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12 Day Southern Explorer Wellington to Christchurch

Magical scenery, National Parks, Rainforests, Mountain ranges

Experience the best of New Zealand! See national parks, rainforests, and more! Take the opportunity to swim, kayak, surf, cave tube, white-water raft, jet boat, bungy jump, quad bike, skydive, heli hike, bike, luge, horse ride, see NZ wildlife, relax in hot pools, ...

Like the name suggests, this tour kicks off in Wellington and wraps up 12 days later in Christchurch. Over the course of your week and a half in Aotearoa New Zealand, you’ll travel through some of the most magical scenery you could hope to see in your lifetime. National Parks, rainforests, mountain ranges, UNESCO World Heritage Areas… everywhere you turn, there’s something different to behold.

You’ll have the opportunity to swim, kayak, surf, jet boat, bungy jump, quad bike, skydive, canyon swing, hike, heli hike, bike, luge, horse ride, see kiwis (and whales, dolphins and albatrosses), relax in hot pools, play golf, hot air balloon, eat and drink like a local, and more!

But only if you want to; this is your trip. It’s designed to be flexible – we include some absolute essentials, but let you make the call on what kind of activities appeal to you. You can pre-book the things you are certain you want to do before the trip starts – and then add more on while you’re on tour.

All of these are included as part of your tour at no extra cost:

  • Stay each night in twin-share 3–4 star accommodation: a mix of hotels, motels, lodges, and rainforest retreats
  • Feast on 6 continental breakfasts and 2 dinners
  • Ride one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world, the Cook Strait Interislander
  • Take in the stunning Southern Alps and the vast Canterbury Plains aboard the TranzAlpine, New Zealand’s finest inland rail journey
  • Taste some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc at a Marlborough wine tasting
  • Cycle and cruise your way through Queenstown’s Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak Stations
  • Carve your own pounamu (jade) pendant in Franz Josef
  • Plus, many more surprise stops along the way!

All Haka Tours include:

  • Passionate and knowledgeable local Kiwi guides
  • Comfortable and air-conditioned bus transport
  • Orientation tour of each and every location
  • Small groups of maximum 11 people

Booking Conditions

Age Restriction: Minimum age of 18

Fitness Requirement: Moderate

What's included

  • Stay each night in twin-share 3–4 star accommodation: a mix of hotels, motels, lodges
  • east on 6 continental breakfasts and 2 dinners
  • Ride one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world, the Cook Strait Interislander
  • Take in the stunning Southern Alps and the vast Canterbury Plains aboard the TranzAlpine,
  • Taste some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc at a Marlborough wine tasting
  • Cycle and cruise your way through Queenstown’s Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak Stations
  • Carve your own pounamu (jade) pendant in Franz Josef
  • Plus, many more surprise stops along the way!
  • Passionate and knowledgeable local Kiwi guides
  • Comfortable and air-conditioned bus transport
  • Orientation tour of each and every location
  • Small groups of maximum 11 people

What To Bring

  • Hat & Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain Jacket
  • Beach Towel
  • Togs / Swimwear
  • Sneakers / Walking Shoes

Itinerary

Day 1 : Day 1: Wellington
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 roadtrip 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 Wellington’s exciting nightlife - the choice is yours!
Meals :None

Day 2 : Day 2 - Wellington to Kaikōura
Rise and shine! It’s time to head straight for our main destination – the South Island. We take one of the world’s most scenic ferry journeys as we cross the Cook Strait. The South Island has a stunning welcome in store for us – gliding through the Marlborough Sounds as we approach Picton Harbour, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. One of the best ways to explore Marlborough, the region at the top of the South Island, is with your tastebuds. That’s why we jump straight on a wine tasting, to sample some of the best vineyards in the country. After lunch, our next destination is Kaikōura which literally means “to eat crayfish” – and the area is teeming with them. The nutrient-rich waters of this area attract a wide variety of marine wildlife including the stars of the show – the whales and dolphins.
Meals :None

Day 3 : Day 3 - Kaikōura to Christchurch
The chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and Kaikōura is one of the best places to find them, with pods of up to 300 of these playful creatures hanging out here at any one time. If you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, a whale watching tour here is the way to do it. Humpbacks, sperm whales and orca all stop by at various times of year, so this is a great chance to meet some of them. After visiting the local seals on our way out of town, our road trip continues to our home for the night – Christchurch, known as the “Garden City” for its peaceful parklands and lazy rivers.
Meals :None

Day 4 : Day 4 - Christchurch to Ohau (via Lake Tekapo)
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

Day 5 : Day 5 - 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

Day 6 : Day 6 - Queenstown
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, as you sail beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces you’ll understand why we call it the “8th Wonder of the World”.
Meals :None

Day 7 : Day 7 - Queenstown to Wanaka
After one last morning in Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of the World, 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.
Meals :None

Day 8 : Day 8 - Wanaka
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. 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. Dinner tonight is also included. The views from Criffel are sublime… to get the real experience, you’ll have to see it for yourself!
Meals :Dinner

Day 9 : Day 9 - 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 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. 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 5km from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Meals :Breakfast

Day 10 : Day 10 - 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 the 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

Day 11 : Day 11 - 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

Day 12 : Day 12 - Christchurch
Today is the final day of tour, where we exchange photos and stories over breakfast before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.
Meals :Breakfast

Pickups

STARTS: 6.00pm at Mercure Wellington Abel Tasman, 169 Willis St, Te Aro

ENDS: 9.00am at Hotel 115, 115 Worcester St, Christchurch Central

Optional Excursions

Optional Activities (Available to sign up on tour with your guide)

  • Adventure
  • Whale Watching
  • Bungy Jumping

Available Extras

Please view dates that are available on https://hakatours.com/departures 

Please note, that we need a minimum of 4 people to guarantee departures and take no more than 16 people 

Need more information - www.hakatours.com 

Customise your holiday by adding optional activities and upgrades as you build your tour online.

Popular Add-On Activities

  • Swim with the world's most playful dolphins, the Dusky Dolphins, in Kaikoura
  • Book a scenic flight over the majestic Lake Tekapo
  • Take a Milford Sound day trip from Queenstown with cruise
  • Experience a heli-hike in Franz Josef
  • Get the blood pumping while Skydiving or Canyon Swinging in Queenstown

Upgrades

  • Upgrade your accommodation to a private room, for $1,299NZD.

Remember, nothing is compulsory, just choose what's best for you.

No Credit Card or Booking Fees!!

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