South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days©
South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days 🍷


7-Day Luxury Itinerary for the South Island

If you don’t have the luxury of time to spend on the South Island, you might as well treat yourself to some luxury with the time you have. We’ll help you achieve just that with this South Island luxury itinerary for one week.

Experience glaciers, fiords, verdant rainforests, vibrant towns and the world’s most scenic train journey all in one week. What’s more, this South Island luxury itinerary for 7 days also includes luxury accommodation and activity recommendations for each exciting destination. Planning a luxury vacation in the South Island has never been so effortless.

How to Get Around the South Island in One Week

The below luxury itinerary is best done self-driven. It also incorporates a few other transport methods such as a train and connecting flights. Transport to consider using for this one-week luxury itinerary for New Zealand includes:

And if you’re new to the whole road tripping thing, be sure to make it as smooth as possible following the 10 Ways to Relax on a Road Trip.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days© ChristchurchNZ

Day 1 – Christchurch Airport to Christchurch

Travel time: 20 minutes

Welcome to Te Waipounamu, otherwise known as the South Island of New Zealand! We won’t have you doing anything too exhausting today, as you may be tired from your flight. Just take a taxi or shuttle into Christchurch city centre and check-in at your premium accommodation. From there, explore Christchurch’s beautiful gardens or get a comprehensive tour of the city via a vintage VW Combi (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). If you only have the evening to spare, it can be spent indulging in a four-course meal on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday).

Luxury Accommodation in Christchurch

For more details on our top recommendations, take a look at the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Christchurch.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days© ChristchurchNZ

Day 2 – Christchurch to Greymouth

Travel time: 4 hours train

This morning, take a transfer to the Christchurch Railway Station and jump aboard the TranzAlpine for one of the world’s most scenic railway journeys. Treat yourself to a seat in “Scenic Plus Class” featuring panoramic windows to soak in the views of the lush Canterbury Plains and the mountains of the Arthur’s Pass National Park. Check out tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.

Once you arrive in Greymouth, collect your rental vehicle and head to your chosen accommodation. This afternoon, you will have time to take a swing at one of the local golf courses, do some boutique shopping, or drive/take a guided tour to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).

Luxury Activities in Greymouth

  • See the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika Gorge or other highlights on a guided tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Take on the West Coast Wilderness Trail
  • Tee off at one of the local golf courses
  • Fly and land in the majestic Southern Alps on a helicopter tour
  • Do some boutique shopping and gallery browsing in town.

For more details on each experience, see the 8 Luxury Activities in Greymouth.

Luxury Accommodation in Greymouth

Find out more about each accommodation in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Greymouth.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days©

Day 3 – Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier

Travel time: 2h10mins

If the weather is good but it’s forecast to be wet for the next couple of days, drive straight to Franz Josef if you plan to do a helicopter flight. That way, you won’t miss out if your tour gets cancelled for bad weather (which happens frequently).

Otherwise, take your time on the way down to Franz Josef, perhaps to admire the vibrant blue pools of Hokitika Gorge, browse the greenstone stores in Hokitika, or experience the New Zealand rainforest from a different perspective on the West Coast Treetop Walk (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).

We’ll talk more about what to do in Franz Josef tomorrow. For now, dine and unwind at one of the fabulous luxury hotels in Franz Josef.

Luxury Accommodation in Franz Josef

For more details on our top recommendations, take a look at the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Franz Josef.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days©

Day 4 – Explore Franz Josef

Setting foot on a magnificent river of ice is on the bucket list for many visiting Franz Josef. One of the most accessible and private options is a scenic helicopter flight complete with a snow landing, such as with HeliServices.NZ (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook). Alternatively, join a group tour to explore the ice caves on a heli-hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line (on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday).

If you catch yourself in Franz Josef in bad weather, you can always soak the disappointment away at the Glacier Hot Pools (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor) or be pampered at the Amaia Luxury Spa of the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier.

Luxury Activities in Franz Josef

See our 8 Luxury Activities in Franz Josef for more details on each experience and more.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days©

Day 5 – Franz Josef to Queenstown

Travel time: 4h45mins

If you didn’t get the chance to fly over the glacier yesterday, try again this morning. Otherwise, blast down the Waiatoto River from Haast to the unspoiled Mt Aspiring National Park on a jet boat tour. Thanks to the all-weather jet boat design, it makes for a fantastic all-weather experience. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Down the Haast Pass, you have an array of short walks to stunning waterfalls and blue pools to enjoy independently, as listed on the Department of Conservation website.

Stop for dinner with glorious lake views in Wanaka, where we provide plenty of dining recommendations in The Luxury Guide to Wanaka and The Foodie Guide to Wanaka.

Then, enjoy a scenic drive over the Crown Range and the Cardrona Valley to the “Adrenaline Capital of New Zealand”, Queenstown. You have plenty of time to experience its tours in the upcoming days.

Luxury Accommodation in Queenstown

Find out more about each premium accommodation in our 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Queenstown.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days© Destination Queenstown

Day 6 – Explore Queenstown

Adrenaline, food, wine, golf, scenery, spas: whatever your vibe is, Queenstown is likely to have it. In summer, tee off at some of New Zealand’s most prestigious golf courses, while winter is when the mountains beckon for uncrowded heli-skiing (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Explore one of the most dangerous roads on an exclusive private tour with Off Road 4X4 Queenstown (on Viator and Tripadvisor). And, the list goes on between the 10 Luxury Activities in Queenstown and the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown.

Luxury Activities in Queenstown

For more information on each experience, check out the 10 Luxury Activities in Queenstown.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days© Unsplash

Day 7 – Explore More of Queenstown or Fly to Milford Sound

Book your flight out of Queenstown for the evening so that you have time to do the Queenstown experiences you might have missed yesterday. Alternatively, today is a good day to discover the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for yourself through a scenic flight. That way, you can connect with your flight at Queenstown Airport after the experience.

What usually takes around four hours to drive to by car or bus takes just 35 minutes by plane to get to Milford Sound. What’s more, you’ll experience unbeatable views of glacier-carved valleys, mountains, alpine lakes and vast forest. Once you arrive in Milford Sound, you can enjoy one of the two-hour cruises through the fiord before your return flight to Queenstown Airport. Compare flights using our 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown.

Once it’s time to leave the South Island, remember to give yourself enough time to return your rental vehicle (you might want to do this before your flight to Milford Sound). There are connecting flights from Queenstown Airport to Auckland and Christchurch Airports, as well as flights to Australia.

Then it’s goodbye from New Zealand! Next time, why not try the North Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days?


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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