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New Zealand: South Island Adventure

19 Days & 18 Nights
  • A drive & hike exploring the majestic landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island
  • Tramp on the Abel Tasman, Routeburn & Rakiura Great Walk Tracks
  • Behold the beauty of Stewart Island, Franz Josef Glacier & Nelson Lakes
  • Local gastronomy & wines, such as Central Otago’s Pinot Noir
  • Milford Sound & wildlife galore, including dolphins, sea lions & penguins

Walk and explore the length and breadth of New Zealand’s South Island on this drive and hike adventure.

Discover world-famous landscapes of lush peninsulas, snow-capped peaks, sparkling glaciers, and turquoise lakes. Enjoy coastal, mountain, forest and lakeside walks and spot a plethora of wildlife such as Hector dolphins, sea lions, Kea parrots and penguin colonies.

This 19-day odyssey offers awe and adventure in equal measure; hiking in Fiordland National Park, 2 nights on Stewart Island, where you can even spot the elusive kiwi, a smorgasbord of seasonal produce, local award-winning cool-climate wines such as Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc and the matchless beauty of the Southern Alps, which run along the entire length of this majestic and unforgettable island.

What To Expect

This drive and hike itinerary takes in the very best of New Zealand’s South Island and it’s iconic sights. This is the perfect itinerary if you want a variety of walking experiences, from easy to challenging, all in stunning landscapes. With comfortable accommodations, an included rental car and 24 hour local support, you are sure to fall in love with this very special part of New Zealand.

Trip Type:

Discovery | Discovery


Drive and Hike | Exploration of picturesque and remarkable destinations by car combined with walks that highlight the best of a country or region.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 10 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wine
  • Coastal Walking
  • National Parks
  • Alpine Walking

Grade & Terrain

There are many varying types of walks on this itinerary, from easy, flat and short walks, to longer more challenging hilly walks on rough terrain. However they are all optional and therefore you can choose which walks you would like to do. All the walks are available in the Macs Smartphone App, so you can easily find your way using this GPS technology.

In the majority of routes are on trails and dirt tracks, which are mostly Department of Conservation walks all very well-maintained. New Zealand is a walkers paradise and well-renowned for its walking tracks, therefore it is all very well organised and sign-posted.

There are walking tracks that are seasonal, but you should be able to do them all as this tour is available in the spring, autumn/fall and summer. However, some walks are weather-dependent and since the weather can change rapidly in New Zealand is it always best to check the forecast, especially walking in high elevations. Also, if there is a Department of Conservation or tourist office nearby, we recommend checking the weather and the condition of the trail before embarking on a walk, particularly the longer walks in high terrain.

Some walks are also in avalanche territory, so again, its best to check at a DOC office or on the DOC website for any warnings (see information pack for more details).


The tracks in New Zealand are generally very well-marked and signposted so you should not have a problem finding your way. We have also provided GPX tracks for all the walks, which are accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone. It will be essential to use the smartphone app for this particular trip as we will not have detailed route notes for all the walks.

Accommodation Information

On this tour you will stay in very comfortable, hotels, motels, lodges, B&B’s and guesthouses. Some are quite simple, for example the Beach House on the Kaikoura Coast Path and the accommodation on Stewart, Island, but these are the best these areas have to offer and they are very authentic experiences. In contrast some of the accommodation is extremely nice, so to fully enjoy this tour you need to be flexible with the varying accommodations.

Here are some examples of the accommodation that we use on this tour. However, if these are not available, we will use others which will be the same standard.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

We will be happy to accommodate your party with single rooms if requested, and a single supplement applies. This trip is also available to solo walkers, and a supplement is again payable (as some costs are not shared). Please note that singles may not be of the same standard as twins/doubles.


Breakfast will be provided by your accommodation in most locations. This will either be a continental or cooked breakfast, depending on what that particular accommodation provides. There are a couple of places where breakfast cannot be included, but you can buy it locally in cafés or restaurants.

Lunches and dinners are not provided but you can easily shop for both or eat in local cafes and restaurants. On the walking days you can buy a packed lunch in a local shop/café.

  • 18 Nights in B&B’s, guest houses, lodges, hotels and motels
  • Private transfer from Christchurch Airport to Christchurch Hotel
  • Car Rental with GPS Unit
  • 17 Breakfasts
  • Domestic return flight to Stewart Island from Invercargill
  • Water taxi from Picton to Torea Bay and Punga Cove to Picton
  • Water taxi from Marahau to Anchorage Bay
  • Milford Sound Cruise
  • Water taxi Oban to Port William
  • New Zealand Sim Card
  • Information pack and Travel document
  • Access to the Macs Smartphone App with GPS Tracks
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Christchurch
  • Lunches and Dinners
  • 1 Breakfast
  • Fuel for car
  • Queen Charlotte Track private land walking fee ($12)
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal necessities
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)
  • Additional nights

When To Go

This drive and hike New Zealand: South Island Adventure trip is bookable between September 15th and May 15th. This is within the spring, autumn/fall and summer months when the weather will be more favourable, although it is subject to change quickly at any time of year!

The busiest months are January, February, March and over the Christmas/New Year season. If you wish to go during these times you will need to book far advance in order to get availability at the accommodations. The best time of year is from September to May which is when this tour operates. In the spring there will be flowers in abundance, it should be warm to hot in the summer (never hot in the mountains though) and in the Autumn/Fall it will be a bit quieter with nice foliage colours.

Please note normally it will take about 3-5 business days to confirm a booking, due to the length of this itinerary. During busy times and if you do not book 6 months in advance it could take longer. 

Getting to the Start

You can fly into and out of Christchurch Airport, which is served by many airlines, both international and domestic, including Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Emirates.  

Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport an Opal Charter driver will be waiting for you just outside customs. Your driver will have a board with your your name(s) on it and will transfer you to your accommodation in Christchurch.

On the final day when catching your flight from Christchurch you will drop the vehicle off at the car rental office and then a complimentary shuttle transfer to the airport is included.

Please be aware that when booking flights from the UK to New Zealand you will arrive 2 days after you set off and on return you will arrive 1 day after you set off. So, for example, if you leave on a Tuesday you will arrive on a Thursday and on return if you leave on a Saturday you will arrive home on the Sunday. This is obviously because of the time it takes to get there but also because you are travelling back and forth across the International Date Line. Similar principles apply when travelling from other places in Europe and from the USA and Canada.

General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Car Rental

Car rental is included in the cost of this tour, as it is a drive and hike itinerary. When you arrive in Christchurch, a private transfer is included to take you to your accommodation. Car pick up will occur on the morning of Day 2. You will then use the car for the remainder of your trip and drop it off at Christchurch Airport on your final day.

You will be able to park your car at all of the accommodations and the walks will mostly have car parks at the start where you can safely leave it. At times you will have to leave your car in a car park with luggage inside, however New Zealand has a very low crime rate  and you should feel comfortable doing so. The car will be a Toyota Corolla or equivalent (a bigger vehicle for more people)

The car rental includes tax (GST), unlimited kilometres and insurance, but excludes the first NZ$2500.00 (deductible) of any accident damage to the vehicle.

As part of your car rental a GPS unit will be provided and is included in the cost of the tour. We will provide addresses for all accommodations, sites and walks so that you can easily find your way. In case of any issues we also provide an included New Zealand SIM card so that you can make contact with any accommodation and service providers.

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

Extra Information
How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?


Day 1 Arrive Christchurch and overnight Day 2 Rental car pick up. Drive to Kaikoura region Day 3 Walk the Kaikoura Coast Track, Buntings Gulley to Ngaroma 8 miles / 13 km Day 4 Queen Charlotte Track, Torea Bay to Punga Cove 14.5 miles / 23 km Day 5 Drive to Marahau. Abel Tasman Track. Boat to Anchorage Bay, walk to Marahau 8 miles / 13 km Day 6 Drive to Nelson Lakes, choice of walks 7 miles / 11 km Day 7 Drive to Arthur’s Pass. Bealey Valley Track 1.8 miles / 3 km Day 8 Walk the Avalanche Peak and Scott Tracks 5 miles / 8 km Day 9 Drive to Glaciers region and Franz Josef. Free time Day 10 Choice of Walks, Alex Knob Track, or Robert’s Point Track 9 miles / 15 km Day 11 Drive to Wanaka (Otago Region). Free time. Day 12 Roy’s Peak Track 10 miles / 16 km Day 13 Drive to Te Anau via Arrowtown/Queenstown. Day 14 Milford Sound Cruise. Routeburn Track, Key Summit 4 miles / 7 km Day 15 Drive to Invercargill, flight to Stewart Island Day 16 Port William Coastal Track (Rakiura Great Walk) 8 miles / 12 km Day 17 Flight back to Invercargill. Drive to Dunedin (3H30) via Catlins Coast 1.8 miles / 3 km Day 18 Free time in Dunedin. Drive to Christchurch Day 19 Onward Travel

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