Hit the road in style and get to know Te Wai Pounamu – the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand on this 10 day itinerary. Soak up scenery that you have to see to believe, from the wide plains of Canterbury, to the mountains of Central Otago, to the glaciers and rainforest of the West Coast.
You’ll have the opportunity to swim, kayak, jet boat, bungy jump, quad bike, skydive, canyon swing, hike, heli hike, bike, luge, horse ride, see kiwis, relax in hot pools, eat and drink like a local, and more.
But only if you want to; this is your trip, and it’s designed to be flexible. We include some of the things that are absolute essentials, but rather than force you into activities you’re not so sure of, we leave the choice up to you. You can pre-book activities that you definitely want to do before the trip starts, and then add more while you’re on tour. Please note, though, that some activities can book out due to popularity – so if there’s anything you’re definitely keen on, make sure you do pre-book so you don’t miss out.
Join a journey of New Zealand that is surely unforgettable.
Travel insurance is a mandatory requirement for joining this tour and is in addition to the package price.
SAVE an additional $75 with our ‘Solo Traveller Saving’ (STC)
In addition to any other savings, when you book this tour with your own room and also the airfare with us, we include a $75 saving on your total package price. Offer is not available when you book to share a room or in conjunction with any Reduced Single Supplement Offer (RSS)
SHARE & SAVE
If you are happy to share with a roommate of the same gender, save from $1000 on package prices above that include your own room (not sharing).
See 'MORE INFORMATION' section below for Other Price Information.
Kia ora (hello!) and welcome to Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Settle into your accommodation and be ready for the 6pm pre-tour meeting. Here you will get to know your Tour Manager and be introduced to your new road trip friends. Afterwards, the evening is yours to enjoy. We recommend a good night’s sleep to be ready for tomorrow’s early start, but you may want to experience Christchurch’s nightlife – the choice is yours!
Christchurch to Ohau (via Lake Tekapo)
After a continental breakfast this morning we’ll explore iconic downtown Christchurch and your guide will show you the cool and creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake here. Christchurch folk are an innovative and creative bunch – the Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is totally inspirational.
Mid-morning, we head for Lake Tekapo. Ready your camera – the lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true.
The tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water’s edge, proving that small is bold and definitely beautiful. Grab some confetti and congratulate any passing brides – couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of the chapel!
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Ohau to Queenstown
From the golden tussocklands of Mackenzie country – where epic battles of Return of the King were filmed – to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it’s like you’re driving into a postcard.
We’ll pause for lots of photo stops en route to give your camera a workout, including a stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge. This also happens to be the world home of bungy! Give it a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way into the gorge.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With 2 nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max.
Meals: Breakfast (continental)
Spend the whole day working on that bucket list, a day at leisure, choosing anything from paragliding to bungy jumping to Lord of the Rings location horse treks to visiting Milford Sound.
Queenstown to Wanaka
Today starts with a cruise to Mt Nicholas on board the Spirit of Queenstown. Disembark the vessel and jump on your bicycle for an easy 1h 30m ride to Walter Peak Station.
Breathe in the fresh mountain air, watch the landscape unfold and take in the panoramic alpine views while cycling 14 kilometres along a remote but public shingle road to Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak.
There’s an option to add on a BBQ lunch at Walter Peak before boarding the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw for the return cruise to Queenstown.
This afternoon is your chance to relax in stunning Wanaka. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. En route we’ll stop in charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old world character.
Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, you’ll soon see why Wanaka’s considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. There are breathtaking hikes and easy bike rides for a welcome chance to relax.
Today is your chance to explore one of the most beautiful towns in the southern lakes region with plenty of activities to tempt every lover of the outdoors.
IDEAS TO FILL YOUR DAY
You can visit Mou Waho Island – accessible only by boat from Wanaka and famous for being home to an (unnamed) island, in a lake (Arethusa Pool), on an island (Mou Waho), in a lake (Lake Wanaka), on an island (the South Island) in the ocean (the Pacific!). Sounds complicated, but once you are there it will all make sense!
In Wanaka there are many walks, hikes and biking trails to choose from – check out the famous “Wanaka Tree” while making your way around the lake! Or, if you feel like relaxing, ask your guide to recommend their favourite secret spots to enjoy the surrounding scenery.
One of the best ways to admire Wanaka is from the air. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane – you can even take a flying lesson. As always, it’s your trip and your choice: you do you!
We mix things up tonight by heading to the stunning Criffel Station for a night of glamping (aka glamorous camping)! Think fancy canvas tents with decadently comfortable beds and the great outdoors right on your doorstep. The views from Criffel are sublime… to get the real experience, you’ll have to see it for yourself!
Wanaka to Franz Josef
After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz is another stunner – many of our Haka Guides rate it as their most favourite drive in New Zealand.
As we hit the road, we’ll stop at one of our most popular lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option.
From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.
We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5km from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Meals: Breakfast (continental)
With Aoraki/Mount Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand.
Te Wahi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/ jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu pendant at a local gallery.
There are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below.
As well as the awesome glacier activities, you could also try out quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef!
Meals: Breakfast (continental)
Franz Josef to Christchurch
Before you know it, it’s your last full day!
After breakfast we head further along the beautiful west coast on another of the most spectacular drives in the country (and, some would say, the world): a rugged, primeval landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking beach and ocean waves.
We stop at Hokitika and visit a greenstone factory, a great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
Time permitting, we may also visit the National Kiwi Centre, where there is guaranteed viewing of rare kiwi birds in their nocturnal house.
On the way back to Christchurch, you’ll traverse the South Island on the stunning TranzAlpine train crossing. Travelling across the Southern Alps through Arthur’s Pass, you’ll arrive in Christchurch around 6.30pm before transferring to your accommodation.
Meals: Breakfast (continental)
Today is the final day of tour, where we exchange photos and stories over breakfast before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.
Meals: Breakfast (continental)
Itineraries may be subject to change, due to circumstances outside of our control. If there is any itinerary change prior to departure of significance we aim to inform you prior to travel. Itinerary changes while on tour will be informed by your tour leader/guide while on tour.
This tour is operated by Haka Tours. Book with Encounter Travel for your Solo Traveller Saving, and if applicable the Return Traveller Reward (conditions apply). We’ve hand-picked this tour as generally it is a popular choice for solo travellers.
Nights of Stay
Hotels may be subject to change, due to circumstances outside of our control. Should this occur, a hotel of a similar standard will be provided.
HOTEL 115, CHRISTCHURCH
Hotel 115 is an independently owned and operated contemporary boutique hotel located in the heart of Christchurch, New Zealand. The chic hotel design is based on the boutique style hotels found in the major cities of Europe such as London, Paris and Berlin. Bringing a feeling of luxury and elegance but with a modern, eclectic style. Behind the large bespoke yellow doors, the hotel’s 37 rooms boast a mix of different shapes and sizes to suit every individuals' needs, as well as having classic and modern features. A relaxing place full of modern charm within the facade of one of Christchurch’s heritage buildings. Located only a mere few steps away from Cathedral Square, Hotel 115 is a convenient place to stay at the crossroad of Christchurch’s two faces. The one ‘before’ and the ’re-imagined' one . The city’s tram literally goes through the hotel, an original feature that adds a unique vibe to Hotel 115. We offer four accommodation options - carefully considered to be suitable for the business or leisure traveler alike. Hotel 115 offers the perfect accommodation for those attending events and conferences in Christchurch. As a convivial boutique hotel, Hotel 115 stands out from the larger hotel brands by providing guests with a feeling of warmth, comfort and an element of surprise with each visit.
OHAU LODGE, OHAU
Lake Ohau Lodge and Ohau Snow Fields is 320km, 4 hours, south of Christchurch and 275km, 3 hours, north of Dunedin.
Turn off the main highway 8 between Twizel and Omarama. The Lake Ohau Lodge, situated at the mountain base, is 42km, 30 minutes from Twizel and Omarama.
The Snow Field is only 9.6km, 15 minutes, from Lake Ohau Lodge, via a good metal access road.
Lake Ohau Lodge offers five different styles of comfortable accommodation to suit its guests’ requirements and budget.
PINEWOOD LODGE, OHAU
A village of houses big, small, shared and solo, Pinewood Lodge is your home away from home. Nestled into the mountain side, surrounded by stunning vistas, grand pines and open grassy areas, it’s your hideaway just seven-minutes’ walk from the hustle and bustle.
All of the houses and units have their own lounge, kitchen and bathroom, providing you with everything you need to put your feet up, have a dinner in or brew yourself a cuppa.
Pinewood Lodge’s staff love Queenstown as much as you do and have plenty of local tips and tricks to help you make the most of your visit.
MERCURE HOTEL OAKRIDGE, WANAKA
Situated just 3 kilometers from New Zealand’s 4th largest lake, this relaxing hotel is surrounded by beautiful nature and is a great starting point for outdoor activities.
With Lake Wanaka only a short drive away, Oakridge Resort Wanaka enjoys a convenient location for outdoor activities, including bushwalking, mountain climbing, and golf. Of course, there are also kayaking, jet-skiing, and windsurfing facilities nearby. In winter, the snow covered slopes of Treble Cone and Cardrona awaits you.
Among the fine facilities of Oakridge Resort Wanaka are heated pools with poolside bar and a day spa. The hotel also comes with an excellent restaurant serving creative New Zealand cuisine prepared with the best local ingredients.
CRIFFEL STATION, WANAKA
Historic Criffel Station combines sustainable deer farming with tourism ventures and offers Wanaka’s most desirable event venues. Operating under a One Health philosophy, the hotel aims to provide a healthy and balanced ecosystem for its people, land and animals, and preserve exceptional high country environment.
Experience the hotel’s farm; enjoy panoramic views of the Upper Clutha, authentic country style and friendly hosting for an hour, a day or longer. Discover more.
RAINFOREST RETREAT, FRANZ JOSEF
Rainforest Retreat is situated at the heart of Franz Josef Village on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. Secluded but surrounded by a host of local activities and sights, Rainforest Retreat is the perfect base to unwind and explore from.
Rainforest Retreat offers premium Tree Houses, Tree Lodges, Tree Huts and Park Motel accommodation – all designed to embrace their surrounding environment and provide guests with a choice of either forest floor or mid canopy native bush views.
Hotel descriptions are taken from the hotel website and edited to suit our page.
Arrive to: Christchurch, New Zealand
Depart from: Christchurch, New Zealand
You must hold a valid passport with a minimum of six 6 months validity from your return date to your home country. Ensure you have at least two blank pages in your passport. See 'VISA' information in our MORE INFORMATION section below.
HOTEL CHECK IN /CHECK OUT TIMES
Consider the hotel check in time on arrival and the hotel check out time on departure.
Late check out can be requested but without payment cannot be guaranteed.
The flight itinerary is provided with your quote.
Transfers are not included. Please make your way from the airport to your hotel where you will be met on day 1.
Read on for other key trip information that you should know before you decide on joining the group.
If this trip seems right for you then we encourage you to book early and secure your place with a deposit. Tour space is limited. Also, many services on this tour must be booked well in advance. To ensure your place, please check trip availability at your earliest convenience
You will enjoy this group experience with a maximum of 16 travellers. This is a Solos Mix tour.
We’ve hand picked a line up of tours with that are popular choices for solo travellers. There’s a mix of travellers, single travellers and couples travelling together – this is our SOLOS MIX offer. From our ‘know-how’ these are trips popular with solo travellers.
We only select small group tours for our Solos Mix tours. There’s a good likelihood of more than a few solo travellers also that may join this tour.
For all ‘Solos Mix’ international tours receive our exclusive SOLO TRAVELLER SAVING (STS), when you book the tour with us, with your own room
THE PACE [3 out of 5]
Overall, it’s an easy to moderate pace, varying from day to day. There are 2 nights of stay while touring in Queenstown, Wanaka and Franz Josef. Refer to the tour map on the itinerary page for details.
Fit to Travel Holiday Requirements
Travellers of 70 years or over will be required to return a Fit to Travel form that is completed by their doctor.
Touring Physical Requirements
Touring is exciting and diverse and the best way to enjoy your travels is to be sure that you meet the minimum physical requirements required for touring.
In many destinations while touring could be walking on uneven surfaces such as cobble stoned streets, need to climb steep staircases, and/or walk up hills to reach attractions. Also, in some cities tourist transport has limited options for coach drop offs and pick ups and this may mean that travellers are required to walk some distance to reach attractions or hotels, even up to 15 minutes.
Some touring may not be suitable for travellers with mobility issues and/or low fitness levels. If unsure about your suitability for the trip please contact us to seek further advice.
ABOUT THE MEALS
It’s regular that our trips include some meals. This departure includes 6 breakfasts and 2 dinners. All other meals will be at your own expense. You can join other tour members for meals whilst on tour, your tour guide can suggest the best places to go for a meal. There’s nothing better than to share a meal with new friends and discuss the day’s adventures.
This is a small group tour with a tour guide. Your tour guide is there to assist with group arrangements and to act as the liaison for all tour services.
This is a small group tour with a Tour Manager. Your Tour Manager is there to assist with group arrangements and to act as the liaison for all tour services.
You will travel in a comfortable air conditioned bus that seats 17 passengers.
LUGGAGE INFORMATION AND RESTRICTIONS
Within New Zealand travel, each passenger is entitled to take one case, the sum of its length, width and depth not to exceed 160 cm (63 inches), weight limit 20 kilos along with a small day pack. Airlines permit only one cabin bag per person, in which personal items such as cameras, make-up etc. should be carried, though you need to check with your airline provider as to their specific requirements. Over-limit luggage cannot be carried. HAKA TOURS operates in a similar way and asks if you have over the above limit to please get in touch before your tour. Baggage is at 'owner's risk'. Most airports, hotels & hostels offer storage services for additional luggage.
ABOUT MOBILE PHONE USE / INTERNET
Free WiFi is readily available at most hotels. In some cases wifi maybe limited and chargeable.
You may like to purchase a prepaid sim card to take with you while travelling. Otherwise, ask your phone provider about International Roaming packages/offers for your mobile phone.
SIM cards or international roaming packages can be good options to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Be sure the sim card you purchase will cover all the countries you are travelling to.
Many hotels these days offer WiFi—some for free, others for a modest fee.
If you don’t already use this service, we recommend downloading this application also. It’s a mobile phone App that offers fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free (data charges may apply – ask your phone provider).
As a general indication, for many of our tours, our guides use WhatsApp to communicate with the group.
TRAVEL GUIDE QUICK FACTS
Visit our Travel Guide page on our website for destination information.