Get up close to nature on our South Island SOUTH Scenic Tour, featuring the prevalent wildlife of the Coastal Otago, serene waterfalls and sweeping beaches of the Catlins Coast, and the mystical beech forests, majestic peaks and waters of Fiordland.
The hallmark of PureTrails New Zealand’s tours continues with our South Island Scenic Tour series, with small group travel (up to 14 people); off the beaten track locations; very well organised meals and logistics; interaction with local communities; and perhaps most importantly, one of our fantastic friendly guides to look after you on the tour and make sure you have the best experience ever!
Our scenic tours feature a combination of travel to beautifully scenic locations, visiting local sights of interest and museums, short (10-20min unguided) walks, wine tasting and other fun activities such as scenic boat rides. There is no cycling on our scenic tours.
South Island ‘SOUTH: wildlife, fiords & forest’ Scenic Tour Highlights
- Journey through the natural landscapes of the South Island’s coastal Otago, Catlins Coast, and Fiordland
- View Blue Penguins as they come ashore in Oamaru, and a NZ Fur Seal colony at Moeraki
- Take a guided tour of Orokonui Ecosanctuary and see multiple species of rare native flora and fauna up close
- Explore Otago Peninsula and the Victorian and Edwardian architecture of Dunedin City
- See waterfalls, sweeping beaches and other hidden gems on the Catlins Coast
- Experience some authentic kiwi culture in Gore, NZ’s country music capital and home to the famed Eastern Southland Gallery, housing the Ralph Hotere Gallery and John Money Collection
- In Fiordland visit Lake Manapouri and take a cruise across Lake Te Anau to see mysterious and magical glow worms up close
- Opt to take a once in a lifetime journey into Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, or possible a helicopter ride over the rugged mountains of Fiordland
Day 1 Christchurch – Oamaru
We depart Christchurch for the drive south through the Canterbury Plains, stopping off to explore the small town of Geraldine on the way. At Oamaru visit the numerous artisan workshops in the magnificent Victorian Precinct, or perhaps the Steampunk Museum before checking into our accommodation. In the early evening we head to the harbour to see the Blue Penguins emerge from the ocean at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.
Day 2 Oamaru – Dunedin
This morning we visit Moeraki, a lovely little fishing village in a secluded bay near a NZ Fur Seal colony. After spending some time here we head south to the Orokonui Ecosantuary. Here they have installed predator-proof fencing to protect a number of rare native bird species. Take a guided tour to see some of these birds and other native flora and fauna. From here we head to the Otago Peninsula via the quirky town of Port Chalmers to Portobello. Enjoy a seaside lunch before heading into Dunedin City for some time exploring the galleries and museums of this city seeped in Scottish and Maori heritage.
Day 3 Dunedin – Gore
Today we travel along the relatively unknown Catlin’s Coast, visiting various points of natural beauty along the way such as light houses, waterfalls, beaches and lakes. In the afternoon we arrive in Gore, the country music capital of NZ. Here we experience some authentic kiwi culture. There is the opportunity to visit the famed ‘Goreggenheim’ Eastern Southland Gallery, housing the Ralph Hotere Gallery and John Money Collection. Or alternatively, the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, bringing Gore’s colourful past as a centre for illicit whisky distilling and bootlegging to life!
Day 4 Gore – Te Anau
We head to Fiordland, first visiting Lake Manapouri. There is an opportunity to do a short walk among the beech forest on the Kepler Track before we head to the quaint town of Te Anau. Here we board a boat for a cruise across Lake Te Anau and a tour of the magical glow worm caves, visiting a hidden grotto inhabited by hundreds of glow-worms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in Te Anau we settle into our accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 5 Te Anau (Fiordland)
Today is free for you to explore Fiordland in your own way. Being dominated by the steep sides of the snow-capped Southern Alps, deep lakes, and steep, glacier-carved fiords, most of Fiordland is inaccessible by road. Seeing it from the water in either Milford or Doubtful Sound, or by the air, is the way to go. There are many options to choose from however a journey into Milford Sound followed by a cruise, or alternative a day trip to Doubtful Sound are a great options. For a once in a lifetime experience, a scenic helicopter flight would offer a truly remarkable experience of Fiordland. In the evening we regroup and share our adventures.
Day 6 Te Anau – Arrowtown
This morning we enjoy the amazing views alongside Lake Wakatipu on our way to Arrowtown. We stop off at a winery for a chance to taste the local wines along the way. In Arrowtown check into our accommodation and explore the galleries and boutiques of the Arrowtown precinct and Chinese Village, or take a walk along the river trail. In the evening we enjoy a final dinner together.
Day 7 Arrowtown – Christchurch
After breakfast your guide will head back to Christchurch. You are welcome to return to Christchurch with our vehicle or alternatively finish your trip with us in Arrowtown for onward travel or flights out of Queenstown Airport.
What’s included in the tour package?
- 6 nights double/twin share ensuite accommodation
- 6 evening meals; 6 continental breakfasts (indicated by B/L/D in the itinerary)
- Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony entry
- Orokonui Ecosantuary entry
- Eastern Southland Gallery Entry
- Te Anau Glow Worm Caves Cruise
- the services of a tour leader
- all transport from/to Christchurch
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%
Not included in the tour package:
- wine; beer; espresso coffees
- single accommodation supplement ($500)
- Milford Sound Cruise (from $135) OR
- Doubtful Sound Cruise (from $275) OR
- Fiordland Scenic Flight (from $250-$500)
- optional wine tasting
Our Guiding Team
Customer Service/Tour Leader (Founder and Managing Director)
Hilary is at the helm of 'mission control', and is often the person who answers your call or email, although is now spending more time out and about on tours. After travelling the world for several years and working in tourism on her big 'OE', Hilary came home and fell in love with NZ once again and in particular, the South Island. With a love of the outdoors and marketing background she teamed up with her mother to form 'PureTrails'. Hilary enjoys photography, cycling, walking, gardening, and being a mum to Josie & Sullivan.
Tour Leader/Operations Support (since 2008; Director)
John grew up in the town of Wanganui, where in his school days, he helped build the famed 'Wanganui High School Tramping Club Hut' on Mount Ruapehu. John retired from a career as a Property Valuer and Agricultural consultant where he practised for many years in Western Australia and Tauranga. John has travelled, walked and cycled extensively abroad and now enjoys introducing our visitors to favourite parts of NZ. Other hobbies include cycling, bridge, gardening & horse racing (don't get him started on the latter!)