Are you looking for a trip that gets your blood pumping and pulse racing? Or are you someone who would love to see the very best of the South Island including some lesser known destinations away from the tourist trail? – This tour will deliver on both fronts!
For an easy going pace enjoy touring through the beautiful landscapes of the South Island. Or, step it up to an adventure packed holiday and ‘bolt on’ endless activities in the adventure capital of New Zealand, with a two night stay in Queenstown and other iconic stays on the South Island including Wanaka and Franz Josef.
This small group adventure is ideal for past time backpackers, or anyone that likes to pick and choose their own activities, while taking advantage of the know-how of their local tour manager, and being hassle free as the travel arrangements are taken care of for you.
Enjoy this small group discovery with not more than 16 people and get to know the essence of the south island.
*Please note, there is 1 night on this tour where private accommodation upgrades are not available due to limited availability: Day 1 (MacKenzie Country). In special circumstances arrangements may be possible - please contact us more information.
Travel insurance is a mandatory requirement for joining this tour and is in addition to the package price
THE ‘SOLO TRAVELLER SAVING’
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).
|Prices per person||MULTI SHARE||TWIN SHARE||OWN ROOM|
|Package Price (airfares additional)||$2305||$2925||$3405|
Pre Tour Stay
An additional night is likely to be required for most travellers as you depart first thing on day 1 of the tour. The cost of the additional night/s of stay applies. Ask our travel team about this option, and the additional costs.
Christchurch to Mackenzie Country
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.
After lunch we leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. 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 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!
Tekapo has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve and the super clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Please note: Private accommodation upgrades are not available for this night of the tour due to the limited availability of accommodation in the area. In special circumstances other arrangements may be possible- please contact us for more information.
MacKenzie Country to Queenstown
This morning if you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you’ll feel on top of the world. Speaking of views, today’s scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper.
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 through the gorge!
Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, get ready – this town certainly knows how to live life to the max!
Meals: Continental breakfast
With a full day in Queenstown, let’s work on that bucket list! There are heaps of options to choose from: paragliding over the lake, mountain bike parks and trails to die for, bungy jumping while your Haka friends cheer you on, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and swinging through a canyon are just a few of our favourites.
Hikers: the Ben Lomond day walk (not for the faint- hearted) will be right up your alley. This is a firm tour guide favourite, and they can recommend great shorter walks too.
For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is a must-see. Whether you fly or drive, the scenery en route is as awesome as the destination. Once on the Sound, sailing beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you’ll understand why some call it the “8th Wonder of the World”.
Tonight you have around 40 bars to choose from – your guide will fill you in on their favourites – to share your adventures with your travel buddies, and party the night away.
Meals: Continental breakfast
Queenstown to Wanaka
After the excitement of Queenstown, today is a chance to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister, a mere one hour drive away. On the way we’ll stop in at 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 stunning hikes and bike rides all around for a welcome chance to chill.
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, or if you prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground, stroll or bike around the lake and check out the famous Wanaka Tree, standing all alone in the water. As always, it’s your trip and your choice: you do you.
Meals: Continental breakfast
Wanaka to Franz Josef
After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz is an another stunner – many of our Haka Guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand.
As we hit the road, we’ll stop at one of our favourite 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.
Between September and December it’s whitebait season (a small fish that’s a delicacy in New Zealand). Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it’s a local treat and shouldn’t be missed. We’ll stop at one of the local spots for a taste during the season.
We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Wanaka to Franz Josef
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!
Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the lush forests around Punakaiki, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a rare treat to experience such remote prehistoric landscapes, so make the most of this awesome opportunity to unplug from the outside world.
Get excited; our trusty guides always have some surprises up their sleeves for this part of the trip, including a spot or two to get your feet wet.
We’ll visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika as we make our way north, as well as passing through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki. One of Punakaiki’s many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest – and we are staying in the heart of it for the next two nights!
Cook up a group dinner in this rainforest paradise, and be sure to end the day watching the sun set over the ocean tonight.
Whether you decide to soak up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong, you’ll shed your cares in this magical place.
A short walk to see a giant stack of pancakes is a must-do today: Punakaiki’s limestone Pancake Rocks developed over 30 million years ago. You’ll see what water pressure can do when the waves power through some seriously impressive blowholes – watch out for that spray!
Today you could try your hand at kayaking or exploring the region’s underground caves by tube. There are also opportunities for horseback riding in Paparoa National Park. Or simply chill by the beach near your rainforest home.
On a clear night, head to the beach with your buddies and watch the stars come out to play – seriously, is there a better way to end the day?
Punakaiki to Abel Tasman
Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the scenery gets better and better. The powerful, untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before we drive over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson, to stock up on supplies before our next remote hideaway.
Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, boasts golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters. Abel Tasman is the perfect contrast to the wildness of the rainforests and mountains.
Why will you fall in love with Abel Tasman? Lush forests, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views… not to mention the resident wildlife. Get ready to lose your heart to the most popular National Park in New Zealand.
Abel Tasman… you beauty. Lush forests, golden sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views… not to mention the local seals, dolphins and bird life...
You might like to hike part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track – one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks – or paddle a kayak to Split Apple Rock. You could jump, slide, abseil, float and zipline your way through the park on an awesome canyoning adventure.
Fancy a relaxing day instead? Choose yourself a golden beach and make yourself at home.
In the warmer months we’ll stay another night at the edge of the national park. In winter we’ll drive a little further and stay in quirky Nelson with its cosy pubs, cool craft beers and artsy vibes.
Meals: Continental breakfast
Abel Tasman to Wellington
Today you’ll start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka (a Māori war canoe). Experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn tikanga (waka etiquette) all while getting out on the water to enjoy this unique included activity.
Our road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. We’ll stop for tasting at a local winery, and there's a chance to taste some famous New Zealand mussels in Havelock as we wind our way towards Picton to catch the evening ferry to Wellington.
As the lights of Picton Harbour fade into the night, relax on board together for a chilled evening.
Meals: Continental breakfast
There is also the option of a transfer drive from Wellington to Auckland, which is super handy if you have booked your return flights from the City of Sails. Crank up your favourite tour tunes and enjoy reflecting on the awesome time you have had in New Zealand while the North Island passes you by.
But if you're keen to check out Aotearoa's capital city, then now's the time to do it! Your Haka tour guide will have a whole lot of recommendations to make sure you get the most out of your time.
Meals: Continental breakfast
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.
Lodges and hostels may be subject to change, due to circumstances outside of our control. Should this occur, a hotel of a similar standard will be provided.
ABOUT THE ACCOMMODATION
The standard arrangement is dormitory accommodation, that is, sharing in 4 or 6 bed rooms.
Sharing a Dorm
Dorm accommodation is shared in 4 or 6 bed rooms with your fellow tour guests (though during super busy times you may be in a slightly bigger dorm for a few nights). Some rooms have an ensuite bathroom and others will have shared facilities. Most tour members enjoy the dorms as it gives you an extra chance to bond with the other people in your group.
Female-Only and Male-Only Dorm Rooms
We request that all our travellers are accommodated in same sex dorms. However, this may mean that you are sharing with other travellers outside of your tour group. Where possible you will share with other tour group members of the same sex, but this can’t be guaranteed.
As we can’t guarantee same sex dorms nor that you will only be with group members from your tour if this is a concern we suggest upgrading to a single room, or asking for a roommate match to share a twin room (2 people same sex in the room) with another traveller in the group.
If you have any other request related to accommodation, don’t hesitate to contact us – our team will make every effort to meet your needs.
Upgrading to a Private Room (Single or Twin)
If you wish to upgrade your accommodation to a private room, you can choose from either a single room (one bed for one person) or twin room (two single beds for two people). Sharing with another traveller in the group in a twin room is subject to availability.
Due to the layout of the lodges and hostels, you may not have an ensuite bathroom for the majority of locations.
LAKE TEKAPO VILLAGE MOTEL, LAKE TEKAPO
Lake Tekapo Village Motel offers a range of well-equipped quality motel accommodation, with one room studios, self-contained family units and a large apartment.
The Motel is conveniently located in the Lake Tekapo Village Centre, with dining, shopping and services all within easy walking distance. The closeness to amenities and superb views will make your stay very special.
Whatever your holiday plans, Lake Tekapo Village Motel offers the comfort and convenience to truly enjoy your stay, with friendly staff and all the facilities you need.
HAKA LODGE, QUEENSTOWN
Featuring multiple kitchens, bathrooms, and lounges that are top of the line, you will feel like you are staying in luxury. The lodge is just a street away from the main intersection in Queenstown (Shotover/Camp Street) and a short walk from the lake and the famous Fergburger! This means they are close to the action, but far enough away to be quiet and peaceful at night! The warm and friendly staff are ready to check you in today, and help you get the most out of your stay in Queenstown NZ.
YHA WANAKA, WANAKA
Lively, cosy, and comfortable with stunning views out to Lake Wanaka and the mountains, YHA Wanaka is an incredibly popular hostel year-round. It’s relaxed, welcoming vibe and open plan living/dining area get rave reviews in the likes of Lonely Planet.
Excellent communal facilities include several communal areas to relax in, plus a roaring log fire, pool table, reading area, balcony, and movie room. They are on hand to help you make the most of your time in Wanaka and can offer a free travel and activity booking service.
YHA FRANZ JOSEF, FRANZ JOSEF
YHA Franz Josef is a high quality hostel offering comfortable and modern backpacker accommodation, with the West Coast rainforest right outside the backdoor (or your balcony!).
With its sociable common areas and clean, comfy rooms, this is the perfect hostel to take in the sights of the magnificent Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers on the South Island’s wild and wonderful West Coast. It's one of several YHA hostels powered by renewable energy (check out the sweet array of solar panels as you arrive), so you can feel good about minimising your impact on the beautiful environment around you while you stay.
Nestled into a stunning backdrop of rainforest and mountain views, YHA Franz Josef includes a spacious fully equipped kitchen, TV lounge with flat screen TV and free DVDs, open plan lounge/dining room with pool table and open fire, laundry/drying room, picnic area, BBQ, travel desk, free sauna and 2GB per day of free WiFi!
TE NIKAU RETREAT, PUNAKAIKI
The character lodges and cabins have excellent facilities with all the comforts of home. Each place enjoys its own privacy being surrounded by sub tropical palms and forest. Wake to the dawn chorus of native birds, and at night drift off to the relaxing sound of the New Zealand bush. Home made German style bread and muffins are freshly baked and available for sale. The retreat cater to small groups, families and independent travellers looking for a unique experience.
Te Nikau Retreat is an ideal place to relax, restore and explore. Stay with us and enjoy the famous West Coast hospitality in a friendly relaxed atmosphere.
The property is just a few minutes walk through the rainforest via the Truman Track to the breathtaking coastline, the West Coast is famous for. Stay a few days and take part in the many activities and attractions this fantastic part of New Zealand is renowned for.
THE BARN, ABEL TASMAN
The Barn is a place of fun, adventure, relaxation and good times nestled right at the start of the Abel Tasman!
Situated in Marahau, the gateway to the Tasman Region's stunning Abel Tasman National Park, you 'couldn't be closer' to paradise. The Barn is the best place to make the most out of your trip to The Abel Tasman. You can enjoy this awesome place while we help you organise your trips and activities in the area!
YHA WELLINGTON, WELLINGTON
Bright, super clean, modern, and friendly, this is one of the most central hostels in Wellington. This 5 Star Gold Qualmark-rated backpackers comes with two kitchens, ample communal areas, and an on-site espresso bar. Handy!
It is super close to Te Papa, Courtenay Place, and the Wellington waterfront, so it's easy to explore the city on foot. We have room types to suit all travellers including plenty of private and ensuited facilities. All guests can enjoy our fully-equipped kitchens, TV lounges, bike storage, 2GB free WiFi per day, and surprisingly, the harbour view from our 6th floor laundry. Check it out!
Hotel descriptions are taken from the hotel website and edited to suit our page.
Arrive to: Christchurch, New Zealand
Depart from: Wellington, New Zealand
You must hold a valid passport. For Australian passport holders a minimum of 3 months validity beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand. Ensure you have at least two blank pages in your passport.
For other countries this may requirement may be 6 months validity beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand and this is your responsibility to check your requirements.
HOTEL CHECK IN /CHECK OUT TIMES
Consider the 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.
Accommodation before/after your tour
While some travellers get themselves to the tour starting location on the day of the tour, others opt to say at the tour’s selected accommodation which is the tour starting point, because they can simply walk downstairs on the morning of the tour.
Likewise, at the end of the tour, many guests choose to stay an extra night(s) at the place where the tour ends. You can also add this option to your package.
Generally, tours end early in the evening, so it's best not to book a flight out, the day your tour ends as there may not be enough time to meet your flight check in time.
If you request a flight the itinerary will be issued with a quote.
Transfers are not included in the tour package. Please see Airport Info for information on shuttle transfers to/from the airport.
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]
If you plan on doing lots of activities, you will need to be reasonably fit. There is also plenty of time to relax, recharge and soak up the surroundings as you chill out.
Fit to Travel Holiday Requirements
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
This trip includes continental breakfasts daily. For the rest of the time, meals will be at your own expense. The tour guide will recommend places to dine at for lunch and dinner.
Your tour manager will assist with the daily group arrangements and acts as a liaison for the tour arrangements.
You will travel in a comfortable air conditioned bus that seats 16 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.
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.
ABOUT MOBILE PHONE USE / INTERNET
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.