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4-Day Great Southern Island Circle Tour from Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand
4-Day Great Southern Island Circle Tour from Christchurch

From $1,226.60

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icon4 days  (approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English


View Franz Josef Glacier and experience a Milford Sound cruise on this 4-day semi-independent tour of New Zealand's South Island. You’ll travel by coach from Christchurch to Queenstown via the Canterbury Plains, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, then motor up the west coast to Greymouth before riding the TranzAlpine train on the return to Christchurch. Listen to narration on board as the driver highlights this scenic region from picturesque mountain peaks to deep fiords. Overnight accommodation and round-trip hotel transport are included.
  • Four-day coach tour of New Zealand's great Southern Island
  • Cruise on Milford Sound
  • View the Franz Josef Glacier
  • Fully guided tour and commentary
  • Plenty of photo opportunities
  • Pickup and drop off from centrally located Christchurch hotels
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Air-conditioned vehicle
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Live commentary on board
Milford Sound Cruise
3-nights accommodation
Food and drinks

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7:15 AM
See the highlights of the South Island in four days on a circular route, traveling round-trip from Christchurch. This semi-independent tour includes coach and rail transport with three nights’ accommodation in Queenstown and the township of Franz Josef Glacier. A Milford Sound cruise and informative commentary by your driver-guide are included; otherwise, you have free time at each destination to spend however you wish.


Day 1: Christchurch – Mt Cook – Queenstown

Travel through the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. Cross Burkes Pass to Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd. Travel up Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Stop for lunch (own expense) before crossing Lindis Pass and continuing along Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown.

Overnight: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar in Queenstown

Day 2: Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown

Travel along Lake Wakatipu beneath the Remarkables Range to Te Anau. See the Mirror Lakes and continue past Christie Falls. Enter the Homer Tunnel, drilled through the solid rock of a mountain. Take a cruise on Milford Sound where you'll see Mitre Peak and rock walls rising vertically from the sea. Re-board your coach for a Queenstown return. Optional lunch on the cruise is available. 

Overnight: Heartland Hotel Queenstown or similar in Queenstown

Day 3: Queenstown – Franz Josef Glacier

Travel along Lake Wanaka to Haast Pass. Pass through Central Otago and the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps with its rivers and rainforests. Continue up the West Coast past mountain ranges, native forests and lakes to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Franz Josef Glacier is considered a living river of ice that is over 7,000 years old.

Overnight: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or similar in Franz Josef

Day 4: Franz Josef – Greymouth – Arthur's Pass – Christchurch

Travel along the West Coast to Shantytown, a reconstructed Gold Rush town, and then to Greymouth, where thousands of diggers lived during the gold strikes of the 1860s. Travel through Arthur's Pass to Christchurch via the TranzAlpine Express.
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Child rate applies only when sharing with 2 paying adults
  • Please note that this tour is an independent tour and you may be traveling with a different driver/guide and group each day
  • Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation if there is not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Collapsible wheelchairs with removable wheels can be accommodated providing the passenger is accompanied by someone who can assist them board and disembark
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 20 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Leisure Tours
You can cancel up to 7 days in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 7 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • Any changes made less than 6 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • For a 50% refund, you must cancel 3–6 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.

Learn more about cancellations.


15 Reviews
3 stars
1 star

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews
New Zealand circle tour
, Jan 2019
The sights were great but I had not planned on such long "sitting on the bus" type days. The weather was rainy (not the tours fault), but it did not help the views The rain had caused some damage to the transalpine train so we had to continue on the bus. Again, some long days.
This tour arranges everything...
, Feb 2018
This tour arranges everything including hotel pick up /drop off, coach, train tickets and accommodation. Everyday we just sit back and relax and there is always someone taking care of you. The 'one million dollars' view from queenstown to milford sound is so amazing that you won't be disappointed.
This is a good way to see the South...
, Jan 2017
This is a good way to see the South Island on a short stay. The bus drivers were quite good at explaining what we were seeing as well as giving us a general history of New Zealand. We even got a partly guided tour from one Inter City driver that was not part of the package.
A great way to spend 4 days. Being...
, Jun 2016
A great way to spend 4 days. Being on a coach gave us a different perspective of the landscape having traveled for 4 days on the train previously.
My husband and I enjoyed this very...
, Jul 2014
My husband and I enjoyed this very scenic 4 day tour! Hotel accomodations were very comfortable and clean, taxi/coach were on time like clock work. Would highly recommend!!
This trip had everything we...
John F
, Sep 2013
This trip had everything we expected. The transport was great and everything ran like clockwork. Definitely recommend the flight back from Milford Sound - scenery is stunning!
The logistics for this tour...buses...
Liberino M
, Nov 2012
The logistics for this tour...buses, hotels, etc. were complicated, but everything ran smoothly. The itinerary was great, would have been 5 stars if there were more photo stops.
Very very early starts to get to the...
Norman M
, Jan 2011
Very very early starts to get to the destinations listed on the tour, understandable given the large distances travelled. Of particular note would be the time spent reaching Franz Josef Glacier, arrival at 5p.m. still feel disappointed that it was not possible to reach the glacier due to the time constraints, perhaps a 5 day tour could be organised to give an extra day at Queenstown. The voucher for shuttle to connect to bus at Heartlands Hotel was incorrect and we were confronted by a very irate driver in fact he was just about to drive off and leave us - another criticism was shuttle bus from hotel at Franz Josef picked us up as per instructions to drive us to the bus stop where we waited for the bus to collect the people from the hotel that we had just left . Our accommodation was comfortable the voucher system with the exception of the above worked well and our collection from the Tranzalpine train station was efficiently done with a very information driver (Aaron) who gave us information on things to do at Christchurch, which we followed and had a pleasant day. All in all it was a lovely few days in a beautiful country. Even though it was a 4am departure from New Zealand it did not dampen our enthusiasm, and pleasure at what we had seen.
Too much bus travel, point to point...
Jon B
, Feb 2009
Too much bus travel, point to point travel could have been better organized to reduce time riding in buses. Need to provide ability to request accommodation upgrades. Need to be better informed, didn't know we had to make arrangements for lunch on the Milford Sound cruise. After arriving in Franz Josef were not aware that we needed to schedule a visit to the glacier, so missed this opportunity during our stay there. The TranzAlpine train was more than an hour late, travel was quite slow, and didn't see much more of the countryside than we would have seen from a bus. All of this aside, New Zealand's South Island is quite beautiful.
My main disappointment with the trip...
Carol B
, Jan 2009
My main disappointment with the trip was that although it was promoted as a four day tour, it was actually four separate day trips, which meant that we had a different driver and passengers each day. We didn't arrive at Franz Josef glacier until 4.30pm and left the next morning at 9.00am. This did not allow us to do a tour of the glacier. I was also disappointed with the time wasted collecting and dropping off people at the different motels. On previous bus trips we have been on, we have all stayed at the same place thereby avoiding these delays.
This was a great trip - all the sites...
Cynthia L W
, Oct 2008
This was a great trip - all the sites were very beautiful. I thought, though, that there was too much shuffling around of people, and too many different companies and connections that Viator scheduled me with - it made things confusing.
Great tour. I was shocked, however...
Andrew S
, Apr 2008
Great tour. I was shocked, however, that the Franz Josef glacier day did not actually take you to see the glacier, and we had to pay for an extra bus. Every other bus company seemed to stop at the glacier.
The tour went according to plan. It...
Susan N
, Nov 2007
The tour went according to plan. It would have been helpful to have had a more detailed itinerary before the tour began. Apart from that excellent.
Lots of travelling to see Milford sound...
Clare B
, Sep 2007
Lots of travelling to see Milford sound and probably better if they have more rain than we had, but still very lovely and peaceful. Can do helicopter flight over glacier and land which was amazing. Probably best to do that with the trip back from Milford Sound as it's 5 hours each way.
El paisaje y las experiencias...
, Feb 2017
El paisaje y las experiencias, espectaculares, los hoteles realmente cómodos y de buena categoría, el crucero inolvidable, el servicio de transporte falló al no tener wifi en dos oportunidades, en general los conductores-guias muy explicativos exceptuando el personaje que nos llevó a franz joseph quien repitió el mismo comentario en tres ocasiones y fué todo lo que dijo me pareció extraño que éste personaje ingresó al bus a mitad del recorrido, cambiando con nuestro conductor original. El destino quiso que se cancelara el paseo en tren por incendio, nos perdimos de esa experiencia, estoy pendiente de realizar el proceso de reembolso.

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