Here's a little snippet from a bespoke travel plan I designed for a group of travellers on their second visit to New Zealand.
To paint the picture - Two couples from the USA wanted to explore the top of the South Island in summer. They were passionate about nature and wildlife and were avid hikers. They preferred self-contained or Bed & Breakfast style lodgings where they could get immersed in nature and have an authentic New Zealand summer experience.
Please Note: This is just a small sample. An actual itinerary will be much more comprehensive and have multiple options as well as clickable links, but I hope this gives you a little inside preview into what I can create for you!
Remember, every itinerary is completely custom designed to suit your personal preferences. I don't have a set of pre-made itineraries.
I have created a personalized and interactive map which features the places outlined in your travel plan. This should give you a better idea of where things are located and where you will be going!
I have chosen this particular route to give you a brilliant mix of wildlife, nature and adventure on this Top of the South journey starting from Christchurch and ending in Nelson.
Day 1 - Christchurch
Welcome to New Zealand and to Christchurch - the Garden City!
As your flight arrives in the late afternoon, I thought it best we leave this day free and open for you to relax and get over any jetlag.
If you are feeling up to it, head to the International Antarctic Centre for your first glimpse into NZ wildlife. The VIP backstage penguin pass will gain you exclusive access to their habitat with an Antarctic Guide!
The Grange B&B
$245 per room per night (sleeps 2)
Located in Central Christchurch, The Grange is a historic homestead with B&B rooms and a spacious guest lounge and garden. It's handy walking distance to Christchurch's main attractions makes it the ideal base to start your trip.
Day 2 - Travel to Kaikoura
This morning, collect your rental car and make the 2.5 hour journey North to Kaikoura.
Take some time to stretch your legs at Cheviot and shop boutiques or browse the art galleries. Nearby, just outside of Gore Bay, you will find Cathedral Cliffs. This remote and hidden gem offers an hour long walk revealing some spectacular natural scenery.
Once in Kaikoura, the marine wildlife opportunities are endless! Kaikoura is home to whale watching, dolphins, albatross and seals. This quaint seaside town is also famous for its crayfish and offers beautiful coastal walks.
Purepods - Manakau & Kahutara
$590 per pod, per night (sleeps 2)
$769 to include breakfast & dinner hamper
This one is something truly special! Located 20 minutes inland from Kaikoura, the Purepods are located on an isolated sheep farm above the Kahutara River. After a short walk through native bush, you will arrive at your glass eco-cabins fitted with luxury facilities including shower, flush toilet, cooking equipment & a telescope.
A little off the beaten track, this will be a magical way to immerse yourself in untouched New Zealand nature.
Day 3 - Kaikoura wildlife
There are many ways to experience marine life here in Kaikoura. As you are all very active, I want to recommend the Guided Wildlife Kayaking tour which gives you the opportunity to spot fur seals, blue penguins and dusky dolphins all on the same trip.
I'd recommend the sunset option for awesome photography opportunities as the light changes on the mountains.
$130 per person
Duration: 3 to 3.5 hours
*For lunch, check out Nin's Bin for bit of local cuisine - an iconic family owned food truck that's been around since the 70s. It is famous for it's crayfish and other fresh seafood - a MUST try while in Kaikoura.
Enjoy another night beneath the stars at PurePods
Day 4 - Travel to the Marlborough Sounds
It's a leisurely 2 hour drive North to Picton today - gateway to the Marlborough Sounds.
Take your time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps stop off in Blenheim, just 20 minutes outside of Picton. Experience great local food and wine at one of the many vineyards on offer, or join a wine cycling tour if you are wanting to burn some energy!
Once in Picton, board your water taxi for a 30-minute cruise to your home for the next 3 nights - Bay of Many Coves Resort.
Bay of Many Coves Resort
$2,380 per night based on the Luxury Two Bedroom Apartment including Breakfast
Your private, architecturally designed apartment comes with everything you need to enjoy the Sounds in luxury including a private bathroom for each couple. With uninterrupted views from your room, multiple onsite dining options, swimming pools and watersports - you won't want to leave!
Walk the Queen Charlotte
The Queen Charlotte track is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds. The entire 70km track can be hiked in 5 days (or cycled in 3 days), however the track can also be done in sections via water taxi. Along the track listen for native birds such as the tui, piwakaka/fantail and weka which are prevalent here. Shags, gannets and dolphins also grace these shorelines.
Today, select a section of the track that best suits your energy levels - options range from 4 to 8 hours. We can discuss these in more detail.
Tonight, relax! You've earned a soak in the hot tub whilst you enjoy stargazing under the unpolluted night sky.
Tonight's accommodation: Bay of Many Coves Resort
Free day at leisure
Choose to complete a different section of the walking track, or simply unwind at the resort and take advantage of all the activities on offer - the Miritu Day Spa, kayaking, explore the beaches, swimming.
Alternatively, we can arrange a charter to Motuara Island - a bird watchers haven. It has been pest-free since the 1991 and has since become a sanctuary for rare native species such as the South Island Saddleback and Bush Robin.
Tonight's accommodation: Bay of Many Coves Resort