Southern Highlights

Join us on this guided scenic tour across the Cook Strait, past the mighty Southern Alps and through the Wild West Coast to beautiful Queenstown.

Members from: $6,046 P.P Twin ShareNon-members from: $6,156 P.P Twin ShareSolo traveller from: $7,618

  • Type

    Train Journeys

  • Destination

    New Zealand South Pacific

  • Supplier


  • Departs

    Multiple departures available. Enquire for more details.


  • Experienced Tour Director

  • Christchurch City Tour

  • Marlborough Wine Experience

  • West Coast Tree Top Walk

  • Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk

  • World-Famous Scenic Train Journeys

  • Cook Strait Ferry Crossing

  • Free time and optional excursions to personalise your holiday


Day 1 - Wellington

Explore Wellington

Kia Ora!

Welcome to Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city! Wellington is known for its world-class dining, great coffee and eccentric shops.

After checking into your hotel and reading your welcome letter from your Tour Director, head out and explore all that Wellington has to offer. This is the perfect opportunity to get cultured at Te Papa Museum or grab a drink at one of the many quirky bars on Cuba Street. You may even fancy a ride on the cable car!

After an exciting day on the town, your tour will officially begin as you join your fellow travellers and Tour Director at this evening’s welcome reception.

Day 2 - Wellington to Marlborough

Crossing the Cook Strait

This morning you will say poroporoaki ki te motu raki (good-bye to the North Island) as you sail to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry. As the shores of the North Island slowly disappear, enjoy a hearty seafaring breakfast on board.

Around midday, you will be spoiled with captivating harbour views as you enter the Queen Charlotte Sound. Admire the beauty of this coastal paradise as you arrive at the gateway of the South Island, Picton. Step off the Interislander Ferry and join your next world-class experience onboard a Marlborough Wine Tour!

Day 3 - Marlborough to Kaikōura

The Coastal Pacific Scenic Train

The morning is yours to explore. Meander through the local craft stores and coastal walks in Picton, or perhaps discover the Omaka Aviation Museum in Blenheim. Enjoy the waterfront cafés before boarding the Coastal Pacific train for another highlight rail journey through the Marlborough Wine Region.

Today you will be travelling into Kaikōura. Relax and let the train glide you across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless journey of breathtaking beauty. Keep an eye out for the fur seals lazing on the rocks!

Once in Kaikōura, the evening will be yours to enjoy some iconic kai moana (seafood) at one of the quaint restaurants.

Day 4 - Kaikōura to Christchurch

Explore Kaikōura

Today will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will have the opportunity to go whale watching! Enjoy today’s optional thrill of an up-close encounter with the world's largest-toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale, who live in the waters of Kaikoura year-round.

Want to get an aerial experience of the wildlife? Why not request a plane ride to capture the true grandeur of it all?

Whether you have decided to go whale watching or swimming with the dolphins and seals, we're sure you will be feeling peckish. Head to the hub of the action on the main street to sample some iconic New Zealand food - you can't go wrong with the humble Kiwiana fish and chips. Work off the deep-fried delights by wandering through the wonderful array of local artisan stores and souvenir shops.

In the late afternoon, your journey will continue, once again, on the Coastal Pacific Train en route to Christchurch, or “The Garden City”. The spectacular scenery won’t cease to amaze as you journey south through the rolling hills and extensive plains. Enjoy the relaxing journey with a glass of wine in hand.

Day 5 - Christchurch

Explore Christchurch

Christchurch, the hub for South Island exploration, is also a wonderful city that blends modern architecture and technology with the existing 19th-century Anglican ‘gothic revival’ architectural influence. Often remembered for its earthquake in 2011, the city is rebuilding itself as a multi-cultural haven. So, without further delay, jump on the historic tram to learn the history, tales, and culture of Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Enjoy your free time as you explore the Arts Centre, Quake City Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens. Ride on the city tram to uncover Christchurch's great history, or relax as you punt on the Avon River. There is also a multitude of delicious cafés tucked into quaint side streets we're sure you will love. If you are in the mood for something different, set off for Akaroa, an ‘incroyable’ French coastal settlement just an hour and half from the city centre.

Dinner awaits as you join your fellow travellers once again to tell them about the exciting places you have discovered.

Day 6 - Christchurch to Punakaiki

The TranzAlpine Scenic Train

The moment has come to experience the world-famous TranzAlpine scenic train journey through the Southern Alps, emerging in the West Coast!

On this fantastic escape, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice fed Waimakariri River, traverse through the Great Divide, and experience ever changing landscapes. The natural scenery isn’t the only marvel though. The TranzAlpine passes through the Otira Tunnel, a true engineering marvel of 100 years!

Once you arrive at the West Coast, a private coach will take you even further off the beaten track to Punakaiki, where you will explore curious limestone rock formations and blowholes.

Day 7 - Punakaiki to Franz Josef

Explore the West Coast

This morning you start your West Coast adventure by visiting one of the South Island’s most popular activities– the West Coast Tree Top Walk. This elevated adventure will get you acquainted with the locals – the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees.

After your sky-high experience, continue south into Glacier Country. Franz Josef Glacier is quite special in that it survives in the warm coastal rainforest temperatures. With a short walk to a viewpoint, you'll get a fantastic view of the vast valley, as well as a sneak peek of Franz Josef Glacier itself. If you would prefer to get up close, we recommend booking an optional helicopter flight. This will ensure you are getting the best possible view of this natural wonder.

After your glacial experience and checking into the hotel, you’ll have some free time to enjoy Franz Josef town. Indulge in a helicopter flight, nature walk or tap into some natural tranquillity at the local hot pools.

Day 8 - Franz Josef to Queenstown

A Unique Kiwi Style Road Trip

Today you will be exploring the mountainous Haast Pass. With changing landscapes around every bend, this journey to Queenstown will be one of the most scenic drives you may ever take. Marvel at the beaches, crystal blue lakes and rivers, mountain peaks, lush vineyards, charming plains and stunning glaciers as your Tour Director guides you between local hidden gems.

Emerging on the other side of the pass, explore a local fruit hotspot before exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic goldmining settlement of Arrowtown.

After an exciting plunge into the history of this gold rush village, you will arrive in the world-famous resort town of Queenstown!

Day 9 - Queenstown

Explore Queenstown

Enjoy a free day to explore everything Queenstown has to offer.

Today, we highly recommend you join an excursion to the 8th Wonder of the World - it truly is a remarkable experience. Milford Sounds/ Piopiotahi is a scenic escape approximately three hours from Queenstown. The natural landscape will engulf you as you waltz through plunging valleys and towering peaks. Take this encounter to the next level by booking a return visit by plane or helicopter and soar like the Piopio (ancient bird) back to Queenstown.

Whether you’ve decided to hop aboard the steamship lake cruise on the iconic TSS Earnslaw, or marvel at the power of ancient roaring rivers - tonight you have a free evening to indulge in Queenstown's exciting nightlife. Sip cocktails and indulge in the sparkling views of Lake Wakatipu.

Day 10 - Queenstown

The Close to an Adventure of a Lifetime

Queenstown truly has something for everyone. Personalise your day to be as active or relaxed as you’d like. Whether it’s exploring Walter Peak on a horse trekking adventure, joining the historic steamship across Lake Wakatipu or sipping wine in Gibbston Valley, there is no shortage of activities to delight your senses.

This evening, is your ‘final hurrah’ as you enjoy a farewell dinner. This is the perfect time to reminisce and share photos and phone numbers with your new friends.

Day 11 - Queenstown

Departing Queenstown

Departing Queenstown

Your journey will end after enjoying a final breakfast with your fellow travellers.

Not ready to leave Queenstown? Reach out to our Travel Centre to pre-organise your extended stay.


Activities-Transfer to airport

Enquire Now


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All prices are per person in Australian Dollars unless specified.
Prices are based on costs, charges, tariffs, rates, prices, taxes, levies, exchange rates and other considerations.
All are subject to change. For up-to-date pricing contact National Travel.
No surcharges regarding cost or currency fluctuations will be made to the land only price once the deposit is received.