Begin your South Island trip in Christchurch, exploring its mix of historic buildings and cutting-edge architecture. From here, travel to Lake Tekapo for stargazing, hiking and mountain biking, before continuing your adventure in bungy jumping capital Queenstown and laidback Wanaka. End your trip with ice exploration on Franz Josef Glacier – only accessible by helicopter – where you can hike and ski. Travel back to Christchurch and your departure home.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Queenstown, Lake Tekapo, Wanaka, Franz Josef Glacier, Christchurch
Activity Activity Nature & Wildlife, Active, Solo Travel
Physical Level Physical Level Mild

Suggested itinerary

See regeneration in action in Christchurch

See regeneration in action in Christchurch

Day 1 in Christchurch

Most travellers use Christchurch as a base for exploring the south island, but there is plenty to see in this upwardly-mobile city. Hit by a series of earthquakes between 2010-13 that destroyed many of its buildings, Christchurch is now an intriguing mix of cutting-edge architecture and historic buildings.

Stargaze at Lake Tekapo

Stargaze at Lake Tekapo

Day 2 in Lake Tekapo

A highland lake in the middle of New Zealand’s south island, Lake Tekapo is best known for its incredibly clear skies that are perfect for stargazing. However, visitors also come for hiking, boating, mountain biking and windsurfing on the water.

Don't miss

Lupin spotting at Lake Tekapo

Lupin spotting at Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo’s sparkling emerald waters offer stunning views of the Southern Alps year-round, but flower-lovers should aim to visit between mid November-December for the thousands of lupins which decorate the waterfront.

Queenstown – the adventure capital of the world

Queenstown – the adventure capital of the world

Day 3–4 in Queenstown

The self-described ‘adventure capital of the world’, Queenstown is a playground for adrenaline junkies. Famously the birthplace of bungy jumping, you can also try zip lining, heli-skiing and any other number of activities that will get your pulse racing. However, if you’re after something less strenuous, it’s worth noting that Queenstown also has excellent vineyards and an exciting food scene.

Don't miss

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

Skydive high above the Glenorchy mountain range

The blue lakes and snow-capped mountains in and around Glenorchy are so stunning that they were used as locations for The Lord of the Rings films, and, for those who dare, skydiving is an incredible way to take in this amazing scenery.

More adventure, fewer visitors in Wanaka

More adventure, fewer visitors in Wanaka

Day 5–6 in Wanaka

Laidback Wanaka has a claim to be Queenstown’s cooler sibling. Offering similar adventure activities, but a less hectic, frenzied centre, Wanaka is an excellent place to get your day-time adventure thrills before an evening relaxing in quirky bars and modern restaurants.

Don't miss

Mountain biking in Wanaka

Mountain biking in Wanaka

The Deans Bank 11km track through the Otago landscape offers fantastic mountain biking for intermediate-advanced riders, with views of the Clutha River and Southern Alps.

Visit the sparkling ice Franz Josef

Visit the sparkling ice Franz Josef

Day 7–8 in Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef’s icy mass once flowed all the way into the sea, but after decades of global warming, the glacier has retreated inland and is now only accessible by helicopter. Try hiking trails, glacier experiences and adventure sports.

Journey through Arthurs Pass to Christchurch

Journey through Arthurs Pass to Christchurch

Day 9–10 in Christchurch

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.

Where to stay

Superior

Rainforest Retreat

Rainforest Retreat is a unique destination with varied options to suit the budgets and needs of all travellers. Immerse yourself in the spectacular mountains and bush of New Zealand’s West Coast.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from NZ$3,499pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Learn more

Contact us now and we'll connect you with a specialist tour operator with more information on how to tailor and book this itinerary.

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