Picture Perfect -7 Day South Island Tour

This 7 day self drive itinerary really gives you time to soak up the South Island’s untouched timeless beauty whilst travelling on some of the most scenic roads in the world.  It also gives you time to experience some exciting adventures along the way including kayaking Abel Tasman National Park, Heli-hiking Fox Glacier and an overnight cruise on the breathtaking Doubtful Sound.

If you want to see more of what New Zealand has to offer, then use this sample itinerary as a starting point and pick and choose destinations and activities to suit you. After all it is your holiday; we are just here to provide you with ‘local knowledge’ to ensure your holiday runs smoothly.

Day 1 - Nelson

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Situated in the north-west corner of the South Island, the Nelson region is surrounded by sheltering mountain ranges, giving it a Mediterranean type climate and is known for its year-round sunshine, golden beaches, national parks, boutique wineries and a large creative community of working artists.

From Nelson it’s easy to access any of three National Parks; Abel Tasman National Park is a coastal wonderland of sea, sky, rocky headlands and bright golden beaches, The Nelson Lakes National Park; set amidst the mountains and glaciated valleys south of Nelson city and Kahurangi; New Zealand’s second-largest national park, comprises 450,000ha of mostly upland wilderness, with magnificent three to four-day hiking trails.

Two Nights Accommodation at Bronte Lodge in Nelson. Also known as the Country Estate has been at the heart of a family for five generations. The estate lies on the headland of Nelson’s historic Bronte Peninsula, overlooking Waimea Estuary and cradled between ocean and mountains.

Day 2 - Experience the Timeless Beauty of Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park at 225sq km. Small in size but big on beauty! Golden beaches border the translucent turquoise sea, and sandy estuaries fringed by natural forests. The walking tracks here both in land and costal are world famous for there out standing beauty. Tonga Island is located in the Marine Reserve or the Abel Tasman National Park and is home to the ever-entertaining seal colony.

Today you can kayak to the seal colony at Tonga Island in the centre of the Abel Tasman marine reserve. Sea birds abound. Watch out for Blue Penguins. The impressive coastline between Onetahuti and Anchorage invites you to explore sculptured granite headlands, tidal lagoons and forest-fringed beaches. Enjoy a picnic lunch, before boarding a yacht and sailing into Anchorage. Take a leisurely walk to Watering Cove through lush native forest and enjoy the stories your guide will tell you about the fascinating natural and cultural history of the Abel Tasman region.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

Day 3 - A spectacular Scenic Coastal Drive to Franz Joseph Glacier

Today is a day of contrasts as you drive from the tranquility of Abel Tasman to the South Islands West Coast. Wild and rugged, yet immensely beautiful, the South Island's West Coast region evokes a string of superlatives. Wave-pounded coastlines, lush temperate rainforests, the island's highest mountains and most accessible glaciers all feature. The region's first settlers came in search of gold and the coast has its share of ghost towns, but there are also thriving communities like Westport, Greymouth and Hokitikia, now dependent on coal mining and increasingly, tourism. It is highly likely that glorious image of New Zealand you see in a book, calendar, magazine or poster is from the South Island's West Coast.

Sightseeing and activity options include:

One Nights Accommodation at Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Joseph. At one with nature, this retreat is the ultimate coming together of luxury escape and environmental awareness. You will enjoy exceptional quality and service, including: luxuriously appointed guest rooms and savouring quality local cuisine, including an indulgent five-course degustation dinner  ‘The Canopy’ restaurant.

Day 4 - Enjoy a breathtaking Heli Hike on the Fox Glacier

The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude.

The scenery driving to Lake Wanaka is impressive all the way, and once over the Haast Pass it changes dramatically as you head into the mountains and bid farewell to the coastline. Continue up the Haast River into Mount Aspiring National Park and Central Otago. This drive is world class, some of the vistas to watch out for are: Lake Matheson, Views of Mount Cook, Bruce Bay, Ship Cove, Haast River/Pass, Thunder Creek Falls, Blue Pools, Lakes Hawea & Wanaka.

Two Nights Accommodation at Minaret Lodge in Wanaka. With a backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery, this luxury 5 star Wanaka bed and breakfast lodge is a haven of tranquillity. The environmentally friendly Wanaka boutique accommodation lodge reflects the style of the Central Otago region with a feel of casual elegance

Day 5 - Lake Wanaka - A Hidden Paradise in the Southern Alps

Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, embraced by the spectacular Southern Alps. The crystal-clear waters of the lake, New Zealand's fourth largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. The township is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury.

Today, experience Wanaka’s Wild Hills and Wine Tour. The stark beauty and solitude of the surrounding high country can only be accessed by 4WD, giving you a breathtaking viewpoint high above the lake.  Walking along a deserted ridgeline with only the sound of wind rustling through the ancient tussock grasses will provide you with some of the most impressive photo opportunities of your holiday. Finish the day of in style, with a wine tasting at New Zealand’s most scenic vineyard, Rippon Vineyard, tasting some of the quality wine this region is renowned for.

Day 6 - A unique experience - Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Drive to Lake Manapouri, the gateway to the Doubtful Sound. Visitors feel humbled yet uplifted by the atmosphere of powerful solitude in the presence of the superb physical grandeur of Doubtful Sound. Moody Dramatic and Stunning – Doubtful Sound is simply breathtaking. Located in a World Heritage Area, you can feel the power of nature here - the remoteness, the wildness and the peace.

Your Doubtful Sound adventure begins with an overnight cruise across the crystal clear waters of Lake Manapouri and then it is over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland's densest rain forest. There is plenty of time on your overnight cruise to soak up the stunning surrounds and to discover the hidden arms of Doubtful Sound – Hall, Crooked and First.  Bottlenose dolphins often ride the bow waves, fur seals bask on the rocks and, at times, rare penguins make an appearance. The cruise ship anchors at a chosen mooring for the night giving you the opportunity to kayak around the shoreline, go exploring in the tender craft with the nature guide or simply relax on deck. A sumptuous three-course buffet is served in the evening showcasing some of the region’s finest produce.

One Nights Accommodation on the Fiordland Navigator. Purpose built for cruising in the fiords and offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining saloon/fully licensed bar and observation lounge.  You have a private cabins with ensuite bathroom.

Day 7 - Homeward Bound or Venture On

Your cruise ship arrives at 12 am in Manapouri. This is the end of your Picture Perfect  South Island itinerary.  If you are departing from New Zealand it’s a 2 hours 25 minutes drive to Queenstown International Airport.

Those that wish to continue their journey can either combine it with the Picture Perfect North Island Tour or request a customized tour from us - there are plenty of possibilities we can put together for you!


Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 7 Day Picture Perfect tour or download/print the detailed “Tour Dossier”. Both can be found on the right hand column of this page. Alternatively you can simply contact us. For a comprehensive list of all activities available in each location featured in this tour, please refer to the "Destination Guide" found at the top of this page.

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