person surcharge for those staying the extra night in Christchurch.