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Circle South Island

New Zealand’s South Island is full of quaint towns, beautiful landscapes and a relaxed lifestyle. With Circle South Island we’ll delve into southern Kiwi life. Uncover Christchruch, a green city with buzzing streets, wine bars and cafes. You won’t get more cultural than Dundedin. A dramatic city set in the hills and valleys, surrounded by a wealth of wildlife in the region. Fly past waterfalls and lush valleys on a Dart River jet boat; treading on only inches of water, an activity sure to get anyone’s heart racing! And don’t forget about the awe inspiring glaciers at Franz Josef; a sight unlike any other, sure to make you appreciate New Zealand’s South Island.

Trip Type: Adventure, Romance & Honeymoon, Wildlife

MapCircle South IslandCircle South Island

Day By Day

Day 1 – USA to Christchurch (Via Auckland)
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price. 

Day 2 – Cross the International Date Line
Cross the International Date Line, an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North to the South Pole - and defines one calendar day from the next. Crossing the International Date Line adds one day (24 hours) traveling west, and subtracts one day (24 hours) traveling east.

Day 3 – Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand
On arrival into Auckland you will need to clear customs and make your way to the domestic terminal for your connecting flight to Christchurch. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your accommodation. Collect your rental vehicle from the airport depot and self-drive to your hotel.

Christchurch is the South Island's largest city, beautifully encapsulates the best of what New Zealand has to offer. This is a vibrant city of exciting festivals, art galleries, theaters and great shopping. Award-winning attractions are available within the city and the surrounding countryside. Find out what variety really means; explore our unspoiled corner of the globe, where wilderness, adventure and sophisticated urban living can be found in perfect balance.

Starting Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 4 – At leisure, Christchurch
Christchurch, the city of parks and gardens, trees and beauty, is also buzzing with street life. Wine bars, street cafes and exciting entertainments give the central city vitality unique in New Zealand. Christchurch is said to be the most English city outside England. The downtown district focuses on Cathedral Square, where you’ll find buskers, speakers and the eccentric Wizard of Christchurch (who is classified as a living work of art).

You can sedately cruise the Avon River by punt, on its meandering course through town, under many bridges and past historic landmarks, or do your own thing by canoe. Vintage car, horse and carriage, hot air ballooning and guided walking tours: these are just a few ways to explore the Garden City.

Starting Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 5 – Christchurch to Dunedin
A university city of Scottish heritage, Dunedin possesses a unique combination of cultural riches, fine architecture, and world-famous wildlife reserves. The sheer physical beauty of Dunedin’s dramatic bush-covered hills and valleys at the head of a long natural harbor attracted Maori settlers to the site over nine centuries ago.

Then, in 1848, Scottish migrants established a town here, giving it the ancient name of Edinburgh. Soaring cathedral spires, a magnificent Flemish-style railway station, fine banks and office blocks, a nineteenth-century castle, old university buildings and a neo-gothic convent are among the city's architectural treasures. Dunedin's art gallery and museums contain some of the best collections in New Zealand. And within the city boundaries are internationally renowned wildlife reserves including a rare Albatross breeding ground and Yellow-Eyed Penguin colonies.

If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Christchurch to Dunedin at your own pace.

Starting Accommodation: Distinction Hotel

Day 6 – Dunedin cruise, Albatross and wildlife tour
Depart from your hotel for the scenic drive to Taiaroa for a guided Albatross land tour (restricted viewing from late September to late November). A lunch stop is made (own expense), before transferring to Wellers Rock for the guided cruise to Taiaroa.

You will be fascinated and exhilarated by the wealth of wildlife, so close, so natural. View albatross, seals, cormorants, geology and history from the Monarch, then transfer to the penguin reserve for a Yellow eyed penguin land tour before returning to Dunedin.

Starting Accommodation: Distinction Hotel

Day 7 – Travel Dunedin to Queenstown
You travel through Central Otago with its bizarre schist rock tors, desert landscapes, blue lakes and river gorges.

Drive from Dunedin to Queenstown at your own pace.

Nestled beside the deep blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, at the foot of the Remarkables Mountain Range, Queenstown is a year round resort, where you can be as active as you want, or just leisurely enjoy the magnificent scenery.

Starting Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

Day 8 – Dart River jet boating
Transfer from Queenstown by coach to Glenorchy and the mouth of the Dart River. Here we board the 18 foot specially prepared jet boat and thread our way through a maze of channels between river flats in only inches of water. Snowcapped mountains surround you as you view the World Heritage Grandeur, and waterfalls cascade into the lush bush clad valleys – a magical, untouched place.

Your driver/guide shares his knowledge and explains all about the area, then pulls into a bank so that you may explore the area by foot. This optional 30-45 minute guided walk takes you into the native forests at an area called Paradise in the spectacular Rees valley. You will then be collected by the 4 x 4 coach to take you back to Glenorchy, before transferring back to Queenstown. Trip duration is 6 hours.

Starting Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

Day 9 – At leisure, Queenstown
At your leisure to explore the adventure capital of New Zealand. Set between the towering Remarkable Ranges and the bottomless Lake Wakitipu, Queenstown has it all - bungy jumping, jetboating, rafting, amazing scenic helicopter flights. You may wish to visit Milford or Doubtful Sound or the old gold mining town of Arrowtown. Explore the surrounding area on your own or on one of our additional day excursions.

Starting Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

Day 10 – Travel Queenstown to Franz Josef
Depart from Queenstown to arrive at Franz Josef around 4.15pm. Sit back, relax and take in the spectacular scenery of Kawarau Gorge, Lake Hawera, Haast Pass and Fox Glacier. A stop is made en route for lunch (own expense).

Drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef at your own pace.

Set between the stormy expanse of the Tasman Sea and the unbroken chain of the Southern Alps, the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is truly a land apart. For 372 miles from north to south, this wild and often sparsely-populated region of mountains and glaciers, of lakes and unruly rivers, of primeval forest and magnificent coastline, overwhelms visitors with its natural beauty. Opportunities on the West Coast are now virtually endless for activities like beach and forest walking, tramping, fishing, horse-trekking, canoeing, exploring old gold mining regions or ghost towns abandoned in the wake of the gold rush era.

Starting Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 11 – Franz Josef Glacier Valley Tour
Franz Josef Glacier at its most dynamic! The Glacier Valley Walk takes participants alongside the mighty Waiho River bed following the glaciers path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here, learn about the glacier's history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka_ Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, cross over the public barriers, and after a brief climb, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing terminal face of the glacier. There has never been a more extraordinary time to visit Franz Josef Glacier. Note that this trip does not take you onto the ice.

Starting Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Day 12 – Travel Franz Josef to Nelson (Via Greymouth)
Drive from Franz Josef to Nelson at your own pace.

Nelson is an extraordinary corner of New Zealand, where the attractions range from deep forest to crazy café culture. The Nelson region is the northwestern half of the top of the South Island: the beautiful country lying between the northern edge of the Southern Alps and a great sweep of beaches.

Nelson’s trademark is the diverse culture that has bloomed in this area of rich resources and easy climate. There is always something happening in the Nelson region, and you can count on encountering original characters amongst a vital network of artists and craftspeople, farm and orchard settlements, Maori marae, alternative communities and adventurers.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Day 13 – At leisure, Nelson
The beach, shining sea, cool cafés, forest walks, beautiful landscapes, sun and blue skies, a thoroughly relaxed lifestyle, the artists attracted for the same reasons, their amazing art, the seafood, the wine, boutique breweries... this is Nelson.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Day 14 – At leisure, Nelson
This day is at your leisure. Explore the surrounding area on your own or on one of our additional day excursions.

Starting Accommodation: Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco

Day 15 – Nelson to USA (Via Auckland)
Make your way to Nelson airport for your departure flights.

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Included Activities

Dart River Wilderness Safari
Dart River Wilderness Safari
Length: Half-day


ChristchurchRendezvous Hotel ChristchurchThe George
DunedinDistinction HotelFletcher Lodge
QueenstownNovotel Queenstown LakesideSofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa
Franz JosefScenic Hotel Franz Josef GlacierWestwood Lodge
NelsonGrand Mercure Nelson MonacoCambria House


Please note all prices listed below are approximations and subject to current rate of exchange adjustments. Each itinerary can be fully customized to your interests and needs.

Twin Share
10/1/2020 - 10/31/2020$2,560$3,270
11/1/2020 - 1/31/2021$2,670$3,380
2/1/2021 - 3/31/2021$2,720$3,415
Single Traveler
10/1/2020 - 10/31/2020$4,615$5,895
11/1/2020 - 1/31/2021$4,850$6,095
2/1/2021 - 3/31/2021$4,925$6,165

Add internal air to this package from $370*

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person, twin/double share in USD. All highlighted savings are reflected in the price. Travel may be limited to certain days of the week. Hotels and tours remain subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other booking or alteration restrictions may exist. Please note blackout dates may apply to Christmas, New Year and local special event periods. Pricing may increase over Holiday and special event periods and may not be reflected in price grid. Prices indicated remain subject to change without notice. Prices are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. CST #2012413-20 See our full Terms and Conditions: www.swaindestinations.com/terms