South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com
South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days

South Island Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days šŸ· [2023]

© NZPocketGuide.com

14-Day Luxury Itinerary for the South Island

Snow-capped mountains, glacier-carved fiords, lush plains, verdant rainforest, expensive lakes and rugged coastline: see all of this and much more with this South Island luxury itinerary for two weeks.

14 days is just the right amount of time to hit the highlights of the South Island of New Zealand while taking the time to stay in some destinations longer to truly experience their premium activities and accommodations. Speaking of which, we list all our top luxury recommendations for each destination in this South Island luxury itinerary for 14 days. So, start making your South Island dreams a reality with this effortless itinerary. Better yet, we show you how to plan this itinerary the EASY way with First Light Travel – more on that at the bottom of the itinerary.

South Island Luxury Itinerary for 2 Weeks (14 Days): Overview

  • Day 1 ā€“ Christchurch Airport to Akaroa
  • Day 2 ā€“ Explore Akaroa
  • Day 3 ā€“ Akaroa to Hanmer Springs
  • Day 4 ā€“ Explore Hanmer Springs
  • Day 5 ā€“ Hanmer Springs to Greymouth
  • Day 6 ā€“ Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier
  • Day 7 ā€“ Explore Franz Josef
  • Day 8 ā€“ Franz Josef to Wanaka
  • Day 9 ā€“ Wanaka to Queenstown
  • Day 10 ā€“ Explore Queenstown
  • Day 11 ā€“ Explore More of Queenstown or Fly to Milford Sound
  • Day 12 ā€“ Queenstown to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
  • Day 13 ā€“ Explore Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
  • Day 14 ā€“ Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Christchurch Airport

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days šŸ·© JUCY Group

How to Get Around the South Island in 2 Weeks

This South Island luxury itinerary is designed with self-driving in mind, beginning and ending in Christchurch for a hassle-free rental experience. Check out the second tip, however, if you want to experience the South Island in two weeks without having to drive.

Rental Car or Campervan

This itinerary is best done by driving yourself. There are plenty of car and motorhome rental options in Christchurch, where this itinerary begins and ends. Start your research using The Best Car Rental Companies in Christchurch or The Best Campervan Rental Companies in Christchurch.

You may also be interested in the luxury options list in The Best Premium Campervan Rentals in New Zealand.

Escorted Tours

If driving and/or organising your own trip is something you’d rather leave to the professionals, then consider taking an escorted tour of the South Island. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, APT, Active Adventures, Luxury Gold, and Inspiring Journeys offer around 14-day tours of the South Island with accommodation, some meals and some activities included. Note that they follow their own set itinerary; not the one listed below. Learn more about some of these tours in The Best 10-12-Day Tours of the South Island.

And if you are new to road-tripping, be sure to follow our advice in the 10 Ways to Relax on a Road Trip.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 1 – Christchurch Airport to Akaroa

Travel time: 1 hr 25 mins

Welcome to Te Waipounamu, otherwise known as the South Island of New Zealand! After arriving in Christchurch and picking up your rental vehicle, we recommend taking the scenic yet manageable drive to Akaroa. With amazing marine wildlife and a “French” flair, it’s not a bad place to get over the jet lag before doing a long road trip around the South Island.

We’ll go over the experiences to be had in Akaroa tomorrow. For now, you might like to relax at one of the premium accommodations in the harbour town and get a bite to eat following the recommendations given in The Luxury Guide to Akaroa.

Luxury Accommodation in Akaroa

For more details on each accommodation, take a look at the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Akaroa.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 2 – Explore Akaroa

Getting out on the water to watch Hector’s dolphins, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and more is one of the top things to do in Akaroa. Check out Black Cat Cruises or Akaroa Dolphins for cruises on luxury catamarans. For those who prefer to stick to dry land, e-bike tours and wine tours are worthy ways to explore Akaroa.

Luxury Experiences in Akaroa

  • Take a scenic wildlife cruise of the Akaroa Harbour with Akaroa Dolphins
  • Ride the deserted roads of the Banks Peninsula on an e-bike tour with Akaroa Guided Kayaks
  • Sample regional wines on The Bonjour Wine Tour
  • Indulge in the local restaurants and bistros
  • Dig deeper into the past, present and future of Akaroa on a guided tour with The Seventh Generation.

For more details on each experience and its location, see the 10 Luxury Experiences in Akaroa.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 3 – Akaroa to Hanmer Springs

Travel time: 3 hours

Leave the blue waters of the Akaroa Harbour behind as you travel back toward Christchurch on your way to Hanmer Springs.

Take the time to stop by the city centre of Christchurch to admire its selection of gardens. Further north, you’ll enter the boutique wine region of Waipara with tastings worth seeking out. Your final destination is the alpine resort village of Hanmer Springs, most famous for its large hot pools complex. It does, however, have a fabulous range of premium experiences to enjoy too, which we’ll get into tomorrow. For now, indulge in the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa (more info on Viator and Klook) and check-in at your luxury accommodation.

Luxury Accommodation in Hanmer Springs

For more about our top recommendations, take a look at the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Hanmer Springs.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 4 – Explore Hanmer Springs

You have the entire day to hit the slopes of the Hanmer Spring Ski Area, do a scenic helicopter flight, or simply relax in the hot pools all day. On the other hand, do a bit of everything with Hanmer Springs Attractions, which offer a range of combos incorporating jet boating, quad biking and white water rafting. Check out all of Hanmer Springs Attractionsā€™ combos on Viator or Klook.

Luxury Experiences in Hanmer Springs

For elaboration on the top tours and experiences, see the 10 Luxury Experiences in Hanmer Springs.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 5 – Hanmer Springs to Greymouth

Travel time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Today, continue on your road trip to the West Coast of the South Island via the mountain and forest scenery of Lewis Pass. Stop for refreshments in the quaint town of Reefton before making your journey following the Grey River to Greymouth.

Once you arrive in Greymouth, take a swing at one of the local golf courses, do some boutique shopping, or take a guided tour of the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.

Luxury Experiences in Greymouth

  • See the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Hokitika Gorge or other highlights with Explore West Coast
  • Cycle the West Coast Wilderness Trail
  • Play a round at one of the local golf courses
  • Fly and land in the majestic Southern Alps with Anderson Helicopters
  • Do some boutique shopping and gallery browsing in town.

For more details on each experience, see the 10 Luxury Experiences in Greymouth.

Luxury Accommodation in Greymouth

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

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© westcoast.co.nz

Day 6 – Greymouth to Franz Josef Glacier

Travel time: 2 hrs 10 mins

If the weather is clear but forecast to be wet for the next couple of days, drive straight to Franz Josef so you don’t miss out on their helicopter or glacier hiking experiences. Otherwise, take your time on the way down to Franz Josef, perhaps to admire the vibrant blue pools of Hokitika Gorge or to experience the New Zealand rainforest from a different perspective on the West Coast Treetop Walk & Zipline.

We’ll talk more about what to do in Franz Josef tomorrow. For now, you have some fabulous stays to choose from.

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: Two Weeks / 14 Days© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 7 – Explore Franz Josef

Most travellers visit Franz Josef to set foot on the famous glacier itself. 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 and Klook). Alternatively, join a group tour to do a heli-hike on the glacier with Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line (on Viator and KKday).

If you catch yourself in Franz Josef in bad weather, however, you can always soak the disappointment away at the Waiho Hot Tubs or be pampered at the Amaia Luxury Spa of the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier.

Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef

For more details on each experience and more, see our 10 Luxury Experiences in Franz Josef.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Martyn-Williams - Tourism New Zealand

Day 8 – Franz Josef to Wanaka

Travel time: 3 hrs 40 mins

If you didn’t get the chance to fly over the glacier yesterday, today might be your chance. Otherwise, set off for Haast where you can cruise down the Waiatoto River into the remote Mt Aspiring National Park. It’s a fantastic rainy day activity thanks to the all-weather jet boat design of Waiatoto River Safaris.

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.

As today was a long drive with plenty of action along the way, we’ll give you some things to do in Wanaka tomorrow. For now, collapse onto your bed at your luxury apartment, lodge or resort.

Luxury Accommodation in Wanaka

For more information about each accommodation, see the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Wanaka.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 9 – Wanaka to Queenstown

Travel time: 1 hr 5 mins

Before you make for Queenstown today, see if there’s anything you want to do in Wanaka other than gaze upon its majestic lake and mountain scenery.

Luxury Experiences in Wanaka

  • See Milford Sound in style via a scenic flight with Southern Alps Air
  • Gallop through the stunning Cardrona Valley on horseback with The Cardrona Hotel
  • Enjoy Wanakaā€™s most exclusive picnic spot accessed via 4WD with Wanaka 4×4 Explorer
  • Have a 3-in-1 wilderness experience with a scenic flight, self-guided hike and jet boat ride with Siberia Experience
  • Experience the scenery in a unique way with Wanaka Paragliding.

Find out more about each experience and much more in the 10 Luxury Experiences in 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. For now, you might like to indulge in its restaurants with million-dollar views. Check out dining recommendations in The Luxury Guide to Queenstown and The Food Guide to Queenstown.

Luxury Accommodation in Queenstown

Find out more about each premium accommodation in our 20 Best Luxury Accommodations in Queenstown.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Over The Top Helicopters - Tourism New Zealand

Day 10 – 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 such as with Alpine Heliski. Explore the stunning surrounding of Queenstown on an exclusive private tour with Off Road 4X4 Queenstown.

Take a look at the 10 Luxury Experiences in Queenstown and the 45 Things to Do in Queenstown for more ideas.

Luxury Experiences in Queenstown

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

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 11 – Explore More of Queenstown or Fly to Milford Sound

You have plenty of time to do the Queenstown experience you might have missed yesterday. On the other hand, today could be the perfect day to see the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for yourself. Today, you could experience the glacier-carved fiords of Milford Sound.

By far the most luxurious way to experience Milford Sound is by plane or helicopter. What usually takes around four hours to drive to by car or bus takes just 35 minutes by plane, while incorporating views of magnificent 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.

Compare flights and experiences with our 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 12 – Queenstown to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Travel time: 3 hrs 10 mins

You have a long yet stunning journey ahead of you today, starting with the dramatic river scenery of Kawarau Gorge on your way to Cromwell. Do a wine tasting in Cromwell before heading north through what is deemed the most beautiful road in New Zealand, Lindis Pass. You’ll come out the other side in Omarama where a highlight includes soaking in the tubs of Hot Tubs Omarama.

The final stint to Aoraki Mt Cook is through the high country village of Twizel where you can stop by for a skydive with Skydive Mt. Cook.

Follow the vibrant blue waters of Lake Pukaki to Aoraki Mt Cook Village or to one of the luxury lodges around the lake. Devour Kiwi cuisine to the views of New Zealand’s highest mountains before calling it a night at your accommodation.

Luxury Accommodation in Mt Cook

For more details on each stay, take a look at the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Mt Cook.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 13 – Explore Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

This is your last day among the South Island’s most magnificent scenery so make the most of it. For instance, take to the skies and land on a glacier in a ski plane with Mt Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters – one of the only places in the world where you can have this experience. Find out more on Viator or Klook. If you missed out on a glacier heli-hike in Franz Josef, then you get another chance here in Mt Cook on New Zealand’s longest glacier with Mt Cook Glacier Guiding.

Luxury Experiences in Mt Cook

For more details on each experience and more, see the 10 Luxury Experiences in Mt Cook.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days© Unsplash

Day 14 – Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to Christchurch Airport

Travel time: 4 hours

Your final day in New Zealand ends with one last Kiwi road trip, this time between Aoraki Mt Cook and Christchurch. Your first stop will be the lakeshores of Lake Tekapo with its brilliant blue waters leading up to the Southern Alps. Pick up souvenirs at the boutiques in Fairlie and, if you have time, check out the many vintage museums of Geraldine. The final leg of your journey is through the Canterbury Plains.

Remember to give yourself enough time to return your rental vehicle. There are connecting flights from Christchurch Airport to Auckland Airport, as well as international flights out of Christchurch.

Then it’s goodbye to the South Island of New Zealand! Next time, try out the North Island Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks.

South Island Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks / 14 Days šŸ· [2023]© First Light Travel

Plan This Luxury Itinerary with First Light Travel

If you like this South Island luxury itinerary for one month but don’t like the hassle of planning everything yourself, then there’s a way to lighten the load. First Light Travel is an online travel agent specialising in luxury itineraries in New Zealand. Plus, using their service is super simple:

  • First, send First Light Travel an enquiry by completing their online form
  • Then, you’ll receive your customised luxury itinerary
  • Review your itinerary and work with your First Light Travel agent on perfecting it
  • Finally, First Light Travel will organise the rest including the bookings.

First Light Travel has access to more than 20,000 travel products, including almost all the tours and accommodations featured on this list (and more). With that and their local expertise here in New Zealand, they will create a well-catered luxury itinerary to meet your needs while also suggesting some dream travel experiences that you may have never heard of. They only work with companies where their past clients have had positive experiences, so you know you’re in good hands.

What’s more, all of the bookings are arranged by First Light Travel, so instead of having to contact each individual accommodation and operator should your travel plans change, any amendments can be done through your FLT agent – easy! Did we mention the service is at no extra cost to you?!

For more information on planning your own New Zealand itinerary, see How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary. Or better yet, jump on firstlighttravel.com and start making your own itinerary there.

More About a South Island Luxury Itinerary for 2 Weeks / 14 Days

That’s the end of our South Island luxury itinerary for 14 days. If this itinerary didn’t take you fancy, see our alternative 14-day itineraries:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.

 

Author

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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