New Zealand South Island Walking Tour 2021

Price:  $5,500 per person twin-share
Depart:  23 April 2021 - Autumn Tour   **4 spaces available**


  • Airport pick-up and drop-off in Nelson
  • Fully Guided Tour with experienced driver, traveling in comfortable luxury mini-coach
  • All accommodation in quality properties with private facilities. Single rooms on request only
  • 17 hearty breakfasts, 18 lunches and 2 dinners included.
  • Provincial towns, Rural towns, iconic experiences
  • Nature walks every day of the tour (26 in total!)
  • Wild beaches, forested lakes, coastal trails, wetlands, river trails, alpine passes, history, bird colonies, gold trails, grassy Peninsular's.  All delivered in Autumn colours!
  • Diverse, unique small group adventures

Tour Overview

This is an 18 day South Island tour starting and finishing in Nelson and hugely popular with kiwis.   The trip will be a comfortable sized group tour with a maximum 12 tour members – travelling and exploring from the comfort of a luxury minicoach.

In keeping with tradition, this nature/walking tour includes collections of easy to moderate forest, coastal, Lake and alpine trail walks on groomed and formed trails in a diverse range of settings. From pristine waterways, wild untamed beaches, forested lakes, estuaries, river trails, mountains, to gold fields and bird sanctuaries.These are complemented with visits to cultural and historical sites, interpretive centres, Gardens and Museums and many little-known off-the-beaten-track spots. The tour is interspaced with time to relax and leisurely explore some interesting townships and regions. Plus many two night stays in the same place – so walkers can settle in and enjoy the surroundings.

The tour is scheduled to coincide with the Autumn colours of the south so walkers can enjoy settled weather and moderate temperatures at a quieter time of the year.


Days 1-2-3

Arrive and overnight in Nelson. Our tour begins with a selection of lovely strolls in and around the Nelson Region including the Maitai River, Queens Gardens, Centre of New Zealand, Rabbit Island and Mapua.  Heading out of the region we enjoy a scenic drive down the Motueka River Valley past apple, pear, kiwifruit and Hop orchards. Learn of the local Rail history in Tapawera before embarking on the beautiful Beech forests of Nelson Lakes where a selection of easy native walks await.

Highlights Include: A variety of river, beach and native forest walks with added bonus of formal gardens and estuary will offer something for everyone. 

Days 4–5–6-7

We leave St Arnaud, Nelson lakes for a picturesque and scenic drive down the Buller Gorge to the remote upper West Coast Karamea.  Our time here is spent immersed in the beautiful rainforests of the West Coast.  A selection of native trails, swing bridges, waterfalls and mind-blowing New Zealand beauty. The Coal and Gold mining history on the Coast is vast and rich and there is much to learn of our pioneering past.  We travel South as far as Kumara and experience Lake Kaniere and her hidden gems of water races, coves and waterfalls.

Highlights Include: Rain forest, beech forest x 10!  If you have not been south before this section will be an absolute highlight for you.  We spend 4 days in this wonderful area and   sometimes it’s even better in the rain! 

Days 8-9-10

Travelling from West to East, Arthurs Pass presents commanding and classic back country landscapes and we stop for a nature walk at Arthurs Pass Village to appreciate the environment of the mighty Southern Alps.  We follow the Waimakariri River out onto the Canterbury plains driving south with a one night stop in Peel Forest for some genuine country hospitality.  We progress south via the wonderfully eclectic township of Oamaru and enjoy a little Urban wander here before pressing on to the tiny nook of Wedderburn flanked by the mighty Maniototo and in the heart of the Otago Rail Trail.  

Highlights Include: Alps walk, a fun urban stroll, 2 different Goldfield ruins and a lovely river-gorge walk. Days offering history, ruins and stunning landscapes. 

Days 11-12

In the heart of Central Otago we settle into the lovely and colourful Arrowtown for a two night stay in spacious motel units, located just a ten minutes stroll from the town centre.

We walk the beautiful river trails in the area and take a look back on the valley from a short drive up the Crown Range.  The tour has a free day here to explore or rest.

Highlights Include: Postcard colours, rural New Zealand at its best, leafy wanderings, historic buildings, great southern hospitality and free time. 

Days 13-14

Departing Arrowtown we enjoy the rugged scenery of the Crown Range, Wanaka waterfront then over the Lindis Pass and into the spectacular surrounds of the McKenzie Country. A drive into Tekapo with its stunning glacial blue Lake and the famous Lake Tekapo Chapel and its monument to the high-country sheepdog. We take a trip into Mt Cook National Park for a day to walk along the spectacular Hooker River Valley.

Highlights Include: Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook National Park and Hermitage, the Hooker River Valley amid this breath-taking mountain scenery in the heart of the spectacular Southern Alps. The stunning turquoise colours and spring flowers of Lake Tekapo.  

Days 15- 16

From Lake Tekapo we journey north through Canterbury farmland via the scenic inland highway and make a bee-line for the Alpine Spa town of Hanmer. We have an afternoon to explore Conical Hill and the magnificent Hanmer Heritage forest, before a soak in the thermal hot pools. We hook back onto State Highway 1 and head for the seaside town of Kaikoura.  An afternoon exploration of the changing face of Kaikoura will be of great interest.

Highlights Include: Lofty firs, larches and sequoias and mixed plantings of silver birch, oak and alder give the Hanmer forest beautiful colour at this time of the year. Enjoy a coastal walk and appreciate the geological changes reshaping Kaikoura. Whale migration and Seal colonies create further interest  and local seafood will be a treat for those dining out. 

Day 17 - 18

Following coastal cliffs and rail link through to Picton passing Lake Grassemere Saltworks and marvel at the reaches of the Marlborough wine industry Walks in and around Picton Marina and the Queen Charlotte Sound. Our time here will encompass aquaculture, native trail walks, Queen Charlotte Drive (one of the most scenic in the country) stunning rivers and picnic spots.

Highlights Include: The East Coast road is a picturesque and crucial transport link in the movement of goods and services.  The wine is equally impressive! As is the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Sounds.  Trail walking, scenic fiord’s, salmon farming and NZ’s famous Green lip mussel. The days will be packed with treats before we say goodbye back in Nelson.


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