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The Best 7-Day Tours of the South Island


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.

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

  • Give yourself either nine or 10 days for your entire trip to New Zealand 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Don’t pack too much! You don’t be that guy that everyone has to make room for. Check out our tips in 15 Essentials to Pack for New Zealand
  • 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
  • Make sure you have room in your budget for food! Not all tours include all meals. See How Expensive is New Zealand? for typical meal prices in New Zealand.

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

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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 included. Tours start and end in Christchurch.

About Wild Kiwi’s Tours

Age Range: 18-35-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 18
Accommodation: Hostels and lodges
Meals: All breakfasts and one dinner

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour
  • Christchurch
  • Franz Josef
  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound
  • Mt Cook

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

Haka Tours

Haka Tours – Southern Lick

Enjoy a week exploring the South Island from Christchurch to Christchurch with Haka Tours! Their Southern 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
  • Christchurch
  • Lake Tekapo
  • Queenstown
  • Wanaka
  • Franz Josef

Find out more about this tour on the Haka Tours website.

Top Deck

Topdeck – Southern Explorer

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.

About Topdeck’s Tours

Age Range: 18-39-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 36
Accommodation: Hostels, motels and lodges
Meals: Six breakfasts, one lunch and two dinners

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour
  • Christchurch
  • Fox Glacier
  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound
  • Lake Ohau

Find out more about this tour by comparing Topdeck on Tourradar.

Thrifty Tours

Thrifty Tours

For an alternative loop of the South Island, check out Thrifty Tours. They offer a 7-day tour 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
  • Christchurch
  • Fox Glacier
  • Queenstown
  • Milford Sound
  • Te Anau
  • Dunedin

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

Stray Travel

Stray Travel – Stew Pass

A tour on this hop-on hop-off bus allows for more independent travel while getting to enjoy the social aspect of an escorted tour. The Stew Pass with Stray Travel starts in Queenstown and ends in Christchurch taking you to highlights in the south of the South Island, including Queenstown, Invercargill/Stewart Island, Mt Cook and Geraldine in the Canterbury Plains. While some short free walks are included on the tour, all accommodation and activities are on a pay-as-you-go basis where there is the option for the driver to book the logistics for you. Passengers usually stay in Stray’s chosen hostels and lodges in a shared dorm.

About Stray Travel’s Tours

Age Range: 17-700-year-olds
Maximum Group Size: 45
Accommodation: Hostels (not included)
Meals: Not included

Destinations on the 7-Day Tour
  • Queenstown
  • Fiordland National Park
  • Invercargill
  • Stewart Island
  • Mt Cook
  • Geraldine
  • Christchurch

Find out more about this tour by checking out the Stray Travel website.

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