New Zealand, South Island discovery tour, February 2018

With HF Holidays. A coach tour going anti-clockwise around South Island, taking in many of New Zealand's most beautiful natural scenery, including lakes, fiords, glaciers, mountains, rivers and some of the world's most spectacular hiking tracks.
The tour, lasting 18 days, started and finished in Christchurch on the east coast.

Getting there (and back). Each journey consisted of three flights lasting about 7, 13 and 3 hours, so you're talking about nearly 24 hours stuck in rows of 10 seats across on an Airbus A380, flying at about 550 mph. A lot of time to kill and always the risk of catching colds and things from other passengers.

Our leader was Richard and Larry was our local coach driver. Our group was made up of 18 guests, 11 from England, 4 from the USA and 3 from Scotland.
We stayed in 9 different hotels for between 1 and 3 nights. The standard of the hotels ranged from good to excellent!

The weather was generally dry and warm, though there were 3 or 4 wet days. Day 16 saw a particularly stormy spell which was probably a local weather phenomenon in the Hooker Valley leading towards Aoraki (Mount Cook).

It was a non-stop holiday, lasting 18 days, not including the flying, and packing in a good number of short and medium length walks, sightseeing opportunities and various roadside stops for photographs or coffee breaks. In addition there were seven boat trips, ranging from a short crossing of a lake to a full cruise around the world famous Doubtful Sound. Six of us, including me, opted to have a helicopter ride over the Franz Josef glacier.

Definitely worth the cost and effort, for many going to New Zealand is a once in a lifetime 'bucket list' destination. For me that's probably the case too, and I'll have many fond memories of this wonderful 3 weeks of my life.


8/9 FebAir: Heathrow - Dubai - Sydney - Christchurchclick
110 FebArrival, bus to ChristchurchWalk around Botanic Gradens and ruined landmarksChristchurch
211 FebBus: Christchurch - PictonLunch at Kaikoura and coastal walk nearbyPictonclick
312 FebBoat: Picton to Ships CoveQueen Charlotte TrackPictonclickclick
413 FebBus: Picton - NelsonHilltop walk in NelsonNelsonclick
514 FebBoat: Nelson - Kaiteriteri - Bark BayAbel Tasman Nat Park walkNelsonclick
615 FebBus: Nelson - PunakaikiLake Rotoiti and two coastal walksPunakaikiclick
716 FebBus: Punakaiki - Franz JosefHokitika stop, helicopter ride, glacier walkFranz Josefclickclick
817 FebBus: Lake Mathieson, Haast, Blue Pools, Makarora, WanakaLake walk, Roadside waterfall, Blue Pools walkWanakaclick
918 FebBus: Local walkDiamond Lake and Rocky Hill walkWanakaclick
1019 FebBus: Wanaka to Camerons FlatMatukituki River walk to view Rob Roy glacierWanakaclick
1120 FebBus: Wanaka - Te AnauLake boat crossing, walk on Kepler TrackTe Anauclick
1221 FebBus: Te Anau - Lake ManaporiDoubtful Sound (2 boat rides, 2 bus rides and cruise)Te Anauclickclick
1322 FebBus: Te Anau - The DivideWalk on first part of Routeburn TrackTe Anauclick
1423 FebBus: Te Anau - QueenstownWalk from Lake Dispute to Moke LakeQueenstownclick
1524 FebCable car above QueenstownLinear walk, Ben Lomond to Arthur's PointQueenstownclick
1625 FebQueenstown - Aoraki/Mt Cook - TwizerShortened walk up Hooker Valley (bad weather)Twizerclick
1726 FebBus: Twizel - ChristchurchLake Pukaki, Mount John hill walk, lunch at FairlieChristchurchclick
1827 FebBus: Sightseeing tour of ChristchurchVarious viewpointsclick
28 FebAir: Christchurch - Sydney - Dubai - London