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A lonesome tree in the Lake Wanaka with snowy mountains at the background, New Zealand.

New Zealand South Island Tour

Lose yourself in New Zealand’s mountainous south.

  • From 11 days

  • Self-drive

  • All Year

  • 16-19+ hours

Plan your Trip
  1. Destinations
  2. Oceania
  3. New Zealand
  4. New Zealand South Island Tour

Things You'll See During Your Tour

New Zealand’s South Island is home to breathtaking landscapes, charming cities, and some sensational wine. If you’ve ever wanted to travel from the South of France to Patagonia, via Scotland, in one day, this is the tour for you. Start your trip with Tourlane in Christchurch, New Zealand’s oldest city, before heading south into the mountains and lakes of the Fiordland National Park. Take to the skies in a helicopter over the Franz Josef glacier, looking down on the land that has captured your imagination.

Oceania, New Zealand, riverside park in Christchurch.

1. Christchurch

Known as “the Garden City”, Christchurch is the oldest city in New Zealand.  Wander through the leafy streets of this charming university city that carries a distinctively English flair—the city is named after an Oxford college, and there’s even punting on the river. Take a slow stroll through Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where the elegance of this beautiful city comes to life.

Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand with lake in the foreground.

2. Franz Josef

The competition for most incredible landscape on the South Island is tough, but the Franz Josef Glacier might just be the winner. Organize a “Helihiking” tour to the glacier with your Tourlane Travel Expert, where you’ll see the 7-mile ice sheet in all its glory from the air, before landing on the ice. Unleash your inner explorer as you navigate the crevasses and spires of this blue, alien landscape.

3. Lake Wanaka

3. Lake Wanaka

You’ll never want to leave Lake Wanaka. Canoe along the shore or mountain bike along the trails criss-crossing the foothills of Mount Aspiring—it’s the perfect place to fall in love with the South Island’s great outdoors. This area has a remarkable resemblance to southwest France, which you’ll taste as well as see if you sample some of the region’s gorgeous pinot noir and gamay wines. 

4. Te Anau

4. Te Anau

Te Anau is New Zealand’s largest lake, nestled between the Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. Cruise through the sound, donning your parka as you pass under waterfalls and rainbows, accompanied by dolphins and seals frolicking alongside your boat. Drop anchor at the Milford Discovery Centre, where you’ll descend into an underwater observatory. Below the surface, look out for the rare black coral and spiny starfish, unique to this incredible undersea environment.

Oceania, New Zealand, view of Queenstown harbor with a green forested hill in the background.

5. Queenstown

Drive northeast through the hills to Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Lace up your boots for a hike up Ben Lomond, following the Fernhill Link track through towering Douglas fir trees—alternatively, take the Skyline Gondola to the peak and marvel at the 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. Middle Earth buffs will recognise Glenorchy, a filming location for the Lord of the Rings movies.

Discover the beautiful blue waters of Tekapo Lake on a New Zealand tour

6. Lake Tekapo

As you hop from lake to lake on your South Island tour with Tourlane, you’ll see a lot of clear skies during the day. At Lake Tekapo, you’ll see the same skies under the cover of darkness with the Dark Sky Project. One of the clearest night skies in the world can be found at the summit of Mount John—it’s the perfect place to spot the Southern Cross, only visible in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand.

7. Christchurch

Return to Christchurch for the final, breathtaking experience on your South Island tour: an air safari over the mountains and lakes you’ve explored from terra firma. Board an aircraft with specially large windows, flying over Franz Josef Glacier and Aoraki, also known as Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Gaze down on the rugged landscape of this beautiful island, cementing memories of a New Zealand adventure that will last a lifetime.

Travel Expert Verena in Namibia

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Combined, our team of Travel Experts have:

  • Tailored more than 10,000 dream vacations

  • Visited more than 100 countries

  • More than 35 nationalities

  • Offset more than 40,000 tons of CO2

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