If you’re after the total South Island experience then this is the pass for you. The Bottoms Up pass takes it all in from the Marlborough Sounds to Milford Sound, and from the sunbaked beaches at Kaiteriteri to the ice covered glaciers in the south. This pass also includes the Deep South great for nature lovers looking to escape the city!
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Departing Christchurch bright and early, we arrive in Kaikoura in time for you to check out what it's most famous for – its whale watching or swimming with the dolphins. Spend the evening chilling on the beach or sampling some of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer for your dinner. In fact, the name Kaikoura means to eat crayfish (“kai” meaning to eat, “koura” meaning crayfish).
We head north and take in the last of the dramatic Kaikoura coastline. It’s a spectacular drive and we stop for a close look at the seals that lay about on the rocks. Travel through vineyards to Nelson, New Zealand’s sunniest city, then on to Kaiteriteri at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park. Kaiteriteri is a great spot to begin an adventure (on foot, by kayak or by water taxi) into Abel Tasman National Park, or see it all from above by jumping out of a plane!
Spend the morning kayaking out to Split Apple Rock and along the golden bays near Kaiteriteri, looking out for the local marine wildlife; or catch a water taxi to one of the bays in the Abel Tasman National Park to go for a morning stroll in the native New Zealand forest. This afternoon we stop at the iconic Nelson Lakes, so you can get your legendary wharf jumping shot before hitting surf town Westport.
Today we start our journey down spectacular State Highway 6, that stretches 435 kilometres along the rugged Tasman shoreline. The road winds through a diverse series of landscapes which never cease to amaze. Highlights today include the Cape Foulwind seal colony walk, rugged beaches, and the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Tonight's unique accommodation is a chance to enjoy a delicious group meal and bond with your bus mates. For those wanting something a little more special to take home with them; passengers can carve their own greenstone necklaces (pounamu).
After breakfast at Lake Mahinapua, we hit the road on our way to Franz Josef. Franz Josef is the northern gateway to Te Wahipounamu, the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage area. The region includes Aoraki/Mount Cook, Westland Tai Poutini, Mount Aspiring, the Fiordland National Parks, and surrounding conservation lands. We factor in a free day in Franz Josef so that you can get out there and experience what Franz Josef has to offer. It’s a wicked spot and whatever you get out and do, you will be blown away by the views of the glacier and Alps.
Today we have a free day in Franz Josef where you have the opportunity to experience a Heli-Hike to New Zealand’s most famous Franz Josef Glacier or you can explore this lush corner of New Zealand (for free) on foot; hitting up the many walking trails in the area.
We start out early in order to catch the perfect mirror reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps on Lake Matheson. We then cruise down the last stretch of Highway 6, stopping at popular scenic spots along the way. Then it’s into Mount Aspiring National Park, arriving in the awe-inspiring destination of Wanaka in the afternoon.
Before we leave Wanaka get your brain working at Puzzling World and then its on to the world’s first commercial bungy site - the Kawarau Bridge. Only the brave will sign themselves up for this iconic New Zealand activity. On arrival in Queenstown, we will head down to the spectacular waterfront before it’s out on the town exploring Queenstown’s infamous nightlife with all the crew!
Queenstown is one of the most amazing places on Earth. No matter what time of the year it is rated as one of our passenger’s favourite spots. Take the time to spend a few days here as it is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Make the most of the beautiful lake and surrounding walks, or get into a whole range of adrenalin pumping activities. If there was one activity that you couldn’t miss it would be the day trip to Milford Sound, commonly referred to as The Eighth Wonder of the World.
Depart Queenstown bright and early to make the most of this epic first day in the Deep South. We arrive into Bluff in time to catch the connecting ferry across to Stewart Island. For those that aren't making the 1-hour trip across the Foveaux Strait you will have a chance to get that iconic picture at the Bluff Sign, as well as a walk to explore the local area. Then it's on to Invercargill for a free afternoon of exploring Oreti Beach.
If you have spent the night on Stewart Island, the bus will be there to meet you upon return to the Mainland. You will visit the Bluff Sign for the classic shot, then head into Invercargill to pick up the rest of the crew who will have had a sleep in. On the way to Te Anau, we stop off at a few iconic spots like Monkey Island, McCrakens Rest, Tuatapere (for a famous sausage), and Lake Manapouri. If you are wanting to hop off the bus here for the Humpridge Track we can do so as well. We arrive into Te Anau early afternoon so you have the whole afternoon to explore this stunning part of the Fiordland National Park.
Visiting Milford Sound is a must when visiting the South Island. Before getting to the Homer Tunnel, we make plenty of photo stops at places like Mirror Lakes and the Chasm. Once at Milford, you will go on an unforgettable scenic boat cruise through the sound exploring soaring peaks and towering waterfalls. Seeing New Zealand’s scenery and nature at its best. Then it’s back on the bus for your journey back to the adventure capital, Queenstown.
We head out of Queenstown, through the Lindis Pass, so get your cameras ready because this is ‘Lord of the Rings’ territory. After stopping to admire Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki, we travel to Lake Tekapo with its amazing location by snow-capped alps and clear starry skies. Lake Tekapo has something for everyone - relaxing at the lakeside and taking in the untouched view, soaking in the hot springs, discovering one of the many scenic walkways or checking out the mind-boggling stars in what is the world’s largest dark sky reserve.
We have a straight run into Christchurch, our largest city in the South Island and the 3rd largest in New Zealand. Witness a city rebuilding and flourishing in the wake of the 2011 earthquakes, and explore the street art, see the blooming botanical gardens and learn about the history of a city that’s experienced so much in recent times.
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