New Zealand Vacation Itinerary - South Island Family Folly - by New Zealand Encounters and Travel
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New Zealand Vacation Itinerary - South Island Family Folly

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South Island Family Folly

Christchurch, Wanaka and Queenstown offer so much, and day trips from these destinations offer even more!

Whales, dolphins, four wheel drive tour, glaciers, rafting, jet boat, steamship, and a farm show - all enjoyed on this really fun family trip.

Lots of free time, lots of adventures and stunning scenery all in only fourteen days!

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Day 1 - Arrival Christchurch Private transfer
Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport, you will be met by a driver, who will take you on a city highlights tour on the way to your accommodation. It is the perfect way to get a feel for Christchurch and prepare you for your free day on Day Two.

Depending on your time of arrival you may or may not have time to begin exploring Christchurch on your own. A family punt on the Avon River through the city is a great introduction to the Garden City or perhaps a ride on the city tram is the call of the day.
Once the Old Government Building, this Hotel has been restored to it's original grandeur. You will be in the heart of the city in your two bedroom suite located on Cathedral Square admidst cafes.

Four night stay.


Day 2 - Exploring the Garden City No travel required
A full day to adjust to time down under and explore Christchurch.

Your automatic, family size rental car will be delivered to your accommodation should you wish to drive to Willowbank Animal Reserve, the beach or drive around the city.

Click below on Christchurch Activities to see the various options for your day.
Same as previous night.


Day 3 - High Country Adventure Full day guided trip
A full day of changing landscape, changing transport and great fun.

First you enjoy a scenic one-hour drive across the patchwork of the Canterbury Plains. Then you board a jet boat into the heart of the spectacular Waimakariri River Gorge. At the river's edge, climb aboard your next mode of transport, a specially modified four-wheel drive.

Your journey takes you across mountain streams and along some of the original stagecoach roads hand built by the early pioneers to gain access to the gold fields on the West Coast. At Arthur's Pass Village, board the world famous TranzAlpine Train, one of the six best train journeys in the world. Home to your accommodation!
Same as previous night.


Day 4 - Whales, Dolphins & More Full day guided trip
Yesterday you travelled inland, today's day trip takes you to the Coast!

You will be picked up from your accommodation to begin your trip. The two hour journey crosses the northern plains then travels along the coastline. Once the main whaling station in the country, Kaikoura is now the mammal conservation centre of the South Pacific.

Upon arrival at Kaikoura you may join a whale watch cruise or a dolphin watch cruise. On the dolphin trip you also have the option to get in the water and swim with them!

After your cruise, you enjoy lunch at one of the waterfront cafes. Kaikoura means lobster in the native Maori so lobster is abundant and eaten like peanut butter! To walk off your lunch, a short hike through the seal colony is enjoyed before heading on a drive back to Christchurch. Arrival back to Christchurch around 5:30pm. NOTE: This tour can include a short Cessna flight one way to save time and offer a scenic journey. Additional cost.
Same as previous night.


Day 5 - Heading for the Lake District 1 hour flight + 1 hour drive
A morning flight will transport the family from Christchurch to Queenstown. The one hour flight on a clear day offers simply stunning scenery.

Upon arrival at Queenstown you pick up your last rental car and drive one hour to nearby Lake Wanaka. There are some special stops along the way that we will outline in your Daily Planner. Wanaka is a picturesque lakeside resort town that is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts especially fisherman, hikers and skiers. Wanaka is your home for the next four nights.
Your two bedroom apartment is perfectly positioned for stunning views of Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Designed for your comfort and enjoyment you will settle in quickly knowing that everything you need is at hand.

Four night stay.

Lake Wanaka

Day 6 - Wanaka Free Time No travel
Wanaka is nestled next to the Mt Aspiring National Park so you may choose to hike one of the many trails offered in and around the Park.

Our detailed daily planner will outline several activities that can be enjoyed while you are in Wanaka.
Same as previous night.

Lake Wanaka

Day 7 - Mou Waho Island Trip No travel
Your cruise this morning is a magical trip - boat across Lake Wanaka to Mou Waho Island, which is an extraordinary native flora and fauna reserve.

A 40-minute walk takes you up to Arethusa Pool and its own islands and unique features. Mou Waho is a truly intriguing and unusual island - geographically rare worldwide.

You will cruise to an island on a lake then hike to a lake on the island, that has islands in the lake!
Same as previous night.

Lake Wanaka

Day 8 - River Rafting No travel
Today you will enjoy a full day of family river rafting, swimming on the river, gold mining on the river and lunch by the river (key word: river).

The Clutha River is the largest river in New Zealand. By using a 10-man raft and large paddles, it becomes a safe family experience with the only rafting company in the country allowed to bring children under 10!

Your guide will stop at the best swimming holes, show the children how to pan for gold and spread out a 'casual kiwi' lunch by the river.
Same as previous night.

Lake Wanaka

Day 9 - Heading for Queenstown 1 hour drive
Your drive back to Queenstown is via a different route today. The Cardrona Pass offers some back country beauty and usually a New Zealand traffic jam (sheep on the road!). The views as you descend into Queenstown are spectacular. The road will drop you at the historic Arrowtown. Enjoy panning for gold, the great shops in the old store fronts and old gold miner's village that has been restored.

We also recommend a ride on the gondola to the top of Bob's Peak for panoramic views of Lake Wakitipu and The Remarkables Mountain Range. Don't forget to go for a luge while at the top - big fun for all ages!
Your two bedroom apartment offers glimpses of the lake and mountains with balconies overlooking stunning Lake Wakatipu. Relax and enjoy your own private courtyard.

Five night stay.


Day 10 - Jet Boats & Canoes Guided day trip
After breakfast, it is time for some jet boating and canoeing fun! You will enjoy your special day trip into Middle Earth where much of The Lord of the Rings was filmed.

This is a true wilderness experience. A journey of discovery, ancient forests, cascading waterfalls, New Zealand wilderness at its best. Drive from Queenstown along the lakefront to Glenorchy, then Jet boat up the Dart River. You then enjoy a riverside lunch before boarding your fun yak! These inflatable canoes allow you to paddle and drift down the Dart River, through the chasms and take in the stunning scenery deep in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Back at your accommodation around 5pm.
Same as previous night.


Day 11 - Queeenstown Free Day No travel required
A full day in this beautiful play land! There are so many options to choose from! We suggest you don't miss the drive through Animal Park, with its amazing location and great fun.

We will offer many more Queenstown activities in your Daily Planner.
Same as previous night.


Day 12 - All Aboard! Guided day trip
All aboard! When the steam whistle blows, you know it's time to board your steamship across Lake Wakitipu to the Walter Peak high country farm. Watch the stokers fuelling the fireboxes and hear the sound of the steam engines working as you cruise. When you reach the farm, experience rural New Zealand as they take you on a walking tour of the farmyard. They will explain traditional farming practices and the significance of the various animals. You can help feed the sheep and get close to the deer and Scottish Highland cattle. Watch the sheep dogs in action, see the shearing and maybe try your hand at spinning wool. Stroll through the lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel's Homestead for a traditional BBQ farm lunch.

Back at your accommodation around 3pm.
Same as previous night.


Day 13 - Free day or Optional Milford Sound No travel required
Your last full day in Paradise! With so much to do here, we just could not choose how you should spend your last day - so this is a free day. Time for one last adventure, a bit of last minute shopping or soaking up the sun by the pool.

A recommended option is a 90 minute helicopter trip to Milford Sound. Fly over Lake Wakitipu, over the braided Dart River then over the Pass. Attempt to fathom the vastness of the Sound and the mountains and many lakes that feed the waterfalls that plummet into the Sound. Land at Milford Sound where you can perhaps enjoy a walk around to the bottom of Bowen's Falls. Fly out the Sound to the Tasman Sea then back to Queenstown. A simply stunning flight that leaves you breathless!
Same as previous night.


Day 14 - International departure 1 hour flight + International flight
Today you catch a flight back to Christchurch to connect with your International Flight home.


Pricing and Inclusions

Price for a family of four being 2 Adults & 2 Children 13 years and under.
From $2,950 NZD per person
Domestic flight pricing additional.


    • Accommodations as listed
    • Choice of Dolphin or whale watch cruise at Kaikoura
    • High Country Explorer Day trip out of Christchurch with lunch
    • Mou Waho Island Trip
    • Airport Pickup and Short Tour
    • Full day rafting trip on Clutha River with lunch
    • Dart River jet boat and Fun Yak trip with lunch
    • Steam ship cruise plus farm tour and BBQ lunch
    • Ford Explorer 4wd Car Rental automatic transmission with airconditioning and partial insurance
    • Exclusive travel pack with highlighted map(s) with your route, area guides for each region you visit and your comprehensive daily planner with sight seeing & activity options and suggestions.


    • International Airfares
    • Internal Domestic Airfares
    • Meals not specified
    • Optional activities not specified


This itinerary departs daily. If travelling over the Christmas/New Year's holiday season this trip must be booked at least four months in advance to stay at described accommodations. Other options are available.

Accommodation and Meals

All accommodations described are our preferred accommodation for that destination. Every effort will be taken to supply the described property but availability is on first come first served basis. A suitable and comparable substitute will be offered when the described property is not available.

Meals :
  • Accommodations are specifically chosen to allow families the opportunity to prepare their own meals.
  • Lunches are included on the five day tours.

  • Book this itinerary

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