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10 Day South Island Adventure Itinerary

Escape Highlights

Adventure & Luxury combine to create 10 days of South Island memories.
Experience sea kayaking, dolphin encounters, heli biking & cruising...
*Includes a complimentary New Zealand gift basket on arrival worth $150

The South Island is famous worldwide for its adventure offerings, and our New Zealand South Island itinerary for 10 days brings you the best outdoor adventures in the country.

Swim with dolphins, hike in alpine splendor, and kayak a stunning stretch of coastline. Everywhere you travel, your adventures take place against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery.

For adventurous travelers, our recommended New Zealand South Island itinerary for 10 days is as follows:

Read on for the full details of our recommended New Zealand adventure itinerary.

Luxury Adventure: New Zealand South Island Itinerary 10 Days

Day 1 Arrive in Nelson

Your exclusive New Zealand experience begins in Nelson, situated at the picturesque northern end of the South Island.

Driving time Nelson to Abel Tasman 1 hour

Your stay in Nelson, Abel Tasman will be at The Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge. Set in 50 acres of native bush and on the edge of two national parks, the Lodge’s setting is pure New Zealand with 5km of hiking tracks to explore. Accommodation is in unique ‘Bush Suites’ all of 5-star standard with immersive views. Pool, spa, gym, massages and bikes available. Lodge dining is a highlight. An international dinner party, with aperitifs & delicious farm-to-table dining with fresh local produce from the garden and local area. The perfect location to explore Abel Tasman with easy day trips to Golden Bay, Kahurangi National Park and the art, wine and cycling trails around the Nelson Region. This child-free resort is ideal for honeymoons, nature lovers, active couples and foodies.

Stay 3 night in Nelson, Abel Tasman.

Accommodation: The Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge

The Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge Motueka luxury lodges NZ

Day 2 Abel Tasman Cruise & Sea Kayak

This morning, venture to Abel Tasman National Park, which offers secluded golden-sand beaches, lush native forests, and crystal-clear bays. This is the perfect way to unwind as you become acquainted with New Zealand.

Explore the highlights of the remote Abel Tasman coastline today on a cruise and kayak tour that showcases the beautiful golden-sand beaches, rich marine life, tranquil lagoons and carved granite coastline of the Abel Tasman National Park. Your experience includes guided sea kayaking along the granite coastline, opportunities to hike sections of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, and swim off the sandy beaches. A delightful picnic lunch and refreshments are supplied as part of your full-day excursion.

Abel Tasman National Park sea kayaking Experience New Zealand South Island itinerary 10 days

Day 3 Old Ghost Road Heli Bike

Today, enjoy an unforgettable heli biking adventure along the Old Ghost Road with Helibike Nelson. This newly opened epic trail traverses spectacular alpine terrain. Begin with a helicopter flight over the remote and awe-inspiring peaks of Kahurangi National Park before landing at Ghost Lake Hut at the top of the Old Ghost Road. On the way, you will pass over the unique marbled landscape of Mt Owen, with deeply crevassed bluffs and lush native forest. After soaking in the views, your bike adventure begins past spectacular lookouts and along tranquil forest paths. This intermediate trip can be customised to suit novice riders.

Old Ghost Road heli bike Nelson West Coast New Zealand South Island itinerary 10 days

Day 4 Marlborough Sounds

Driving time Abel Tasman to Picton 3 hours

Your journey continues through the Marlborough region to reach Bay of Many Coves Resort, located near Picton in the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds. Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine growing region, so you may wish to sample award-winning wines.

There are few locations in the world where you can so easily discover the true romance of nature. Set in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds, Bay of Many Coves Resort is a luxury five star resort hotel nestled amid a rolling landscape of untouched native bush that kisses the shoreline of the tranquil bay below. Even arriving becomes part of the destination. Enjoy the all-too-brief journey from the ‘mainland’, by water or air, through some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Whether you are seeking world-class cuisine, breathtaking scenery, the spirit of adventure or simply a sense of renewal, you will find it there. Internationally-renowned walking tracks and adventure cruises await you on our doorstep. And, with our world-class chefs close at hand, Bay of Many Coves offers a unique experience that is unforgettably yours.

Stay 2 nights in the Marlborough Sounds.

Accommodation: Bay of Many Coves Resort

The Sounds Retreat Luxury Lodge Marlborough Sounds

Day 5 Marlborough Sounds Dolphin Swim

Option to join a charter today for a chance to swim with dolphins. Your cruise takes you through the calm waters of the majestic Marlborough Sounds, which is home to five species of dolphins. Swimming with dolphins is a truly unforgettable experience, and the Marlborough Sounds are ideal, with shimmering, flat waters and an abundance of wildlife.

Dolphin Cruise Marlborough Sounds New Zealand South Island itinerary 10 days

Day 6 Queenstown

Driving time Picton to Blenheim 30 minutes
Flight time Blenheim to Queenstown 3.5 hours (2 flights)
Driving time Queenstown to Glenorchy 1 hour

Today your journey takes you to Queenstown, the ultimate luxury destination on New Zealand’s South Island. From world-class luxury lodges to indulgent spa experiences, superb cuisine and exclusive tours, Queenstown is a delight to experience.

Queenstown is also known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, and with this title comes a plethora of adrenaline activities from whitewater rafting and canyoning through to skydiving and bungy jumping.

Your accommodation near Queenstown is at Blanket Bay Lodge, in the picturesque and remote Glenorchy region. Voted one of the world’s best luxury lodges, Blanket Bay is nestled amidst the rugged snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. All rooms at Blanket Bay are positioned to take full advantage of the magnificent lake and mountain vistas. Natural materials are showcased throughout, echoing the lodge’s integration and interaction with the environment. Your stay includes breakfast, pre-dinner cocktails and dinner.

Stay 2 nights in Queenstown.

Accommodation: Blanket Bay Lodge

Blanket Bay Lodge luxury lodges Queenstown

Day 7 Queenstown

Choose from one of the range of unforgettable adventures on offer today. Jet-boat through the wilderness of Mt Aspiring National Park, skydive in one of the most scenic locations on earth, heli hike on a magnificent glacier, or fish in crystal clear waters.

Dart River Jet Safari Queenstown New Zealand South Island itinerary 10 days

Day 8 Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

Driving time Glenorchy to Milford Sound 5.5 hours or heli transfer 45 minutes

Embark on a scenic journey along the Milford Road, one of the finest alpine drives in the world. The scenery is exceptional, ranging from broad, grassy flats, dense rainforest, and towering mountains through to glacial lakes and alpine herb fields. No other road in Fiordland offers such a diverse glimpse into New Zealand’s alpine zone.

Once in Milford Sound, meet the Fiordland Jewel, a luxury vessel that will give you an exclusive taste of Milford Sound as you spend a night in the ‘eighth wonder of the world.’  You will be guided by the expert crew, who will share with you the incredible natural wilderness and wildlife, which can include seals, dolphins, and penguins.

Your stay includes an exquisite three-course evening meal as well as a full cooked breakfast. During your immersive Fiordland experience, you will have the chance to explore by kayak or tender boat, and the top-deck hot tub awaits you for a relaxing evening soak.

Stay 1 night in Milford Sound.

Accommodation: The Fiordland Jewel

Fiordland Discovery Milford cruise and heli

Day 9 Wanaka + Minaret Station

Driving time Milford Sound to Queenstown 4 hours or heli transfer 45 minutes

Today after making your way back to Queenstown, you will be transferred by helicopter to Minaret Station, a secluded lodge accessible only by helicopter.

Your stay at Minaret Station will give you exclusive access to Mt Aspiring National Park and the multitude of adventures on offer in this alpine wonderland. Framed by the rugged beauty of the secluded mountain landscape, Minaret Lodge offers a level of comfort and style never before available in New Zealand’s wilderness.

Included in your stay are a full a la carte breakfast, lunch (picnic or seated), pre-dinner canapés and a gourmet three-course evening meal. Beverages are also part of the experience.

Stay 2 nights in Wanaka.

Accommodation: Minaret Station

Minaret Station Wanaka

Day 10 Minaret Station Heli Hike

Explore the stunning wilderness around Minaret Lodge today on a guided heli-hike. Helicopter transport ensures exclusive access to otherwise inaccessible locations. Choose to get up close to rushing waterfalls and craggy mountain ridges or simply meander through gently undulating valley floors, a landscape of remote tranquility. Pause to savour a delectable picnic lunch and soak in the breathtaking views.

Minaret Station Heli Hike Wanaka New Zealand South Island itinerary 10 days

Day 11 Depart Queenstown

As your unforgettable New Zealand vacation draws to a close, return to Queenstown Airport by scenic helicopter transfer. Soak in the views one last time before departing Queenstown at your leisure.

Planning your Adventure Holiday with our New Zealand South Island Itinerary for 10 Days

Our New Zealand adventure itinerary is fully customisable, as we know every traveler has different interests and must-do activities.

With so many rewarding adventure activities available in New Zealand, we have left space in this itinerary for you to pick and choose your favorites. For example, you have a free day in Queenstown to choose from the wide range of activities on offer. Sample jet-boat rides, “funyak” (inflatable kayak) adventures, skydiving, bungy jumping, 4WD tours, and much more.

We can also add adventure activities to our other South Island luxury holiday packages. Alternatively, we can modify this itinerary to match your timeframe if you have more or less than 10 days in New Zealand.

Contact our team at New Zealand Luxury Escapes today to begin planning your New Zealand adventure.

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