Magic South

Journeys in the Romantic Collection appeal to those looking for a relaxing holiday in tranquil retreats away from the busy crowds.

These journeys fit well as a 14-21 day honeymoon itinerary. We have included a mixture of activity, relaxation, good food and wine and a slower pace with time to explore and savour. From Nelson you travel down the Kaikoura Coast, south to the seaside village of Akaroa and then inland to Lakes Wanaka, Wakatipu and Queenstown.

Green Journeys allows you to build you own itinerary or adopt one of our suggested itineraries, book it or modify it to suit your special interests and dates. Green Journeys itineraries encourage staying at least 2-3 nights in each location so that you have a chance of enjoying the region, sampling the activities and attractions available and relaxing in your accommodation. Accommodations in our Green Collection are individually owned and hosted, intimate, luxurious and situated in beautiful surroundings. Our suggested activities are equally carefully selected.

Magic South

Nelson - Kaikoura - Akaroa - Wanaka - Queenstown

Duration: 13 days, 12 nights
Connection points: Nelson airport or Wellington-Picton Interislander ferry, Queenstown airport
Activity level: moderate
Best season: November-April

Driving times:

Nelson-Kaikoura 4 hours

Kaikoura-Akaroa 3 3/4 hours

Akaroa-Wanaka 6 hours

Wanaka-Queenstown 1 hour


Day 1 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge
Join this journey by flying in to Nelson airport and collecting your hire car or you may arrive from Wellington-Picton via the Cook Strait Ferry. Picton to the Resurgence is a 2 1/2 hour drive. The Resurgence is set high in the bushclad Riwaka Valley. Explore native bush trails or visit the idyllic river and spring from which the lodge takes its name. Book dinner for the night you arrive.

Day 2 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Do: Abel Tasman Charters Luxury Boat Cruise
Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge

A relaxed and unhurried day aboard the Taranui exploring the Abel Tasman National Park coastline. Swim, sea kayak, take a bush walk, or just relax on the Taranui in beautiful bay and enjoy a delicious platter style lunch with local ingredients.

Day 3 - Abel Tasman, Nelson Region
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: The Resurgence luxury eco-lodge

Spend a day exploring the valleys and beaches of Golden Bay, hike in Abel Tasman Park or join a wine and art tour and discover Nelson with local guides who will introduce you to the artists, winemakers and food producers who have settled in this diverse region.

Day 4 - Kaikoura, Canterbury
Do: Drive via Marlborough to the East Coast and Kaikoura
Stay: The Factory

Allow 4-5 hours for the drive to your next accommodation in Kaikoura. Stop in Blenheim for lunch and allow lots of time for seal and surf spotting on your drive south. The Hapuku Dairy Factory is 100 years old but the accommodation is luxurious, modern and a perfect retreat. Advance arrangements for dinner or self-catered supplies recommended.

Day 5 - Kaikoura, Canterbury
Do: at leisure, explore the area with advice from your hosts
Stay: The Factory

Kaikoura is famous for its marine life, whales, seals, dolphins and seabirds. Book a flight out over the ocean to view the whales with Wings Over Whales. Or take one of the excellent coastal and inland hikes, including Ohau Waterfall Walk where seal pups swim and play in a waterfall during the breeding season.

Day 6 - Akaroa, Canterbury
Do: Travel South to Banks Peninsula and Akaroa
Stay: Maison de la Mer

Allow 3 3/4 hours for the drive. Akaroa is a hidden gem, with a picture perfect harbour surrounded by volcanic mountains and charming port village full of historic character and french settler influence. Maison de la Mer offers peaceful elegance and luxurious detail and all suites have views of Akaroa harbour.

Day 7 - Akaroa, Canterbury
Do: Day Cruise with Akaroa Dolphins Nature Cruises
Stay: Maison de la Mer

Small group wildlife cruises - see spectacular sea caves, volcanic formations, high cliffs and bird nesting sites within Akaroa Harbour and beyond the entrance along the coastline. And, of course, the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin, the friendly Hectors dolphin.

Day 8 - Wanaka, Southern Lakes
Do: Drive south via Tekapo and Mt Cook to Lake Wanaka
Stay: Riverrun

A spectacular 6 hour drive alongside the Southern Alps takes you to Wanaka. Riverrun Lodge is on an escarpment with wide mountain views surrounded by a 500 acre riverside merino sheep farm. It is essential to book dinner in advance.

Day 9 - Wanaka, Southern Lakes
Do: Mt Aspiring Flight and Snow Landing with Alpine Helicopters                                                                                       Stay: Riverrun
Take an hour long scenic flight over one of New Zealand's most beautiful mountains, Mount Aspiring. Around the back of the mountain awe inspiring icefalls shelve thousands of metres into the glacial beginnings of rivers. To the south are vast permanent glaciers and stunning views with mountains, sea, lakes in every direction.

Day 10 - Wanaka, Southern Lakes
Do: Ridgeline Adventures Central Otago Wine Tour
Stay: Riverrun

Take a leisurely personally guided tour of Central Otago’ famous pinot noir region, also known for it’s orchards and stone fruit. Relax over a gourmet platter lunch at a vineyard restaurant.

Day 11 - Queenstown, Central Otago
Do: Drive through the Gibbston Valley
Stay: Mt Rosa Lodge

Take Crown Range Road 89 from Wanaka to Queenstown, a spectacular high switch-back with aerial views. After rejoining SH6 turn off to explore the charming village of Arrowtown. Mt Rosa Lodge is in the heart of the Gibbston Valley looking across vineyards towards the Pisa Ranges. Book dinner in advance for tonight.

Day 12 - Queenstown, Central Otago
Do: Jet boat & Funyak with Dart River Jet Safaris
Stay: Mt Rosa Lodge

An exhilarating wilderness jet boat journey deep into the beautiful forested Dart River Valley. Enjoy a delicious wilderness buffet lunch before paddling in funyaks down river to Paradise.

Day 13 - Journey’s End
Queenstown airport has multiple connections with other New Zealand destinations. Alternatively you could continue on to join Wild Havens of the Far South.

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