Soar over the world-famous Milford Sound, swim with Hector’s dolphins, and sample world-class Sauvignon Blanc in the region from which it flows, on this oh-so luxurious 10-night journey across New Zealand’s South Island. Home to some of the most breath-taking lakes, glaciers and mountain ranges, it’s a playground for those seeking outdoor adventure and excitement. With the help of our expert guides, we’ve handpicked some of the best lodges to stay along the way, including the unique Hapuku Lodge and the idyllic Bay of Many Coves. Our New Zealand experts have tried and tested experiences that capture the most dramatic scenery and allow you to embrace all that South Island has to offer, from Queenstown all the way up to Marlborough Sounds on the northern tip. Whether you’re visiting for the first time, or have come back to New Zealand for more, enjoy this experience-fuelled trip that’ll leave you astounded.
Get acquainted in Queenstown
Touchdown in Queenstown, nestled on the shores of the majestic Lake Wakatipu, the perfect hub to start your South Island journey. Spend your first three nights at Eichardt’s Private Hotel, a stunning gem surrounded on all sides by views of alpine trees and majestic mountains, and in the heart of Queenstown’s chic café and restaurant neighborhood. Begin your exploration of the ‘adventure capital of the world’ that lies on your doorstep with an awe-inspiring helicopter flight over Milford Sound. Touchdown on a glacier for a glass of bubbles and experience the blue and green ice falls and crevasses from up close. Once you’ve enjoyed the bustle of Queenstown it’s time to embrace the wilderness, and head to the Northern tip of Lake Wakatipu to Blanket Bay Hotel. Nestled between two national parks and one of the prime locations for filming The Lord of the Rings it’s hard to imagine Queenstown is less than 30 minutes away. To see the landscapes in all their glory you’ll be whisked up in a hot air balloon ride and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of this incredible scenery.Read more
Time to head north
Your next stop on this adventure is Otahuna Lodge, in the heart of the Canterbury countryside, a historic mansion with incredible and romantic architecture, and surrounded by pristine lawns and expansive woodland. From here, your private driver will take you along the Banks Peninsula, boasting spectacular views of the Port Hills and the sparkling waters below. Drive down the crater of an extinct volcano to the quaint seaside town of Akaroa where you’ll spot, and even swim with, the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector’s Dolphin.
Don’t forget to spend one of your days here exploring the unofficial capital of the South Island, also known as the ‘Garden City of New Zealand.’ Visit Christchurch’s beautiful Botanical Gardens that give it this title, and witness first-hand the incredible rebuild of this vibrant city since the 2011 earthquake that left many beautiful buildings in ruins.
Get back to nature
Today you’ll be driven further north to the Kaikoura Peninsula, a budding marine eco-tourism destination, whose range of marine wildlife and activity is sure to astound you. Your base for the next two nights is the unique and imaginative eco-retreat Hapuku Lodge, in your very own Luxury Tree House, nestled 30-feet up in the canopy of a Manuka grove. There’s no doubt you’ll feel very much at one with nature here, with an incredible surf spot right at your fingertips.
The next morning prepare to be whisked off on a unique whale watching trip, from the air. Get ready to encounter the majestic Sperm Whale and acrobatic Dusky dolphins, and much more from the comfort of your heli. Your flight will also take you over the remains of Maori fortifications. Kaikoura is an area of rich Maori history and culture, so take the opportunity back on the ground to feel the true intimacy and warmth of the Maori hospitality with a private trip, and hear stories of ancestors echoed through the voices of today.
Wind down in The Sounds
Our expert guides believe Marlborough Sounds is the perfect spot to wind down after an epic tour of South Island, and we couldn’t agree more. Only accessible by water, Bay of Many Coves is a paradise retreat nestled in amongst this network of sunken river valleys. After a transfer with your driver to Picton, enjoy a private scenic cruise in the Queen Charlotte Sound, where you’ll visit a King Salmon farm and then set sail to Tio Point Oysters to sample Regal Salmon and Oysters paired with Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc. This seafood odyssey will awaken your senses and give you just a taster of the freshest local delicacies available at your next hideaway, all whilst taking in the scenery that unfolds above the crystal clear waters around you.
The next morning your private helicopter awaits, ready to transfer you to Cloudy Bay for a private vineyard tour and wine tasting. What better place to enjoy this sensory experience than in the heart of New Zealand’s world-class wine province. Spend your last days here sea kayaking through the tranquil sounds or simply reflecting on your South Island adventure whilst sipping on a glass of Marlborough’s finest Sauvignon Blanc.