A shorter version of our South Island Experience tour, the 9-day South Island Sampler offers a selection of some of the South Island's best scenery and activities with all the great features of our full Experience tours. This trip is designed to fit into a one week vacation period and is the perfect trip for those wanting a New Zealand stopover as part of a larger travel itinerary, or for our Australian neighbours looking for a great short break across the pond:
- soak in thermal pools beneath rolling peaks
- recline amongst the vines at a winery
- sea kayak along golden, bush-laden coastline
- float beneath cave constellations
- soar over awe-inspiring glaciers
- starts in Christchurch, finishes in Queenstown
- 9 days / 8 nights
- See Dates & Rates
Day 1: Welcome to New Zealand! - Christchurch
Step off the plane in Christchurch, the South Island's garden city, and into the care of your Black Sheep guide. Freshen up at your hotel, then head out and explore: stroll amongst the Botanical Gardens, visit the galleries and museums, or enjoy a coffee amongst the innovative artwork of the city’s post-earthquake rebirth. At dinner, socialize with your fellow travelers and discuss your upcoming trip.
Day 2: Alpine Relaxation - To Hanmer Springs
From Christchurch, travel through rich farmland and rolling hills to the thermal spa resort of Hanmer Springs. Enjoy a soak in an array of therapeutic pools set beneath towering pines and rolling peaks in this charming alpine village. The afternoon is free to pursue your own interests. Walk or hire a bike to explore the great variety of trails here, play a round of golf, go horse riding, or just enjoy the shops and cafes that line the picturesque streets.
Day 3: Mountains to Sea - To Nelson
From Hanmer, continue northwest through the beautiful Lewis Pass region. Arriving in Nelson, enjoy wine-tasting and a vineyard lunch at one of the region's premiere wineries before settling into your hotel in the vibrant city centre. Explore the city's riverside parks, shops, artists' studios and galleries or consider a hike up to the Centre of New Zealand for beautiful views of the bay and surrounding mountains. Settle in for your two night stay.
Day 4: Abel Tasman Escape - Nelson
Sea kayak, cruise or hike along the stunning shoreline of arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Aquamarine waters, temperate forest, golden sand beaches--no arguments here. At the end of the day, note how the colloquialism 'Good day, mate' rolls off your tongue.
Day 5: West Coast Wonders - To Punakaiki
Resuming your journey, stop for a hike in the spectacular Nelson Lakes region then emerge onto the wild and woolly West Coast. Explore the limestone cave systems that honeycomb this region. View delicate, unspoiled formations on a Scenic Caving trip, or take a Cave Rafting adventure, featuring glow-worm constellations, an underground river, a whole lot of rubber, and plenty of laughs. Travel along spectacular coastline to your accommodation in Punakaiki, at the edge of the Paparoa National Park.
Day 6: Glacial Glory - To the Glacier Region
Head south to New Zealand's spectacular glacier region. Thank yourself for choosing a guided trip, because you can't take your eyes off the scenery--a serious no-no on these roads! In the village of Franz Josef, take a scenic helicopter flight, passing near Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, and landing on the glacier's neve. Back on terra firma, hike to the glacier face and visit a stand of old-growth rainforest. Marvel at how ferns and ice can be within cooee of each other (that's 'really close' in Kiwi).
Day 7: Scenic Journey - To Queenstown
Hike around the peaceful, reflective water of a glacial kettle lake, then head south to Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital. On the way, explore hidden trails and secluded waterfalls before crossing the spectacular Crown Range and decending into Queenstown for our final two nights.
Day 8: Mother Nature on Steroids - Queenstown
Because there are so many things to do in Queenstown to cater to your diverse interests, the day is free for you to pick and choose whatever optional activities you desire, be they horse trekking, sky diving, or bungy jumping, or more leisurely pursuits such as walking and wine trails. We re-gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate the friendships we’ve made and the memories shared. While making a speech, accidentally call your guide 'Mommy'.
Day 9: Fond Farewells - Queenstown to Home
Depending on your flight schedule, take time to relax, make final purchases, or reconsider that bungy jump before traveling home or to your next destination. Depart New Zealand celebrating new experiences and friendships that epitomise the joy of travel.
For those with a bit more time...
Why not add on an excursion to Fiordland or a multi-day tramp (hike) on one of New Zealand's Great Walks? There are lots of options; contact us for details.