13 days / 12 nights
The South Island Grand Tour is a comprehensive and evenly paced tour to experience the best of New Zealand’s South Island.
The tour includes 2 special event dinners – the TSS Earnslaw Cruise to Walter Peak for dinner, and the exclusive dinner at Larnach Castle.
Travel through Arthurs Pass aboard the Tranz Alpine Train, visit Shantytown goldmining village in Greymouth, Fox Glacier, 2 nights Queenstown, TSS Earnslaw cruise & Walter Peak dinner, Cruise Milford Sound, Te Anau, Invercargil & Bluff, The Catlins, 2 nights Dunedin, visit Olveston House, Larnach Castle & exclusive dinner, Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, Coastal Pacific Train to Picton, cruise cook strait to Wellington, Northern Explorer to Auckland.
Tours include a wide range of home pickup & return areas, including airfare – and options for Gold Club Tours to quote & arrange full door to door service from any other area (subject to availability and pricing).
per person, twin share
Solo travellers (same gender) are matched for twin share at no extra cost.
NZD $1550 Single Supplement
(to guarantee a single room)
17 Sep 2023
Door to Door Service - Transfer & Flight Options
Gold Club Tours offer door to door service from a wide range of areas.
Hotel or home pickup and return (including flight(s) available at no extra charge from the below listed pickup locations:
In the event your area is not included in the tour price, Gold Club Tours can take your address details and advise potential arrangements and any related charge – when possible it will be provided for Free.
All our listed home pickup areas are listed below. Guests maybe depart at several different train stations depending on their home return location.
The below locations we can offer home pickup & return, with a flight to Christchurch on Day 1, subject to quoting any variation in airfares (normal tour price not guaranteed – subject to availability and airfares). For the final day of the tour which includes the Northern Explorer, we can quote pricing to either be transferred from the Northern Explorer to a home address (if feasable) or alternatively for flight and transfer arrangements from Wellington (whch would exclude the Northern Explorer Train). Please call us with your address and we can discuss options and offer arrangements & pricing.
Flight to Christchurch & home/hotel return pickup & return is included in tour price from the above listed pickup locations. Guests fly to Christchurch on first day of tour and on arrival are met and returned to their hotel. Typically, guests fly from the airport closest to their home pickup area, although this may vary in some instances. Guests who wish to have specific requests catered to, such as direct vs connecting flights, specific flight times or specific airports, alternative locations, alternative dates, etc, may incur additional charges (wherever possible we do not charge additional). Guests are welcome to make their own return travel arrangements and are eligible for a discount of $130 per person per flight should they elect to do this.
Gold Club Tours always recommend that guests take out travel insurance. This is important whether it is for international or domestic travel. In the event you are unable to travel before or during a tour, cancellation terms apply – take out insurance to protect yourself.
Today you are collected from your home and taken to the aiport to join your flight to Christchurch. On arrival in Christchurch, you are met and taken to your hotel. This evening, join your tour leader and your new travel companions for dinner at the hotel restaurant. (flight & arrival times may vary between guests & locations).
Stay: Pavillions Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast this morning, we depart the hotel to join the Tranz Alpine train, which is regarded as one of the top rail journeys in the world. Head up into the Southern Alps and view dramatic alpine scenery – mountain peaks, rugged gorges and rivers. Stop at Arthur’s Pass, the alpine village in the centre of the Alps. Then to Greymouth, the region’s chief commercial centre. A short drive will take us to Shantytown, a fascinating reconstructed gold mining town, where you can still actually pan for gold. Travel back in time to a reminder of New Zealand’s West Coast’s turbulent nineteenth century gold-mining past. This is your chance to get into the cab of a steam train with the Train Driver and see how it all happens! You get to see it all going on, shovel coal in the fire, pull the horn, and see the action up close. Hear and see the fire roar, taste the steam, and get a bit of coal dust on your jeans. Then to our hotel to freshen up before dinner.
Stay: Ashley Hotel (or similar)
We leave Greymouth this morning and drive south along the coastal road which boasts wonderful panoramic views of alpine scenery and dense native forests, as we head towards glacier country. We will stop at Lake Matheson (weather permitting, note lake is approximately 1km walk each way from coach parking area) noted for its magnificent mirror-like reflections of the Southern Alps. We then continue on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. These twin rivers of ice are unique, as nowhere in the world outside the polar regions are glaciers found so close to sea level. At Franz Josef Glacier (weather permitting), you have the opportunity to take an optional scenic flight over these spectacular ice-flows. This evening, we dine at a local restaurant.
Stay: Bella Vista Fox Glacier (or similar)
This morning we enjoy breakfast at a local cafe, before we farewell Fox Glacier. Continuing south, we will pass isolated and lovely Bruce Bay before reaching the small settlement of Haast. Leaving the coast today, we will travel inland past Thunder Creek Falls to the “Gates of the Haast.” Then it is a steep climb, following the ancient Maori Greenstone Pilgrimage route through the Haast Pass, and down to the shores of the milky, glacier-fed Lakes of Hawea and Wanaka, to arrive in the picturesque township of Wanaka.
We then travel through rich farmlands to join the Clutha River where it enters the Kawarau Gorge and continue past the most southerly vineyard in the world to make a stop at the Kawarau Bridge. This is the now world-famous place where you may be tempted to try bungy jumping, diving from the Kawarau Bridge towards the river 150 feet below, with a giant rubber band tied around your ankles! The final stop before reaching Queenstown will be made at historic and picturesque Arrowtown where you see many of the original wood and stone buildings from the “gold rush” years still in use. There will be time to browse around before rejoining the coach for the short drive to Queenstown, where we will stay for two nights.
Stay: Heritage Hotel Queenstown (or similar)
Today, the entire day is at leisure for you to enjoy the many scenic delights of this world-famous alpine resort. Perhaps you would like to take a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping jetboat ride on the Shotover River, experience the exhilaration of white water rafting or explore the remote Skippers Canyon. Wherever your interests may lie, we guarantee that Queenstown has something for you. Your tour leader can assist you in planning your day and making arrangements. This evening, we will board the vintage steamship T.S.S. Earnslaw for a delightful cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak, a high country sheep station. There is time to inspect the sheep and highland cattle before relaxing in the Colonel’s Homestead and enjoying some friendly Kiwi Hospitality and a sumptuous dinner, which is one of the culinary highlights of the tour.
Stay: Heritage Hotel Queenstown (or similar)
This morning we drive along Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau and enter Southland. Here, outstanding scenery greets us as we continue through the beech forests of the Eglington Valley with its steep walls, grassy floor and exquisite mirror-like lakes before entering the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. We pass through Cascade Creek and the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel, stopping at The Chasm, before continuing on through the glacial formations of the Cleddau Valley and descending to Milford. Here, we board our boat and follow the deep icy blue waterway to explore the hidden depths of Milford Sound. There is plenty of time to admire the intricately carved deep fiord and rock walls, and the most memorable of them all: Mitre Peak. Sitting at 6,000 feet, it is the tallest peak in the world rising directly from the bottom of the ocean. We cruise by tumbling waterfalls of Lady Bowen falls, Stirling Falls and many others as we journey to the hidden mouth of the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea. Watch out for the schools of playful dolphins that surf the bow wave of the boat and spot the seals basking in the sun on the rocky shores. Then our coach will take us to our hotel in Te Anau, home of the South Island’s largest lake.
Stay: Distinction Luxmore Te Anau (or similar)
This morning, we drive along Lake Manapouri, said to be New Zealand’s most beautiful lake, before crossing the rich and fertile country of Southland. Invercargill boasts being both the southernmost & westernmost city in New Zealand, and is essentially the gateway to Bluff, home of its namesake: the world-famous Bluff oysters. Bluff oysters are widely regarded as the finest in the world! Enjoy a brief tour of Bluff and Invercargill, before having free time.
Stewart Island Optional Excursions
We recommend booking early to avoid disappointment. All optional excursions are subject to availability. Excursions include return flights to Stewart Island & return transfers.
Stay: Ascot Park Hotel (or similar)
This morning, we depart Invercargill for Dunedin via the magnificent coastal vistas of the Catlins, famed for the wildlife, forests and rugged natural beauty. Late this afternoon, we arrive at the traditionally “Scottish City” of Dunedin – quaint, friendly and once New Zealand’s hub of commerce. During the gold rush years, Dunedin was New Zealand’s largest and most prosperous city and is home to New Zealand’s first university. We will stop at the Olveston House, a 35 room Jacobean mansion that allows an intimate view of the life of a prosperous Dunedin merchant and his family in Edwardian times. The mansion houses a treasure of Georgian and Victorian furniture, paintings, silver, china and glassware with a notable oriental collection.
Stay: Distinction Hotel Dunedin or Dunedin Leisure Lodge (or similar)
Today, we enjoy a day at leisure in Dunedin to explore – perhaps take a short walk up to the Octagon, the commercial heart of the city and home to many restaurants and pubs. You may choose to visit the Speights Brewery or the Otago Settlers Musuem, or a trip out to some of the amazing wildlife sites & reserves on the Otago Peninsula (your tour leader will be able to assist you with arrangements, admissions and transport are at additional expense).
This evening, we visit Larnach Castle, an imposing stone mansion that was constructed in 1871 by William Larnach, a former government minister. Your guide will inform you of the dark Larnach secrets as you are escorted through the mansion to view the ornately furnished rooms and halls. Here, we are privileged to enjoy an exclusive sumptuous dinner at the castle.
Stay: Distinction Hotel Dunedin or Dunedin Leisure Lodge (or similar)
Today’s coach journey is highlighted by magnificent mountains, crystal clear lakes and man-made wonders as we pass the hydro dams at Waitaki and Aviemore, and on to Mt Cook National Park, home of New Zealand’s highest mountain. This afternoon is at leisure in Mount Cook for optional flightseeing by plane or helicopter over majestic Mount Cook and breathtaking Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers (weather permitting). Tonight we stay at the iconic Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook.
Stay: The Hermitage Hotel (or similar)
Today we depart for Christchurch. We travel to beautiful Lake Tekapo, where a stop is made to view the Church of the Good Shepherd. Crossing Burkes Pass, we travel through the sheep-stations and tussock-covered lands of the MacKenzie Country and across the colourful patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains, the country’s largest wheat producing area, before arriving in Christchurch, the second largest metropolitan area in New Zealand. On arrival at Christchurch, you will check into your hotel for the evening.
Stay: Pavilions Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast this morning, we depart the hotel to join the Coastal Pacific Train to travel to Picton. Pass through the seaside town of Kaikoura, before arriving in Picton. Here we join the Interislander Ferry to Wellington. On arrival in Wellington, we head to the hotel and check-in, followed by our final dinner on tour.
Stay: Rydges Hotel (or similar)
Sadly this is the last day of the tour. Today join the Northern Explorer Train for the journey to Wellington. Travel through the heart of the North Island, passing through Ohakune and the Tongariro National Park. Enjoy fantastic views from the Overlander’s panoramic windows or perhaps venture out to the open-air viewing deck. See magnificent views of the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu and the world famous Raurimu Spiral, as well as stunning river gorges. Upon arrival at Auckland (or earlier final station depending on your home return location), you are met and returned to your home or hotel.
I’ve been to 7 guided tours & Leanne & Robin were the best tour guides I ever had – They both worked hard, have patience of an angel.
Emelda Cole, Red Beach, Auckland
The rooms were all wonderful
Sue Wood, Invercargill
Really good variety everywhere we stayed & good quality food. If we needed something extra more than helpful to do so. Always with a smile.
Jim & Anna Niven, New Lynn, Auckland
Again WOW!! All hotel meals fabulous – Walter Peak – another level & lovely @ Larnach Castl
Leigh Murdoch, Papamoa, Bay of Plenty
Very comfortable coach, smooth riding & no road noise. Great windows.
Rosalie Ross, Tikipunga, Whangarei
Included Activities & Admissions
All these activities were a bonus to our tour and greatly enjoyed. To have them built in was great. We just went with the flow.
Wendy Franklin, Warkworth
Appreciated the professionalism and quality vehicles used.
Brian & Diane Stevens, Pukekohe, Auckland
Over & above as we had extended our holiday by a week & still got the pick up & drop off – The BEST service ever.
Raewyn Morris, Howick, Auckland
Value For Money
Amazing great prices compared to other companies.
Raewyn Richards, Papamoa, Bay of Plenty