Arrive in Christchurch, ready to begin your South Island Sun and Snow New Zealand itinerary. Head to your accommodation.
Today you are free to explore Christchurch. Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and there is plenty to see and do in this lovely city.
Christchurch has a very “English” feel, which is reflected in the architecture, and the Avon river, which runs through the city centre.
Suggested activities are a punt ride on the Avon, a tram ride through the city, a gondola ride, or perhaps a drive to Akaroa, a French settlement located seaside on Bank’s Peninsula.
Time to hit the road on your New Zealand itinerary. Today you are off to the beautiful village of Hanmer Springs, known for its thermal pools and water park. The drive takes around 1.5 hours. On arrival, check into your motel then head to the pools for a relaxing soak. There are a variety of pools of varying temperatures. And for the kids (or the young at heart) there is also the water park, with a variety of slides.
Today your New Zealand itinerary tour takes you to the spectacular seaside township of Kaikoura.
Kaikoura is famous for fresh seafood, whale watching, local seal colonies, and amazing scenery.
Please note-the best time to go whale watching is in the morning before the wind and the seas pick up.
The mountains touch the sea in Kaikoura, and in winter are snow capped, making for wonderful photo opportunities.
There is a wide range of accommodation in Kaikoura, with something for all budgets.
Days 5, 6 & 7.
Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you to the bustling city of Nelson (3 hours drive).
Nelson is located on the shores of Tasman Bay, and is the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park, one of the South Island’s prime attractions. The Abel Tasman is located around 1 hours drive from Nelson and is accessed via the bay side village of Marahau. The Park offers a wide range of walks and activities such as kayak trips, guided tours, and water taxi rides.
Further west from the Abel Tasman is Golden Bay, another idyllic coastal location. Farewell Spit is the north western edge of the South Island and is a popular location for bird and seal watching. Another popular attraction is Pupu Springs, a freshwater spring with water so cold that divers are only permitted to stay submerged for limited periods.
Nelson also has many other attractions such as a selection of vineyards, the World of Wearable Art, and a large arts and cultural community.
Your accommodation options are many and varied.
Today our 3.5 hour drive takes us to Punakaiki on the rugged west coast.
Punakaiki is famous for the unusual limestone rock formations known as the Pancake Rocks. These formations resemble stacks of pancakes, and they are complemented by the famous blowholes, which really blow during a big ocean swell.
Accommodation options in Punakaiki are limited, but don’t despair. My favourite is the beautiful Rocks resort. The resort is absolute beachfront offering stunning ocean views. The snow capped alps are also visible across the bay, and the resort restaurant offers the perfect location to sit and watch the sunset over the ocean.
Today is a 2.5 hour drive to the amazing west coast glaciers, Franz Josef and Fox.
There are numerous accommodation options in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. My pick is Franz Josef because the village has more shopping and dining options.
There are several ways to see the glaciers up close. A walk from the car park to the glacier’s face at Franz Josef will take around 1.5 to 2 hours return.
Guided glacier walks are also available, but my pick (if your budget allows) is a
helicopter flight and snow landing. You will be stunned by the views and thrill of the ride. A “must do” if funds permit. Please note though that flights are weather dependent. Conditions change quickly on the west coast, so bookings are essential.