• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

South Island of New Zealand

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

For those with limited time to explore New Zealand, focusing on one island only is a great way to reduce the amount of time spent travelling, and allow more time to be spent exploring this beautiful country.

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South Island – New Zealand

 

Day 1:   Christchurch

Day 3:   Kaikoura

Day 4:   Blenheim

Day 6:   Abel Tasman National Park

Day 9:   Punakaiki

Day 10:   Arthurs Pass

Day 12:   Fox Glacier and Franz Josef

Day 14:   Wanaka

Day 15:   Queenstown

Day 17:   Te Anau

Day 19:   Stewart Island

Day 21:   The Catlins

Day 23:   Dunedin

Day 25:   Lake Tekapo

Day 27:   Akaroa

Day 29:   Depart Christchurch

 

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Description

 

The south island offers dramatic mountain scenery with the Southern Alps running north to south, and with pristine lakes, majestic glaciers, jagged peaks and deserted beaches. Add to this wildlife, birdlife and marine life along with friendly locals and a fascinating culture, and this island makes for a fantastic introduction to New Zealand.

Christchurch and Queenstown are the two key international airports on this island, and a looped route from either one will provide a comprehensive and diverse holiday.

Day 1: Christchurch

Begin your holiday in the city of Christchurch. Punt along the river, visit the botanical gardens or take a tram ride around the town centre. Unique attractions to pop up since the earthquakes include Re:Start – a shopping centre comprised of shipping containers, and the Cardboard Cathedral.

Two nights Christchurch

 

Day 3: Kaikoura

Collect a hire car and head north to Kaikoura. Located on the coast and jammed in between the mountains and the sea, Kaikoura is famous for its fish and chips and crayfish! It is also the place for whale watching – either by sea or from the air.

One night Kaikoura

Day 4: Blenheim

This area produces some excellent wines and many wineries are open for tastings. The Marlborough Sound and Queen Charlotte sound are both in this area and well worth exploring if you have the time.

Two nights Blenheim

Day 6: Abel Tasman National Park

Drive around to Abel Tasman. This northern tip of the South Island is so often overlooked, but it is one of our favourites.  It is here that you’ll see the crescent shaped beaches backed by lush greenery – easy to spend a full day in the park, using the water taxis to get about, and perhaps walking one of the many trails in the park.

Three nights Abel Tasman

Day 9: Punakaiki

Coming down the west coast, it is nice to break the journey with an overnight stop at Punakaiki. This is the home of the Pancake Rocks – a strange rock formation, and the overnight stop simply allows you to take your time as these roads are so scenic that you will simply have to keep stopping for more pictures.

One night Punakaiki

 Day 10: Arthurs Pass

Turning inland to the central spine of mountains that run through the South Island, this is alpine scenery at its very best.  There are plenty of walking opportunities in the area with stunning views all around.

Two nights Arthurs Pass

Day 12: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef

Returning to the west coast, the next place of interest are the two glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Take time to visit one or both glaciers, the beautiful Lake Matheson and the dramatic coast at Gillespie Beach.  From here also, you can take a sightseeing flight, with or without a glacier landing and hike, and hopefully good views of Mount Cook.

Two nights Fox Glacier

Day 14: Wanaka

The route to Wanaka takes you through the Haast Pass and past Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.  Simply beautiful – this little town is surrounded by mountains and is the Queenstown of yesteryear.  Where Queenstown has developed, Wanaka has remained delightfully small.

One night Wanaka

Day 15: Queenstown

Sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a sizeable town with activities for every adrenalin junkie!  Here you will find bungy jumping, sky diving, a luge and plenty more.  Much of the Lord of the Rings was filmed in this area, and although the sets had to be removed, the scenery will seem familiar!  For those not into extreme sports, a drive to Glenorchy is beautiful.

Two nights Queenstown

Day 17: Te Anau

Te Anau is the gateway to Fjordland National Park – for both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. For either, you can visit for a day, or take an overnight cruise. Of the two, Milford offers the more dramatic scenery but is busier. Doubtful Sound has fewer tourists and lovely scenery, but it’s not quite so dramatic.

Two nights Te Anau

Day 19: Stewart Island

At the very southern tip are areas of New Zealand that many never get to. Stewart Island is home to the only kiwi’s (the birds that is) to be found in the wild, and a must for birding enthusiasts. Access to the island is by ferry or by light aircraft – we suggest going by air as the ferry crossing can be quite choppy.

Two nights Stewart Island 

Day 21: The Catlins

The Catlins is the area in the far southeast corner of the South Island – a wild and remote corner for those whose idea of paradise is the absence of anyone else at all (or pretty well!) and with good opportunities to see wildlife such as Little Blue Penguins, Yellow Eyed Penguins, seals and sealions.

Two nights The Catlins

Day 23: Dunedin

Visited by many for its Scottish appeal and for the colony of albatross that call this home. This is a must for birders. There are a number of other attractions in the area including the Rail Trail – great for cycling. The Otago Peninsula is beautiful, and a stay here rather than in the city itself may appeal too.

Two nights Dunedin

Day 25: Lake Tekapo

This is the home of the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog Memorial often features in brochures. This is also a great place for stargazing as it is a ‘designated dark sky’ area.

Two nights Lake Tekapo

Day 27: Akaroa

Located on the Banks Peninsula south east of Christchurch, this small town has a French feel to it and is a lovely place to relax for a day or two. From here, one can take a cruise to swim with wild Hector’s Dolphins – the smallest and rarest dolphin, which is endemic to New Zealand.

Two nights Akaroa

Day 29: Depart Christchurch

Depart Christchurch today to head home or to your next destination.

Fox Glacier – Credit Jim bell

Franz Josef Glacier Credit New Zealand Tourism

Queenstown – Credit Jim Bell

Rippon Vineyard-Lake Wanaka- credit David Wall

23 Nugget Point The Catlins- Credit Graeme Murray

Te Anau Milfor Sound – Credit 100% New Zealand

Arthurs Pass National Park Canterbury Credit Tourism New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Gems

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Client Feedback

Coming Soon!

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Northern Queensland Flora & Fauna

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Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest along with the Atherton Tablelands, with plenty of opportunities to see the wide variety of flora and fauna of this fascinating region.

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Northern Queensland Flora & Fauna

The dry season in tropical north Queensland runs from June to October and is the ideal time to explore this region, especially the far north which is off the beaten track and simply beautiful. This itinerary covers the more commonly visited destinations, such as Palm Cove, Port Douglas and the Daintree, but also includes a couple of little gems that make a lovely all round experience.

Day 1: Port Douglas

Day 3: Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation

Day 5: Cooktown

Day 8: Atherton Tablelands

Day 10: Palm Cove

Day 13: Depart Cairns

Credit Tourism Australia

Credit Tourism Australia

 

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Description

Day 1: Port Douglas

Collect a hire car from Cairns and head north, the Captain Cook   Highway soon reduces to single carriageway, hugging the coast as it wends its way to Port Douglas.  Spend two nights in Port Douglas – a pretty little town with an attractive marina, good shopping and home of the Iron Bar on Macrossan Street!

Day 3: Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation

Continue north into the oldest rainforest in the world – the Daintree. Here, take some of the many boardwalks and trails through the forest to see the flora and fauna of the region – the cassowary and platypus are two of the rarest to look out for. Take a cruise on the DaintreeRiver and look out for ‘salties’ – salt water crocodiles. At CapeTribulation, see the perfect white sandy beaches as Captain Cook saw them many years before.

Day 5: Cooktown

The journey today is on unsealed roads – only accessible during the dry season – as you head off the beaten track further north to Cooktown. Here, stay at a fantastic lodge in the forest and explore hiking trails, go fishing, kite surfing, wildlife watching or explore historic Cooktown itself.

Day 8: Atherton Tablelands

Return south today, taking the sealed inland road. The Atherton Tablelands are located west of Cairns, and are a great place for further wildlife and bird watching. Here, consider staying in unique treehouses in the forest.

Day 10: Palm Cove

Return to the coast today for a stay in Cairns or one of the northern beaches such as Palm Cove. The northern beaches provide a more relaxed and quiet place to relax, and Cairns is busier with every facility close to hand. From this area, take a day trip or extended trip out to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel, swim, dive or view from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat or semi-submersible.

Day 13: Depart Cairns

Leave Cairns today on your onward or homeward journey.

Photograph copyright Angie Watson

Photograph copyright Angie Watson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Gems

The opportunity to stay in a luxury treehouse in the forest close to the Atherton Tablelands is a real ‘little gem’ – if you’re lucky, you may even spot the rare platypus in this area.

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Client Feedback

Coming soon!

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Ontario in Summer

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Known for the cosmopolitan city of Toronto and stunning Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada has far more to offer as this itinerary demonstrates:

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Ontario in Summer

Day 1: Arrive Toronto
Day 4: Kingston
Day 6: Ottawa
Day 8: Huntsville
Day 12: Blue Mountain Resort
Day 14: Depart Toronto
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Description

This is just one idea for a 2 week self drive holiday around the beautiful Province of Ontario in Canada. This can be adapted to suit your exact requirements and links well to its neighbour Quebec province. Ontario also has a good rail network and some of this holiday can be achieved by rail. Call us for more ideas

Day 1: Arrive Toronto
Fine shops, rivalling those of New York, and fantastic restaurants await. Spend time on Toronto’s waterfront, take a leisurely boat cruise and visit the many sights that this vibrant city has to offer, climb the CN tower and brave the ‘Edge Walk’… Take a day tour to see the magnificent Niagara Falls and include a boat trip on the famous ‘Maid of the Mist.
Three nights Toronto
As an alternative, why not pick up you hire car a day earlier, drive to the Falls, then spend a night in Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Day 4: Kingston
Collect a hire car and drive west to historical Kingston. Meander along the waterfront admiring Kingston’s architecture and explore the 1000 islands on a boat tour. Drive, walk or cycle the beautiful 1000 Islands Parkway.
Two nights Kingston

Day 6: Ottawa
Drive northwards to Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. Watch the familiar sight of the ‘Changing of the Guards Ceremony’ outside the Parliament Buildings and walk or cycle along the banks of the Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Visit Byward Market, a centre for fashion, music, art and tourist sights.
Two nights Ottawa

Day 8: Huntsville
Head west to the Muskoka Lakes region, an area full of wonderful lakes and fantastic scenery. Take scenic drives and explore Algonquin Provincial Park, a wilderness park and home to wildlife such as the illusive Moose.
Four nights Huntsville

You may consider adding in a true wilderness adventure here with opportunities for canoeing and hiking – camp or stay in a log cabin in the heart of Algonquin

Day 12: Blue Mountain Resort
Drive south to Blue Mountain Resort. A ski resort during the winter months, in the summer the resort offers a wide range of activities including mountain biking, hiking and tennis. Or take a short drive down to the resort’s own private beach on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay – relax on the sandy beach or paddle along the peaceful shoreline.
Two nights Blue Mountain Resort

Day 14: Depart Toronto
Drive back to Toronto where you will drop off you hire car in time to check in for your return or onward travel arrangements.
Photographs courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership

Maid of the Mist - Credit as Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Credit Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Dorset

Credit Ontario Tourism

IslBG

Credit G Briand

Algonquin Provincal Park

Credit Ontario Tourism

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Little Gems

Niagara on the Lake is a step away from the cosmopolitan life of the town at Niagara Falls.  You’ll need a car to reach it as it is not on the public transport network, but as a base to explore the falls, it is superb.
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Client Feedback

‘I was not sure what to expect from Niagara Falls – a magnificent natural feature, or a huge commercialised resort.  Whilst the commercialised resort is there, it does not detract from the beauty and magnificence of the Falls themselves.  We got totally soaked on our boat trip, but it was worth it!’
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