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The Southern Drift

12 days with Trafalgar   Rating: First Class

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  • Past guests of Trafalgar and sister brands African Travel, Brendan, Contiki, CostSaver, Insight, Luxury Gold and Uniworld save an additional 5% off the price shown for select vacations. Click here for eligible departures.
  • Travelers ages 5-15 save up to 10% off of Australia and New Zealand vacations. Click here for eligible departures.
  • Group discounts! Book a group of 5-9 on the same tour and each person saves 5% off the land price. Further savings may be available for groups of 10 or more. Click here for eligible departures.
  • Book two back-to-back tours of 7 days or longer and save up to 2.5% off the land price of the shorter tour. Click here for eligible departures.

Offers subject to change or withdrawal, availability is limited. Some discounts are not combinable.

Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive Christchurch
Discover 100% Pure New Zealand on this Hidden Journey through South Island, delving deep under its surface to uncover the exquisite beauty of a land filled with natural treasures, from glaciers, and rugged peaks to raging rivers and plunging waterfalls. Our launch pad for our epic adventure is Christchurch, the Garden City of New Zealand, and a heady mix of British tradition and modern industrial architecture, most noteworthy for its vivid blue, red and green container mall that emerged following a devastating earthquake. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4pm). Spend some free time relaxing or explore this lively city on your own terms. Tonight, we meet our Travel Director and fellow companions for a Welcome Reception and dinner. (Welcome Reception, Dinner with wine)

Day 2 Christchurch - Punakaiki
Climb aboard one of the world's most famous and spectacular scenic rail journeys, crossing the lush green Canterbury farmlands, traversing deep river gorges and journeying through the heart of the snow-capped Southern Alps to Arthur's Pass. We journey onwards by coach to Punakaiki to see the limestone Pancake Rocks, a natural wonder formed over millennia, and the Blowholes through which the force of the Tasman Sea bursts forth during high tide. Tonight we stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront and surrounded by the Paparoa National Park. (Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with wine)

Day 3 Punakaiki - Franz Josef
Our day starts at a leisurely pace before visiting the small town of Hokitika, once famed as the centre of the West Coast Gold Rush and today renowned for its exquisite greenstone craft, which you will have a unique opportunity to admire during an exclusive jewellery demonstration by a Local Specialist jade carver. Our small group will travel south to the West Coast Treetop Walk. Suspended high above the rainforest, we enjoy an intimate encounter with the creatures that find sanctuary in the tranquil branches of its ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees. Gold rush fever still flowing through our veins, we proceed to the self-proclaimed wonderfully wacky gold mining town of Ross before arriving at the luminous blue-white Franz Josef Glacier, which legend has it was formed by the frozen tears of a Maori girl who lost her lover to the local peaks. Get up close to the glacier on a guided tour to the viewing area with a Local Specialist before arriving at your eco-friendly accommodation in the bush, where you will spend the night surrounded by New Zealand's pristine wilderness and enjoy a unique opportunity to relax in Franz Josef's local geothermal hot pools. (Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with wine)

Day 4 Franz Josef - Queenstown (3 Nights)
Spend the morning at leisure relaxing at your forest retreat or see the imposing glacier from the air on a scenic flight (at your own expense). Traversing Haast Pass through New Zealand's imposing Southern Alps and lush green beech forest, we arrive on the pebbled shores of the glacial lakes of Wanaka and Hawea, stopping at Makarora. We delve into the gold mining heritage of Arrowtown before arriving in the adventure tourism hotspot of Queenstown and our base for the next three nights - Millbrook Resort, set amid sparkling streams and rolling hills in the Southern Alps and framed by the Remarkables Mountain Range. (Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with wine)

Day 5 Queenstown Free Time
Banish all thoughts of spending the day lounging around. Embrace the Kiwi philosophy to life of 'She'll be Right' and dive straight into the adrenalin capital of New Zealand. That means being bold and flinging yourself off bridges, abseiling down cliffs and jumping into waterfall pools, but you may just get away with a relaxing spa treatment at your resort or exploring the trendy restaurant and arts scene of Queenstown. Best keep those more sedate encounters with Queenstown to yourself when your small group has the opportunity of riding the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak for a Regional Meal with extraordinary views overlooking stunning Queenstown. (Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal)

Day 6 Queenstown Free Time
A final day in Queenstown at your leisure could see you take an Optional Experience to the Gibbston Valley Winery for fine bouquets of handcrafted premium wines and gourmet food or embarking on yet another day of adrenalin-busting fun. Board a racy jet boat and ride down the mighty Shotover River or attempt white water rafting down the Kawarau. Spend the evening dining at one of the many local restaurants and cafés in town against the backdrop of the beautiful snow-capped Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu or simply relax at your resort. (Buffet Breakfast)

Day 7 Queenstown - Milford Sound
Our epic discovery of New Zealand's natural wonders continues south along the tranquil shores of Lake Wakatipu to Te Anau and deep into the dense rainforest of the exquisite World Heritage Fiordland National Park, sighting glaciers and rugged mountains as we weave our way west towards the coast. We drive through the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel and emerge into a photographer's paradise, surrounded by Pop's Lookout, Cleddau Valley and the scenic Mirror Lakes. Our journey to Milford Sound sees us step off the beaten track and on the Chasm Walk for dramatic views of waterfalls and water-sculpted shapes in the rock. We experience the beauty and majesty of this destination tonight at Milford Sound Lodge with a unique and intimate opportunity to view the valleys, rainforest, mountains and wildlife of this soulful natural wonder. (Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with wine)

Day 8 Milford Sound - Stewart Island (2 Nights)
Spend the morning admiring the simple beauty of Milford Sound - the sight of fur seals basking on the rocks to catch the early rays of sunrise, the sheer cliffs rising up hundreds of metres out of the water and the ancient rainforest hugging the coast. We leave the stillness of the Sound and lunch in Te Anau, continuing thereafter to the southern-most city in New Zealand, Invercargill. Priming our sea legs yet again, we board a ferry at Bluff to cruise to our overnight stop on Stewart Island, promising visitors a simpler, slower lifestyle in rhythm with the sea and attuned to the natural world. (Buffet Breakfast)

Day 9 Stewart Island
Settle into a slower pace of life and gain an entertaining insight into New Zealand's southernmost community during a Village and Bays tour of Stewart Island, visiting the beautiful bays of Horseshoe and Lee before embarking on a leisurely cruise of the picturesque Paterson Inlet for lunch on the water. Our group is treated to a special visit to the remote Ulva Island where we will enjoy an exclusive tour with a Local Specialist from the Department of Conservation on Ulva Island's wildlife sanctuary. We'll learn about native birds like the Weka and spend time interacting with the island's rare native flora and fauna, continuing our intimate encounter with nature tonight when we try to spot shy kiwis in the bush surrounding our accommodation. (Buffet Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 10 Stewart Island - Mt. Cook
We leave laid-back island living behind, heading back towards Queenstown through the rural farming landscapes of Southland and over the Lindis Pass into the MacKenzie high country. Meandering along the shores of Lake Pukaki, we arrive at the foothills of snowcapped Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, spending the night in the beautiful Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park. (Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with wine)

Day 11 Mt. Cook - Christchurch
Our in-depth journey through New Zealand's South Island is almost at its end, but not before we visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo with its altar window framing stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. En route to Christchurch, our final stop, warm Kiwi hospitality is ours to enjoy at the home of Angie and Stan Taylor who host us at their Morelea Farm for a Be My Guest barbecue lunch in their 600-acre garden. Stan shares his sheep-shearing prowess while Angie puts on a Pavlova dessert you'll not forget in a hurry, before they share stories about the family growing up in rural New Zealand and the challenges of farming in the foothills of New Zealand's Southern Alps. Crossing the Canterbury Plains, we arrive in Christchurch and embark on a sightseeing tour to discover how the city is being rebuilt after the earthquake of 2011. (Buffet Breakfast, Be My Guest Dining)

Day 12 Depart Christchurch
Our Hidden Journey through 100% Pure New Zealand is at its end and it's time to bid farewell to this beautiful land and new friends, with a transfer to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime). (Buffet Breakfast)
All This Included
Gaze in to the depths of a land unchanged for millennia - slicing through the still waters of Milford Sound, ducking beneath dewy rainforest canopies and traversing mountains, glaciers and valleys along a Hidden Journey through an untamed, mystical land of fiords, islands and alpine landscapes.

  • 11 hot buffet breakfasts
  • 7 dinners
  • 2 lunches
Travel Highlights
  • Luxury air-conditioned coach with WiFi in most regions or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys)
  • Cherry-picked hotels, all tried and trusted
  • Hand-picked Insider Experiences
  • Optional Experiences and free time
  • Porterage, local tips and charges
  • Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras
  • An expert Travel Director and separate Driver, Driver Guide only on Mini-Stays
  • All hotel charges and local taxes
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of your guided holiday
  • VIP entry to many sights
  • AUTHENTIC ACCOMMODATION at Millbrook Resort in Queenstown and on an overnight cruise on Milford Sound.
  • Punakaiki Resort Situated on idyllic Punakaiki Beach, this environmentally friendly Authentic Accommodation offers views of the ocean and rainforest. Designed in harmony with the environment, your stay gives you a unique insight into local ecology and nature.Millbrook Resort, Queenstown Framed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, you'll discover the natural beauty, history and character of the Central Otago region at this internationally renowned Authentic Accommodation, voted New Zealand's top hotel by TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice Awards. Milford Sound Lodge Nestled beneath the Darran Mountains, you'll experience the beauty and majesty of Fiordland National Park in a more authentic, personal way during your stay at this Authentic Accommodation.
  • BE MY GUEST Visit Morelea Farm, home to Angie and Stan Taylor. It's a typical working sheep farm where you will get a real taste of traditional country life. You can wander through the beautiful garden and have the chance to experience sheep-shearing before enjoying a barbecue lunch, including Angie's famous Pavlova dessert! Listen to the family's story of growing up in rural New Zealand and the challenges of farming in the foothills of New Zealand's Southern Alps.
  • HIDDEN TREASURES Enjoy at least one surprise Hidden Treasure
  • LOCAL SPECIALIST For included sightseeing in Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier, at Ulva Island's wildlife sanctuary
  • CITY TOUR City tour in Queenstown, Christchurch
  • CRUISE Cruise overnight on spectacular Milford Sound and across the Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island.
  • VIEW View the rainforest from the Treetop Walkway and the Southern Alps from the TranzAlpine train.
  • VISIT Visit Franz Josef Glacier, historic Arrowtown, a jade factory and the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Christchurch: Montreal
Punakaiki: Punakaiki Resort Authentic Accommodation
Franz Josef: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Queenstown: Millbrook Resort Authentic Accommodation
Milford Sound: Milford Sound Lodge Authentic Accommodation
Stewart Island: Bay Motel
Mt. Cook: The Hermitage
Christchurch: Montreal
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Trafalgar terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.