New Zealand’s South Island Definitive Trip
A perfect blend of nature, adventure and refinement. Fulfil your travel aspirations ― and those of your loved ones ― in this epic South Island journey.
"Andrea did a wonderful job designing an itinerary to suit three generations of diverse interests, and was flexible and responsive to last minute changes and requests. He showed us many hidden treasures of this beautiful region that would have missed we're it not for him."
- Heather on her journey in Italy
A possible, beautiful itinerary for you
Arrival in Queenstown
Start your South Island adventure by the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is a charming small town that perfectly integrates a passion for adventure sports and a taste for cafés and a relaxed attitude. Settle into Hulbert House, a restored Victorian villa that is without a doubt Queenstown’s most unique hotel.
A Feast for the Eyes
Hop on a helicopter and head west to Milford Sound. You’ll find that words cannot do justice to this marvellous fjord. Even Rudyard Kipling fell short, so what chance do I have? I will stay my pen and simply say that it will make an everlasting impression on your soul. You leave poetry behind and land atop a glacier for the ‘chillest’ champagne toast ever. Read more
Free to Explore Queenstown
The possibilities are nearly endless and there is nothing better than to let chance guide your steps. Here’s how I did it last time. After an early couples’ yoga session by the lake, my wife decided she needed some alone time and headed to the spa. I hired a mountain bike and hit the trails. There is a wealth of bike tracks that leave from the town centre. Most trails are scenic and well maintained. I’d like to say that I cleared the big jumps but the kids put me to shame. After dropping off my bike I took the gondola to Bob’s Peak to take in the view. The afternoon was spent together strolling in the gardens and café hopping; Bespoke Kitchen was my favourite. I indulged a bit too much but yeah, totally worth it!
Nestled in the Southern Alps
Head to the northern stretches of Lake Wakatipu, at the feet of the Southern Alps. Here you’ll find one of the world’s more exclusive lodges and myriad activities to enjoy. The lodge is nestled between two National Parks and there are more than a few Lord of the Rings locations nearby. Regardless of movie-fame, you let nature be your guide in true Tolkienian fashion: you ride a trail-ready quarter horse and canter atop dramatic ridges with snow-capped mountainscapes in the background; you hike epic tracks that take you to unparalleled treasures, you hop on a jetboat, or take a more relaxed approach and enjoy world-class fly-fishing.
Happy on a Tree
You head northeast to Kaikoura, an eco-marine mecca. You check in to your hotel for the next couple of nights: a tree-house. With the mountains on your back and the sea ahead, you can spot whales from the bay or go kayaking with the seals. Perhaps you simply order a smoothie and enjoy the uniquely green ambience of this wonderful place.
Heli-Whale-Watching: It’s a Thing!
Enjoy one of the most incredible tours in wildlife. Hop on a helicopter and head out to sea to spot sperm whales. Kaikoura has a rich Māori heritage. You spend the afternoon interacting with keepers of Māori culture and get an authentic glimpse into their traditional way of life.
Head north to Picton. From there, take a boat that will take you along the shoreline to Bay of Many Coves, only accessible by sea and one of the best destinations to let nature do the talking. The journey to the Bay is scenic and a wonderful experience in itself. By the time you reach your lodge for the night, you’ll find yourself in quite a relaxed mood. Nature will do that.
A Delicious Day
There are many things to do in the Many Coves. However, your palate is quite restless for new experiences. You hop on a helicopter and visit Cloudy Bay, a delightful vineyard estate. The Marlborough Sounds are famous for the Sauvignon Blanc and their mussels. A culinary tour of the region is not only highly recommended, but also easy to pair with other available activities. Some of these are: kayaking, swimming with dolphins, spa, yacht tours of the sounds and glow worm experiences.
You spend your last day in the Marlborough Sounds exploring and enjoying at your leisure. You find yourself paddling lazily in the afternoon, completely satisfied and happy. You had time to let the adrenaline flow, to bond with your loved ones, to indulge in amazing food, to let your fantasy run wild, to replenish your wine cellar, and to explore one of the most amazing places on Earth.
Some travellers sadden when leaving such an amazing place. It is a somewhat misguided bit of nostalgia. That’s because great travel is transformative and taking the new you back home is just as exciting as heading out to distant and strange lands. Going back home is just the next stretch of the journey: make it an epic one!