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  • Ultimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island Adventure
  • Ultimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island Adventure

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Ultimate South Island Adventure

Your heart will pump and your hair will rise on this adrenaline-spiked itinerary.
  • Rip across the Dart River on jetboat safari
  • Skydive over the Remarkables Mountains
  • Coast above Milford Sound by helicopter
  • Paddle your kayak to Split Apple Rock
  • Scale the ice of Franz Josef Glacier
It begins in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds. A day spent on the stunning coastline that, according to legend, was formed when Kupe, a great Maori warrior, was chasing a giant octopus and finally caught it in Cook Strait. Next, is a stay on the historic Bronte Peninsula. Sip on wine and watch the sun melt into the Waimea Estuary on the horizon. After a ferry ride, drive to the edges of the Sounds which brings you to Blenheim. A kayak, a beach, and the great Split Apple Rock await on the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline. Afterward, the journey continues as you cross into Franz Josef. Sleep in the rainforest at night but, by day, you will helicopter to the glaciers. Hike on ancient ice, the very same ice that carved New Zealand out of the earth. The trip concludes in Queenstown, the “adventure capital of the world.” Skydive over the Remarkables mountain range and later embark on a quad safari in the hills of Queenstown. A helicopter flight over the vaunted Milford Sound and jet boat safari on Dart River rounds out the trip.

Trip Type: Adventure, Cosmopolitan, Sun & Sand

Ultimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island AdventureUltimate South Island Adventure

Day By Day

Day 1 – Fly USA to New Zealand
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 Dateline
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 New Zealand
Upon arrival into Auckland, you will prepare for your flight to Blenheim. In the Blenheim Airport, a driver will meet you in the baggage claim area to transfer you to the Picton Ferry Terminal.

Bay of Many Coves 
This elegant New Zealand retreat, in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, is just 30 minutes by water taxi from Picton. Tucked away on the shores of a stunning aqua-blue bay, the contemporary bungalow apartments, peek through lush native bush surrounding this special place. Sailing, hiking, kayaking or just relaxing in the hot-tub or by the pool are available. The cafe offers a casual deli-style dining experience in gorgeous surroundings. In the restaurant you can enjoy sumptuous New Zealand cuisine while appreciating the elevated views of the bay and surrounding sounds. If it's relaxation and pampering you are seeking, then this is just the place. The Miritu Spa offers a range of massage and beauty treatments that combine traditional massage with Maori myth and legend to create a truly special experience. You couldn't dream of a better place to enjoy perfect seclusion in a pristine natural environment.

Starting Accommodation: Bay of Many Coves

Day 4 – Day at Leisure

The intricate waterways of the Marlborough Sounds make up a fifth of the New Zealand coastline. According to legend, the Marlborough Sounds were formed when Kupe, a great Maori warrior, was chasing a giant octopus and finally caught it in Cook Strait. The battle that ensued formed the waterways and headlands of the Sounds.

The Marlborough Sounds are best explored on water, with a range of cruises and activities from a self-guided kayak excursion to a chartered luxury yacht. There are four Sounds that link together to make the Marlborough Sounds, each offering a different experience; the Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru and Mahau.

Starting Accommodation: Bay of Many Coves (B)

Day 5 – Day at Leisure

The Queen Charlotte Sound is the most well-known and visited of the four sounds and is also the scenic highlight of the inter-island ferry journey from Wellington to Picton. At the head of the Sound is Ship Cove where visitors can trace the steps of Captain Cook: Motuara Island, now a bird sanctuary, is where he claimed British sovereignty over the South Island. Queen Charlotte Sound is also home to the Queen Charlotte Track; 71 kilometers of spectacular walking tracks that traverse historic sites, secluded bays, skyline ridges and coastal bush.

Starting Accommodation: Bay of Many Coves (B)

Day 6 – Queen Charlotte Sound to Nelson
You will transfer by ferry from your accommodation to Picton where you will pick up your Budget rental vehicle. Depart Picton towards Blenheim, where you join State Highway 6 via Havelock to Nelson. The drive today is 90 miles, and you should allow three hours. If you have more time, you may wish to travel via the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive, skirting the edges of Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds, with highlights including lookout points over the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

Te Koi - The Lodge at Bronte
Te Koi - The Lodge at Bronte is an exclusive accommodation nestled on the edge of the Waimea Estuary on Nelson's historic Bronte Peninsula. Te Koi is surrounded by extensive, mature gardens, a family-run vineyard and apple orchards. As Nelson's premier 5-star waterfront property, Te Koi - The Lodge at Bronte is New Zealand owned and operated. Each of the suites is separate to the main lodge, and each has private patios and entrances. Dressing rooms, spa baths and kitchenettes provide the ultimate in luxury and comfort. The freshest in homemade and local produce is served alfresco daily on the homestead veranda. Guests may enjoy the meandering gardens and parkland, heated swimming pool, tennis court, petanque, mountain bikes, canoes and the seasonal beauty of the estate's 65-acre coastal orchard.

Starting Accommodation: Te Koi The Lodge at Bronte (B)

Day 7 – Beaches, Kayaks & Walk
Drive from Nelson to Kaiteriteri, allow for 75 minutes for this drive. 

The morning part of today's excursion starts with the Split Apple Paddle guided half day kayak trip. Explore the spectacular Kaiteriteri coastline, with a stop on a golden-sand beach for a short break. Return to Kaiteriteri by noon, time for lunch on the beach or a nearby cafe. A packed lunch is available for purchase and must be pre-ordered (or you can bring lunch with you). Swapping kayak for walking shoes, join the Vista Cruise to the golden sands of Anchorage Beach. Disembark and take a leisurely stroll to Te Pukatea Bay and return, or walk via the Pitt Head loop Track. Re-join the Vista Cruise from Anchorage to return to Kaiteriteri. Make your way back to Nelson from Kaiteriteri.

Starting Accommodation: Te Koi The Lodge at Bronte (B)

Day 8 – Nelson to Franz Josef
At your leisure for this exciting eight-hour drive that takes you through Murchison and the beautiful Lake Rotoroa. Continue on to the equally spectacular Paparoa National Park, which features the famous Punakaiki Rocks, and onto Greymouth, which is just past the halfway point. From here, continue down the coast via Hokitika and Ross to the Franz Josef glacier area. The drive today is 300 miles.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Nestled among the native West Coast rain-forest of Franz Josef is Te Waonui Forest Retreat. Designed with utmost care of its precious environment, guests at Te Waonui Forest Retreat will find themselves encircled by rain-forest and accommodated in natural, sustainable luxury -- promising a truly unique and memorable experience. Great care has been taken to ensure this exceptional forest retreat steps lightly upon the earth, from the organic cotton bedspreads to its recycled local building materials. Discerning travelers will appreciate the hotel's attention to detail, which starts with attentive personal service upon arrival, and continues throughout all the hotel facilities and every aspect of your stay. Guests will enjoy exceptional quality and service, including luxuriously appointed guest rooms featuring the highest standard of room amenities, such as your personal pillow menu, natural wool mattress underlay and high speed Internet access. Dine in the restaurant situated among the trees, savoring quality, local cuisine, including an indulgent five-course degustation dinner.

Starting Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (B, D)

Day 9 – Franz Josef Heli-Hike
After an exciting scenic flight, you land high up on the glacier and undertake a two-hour guided hike among some of the most pristine and awe-inspiring glacier scenery available. Your guide chooses the route as you go, and with an eye for the most spectacular ice formations, you'll soon be making your way through a wonderland of towering pinnacles and brilliantly blue ice. You'll enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and with plenty of photo opportunities and the chance to learn more about this magnificent glacier, this will almost certainly be your most memorable experience while in New Zealand. Flights or routes may vary due to weather - all changes are at your pilot's or guide's discretion. Duration of the excursion is three hours, with two hours of hiking.

Starting Accommodation: Te Waonui Forest Retreat (B, D)

Day 10 – Franz Josef to Queenstown
The drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown is 220 miles - you should allow at least five hours. This drive is one of the most scenic in New Zealand. Head south out of the town toward Fox Glacier, continuing to Lake Moeraki, which is a further 1-hour drive. Head through the Haast Pass and see the lands open up into golden plains. You then drive past Lake Wanaka and alongside Lake Hawea and onto Wanaka and Cromwell and then down the range to Queenstown. 

Queenstown Park Hotel
Experience the sophistication of Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, a haven of deluxe accommodations for all seasons. Centrally located, yet surrounded by park lands, this architecturally-designed 19-room hotel complements Queenstown's majestic mountain backdrop to perfection. Luxuriate in the quality and appreciate the stylish design and sophisticated service of an urban boutique hotel. Revel in the personal attention and local knowledge provided by the hotel hosts.

Starting Accommodation: Queenstown Park Hotel (B)

Day 11 – Adventure in Queenstown
NZONE - Tandem Skydive
Skydive in Queenstown - the adrenaline capital of the world - and parachute over the stunning Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. NZONE Skydive was New Zealand's first Tandem Skydive operation, and it has the largest skydiving plane capacity in New Zealand. Operating since 1990, and having jumped over 250,000 customers to-date, they are New Zealand's most experienced Tandem Skydive company. Your experience starts at the meeting point located right in the heart of Queenstown. Following registration and a video briefing, you can select your photo and video options. You will be transported to the drop zone just 20 minutes away on a private airstrip set amid a rural farmland background. At the drop zone, you can see behind-the-scenes action taking place, and in the viewing area, you will be able to see other skydivers, both in the sky and coming in to land. There are drinks and snacks available for purchase plus toilets and a souvenir clothing and gift store. There are lockers to store your valuables while skydiving. The skydive host will assist you to gear up, and you will be briefed by one of the Tandem Masters. Your flight to altitude will take you high above the Wakatipu basin where you will have a bird's-eye view of dramatic mountains and lakes. Jumping directly above the drop zone, you will experience free fall of up to 60 seconds before your Tandem Master deploys the parachute and together you glide back to earth.

Quad Safari
For a true off-road adventure, Nomad Quad Safaris is the guided ATV tour with a difference. This half-day excursion gives you an experience not found in any 4x4. Full training on the Quad Bike makes this experience available to all levels of ability. Exclusive commercial access to Queenstown Hill means you will be shown spectacular 360-degree views that very few visitors are fortunate enough to experience. Specialized KBC safety and weatherproof clothing and equipment and specific training are provided.

Starting Accommodation: Queenstown Park Hotel (B)

Day 12 – Milford Highlights
Only accessible by helicopter, stepping out into this environment can really take your breath away. This highlights trip takes you through Milford Sound, out to the West Coast and the surrounding Southern Alps glacier areas, showing off what the diverse environment really has to offer.

Your helicopter will lift off from Queenstown and fly you high over the snow-capped Southern Alps to the majestic Milford Sound. Sit back and enjoy the view as you fly through Milford Sound giving you a birds-eye view of the waterfalls and rain-forests below. Where the Sound reaches the Tasman Sea, you will head north and land on a remote West Coast beach with time to take a stroll and spot some of the nearby wild animals and seal colonies. From the beach, the helicopter turns inland to the glacier areas where you will land high up on a deserted glacier, allowing you time to explore, breathe in the pure alpine air and take more photographs of this magical place. The flight back to Queenstown from the glaciers will then take you high above the alpine lakes and rivers and, finally, over Lake Wakatipu back to the helicopter base.

The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore all that Queenstown has to offer.

Starting Accommodation: Queenstown Park Hotel (B)

Day 13 – Dart River Wilderness Safari

Transfer from Queenstown by coach to Glenorchy and the mouth of the Dart River to board the 18-foot specially prepared jet boat. The Wilderness Safari takes you on a spectacular 90-minute jet-boat journey through the Dart's ever-changing braided river system where you'll be surrounded by snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys and waterfalls.

The tour includes an easy guided 30- to 40-minute walk through the 'Heritage Trail' at Paradise where your knowledgeable guide will enliven your walk with an informative and entertaining commentary about the ancient native beech forest, the unique flora and fauna, as well as the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area. You'll also journey by coach via a scenic back-road route, while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Starting Accommodation: Queenstown Park Hotel (B)

Day 14 – Queenstown to USA
Today you will drive to the Queenstown Airport and drop off your Budget rental vehicle before preparing for your departure flight back to the USA.  (B)

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Queen Charlotte SoundBay of Many Coves
NelsonTe Koi The Lodge at Bronte
Franz JosefTe Waonui Forest Retreat
QueenstownQueenstown Park Hotel


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$7,825
12/1/2020 - 12/31/2020$8,425
1/1/2021 - 3/31/2021$8,480
Single Traveler
10/1/2020 - 10/31/2020$12,580
12/1/2020 - 12/31/2020$13,795
1/1/2021 - 3/31/2021$13,855

Add internal air to this package from $185*

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