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Canterbury Trails

Queenstown - West Coast Glaciers - Arthurs Pass - Christchurch: Private Three Day Tour

From Glacier's Embrace to Alpine Majesty: A Private Three-Day Journey from Queenstown to Christchurch

Day 1: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

Embark on an unforgettable private adventure from the vibrant hub of Queenstown, a haven for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. After a brief orientation tour of the town, we'll journey through the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown, steeped in tales of the gold rush era. We'll ascend the rugged Crown Range, taking in panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu.

As we continue, the road winds alongside the shimmering shores of Lake Hāwea and Lake Wānaka, surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery. The dramatic Haast Pass marks our transition from the arid landscapes of Otago to the lush rainforests of the West Coast. Descend into the Haast River valley, where cascading waterfalls and the untamed power of the river create a captivating spectacle.

Our destination for the night is the awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier. Here, you'll witness the remarkable sight of a massive glacier, a truly unique natural wonder. Settle into your comfortable accommodation in the nearby village, surrounded by the tranquillity of this glacial wonderland.

Day 2: Glacier Country Immersion

Today is yours to explore the majestic Franz Josef Glacier region at your own pace. For the adventurous, an optional helicopter flight (additional cost) will take you soaring above the Southern Alps, culminating in a thrilling snow landing on the glacier's icy expanse.

If you prefer to stay grounded, hike around the tranquil Lake Matheson, known as "Mirror Lake" for its breathtaking reflections of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman on clear days. Or, venture to the charming coastal village of Ōkārito, a haven for birdlife, and explore the lagoon by kayak or eco-boat tour (own expense). Your guide will be on hand to offer expert insights and ensure you make the most of this untouched natural haven.

Day 3: Franz Josef to Christchurch via TranzAlpine Train

Our journey north retraces the historic route used by gold miners and Māori to transport precious greenstone (pounamu). We'll stop in Hokitika, a former gold rush hub now bustling with vibrant art and craft shops showcasing jade and gold treasures.

Continue north, marvelling at the engineering feat of the Otira Gorge as the road winds its way through the lush rainforest. Enter Arthur's Pass National Park, where your guide will reveal its natural wonders, before boarding the iconic TranzAlpine train. Enjoy the ever-changing scenery as you traverse dramatic landscapes, culminating in your arrival in the vibrant city of Christchurch.


  • Travel by luxury vehicle
  • Picnic morning or afternoon teas, days 1 and 3
  • Café lunches day 1 and 3
  • Guided walks to explore alpine and rainforest landscapes (as required)
  • TranzAlpine train Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch on day 3
  • Fully escorted with a local knowledgeable guide

Not included:

  • Guest accommodations, breakfasts, evening meals, or optional activities

Tour Code: SH04-S/N

Depart Queenstown at 7.30am on Day 1, finish in Christchurch at 5.30pm on Day 3

  • Carbon Positive

    125% of emissions offset through the planting of native trees

  • Love this place

    Our guides will show you why they love what they do - looking after their guests in this magnificent country

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