Experience the best of the South Island of New Zealand with privately guided tours. We offer the best flexible New Zealand escorted tours, with no date or itinerary restrictions. Book the best on this privately guided tour of New Zealand inclusive of a tour guide/chauffeur plus private touring vehicle.
Our South Island New Zealand guided tours are fully customisable. Once you enquire, one of our team will be in touch to discuss your ideal tour. After that, we will work with you to tailor your tour to match your interests.
Read on for more details on our guided tours of the South Island of New Zealand.
You’re fantastic New Zealand guided tour begins in Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City.”
Explore Christchurch with your guide, options include:
In the evening option to add dinner aboard the Christchurch Tram. The Tramway Restaurant offers curated seasonal dining combined with evening sightseeing in central Christchurch for a truly unique experience!
Stay 1 night in Christchurch.
Travel time Christchurch to Lake Tekapo – 3 hours
Your scenic journey through the Mackenzie Basin begins today. As the Southern Alps loom before you, there will be photo opportunities around every corner.
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing.
Lake Tekapo has many things to do and explore. Visit the historic Church of the Good Shepherd, one of the most photographed places in the country. One of the most popular attractions in town is Tekapo Springs with hot pools, spas, water slides, steam rooms and saunas.
In the evening prepare for an awe-inspiring evening on a magical star gazing tour. Your expert astronomy guides bring the night sky to life, sharing the science and the stories of our Southern skies. Stargaze using the naked eye guided by lasers. Then proceed to explore deeper through up to 16″ optical telescopes, including in the private observatory dome. Take in the incredible Milky Way, far off planets, star clusters, solar systems, and even distant galaxies. Every night sky beholds something different.
Stay 2 nights at Lake Tekapo.
Mount Cook Village is nestled at the base of the Southern Alps, with stunning views of Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains. At 3,724 metres, New Zealand’s highest mountain (Aoraki / Mount Cook) is dazzling, yet there are 27 other mountains in this alpine backbone which peak at over 3,050 metres, and hundreds of others not far short of that, all making up the famous Southern Alps.
Mountain walks lead to alpine tarns, herb fields, spectacular glacier views and encounters with cheeky kea (mountain parrots).
Join the Glaciers Explorers Tour. The only tour of its kind in New Zealand and one of the only accessible glacial lakes containing icebergs in the world. Explore and learn about the ever-changing glacial landscape as you journey across the terminal lake with experienced guides. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the face of the glacier into the rapidly growing lake.
Travel time Lake Tekapo to Queenstown – 3 hours
As you continue the spectacular drive south, you have the option to sample fresh fruit from the orchards of Cromwell. Buy the freshest fruit available, sample manuka honey and treat yourself to a real fruit ice-cream. Next up is the Gibbston Valley if of interest, your guide can stop at cellar doors or a vineyard restaurant for lunch.
Visit Arrowtown prior to reaching Queenstown. Arrowtown is charming and quirky. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of heritage buildings that stretches into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miner’s cottages. The buildings in this lovely precinct house shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.
Queenstown sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges. Let Queenstown awaken your inner-explorer. Whether you’re interested in exploring trails, indulging in food and wine, teeing off stunning fairways or seeking adrenaline thrills – there are adventures to be found here of all tastes and tempos.
Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience – a delicious gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour in a stunning lakeside setting. Your experience starts with a cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw across to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Once there, you can sit back on the lakeside terrace of the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant. Savour the delicious aromas as your chef prepares the best local produce for you to enjoy. After dinner, you can join an entertaining farm demonstration or explore the beautiful lakeside gardens.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown.
Journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, where myth, heritage and fantasy come to life. As one of Queenstown’s most exhilarating activities, the Wilderness Jet, half day adventure takes you on a spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mount Aspiring National Park.
You’ll experience a unique combination of breath-taking scenery and an exhilarating ride as you follow the braided, glacier-fed rivers by jet boat. Your guides give you their authentic touch, talking about the area’s rich history, the Greenstone trail and countless Maori legends. You’ll also be given the chance to walk amongst the ancient beech tree forests – an atmosphere you may recognize from The Lord of the Rings films. It’s a complete Queenstown to Glenorchy experience in an untouched natural wonderland.
Whilst in Glenorchy your guide will tour the area. The two main industries in Glenorchy are farming and tourism, which have enabled the town to thrive while still maintaining its unique qualities and southern kiwi culture. Glenorchy is a welcoming and vibrant town offering a range of cafes, bars, shopping, hiking, fishing, and much more.
Sit back and relax and take in the stunning views as you ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola – the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the must-do activities in Queenstown!
When you get to the top, take the drivers seat with the gravity-fuelled Skyline Luge, the global thrill ride for all ages. Purpose built Luge carts put you in complete control as you take on over 800 metres of banked corners, tunnels and dippers. Once you’ve conquered the course, hop on the chairlift and do it all again.
Next enjoy a dining experience that is out of this world. Experience a sumptuous buffet lunch at Skyline’s Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar at the top of the Gondola. The menu is inspired by iconic New Zealand cuisine and infused with international influences. As you dine, the panoramic view from the windows will captivate you.
Continue your quest for adventure and choose from any adventure activity on offer in Queenstown. Bungy jumping, skydiving, paragliding, quad biking, zip lining, heli flights, 4WD off-roading, you name it we can book it. If you’re looking for a slightly slower pace there’s plenty of recreational activities like the Kiwi Birdlife Park, or spa and wellness options to help you truly feel worlds away.
Travel time Queenstown to Manapouri – 2 hours
Doubtful Sound is unspoiled, unmatched and unforgettable. So get ready to create some lifelong memories as the Fiordland Navigator takes you through the ultimate Doubtful Sound experience.
Your getaway starts in Manapouri with a short cruise across Lake Manapouri. A coach then takes you across Wilmot Pass, travelling on a sub-alpine road through dense rainforest. Arriving at Deep Cove you’ll be met by our crew and the majestic Fiordland Navigator.
Designed along the lines of a traditional scow, the Fiordland Navigator blends old world charm with modern comforts that include spacious viewing decks, a dining saloon with fully licensed bar and an observation lounge.
As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, your knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you miss nothing. Be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter.
After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat.
In the evening, you’ll enjoy a delicious three-course buffet dinner prepared by your on-board chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.
Kick off the next day with a hearty cooked breakfast and get ready to enjoy the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fiord. Finally, you’ll return to Deep Cove, the trip back to Manapouri and many, many conversations telling friends just how amazing your trip was.
Stay 1 night on Doubtful Sound.
Travel time Manapouri to Wanaka – 3.5 hours
Your scenic tour will continue as you enjoy the drive around Lake Wakatipu and over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Your guide will stop along the way for photos at fantastic viewing points. You can also stop at the historic Cardrona Hotel and Cardrona Distillery.
Explore Wanaka with your guide. You may want to visit Puzzling World, Wanaka’s illusional attraction. The National Toy and Transport Museum. Or the Wanaka Lavender Farm located, where you can experience 20 acres of beautiful lavender fields, farm animals & display gardens.
Test out your fishing skills at “Hook”, Wanaka’s very unique interactive Lake to Plate dining experience. Catch a Chinook salmon from the scenic spring-fed fishing lakes and then relax as the team prepares it for you. No experience is necessary and fishing equipment can be hired on the day.
Spend the evening dining at one of Wanaka’s reputable lakefront restaurants.
Stay 1 night in Wanaka.
Travel time Wanaka to Franz Josef – 4 hours
The Haast Pass Highway is one of the most scenic alpine routes in New Zealand. Explore the pass with your guide, stopping to view cascading waterfalls, broad alpine meadows, craggy snowcapped mountains, and the turquoise depths of the Blue Pools.
Continuing along the West Coast, your guide will take you to Lake Matheson, where you can take a 20 minute walk (one-way) to the jetty, to admire the reflected views of the Southern Alps on the surface of the lake.
In the afternoon, take an unforgettable helicopter flight over Franz Josef Glacier, where you will land in the snow to enjoy incredible views of the majestic Southern Alps.
Stay 1 night in Franz Josef.
Travel time Franz Josef to Hokitika – 2 hours
Discover the West Coast’s beauty in Hokitika, famous for its wild beach and arts and crafts scene. Hokitika is known as the ‘Cool Little Town’. There are some lovely old buildings on the town’s historic walk. You’ll also notice galleries specialising in pounamu jewellery and artworks.
While in Hokitika, you may wish to make the scenic drive to Hokitika Gorge, where an impressive turquoise river flows through a narrow canyon.
You could also visit the National Kiwi Centre, where you will be able to see a rare kiwi; view New Zealand’s living dinosaur, the Tuatara; and participate in feeding the giant eels.
You will find a great attraction in the West Coast Treetop Walk. Here, you’ll enjoy the views of the birds with the canopy walk that’s been carefully constructed across the ancient Kamahi and Rimu trees. The walkway is 450 metres in total and reaches heights of 20 metres giving you fantastic panoramic views of all around.
Stay 1 night in Hokitika.
Travel time Hokitika to Nelson – 5 hours
Visit the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on your drive north, where you will get the chance to marvel at the strange limestone formations that have been weathered by the relentless sea.
Nelson is a picturesque city offering beaches, wineries and boutique bzreweries. If you like scenery, nature, food, wine, and beer, you will love Nelson! The region also enjoys New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours, which makes it a mecca for fruit-growing.
Walk the sun-drenched golden sand beaches, and in the evening sit in the sun, sip a wine from one of the local vineyards, and dine on the famous Nelson cuisine.
Stay 2 nights in Nelson.
Travel time Nelson to Abel Tasman – 1 hour
Only a short drive away is Abel Tasman, renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, rich unmodified estuaries, long sunshine hours, and the world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Take a boat cruise into Abel Tasman National Park today, where you can relax on the hot golden sand, enjoy a day walk, or simply remain aboard for the return cruise. Soak in the natural beauty and enjoy! This trip allows you to explore sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track; the boat will stop at scenic points along the way where you can get off and walk a section of the track. The boat will then collect you later in the day. You could also just pack a picnic lunch and beach towels and laze on the beach for the day.
Travel time Nelson to Kaikoura – 3 hours
Today your guide will take you on a scenic drive through the Marlborough wine region, with the option to stop at a winery along the way for samples of the award-winning wines.
In the afternoon take a scenic cruise to view the majestic Sperm Whales off the Kaikoura Coast. Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale watching company, offering visitors enchanting up-close encounters with Sperm Whales at all times of the year. Depending on the season, you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales.
Spend the evening in Kaikoura, a stunning coastal town with a backdrop of majestic mountains. Be sure to sample the superb local seafood at dinner! You have the option to add on a cruise or flight to view the majestic sperm whales off the Kaikoura coast.
Stay 1 night in Kaikoura.
Travel time Kaikoura to Christchurch – 2.5 hours
The impressive scenery of the coastal ranges accompanies your journey from Kaikoura to Christchurch today. From Cheviot you can detour to Gore Bay to see the fascinating cliff formations. Waipara is known for its vineyards and olive groves – an excellent place to pause for lunch. Continuing south your journey takes you past the surf beaches of Amberley, Leithfield, Waikuku and Woodend.
Relax in Christchurch for the afternoon. You might like to take time to explore the city by double-decker bus, vintage bicycle, gondola, tram or classic Edwardian punt – or grab your walking shoes and discover bars, eateries and an eclectic mix of boutique shops by foot.
On your last evening, make a toast to a wonderful New Zealand holiday!
Stay 1 night at Christchurch.
Travel time Hanmer Springs to Christchurch – 2 hours
Your guide will deliver you to Christchurch Airport for your departing flight.