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    AARP Members Save an additional $100 per person

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    Past Guests Save an additional 5%

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    Save up to 7.5% - Pay in Full by Feb 28, 2018

The Southern Drift

Operated By:
Tour Pace: Active
Mount Cook
Tour Style: First Class
14 Days from $5,195 per person

Gaze in to the depths of a land unchanged for millennia – slicing through the still waters of Milford Sound, ducking beneath dewy rainforest canopies and traversing mountains, glaciers and valleys along a Hidden Journey through an untamed, mystical land of fiords, islands and alpine landscapes.

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  1. Board your overnight flight to New Zealand (not included).

  2. Cross the International Date Line.

  3. Our launch pad for our epic adventure is Christchurch, the Garden City of New Zealand, and a heady mix of British tradition and modern industrial architecture. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4pm). Tonight, we meet our Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and dinner with wine.
    meal(s):WR, DW
  4. Climb aboard one of the world's spectacular scenic rail journeys, crossing the lush green Canterbury farmlands, traversing deep river gorges and journeying through the heart of the snow-capped Southern Alps to Arthur's Pass. We journey onwards by coach to Punakaiki to see the limestone Pancake Rocks and the Blowholes through which the force of the Tasman Sea. Tonight we stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront and surrounded by the Paparoa National Park.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Punakaiki Resort Authentic Accommodation
  5. Our day starts at a leisurely pace before visiting the small town of Hokitika, renowned for its exquisite greenstone craft, which you will have a unique opportunity to admire during an exclusive jewelry demonstration by a Local Specialist jade carver. Our small group will travel south to the West Coast Treetop Walk. We enjoy an intimate encounter with the creatures that find sanctuary in the tranquil branches of its ancient trees. Gold rush fever still flowing through our veins, we proceed to the gold mining town of Ross before arriving at the luminous blue-white Franz Josef Glacier. Get up close to the glacier on a guided tour to the viewing area with a Local Specialist before arriving at your eco-friendly accommodations in the bush, where you will spend the night surrounded by New Zealand's pristine wilderness.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Te Waonui Forest Retreat
  6. Spend the morning at leisure or see the glacier on a scenic flight (own expense). Traversing Haast Pass through New Zealand's Southern Alps, we arrive on the pebbled shores of the glacial lakes of Wanaka and Hawea, stopping at Makarora. We delve into the gold mining heritage of Arrowtown before arriving in the adventure tourism hotspot of Queenstown and Millbrook Resort, set amid sparkling streams and rolling hills in the Southern Alps and framed by the Remarkables.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Millbrook Resort Authentic Accommodation
  7. Banish all thoughts of spending the day lounging around. Embrace the Kiwi philosophy to life of 'She'll be Right' and dive straight into the adrenalin capital of New Zealand. That means being bold and flinging yourself off bridges, abseiling down cliffs and jumping into waterfall pools, but you may just get away with a relaxing spa treatment at your resort or exploring the trendy restaurant and arts scene of Queenstown. Best keep those more sedate encounters with Queenstown to yourself when your small group rides the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak for a Regional Meal with extraordinary views overlooking stunning Queenstown.
    meal(s):BB, RM
  8. A final day in Queenstown at your leisure could see you take an Optional Experience or simply relax at your resort.
  9. Our epic discovery of New Zealand's natural wonders continues south to Te Anau and deep into the rainforest of Fiordland National Park. We drive through the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel and emerge into a photographer's paradise. Our journey to Milford Sound sees us step off the beaten track and on the Chasm Walk for a dramatic view of waterfalls and and water-sculptured shapes in the rock. We experience the beauty and majesty of this destination tonight at Milford Sound Lodge with a unique and intimate opportunity to view the valleys, rainforest, mountains and wildlife of this soulful natural wonder.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Milford Sound Lodge Authentic Accommodation
  10. Spend the morning cruising on Milford Sound, admiring the sheer cliffs rising up hundreds of meters out of the water and the ancient rainforest hugging the coast. We leave the stillness of the Sound and travel to Invercargill. Priming our sea legs yet again, we board a ferry at Bluff to cruise to our overnight stop on Stewart Island, promising visitors a simpler, slower lifestyle in rhythm with the sea and attuned to the natural world.
    hotel:Bay Motel
  11. Settle into a slower pace of life and gain an entertaining insight into New Zealand's southern-most community during a Village and Bays tour of Stewart Island, visiting the beautiful bays of Horseshoe and Lee before embarking on a leisurely cruise of the picturesque Paterson Inlet for lunch on the water. Our group is treated to a special visit to the remote Ulva Island where we will enjoy an exclusive tour with a Local Specialist from the Department of Conservation on Ulva Island's wildlife sanctuary. We'll learn about native birds like the Weka and spend time interacting with the island's rare native flora and fauna, continuing our intimate encounter with nature tonight when we try to spot shy kiwis in the bush surrounding our accommodations.
    meal(s):BB, L
  12. We leave laid-back island living behind, heading back through Southland and over the Lindis Pass into the MacKenzie high country. Meandering along the shores of Lake Pukaki, we arrive at the foothills of snowcapped Mt. Cook, spending the night in the beautiful Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:The Hermitage
  13. Our in-depth journey through New Zealand's South Island is almost at its end, but not before we visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Then, warm Kiwi hospitality is ours to enjoy at the home of Angie and Stan Taylor who host us at their Morelea Farm for a Be My Guest barbecue lunch in their 600-acre garden. Crossing the Canterbury Plains, we arrive in Christchurch and embark on a sightseeing tour to discover how the city is being rebuilt after the earthquake of 2011.
    meal(s):BB, BG
  14. Our Hidden Journey is at its end and it's time to bid farewell to this beautiful land and new friends, with a transfer to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime).

30 Day Refund Guarantee

We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

Add air to your reservation

Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.
  • Definite Departure
  • Important Note
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
27 Jan 18 9 Feb 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
3 Feb 18 16 Feb 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
10 Feb 18 23 Feb 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
24 Feb 18 9 Mar 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
3 Mar 18 16 Mar 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
10 Mar 18 23 Mar 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
17 Mar 18 30 Mar 18 checkmark $5,195pp Call 1-877-622-9109
Important Note
13 Oct 18 26 Oct 18 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
10 Nov 18 23 Nov 18 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
17 Nov 18 30 Nov 18 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
8 Dec 18 21 Dec 18 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
15 Dec 18 28 Dec 18 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
5 Jan 19 18 Jan 19 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
12 Jan 19 25 Jan 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
19 Jan 19 1 Feb 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
26 Jan 19 8 Feb 19 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
2 Feb 19 15 Feb 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
9 Feb 19 22 Feb 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
16 Feb 19 1 Mar 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
23 Feb 19 8 Mar 19 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
2 Mar 19 15 Mar 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
9 Mar 19 22 Mar 19 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
16 Mar 19 29 Mar 19 checkmark $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
Important Note
23 Mar 19 5 Apr 19 $5,850$5,411pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote
  • Important Note: This departure is subject to price, itinerary and hotel modification.

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $1,590.

Please note that Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this tour. 

Air: Please note that airfares are not included in the prices above. Land Only price requires the following intratrip flights to be purchased separately in order to fulfill the trip itinerary: Grand European Tours guarantees to quote you the lowest possible airfare available to us on the day that you book.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift! Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

Frequent Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the price of the vacation.

  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment

Meal Summary

11 nights, 11 hot buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches, 7 dinners, On-trip transport, .

Included Highlights

Hidden Treasures

  • Enjoy at least one surprise Hidden Treasure

Be My Guest

  • Visit Morelea Farm, home to Angie and Stan Taylor. It's a typical working sheep farm where you will get a real taste of traditional country life. You can wander through the beautiful garden and have the chance to experience sheep-shearing before enjoying a barbecue lunch, including Angie's famous Pavlova dessert! Listen to the family's story of growing up in rural New Zealand and the challenges of farming in the foothills of New Zealand's Southern Alps.

Local Specialist

  • For included sightseeing in Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier, Ulva Island's wildlife sanctuary

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City tour in Queenstown, Christchurch
  • Visit Franz Josef Glacier, historic Arrowtown, a jade factory, the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki
  • Cruise on spectacular Milford Sound, across the Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island
  • View the rainforest from the Treetop Walkway, the Southern Alps from the TranzAlpine train


Trip not yet reviewed
  • U.S. citizens traveling to New Zealand must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. No visa is required for U.S. citizens to enter New Zealand.

  • You will be using the New Zealand dollar on your trip. You can use your debit or credit card for purchases. The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling.  It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • Food in New Zealand is innovative and diverse. As island nations with strong agricultural traditions, culinary traditions here are guided by local ingredients and seasonal variations, as well as international influences. You’ll find a variety of seafood including fresh oysters and crab, grilled steaks and lamb chops, meat pies, and fish and chips.

  • We suggest bringing a variety of comfortable, lightweight clothing that can be layered to save space in your suitcase and give you more options for how to dress. Sturdy walking shoes are important. Insect repellent and sunscreen may come in handy, as well as a light jacket and reusable water bottle. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • It is not customary to tip at restaurants in Australia and New Zealand. If you would like to reward good service when dining out it’s appropriate to leave 10 percent gratuity for your waiter.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it’s customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group.

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.

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