Haka Plus Southern Explorer Tour - 12 Day Christchurch to Wellington

From NZD NZ$4,799.00
  • Duration: 12 Days (approx.)
  • Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Product code: Haka Plus Southern Explorer Tour - 12 Day Christchurch to Wellington

Welcome to the 12 Day Southern Explorer Haka Plus Tour! 

You’re never far from either the sea or the mountains on this journey as you venture into the heart of the majestic Southern Alps to the adventure playground of Queenstown. From here you travel  to the quaint town of Picton in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and cross the Cook Strait to Wellington, the nation’s capital.

Created for travellers in their mid-thirties and upwards, over the course of your week and a half tour you’ll travel through some of the most magical scenery you could hope to see. National Parks, rainforests, mountain ranges, UNESCO World Heritage Areas… everywhere you turn, there’s something different to behold.

This South Island tour includes special activities such as one of the world’s most scenic train as well as one of the world’s most scenic ferry journeys, a guided e-bike tour along Wanaka’s lakeside, a night of glamping and the opportunity to carve your own greenstone pendant. 

You’ll have the opportunity to swim, kayak, skydive, hike, horse ride, see kiwis (and whales and dolphins), relax in hot pools, 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 high-end 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 on more while you’re on tour.

We'll fill your days with the best things to see and do in South Island and also give you a great insight into New Zealand life and culture. At the end of the day, you can relax in comfortable 3–4 star accommodation to ensure you have a great night’s sleep ready for the following day’s activities.

WHAT’S INCLUDED ON THIS TOUR

  • Stay 11 nights in twin-share 3–4 star accommodation: a mix of hotels, motels, lodges, and rainforest retreats.

  • Feast on daily continental breakfasts, and 2 dinners.

  • Take in the stunning Southern Alps and the vast Canterbury Plains aboard the TranzAlpine, New Zealand’s finest inland rail journey.

  • Ride one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world, over the Cook Strait.

  • Carve your own pounamu (jade) pendant in Franz Josef. 

  • Cruise along Wanaka’s lakeside on a guided e-bike (bicycle with electric motor) tour.

  • Spend one night glamping (luxury camping)

  • Taste some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc at a Marlborough wine tasting.

  • Plus, many more surprise stops along the way!

ALL HAKA TOURS INCLUDE

  • Passionate and knowledgeable local Kiwi guide

  • Comfortable and air-conditioned bus transport

  • Orientation tour of each and every location

  • Small groups of maximum 16 people

  • Experiences to teach you about our unique Māori culture

DAY 1: CHRISTCHURCH

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 Christchurch’s exciting nightlife - the choice is yours!

DAY 2: CHRISTCHURCH TO OHAU (VIA LAKE TEKAPO)

After a continental breakfast 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!

DAY 3: 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.

DAY 4: QUEENSTOWN

With a full day in Queenstown, let’s work on that bucket list! There are heaps of options to choose from: extreme jet boat rides, river kayaking, horseback riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, and the skyline gondola are just a few of our favourites. 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”.

DAY 5: QUEENSTOWN TO WANAKA

With the morning in Queenstown, you have another chance to tick off your bucket list today. What will it be? A trip to the top of the Skyline Gondola, or perhaps an adrenaline-pumping jet boat ride through the Shotover Canyon? You decide! This afternoon we jump back on the road and head off to Wanaka, a quick one hour drive away. The drive is a scenic highlight itself, so make sure your camera is fully charged and ready to go. En route we’ll stop in charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of old world character. This afternoon is your chance to relax in stunning Wanaka, known as Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister. 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.

DAY 6: 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. Included this afternoon is a guided e-bike tour along Wanaka’s lakeside. An e-bike, for those wondering, is an electronic bicycle. It’s like a normal bike but has a small motor so you don’t need to pedal as hard. One optional activity today - 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. After a busy day checking out Wanaka, head back to the hotel and rest up for another day of exploring the sites en route to Franz Joseph.

DAY 7: WANAKA TO FRANZ JOSEF

After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz is 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.

DAY 8: 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 Wāhi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in Māori) is the name given to 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. Or maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake. As well as the awesome glacier activities, you could also try out skydiving or even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef!

DAY 9: FRANZ JOSEF TO CHRISTCHURCH 

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, this is considered as one of the world’s most scenic train journeys. Along the way you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and see miles of native beech forest. You'll arrive in Christchurch around 6.30pm before transferring to your accommodation.

DAY 10: CHRISTCHURCH TO KAIKŌURA

Rise and shine! Our 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. The chance to encounter 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.

DAY 11: KAIKŌURA TO WELLINGTON

The first part of the day is the stunning drive up the coast to Marlborough, the region at the top of the South Island. One of the best ways to explore Marlborough is with your tastebuds. So before heading on to Picton, there’s a crucial stop for a wine tasting, to sample some of the best vineyards in the country. Today we say goodbye to the South Island and take one of the world’s most scenic ferry journeys as we cross the Cook Strait. It’s a stunning farewell – gliding through the Marlborough Sounds as we depart Picton Harbour, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. And then… Wellington! Perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour, encircled by green, towering hills, Wellington is a stunning and compact city. Vibrant, exciting and cultured, the nation’s capital combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness and personality of a much smaller town. This evening, the city lights are yours to enjoy. Discover why Wellington is celebrated for its foodie culture – you are truly spoilt for dining choices tonight. Wellington is also widely regarded as the craft beer capital of New Zealand. Want to test this for yourself? Talk to your Haka guide to find the hidden gems.

DAY 12: WELLINGTON

Today is the final day of the tour, where we exchange photos and stories before saying our goodbyes and parting ways.