Scenic NZ South Island with TranzAlpine train

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    Live it up in scenic Queenstown | Travel Nation

    Soak up the scenery in Queenstown

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    Crossing the Waimakariri River on the TranzAlpine | Credit: Kiwirail
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    Gaze out to the mountains from Lake Tekapo in spring | Travel Nation

    Soak up the scenery at Lake Tekapo

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    Book a heli-hike on the Franz Josef glacier | Travel Nation

    Book a heli-hike on the Franz Josef glacier

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    Go chasing waterfalls in The Catlins, NZ | Travel Nation

    Go chasing waterfalls in The Catlins

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    Spot penguins on the Otago Peninsula | Travel Nation

    Spot penguins on the Otago Peninsula

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    Make a side trip to sunny Kaka Point, NZ | Travel Nation

    Make a side trip to sunny Kaka Point

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    Take stunning shots from the TranzAlpine | Travel Nation

    Take stunning shots from the TranzAlpine

Trip ideas

Duration(in days): 9

From: Christchurch

To: Christchurch



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing)

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See more ideas for: New Zealand

    Explore the natural beauty of the South Island by a mixture of self-drive and train. Starting in Christchurch you’ll head over to the west coast aboard the TranzAlpine train, crossing the sunlit Arthur's Pass and vast Canterbury Plains as you trundle towards the Southern Alps. Next, you’ll visit the blue ice of the west coast glaciers before driving on to Queenstown, to experience the city by the lake. Finish back on the east coast with a train journey across the Taieri Gorge and a stop at Lake Tekapo to finish your trip through the scenic South Island.

    This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


    • Wander along the river and pretty streets of Christchurch          
    • Hop aboard the TranzAlpine train to cross from east coast to west      
    • Enjoy views of the snow-capped Southern Alps from the train
    • See the glaciers of the west coast from Franz Josef
    • Explore the lakeside city of Queenstown
    • Drive through the Catlins and the Otago Peninsula looking out for penguins     


    Itinerary in brief:

    • 1 night Christchurch      
    • 2 nights Franz Josef       
    • 2 nights Queenstown
    • 2 nights Dunedin
    • 1 night Lake Tekapo

    Day 1: Arrival in Christchurch      

    On arrival in Christchurch you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the city, where you will check in for one night. Depending on what time you arrive, why not spend the afternoon punting along the River Avon and admiring the Cardboard Cathedral – a stirring reminder of the earthquake that rocked this small city in 2011. 

    Day 2: TranzAlpine train to Greymouth 

    You’ll be up early this morning to climb aboard the TranzAlpine at 7.30am, ready to take you through Arthurs Pass to the west coast town of Greymouth. You’ll pass through vast plains and miles of native forest before traversing the Southern Alps where glacier fed rivers shimmer under the snow-capped mountains. Arriving in Greymouth at lunchtime you’ll pick up your rental car at the station and drive south down the coast to Franz Josef – why not take a short detour on the way to see the gushing blue waters of Hokitika Gorge before arriving at your Franz Josef hotel and checking in for two nights.

    Day 3: Franz Josef      

    You’ve got a whole day here to enjoy the beauty of the Southern Alps and explore the west coast glaciers at your leisure. If you want to book a heli-hike to get right up on the glacier by helicopter we can arrange this for you, or even organise a relaxed guided walk through the valley – just ask!         

    Day 4: Drive to Queenstown

    Today you’ll head even further south, passing through the scenic areas of Wanaka and Arrowtown on your way to Queenstown, which sits on the edge of a deep blue lake under the gaze of the Remarkables mountain range. Check into your hotel here for two nights and head out for a walk around town on your first evening in this mountain resort.

    Day 5: Queenstown     

    Queenstown is a famous hub of activity in New Zealand, so with one day to explore you’ll be spoilt for choice! We recommend taking the cruise down Lake Wakatipu to enjoy the mountain views, which will take you to Mount Nicholas sheep farm. Learning about local life here is a wonderful way to experience the area. If you’re feeling active,  there’s no end to the adventures on offer  – bungee jumping, skydiving, jetboating and kayaking are all available on the doorstep.               

    Day 6: Drive to Dunedin      

    After breakfast you’ll begin the drive to Dunedin on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Why not drive via the Catlins, a wild area of the country made up of huge sheep farms, ancient forests and local wildlife? Here, you can stop by Kaka Point and, if you’re lucky, you might just spot the yellow eyed penguins that waddle along the rocky shores. Arriving in Dunedin you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.

    Day 7: Dunedin  

    Today you’ll enjoy a trip on the beautiful Taieri Gorge Railway. Starting in Dunedin you’ll head out across the plains and climb into the gorge, the train winding its way over narrow bridges and viaducts. The train slows down as it passes particularly scenic points so its easy to take snaps along your journey and enjoy a beer as you soak in the views. You’ll be back in Dunedin in time for a late lunch, so you’ll have the chance to explore this southern city or head out onto the Otago Peninsula and hike through the lush hills with views over the ocean.  

    Day 8: Drive to Lake Tekapo         

    Today you’ll head north to Lake Tekapo, right in the middle of the South Island, where you’ll check into your hotel for one night. Made famous by the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd that sits on its shore, this pretty lake looks out towards the mountains, and it’s an ideal pitstop on your way back to Christchurch. You can hike and cycle around the lake, or even swim if you are brave enough! Not far away you’ll also find Lake Pukaki. With views all the way down to Mount Cook, Pukaki is an idyllic spot to spend your last day in New Zealand.

    Day 9: Depart Christchurch 

    After breakfast you’ll head back to Christchurch Airport, in time to drop off your rental car and catch your onwards flight.    


    New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is however the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.

    This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

    What's included
    • Accommodation for 8 nights     
    • Daily breakfast
    • Car hire               
    • Tranz Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth 
    Not included
    • Fuel                      
    • Meals not mentioned above