The Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island©
The Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island

The 6 Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island ⛰️ [2024]


How to Tour the South Island in 7 Days

Seven days is definitely enough time to see some of the highlights of the South Island. However, you will want to make the most of your time by letting a local driver and guide sort out the logistics. Tours of the South Island are a great way to do that, with most organising accommodation, the itinerary and even some activities and meals. All you have to do is embrace New Zealand and its breathtaking landscapes. Check out some of our favourite tours in this list of 7-day tours of the South Island.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Best 7-Day Tours of the North Island. Plus, don’t forget to bookmark Travel by Bus in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide for even more tips.

6 Tips for Planning a 7-Day Trip to the South Island

  1. Give yourself an extra day or two to allow for your travel time to and from your tour’s starting point, as well as time to explore your arrival town/city and get over the jet lag
  2. See if your chosen tour company has a Facebook Group! You’ll be able to connect travellers who will be on your tour before departure
  3. Compare companies on comparison websites like TourRadar to make sure you find the best fit for your travel time, destination bucket list and more. Another advantage is that comparison websites have standard cancellation policies, unlike booking directly with some tour companies
  4. Don’t pack too much! You don’t be that guy that everyone has to make room for. Check out our tips in our New Zealand Packing List
  5. Plan some of the optional activities you will want to do prior to arriving in New Zealand, which will help make budgeting for your tour easier
  6. Make sure you have room in your budget for food! Not all tours include all meals. See How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost? for typical meal prices in New Zealand.

Check out the 15 Tips to Make the Most of Your Bus Trip for more advice.

The 7 Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island© Wild Kiwi

Wild Kiwi – Southern Voyager

Join the adventure, with a hint of luxury, on the Southern Voyager tour with Wild Kiwi. This “flashpacker” tour takes young travellers around the South Island in a luxury Mercedes vans, seeing the dramatic landscapes of Milford Sound, Queenstown and Franz Josef Glacier. Choose from a wide range of optional activities as you go and enjoy the convenience of breakfasts and accommodation in shared dorms all included (or upgrade to a private room). Tours start and end in Christchurch.

See how Wild Kiwi compares to other small-group adventures in The Best Small-Group Tours in New Zealand.

About Wild Kiwi’s Tours

Age Range: 18-30-something-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 18
Accommodation: Hostels and lodges
Meals: All breakfasts and one dinner

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour

Find out more about this tour on

The 5 Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island ⛰️ [2023]© Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel – Queenstown Southern Loop

Explore the southern end of the South Island on this off-the-beaten-track adventure with Intrepid Travel. Their Queenstown Southern Loop begins and ends in Queenstown, taking you to the must-see Milford Sound, as well as to the less-visited destinations of The Catlins and Stewart Island. There are a few physical activities involved but the tour is open to most age groups, whether you’re a young solo traveller, a couple in their 30s/40s or retired.

For alternative tours from Queenstown, check out The Best New Zealand Tours Starting in Queenstown.

About Intrepid Travel’s Tours

Age Range: 15-99-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 12
Accommodation: Hotels and cabins
Meals: Five breakfasts

Destinations on the 6-Day Tour

Find out more about this tour by comparing Intrepid Travel on Tourradar.

Haka Tours© Haka Tours

Haka Tours – South Island Lick

Enjoy a week exploring the South Island from Christchurch to Christchurch with Haka Tours! Their South Island Lick tour takes young adventurers through breathtaking landscapes on the way down to Queenstown. In Queenstown, you have a huge choice of adrenaline activities. You’ll also get to stay in the picturesque town of Wanaka before departing to the glacier country of Franz Josef. Heli-hike, carve your own greenstone pendant or visit the West Coast Wildlife Centre before heading back to Christchurch on a scenic train journey on the TranzAlpine train.

About Haka Tours’ Tours

Age Range: 18-39-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 16
Accommodation: Hostels and lodges
Meals: All breakfasts

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour

Find out more about this tour by comparing Haka Tours on Tourradar.

Top Deck© Top Deck

Topdeck – Delve Deep: New Zealand South Island

Journey from Christchurch to New Zealand’s lesser-known glacier, the Fox Glacier, with Topdeck on the Southern Explorer tour. After seeing the reflective Lake Matheson and the Fox Glacier, you and your new travel mates will head to the adventure capital, Queenstown! One day is dedicated to a trip to the breathtaking Milford Sound, then you’ll travel back toward Christchurch via Lake Ohau and stop by a real working farm. Tours with Topdeck include accommodation in motels, lodges and hostels, as well as breakfast and a few other meals.

Check out more tours for 18 to 30-somethings in The Best Backpacker Bus Tours in New Zealand.

About Topdeck’s Tours

Age Range: 18-39-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 36
Accommodation: Hotels and lodges
Meals: Seven breakfasts, one lunch and three dinners

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour

Discover more of Topdeck’s tours over on Tourradar.

The 5 Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island ⛰️ [2023]© Kiwi Experience

Kiwi Experience –

Southern Crossing

If you’ve only got just over a week to explore the South Island and you’re on a budget, you might as well join the small-group adventure with Kiwi Experience. Their Southern Crossing is a top choice, starting in Christchurch and hitting the highlights of Franz Josef via Arthur’s Pass, the adventure capital Queenstown and a day trip to Milford Sound.

For more tours from Christchurch, check out The Best New Zealand Tours Starting in Christchurch.

About Kiwi Experience’s Tours

Age Range: 18-49-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 16
Accommodation: Hostels
Meals: All Breakfasts

Destinations on the 8-Day Tour

Find out more about this tour by comparing Kiwi Experience on Tourradar.

Thrifty Tours© Thrifty Tours

Thrifty Tours – Glacierland

For an alternative loop of the South Island, as well as a way to save money by taking prearranged coaches and airport transfers rather than a fully guided bus tour, check out Thrifty Tours. They offer a 7-day itinerary called the “Glacierland” tour taking you to see the South Island’s glaciers, the glacier-carved Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. The tour for all ages also features a side trip to the city of Dunedin, famous for its gothic architecture and wildlife on the Otago Peninsula. Accommodation is included in the tour in twin-share rooms in motels.

About Thrifty Tours’ Tours

Age Range: 1-1000-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 50
Accommodation: Motels
Meals: One lunch

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour

Find out more about this tour by comparing Thrifty Tours on Tourradar.

More About 7-Day Tours of the South Island

That’s it for our list of the best 7-day tours of the South Island! For more tours of the South Island, check out the following guides:

Finally, compare all of your bus travel options in our complete guide, How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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