Wilderness Explorer’s Dream: South Island Outdoor Escapade

17 days,

14 nights |

from $8079 per person*


Your adventure begins in the charming city of Nelson, where you’ll spend two nights at the Rutherford Hotel. Nestled on the South Island’s northern coast, Nelson is known for its vibrant arts scene and golden beaches. Wake up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a hearty breakfast at the hotel. During your stay, explore local craft markets, visit art galleries, or simply relax on the beautiful beaches.

Next, embark on a 3-day adventure in Abel Tasman National Park. This experience combines kayaking and walking, allowing you to explore the park’s pristine beaches and lush forests. Your accommodation is provided, and most meals are included, offering you an immersive nature experience. Paddle along the turquoise waters, hike through the verdant trails, and discover the untouched beauty of this coastal paradise.

Pick up your intermediate car hire for the next 9 days. Enjoy the freedom to explore New Zealand’s picturesque landscapes at your own pace. Drive through scenic routes, stop at charming towns, and create your own adventure. Each turn of the road reveals new surprises and photo-worthy moments.

In Kaikoura, you’ll enjoy a one-night stay at the Sudima Kaikoura, including breakfast. The next day, prepare for an exhilarating Kaikoura Whale Watching Cruise. Witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, an experience that will leave you in awe of the marine world’s grandeur.
En route to Christchurch, stop to relax and rejuvenate at Hanmer Springs. Unwind with a soothing spa experience, making the most of your spa pass. The therapeutic hot pools and serene environment provide the perfect setting to unwind and rejuvenate.

Grab some groceries and a good bottle of wine before heading out to your amazing Purepod stay.

Nestled in the Canterbury region, the unique Korimako Purepod offers you an immersive experience in nature. The stunning glass design allows you to stargaze from your bed, providing an unparalleled connection to the environment. Wake up to the sight of the Southern Alps and spend your days exploring the untouched beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is your next destination. Stay at the Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook for two nights, surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps. Experience The Adventurer – Tasman Glacier Hike, a thrilling journey through a glacial wonderland. Marvel at the immense ice formations and sweeping vistas.

Your final destination is the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. Check into the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, your home for the next five nights. Each day is filled with excitement:

  • Full-day Routeburn Guided Walk: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of Fiordland National Park, walking through ancient beech forests and crossing crystal-clear streams.
  • Funyaks Safari: Embark on a unique adventure through the Dart River, showcasing the wilderness of Mount Aspiring National Park as you navigate the swirling waters in inflatable canoes.
  • Jetboat Ride: Experience the thrill of high-speed jet boating on Queenstown’s scenic waterways, with 360-degree spins and stunning scenery.
  • Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly: Discover the enchanting Milford Sound from the air and water. Witness majestic fjords, towering waterfalls, and the abundant wildlife in its natural habitat.

This comprehensive itinerary ensures you make the most of your New Zealand adventure, offering a perfect blend of relaxation, culture, and adventure. From the tranquility of Kaikoura to the adrenaline-pumping activities in Queenstown, this journey captures the essence of New Zealand’s diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Enjoy the freedom of exploration, guided experiences, and the comfort of excellent accommodations as you create lifelong memories in this stunning country.

  • Round-trip airfare on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Nelson, returning from Queenstown
  • 2 nights Nelson, Rutherford Hotel including breakfast
  • 2 night/3 day Abel Tasman Kayak and Walk including accommodation, guided touring and most meals
  • 9 Days Intermediate Car Hire including unlimited mileage
  • 1 night Kaikoura, Sudima Kaikoura including breakfast
    • Kaikoura Whale Watching Cruise
    • Hamner Springs Spa Pass
  • 2 nights Motunau, Korimako Purepod
  • 2 nights Mount Cook, Hermitage Aoraki Mount Cook
    • The Adventurer – Tasman Glacier Hike
  • 5 nights Queenstown, Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, Lakeside Room
    • Full-day Routeburn Guided Walk
    • Funyaks Safari
    • Jetboat Ride
    • Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly
  • US/foreign taxes and fees including September 11 Security Fee

All trips include 24-hour emergency travel assistance.

Book by:

May 31, 2024

Valid for travel between:

April 1, 2024 – June 28, 2024 a

Additional dates, gateway cities and airlines may be available.

Need some help? Contact us here.

Day 1: Depart USA

This evening make your way to the Los Angeles Airport for your overnight flight aboard Air New Zealand to Auckland. Enjoy a dining experience full of super fresh ingredients and flavors and an extensive range of premium New Zealand wines to complement each meal. Relax in the ergonomically designed seats that create generous personal space to ensure a comfortable journey. Take control with on-demand entertainment and enjoy a wide range of audio and video and a collection of the very best in music.

Day 2: International Date Line

During your flight, you will cross the International Date Line.

Day 3: Arrive Auckland – Nelson

On arrival at Auckland Airport, you will clear Customs and Immigration and transfer to the domestic terminal for your flight to Nelson for an overnight stay. Make your way to your hotel, and once checked in, the remainder of your day is free to explore at your leisure.

Day 4: Nelson – Abel Tasman NP

Take a scenic drive through the coastal orchard and vineyards lining the highway from Nelson to Motueka and Kaiteriteri. Board our comfortable Vista Cruise to travel the length of the golden Abel Tasman coast from Kaiteriteri north to Tōtaranui, relaxing on the viewing decks and enjoying refreshments from the cafe. From Tōtaranui, walk through mature native forest and along secluded beaches to the breathtaking expanse of Awaroa Inlet where you’ll reach Meadowbank Homestead – a faithful recreation of the Wilson family’s original home on the ‘finest site in the bay’.

Day 5: Abel Tasman NP

Wake to breakfast overlooking Meadowbank’s gardens and the waters of Abel Tasman’s largest tidal estuary. Walk over a forested saddle to Onetahuti where your guide will settle you into your stable, double kayak with full instructions and safety briefing. You’ll then kayak through Tonga Island Marine Reserve and explore hidden inlets on the way to Torrent Bay.

Day 6: Abel Tasman NP – Nelson

Wake up to morning light on the golden sands of Torrent Bay and a hearty breakfast to set you up for paddling to Te Pukatea Bay and past the islands of the Astrolabe Roadstead to Kaiteriteri. Stop for lunch at a sheltered before continuing to Kaiteriteri when your driver will meet you for your return transfer to Nelson.

Day 7: Nelson – Kaikoura

This morning, collect your rental vehicle and make your way to Kaikoura for an overnight stay. This afternoon, board your Whale Watch Kaikoura vessel at “The Whaleway Station”, Railway Station Road, Kaikoura to commence a Whale Watch Kaikoura cruise. The vessel is a modern catamaran designed especially for whale watching. The main passenger cabin is enclosed, air-conditioned and fitted with comfortable seating, while large outside decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities. Prepare for exciting up-close encounters with Giant Sperm Whales.

Day 8: Kaikoura – Motunau

Head out this morning towards Hanmer Springs, a resort town renowned for its thermal pools and mineral waters. Enjoy a choice or a private sauna or steam, followed by a relaxing body massage before relaxing in one of the outdoor pools. After feeling relaxed and revitalized, make your way to Motunau and the Korimako Purepod. Your journey to the Korimako PurePod starts with a scenic drive through a beautiful and historic farming area. Take your time and enjoy the scenery, which switches from rolling farmland to forest and back to farmland again. If you are lucky you might even get to see a cow or two wandering right beside the road or meet the local farmer moving a mob of sheep along the road. After about 25 minutes you will reach the PurePod carpark. Leave your large luggage items in your locked car (it will be safe) then follow the walking track as it gently winds its way up through the native bush. The walk is just under 450m and will take you around 10 minutes. As you walk, keep an ear out for all the birds, including bellbirds (korimako), fantails (piwakawaka) and the occasional rifleman (tītipounamu). Please note, this PurePod is not suitable for those with mobility challenges due to the walk and the steps up to the PurePod. You can bring your own supplies for meals, or ask our team about adding breakfast and dinner provisions.

Day 9: Motunau

Relax and take in the serene environment or enjoy an optional guided farm tour. Rent a mountain bike and ride the off-road mountain bike looped 8km track, with beautiful views towards the Hurunui River mouth and the Pegasus Bay coastline.

Day 10: Christchurch – Mt. Cook

After breakfast, make your way to Mt. Cook, enjoying the changing scenery as your cross the Canterbury Plains and head towards the Southern Alps.

Day 11: Mt. Cook

Combine the excitement of walking on New Zealand’s biggest glacier with the thrill of breath-taking scenic helicopter fly-bys of New Zealand’s largest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. You fly in to your drop off point on a remote part of the glacier. Your guide will outfit you with special ice spikes for your feet, called crampons, designed for glacier conditions. Then you’ll go exploring the amazing ice formations, following your guide as they cut steps in the glacier, using skills handed down from New Zealand’s Mountain pioneers. Your trip finishes with another spectacular scenic flight back to the Aoraki/Mt Cook base. Every journey is unique, because the glacier is changing all the time and the experienced guides are always finding something new and interesting to show the visitors. Time on the ice is up to 2 hours, weather permitting.

Day 12: Mt Cook – Queenstown

This morning, continue South to Queenstown. The drive from Mount Cook to Queenstown is a captivating journey through the South Island’s Southern Alps. You’ll witness stunning alpine scenery, including snow-capped peaks, glacial valleys, and the brilliant turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki. As you descend into Central Otago, the landscape changes to rolling farmland, vineyards, and finally, the dramatic views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range welcome you to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. This afternoon, head down to the Main Pier for a 60-minute jetboat ride that offers unforgettable thrills, spins and exhilaration across three waterways in one of the world’s most stunning locations.

Day 13: Queenstown

Rated one of the world’s “Top Ten Classic Hikes”, the Routeburn Track combines personal achievement with awe-inspiring scenery. Today, venture high above the valley and be rewarded with spectacular views and a picnic lunch. Follow the Routeburn River through a magnificent gorge on a gradual ascent through a magical world of ferns, mosses, lichens and beech forest.

Day 14: Queenstown

After checking in, your pilot will provide a detailed pre-flight briefing, highlighting the route and scenic wonders you’ll encounter. Notable sights include Skippers Canyon, the Paradise region (famous for its role in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films), and the Donne glacier, among other breathtaking features. The 35-minute flight culminates with a majestic overflight of Milford Sound before landing. The second part of this adventure unfolds in Milford Sound, where your pilot personally escorts you to the boat docks. There, you’ll board the “Spirit of Milford” for a Milford Sound Nature Cruise, limited to 150 passengers, ensuring an intimate experience. Nature Guides provide insightful commentary as the catamaran delves into the fiord’s intricate corners, brushing against sheer rock faces to study the flora and fauna up close. Following your Milford Sound cruise, your return flight offers sweeping views of pristine alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls, a hallmark of Fiordland National Park. Among these, you’ll spot the towering Sutherland Falls, stretching 580 meters (1900 feet). The flight lasts an additional 35 minutes, creating a total trip time of about five hours. Enjoy the scenic flight back from Milford Sound before arriving in Queenstown.

Day 15: Queenstown

Your Funyak journey begins with an exhilarating jet boat ride from Glenorchy up the Dart River deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After your jet boat ride, you will travel back down stream with our expert guides in our unique Funyaks (inflatable canoes) working your way through pristine waters as they flow from the Southern Alps to Lake Whakatipu. Explore channels and side-streams in this spectacular wilderness location and witness the native flora and fauna of the area. Take a break at the rivers edge to enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch while you take in the sounds of the native birds and the serenity of the native beech forest. Finish up your epic adventure by jumping aboard our coach back to Glenorchy. Travel through paradise and pass some of New Zealand’s most renown filming locations, seen in movies such as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and X-Men Origins – Wolverine.

Day 16: Queenstown

Today is free to explore Queenstown at your leisure.

Day 17: Depart Queenstown

Free time this morning before heading to Queenstown Airport to return your rental vehicle prior to boarding your return flight to Auckland and the US.

Need some help? Contact us here.

Based on departures Price per person from*

Based on Double Occupancy

April 1- April 30, 2024 8449
May 1 – June 28, 2024 8079
June 29 – July 24, 2024 8859
July 25 – September 25, 2024 8379
September 26 – October 16, 2024 9349

Additional upgrades and add-ons may be available.

Need some help? Contact us here.

Traveler Information (as per passport)

Please enter traveler’s name as it appears on their passport.
Please provide any additional information for our Reservations team.

Travel Advisor Information

Questions? Contact Us.

*Terms & Conditions: Pricing is per person based on double occupancy. All prices are in US dollars and correct at time of posting for travel during specified travel dates. Single supplements, black-out dates and seasonal supplements may apply. Airfare is not included unless indicated. Prices may differ when you book your travel and are not guaranteed until full payment is received. Airline and hotels frequently change their prices as a result of fare increases and/or fuel surcharges. Prices may increase before full payment for those and other reasons. Package is not combinable with any other offer or discounted vacation package. After full payment, prices are guaranteed except only due to an increase in government-imposed taxes or fees. By paying your deposit, you affirmatively agree to the possibility of such increases. Package is strictly subject to availability, not retroactive and not combinable with any other special or vacation package offer. Minimum night stays or required room types may apply. All prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Please call for our current prices. CST#2001136-20

We use technologies to enhance your experience on our site.
By using this site, you agree to our updated Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy.