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Exceptionally bright blue Lake Tekapo surrounded by jagged snowy mountains and lush green vegetation, NZ

Central South Island Holidays

The central South Island boasts an incredibly diverse landscape, from the spectacular shimmering ice formations of Franz Josef Glacier and the snow-capped peak of Mount Cook, to the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and towering gorges of Arthur’s Pass National Park. Christchurch, the largest city in the region boasts extensive botanical gardens and the quaint town of Akaroa, nestled in a dormant volcano, is not to be missed.

New Zealand no1
Trailfinders is the UK & Ireland’s No.1 Tour Operator to New Zealand and most of our travel consultants have travelled extensively here. What we specialise in is tailormade holidays in New Zealand and with us, in every part of the country, you can pick and choose how you’d like to get around, where you’d like to stay and how you’d like to experience the attractions.
Expert Travel Consultants
Speak to a Travel Expert

We believe booking online is no substitute for one-on-one service. Between them our expert travel consultants have travelled to over 96% of the world's countries. As a result the service and advice they offer is second to none.


Best of New Zealand
Fly Drive Holiday
20 days / 19 nights

Covering both North and South Island highlights, this journey showcases the best of what this magnificent country has to offer.
Absolute Luxury New Zealand
Fly Drive Holiday
16 days / 15 nights

This exceptional holiday brings together a collection of New Zealand’s finest lodges and hotels. Set in magnificent, scenic locations, all offer personalised experiences and outstanding Kiwi hospitality.
Unique & Boutique New Zealand
Fly Drive Holiday
23 days / 22 nights

Thoughtfully picked for their character, intimate size and warm bespoke service, this unforgettable journey pairs New Zealand’s iconic sights with its most charming and unusual properties.
South Island Highlights
Fly Drive Holiday
17 days / 16 nights

Discover the beauty of the South Island: stunning wine regions, shimmering glaciers, amazing Queenstown and beautiful Milford Sound.
South Island Less Travelled
Fly Drive Holiday
11 days / 10 nights

Explore the path less trodden on this captivating journey encompassing the delights of Akaroa, abundant nature experiences on the scenic south east coast and the rural beauty of Stewart Island.
Kiwis & Campers
Family Holiday
16 days / 15 nights

This unforgettable adventure is perfect for all ages and has been carefully designed to limit longer drives. Hit the beach in the beautiful Bay of Islands and discover the epic mountain landscapes of the stunning South Island.


Central South Island map
A beautiful white and red Akaroa Lighthouse at sunset, the pink and blue sky reflects in the water, dotted with sailboats, NZ
Christchurch & Akaroa
While parts of Christchurch are yet to fully recover from the 2013 earthquake, the Garden City’s beautiful botanic gardens and eclectic mix of heritage and modern architecture mean it’s still a good option for a short stay. An hour and a half’s drive east, the lush Banks Peninsula was originally an island formed of two volcanic cones and is now home to the scenic township of Akaroa. With its unique French colonial history, rare Hector’s dolphins frolicking in the bay and a passion for fine cuisine, Akaroa makes for a wonderful stop on any itinerary.
People walk over rocky grey terrain leaving the towering Franz Josef Glacier behind them, fluffy clouds settle on the peaks, NZ
Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers
Poised in the heart of glacier country on the beautiful west coast, the awe-inspiring Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are best experienced on a thrilling helicopter adventure, where you can marvel at the cascading blue ice from above or hike across the surface with an experienced guide. Ever a land of contrasts, the small village of Franz Josef is set amongst lush rainforest and offers an ideal base to explore the region; visit rare kiwi chicks at the West Coast Wildlife Centre and enjoy a relaxing dip in the Glacier Hot Pools as night falls.
Rows of pink, purple and blue lupin flowers litter the countryside, with stunning Lake Tekapo and snowy Alps in the distance, NZ
Lake Tekapo & Lake Pukaki
The inherent beauty of this region becomes apparent as soon as you set eyes on the vivid glacial waters of Lake Tekapo and its lesser known but equally spectacular neighbour, Lake Pukaki, which reflects Mount Cook in its shimmering turquoise waters. A UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, the region becomes even more magical at night when the stars of the Milky Way dazzle above you. Deservedly popular, lakeside accommodation can be busy but the nearby town of Twizel makes for a great base from which to explore these glorious lakes and majestic Mount Cook.


Te Waonui Forest Retreat
5 star

Marlborough, Abel Tasman & Kaikoura

Ideally located on the edge of Franz Josef village, this contemporary and luxurious property provides easy access to the glacier and an indulgent level of comfort surrounded by native west coast rainforest. After a busy day sightseeing, dine amongst the trees as you enjoy a delectable five course degustation dinner in the hotel’s famous Canopy Restaurant. With attentive service, Te Waonui Forest Retreat provides a unique stay in this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed area. Please note Hotel open seasonally from Sep - Apr.
Lakestone Lodge
5 star

Central South Island

Poised on a hillside above the shimmering turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki, this gorgeous eco lodge boasts understated luxury and breathtaking views of the magnificent snow-tipped peak of Mount Cook. Stroll through the beautiful gardens, planted with native trees and shrubs, spot the resident birdlife and enjoy a bike ride alongside the crystal-clear lake. As night falls enjoy delectable cuisine produced with only the freshest local ingredients and head out to your private patio with a glass of fine wine to watch the sky come alive with the stars of the Milky Way. With just six thoughtfully designed rooms, warm personalised service and a spectacular lakefront location, a stay at Lakestone Lodge is a true highlight on any South Island itinerary.
The George
5 star

Central South Island

With a reputation for stylish individuality, warm hospitality and award-winning cuisine, this beautiful boutique-style property offers intimate luxury in the heart of Christchurch.
Akaroa Village Inn
4 star

Central South Island

These delightful waterfront apartments enjoy an idyllic location in the heart of Akaroa, just steps from the harbour. Please note: As the apartments are individually owned the décor may vary.
Wilderness Lodge
4 plus star

Central South Island

Set amidst a 1,600 hectare working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, this family owned and operated property offers truly memorable wilderness experiences. Warm hospitality and excellent food complement an exciting array of guided nature and sheep farm adventures. Please note: Lodge open seasonally from Sep - Apr.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
4 star

Marlborough, Abel Tasman & Kaikoura

This modern hotel has great facilities and is perfectly located in the quaint Franz Josef village making it ideal for exploring the stunning glacier and surrounding UNESCO World Heritage listed area.


Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Approx 2 hours
  • Modern catamaran
  • Dolphins & seals
  • Fully narrated tour

  • International Antarctic Centre
    Attraction Tickets
  • Resident penguins
  • Ride an arctic expedition vehicle

  • Mount Cook Helicopter Tour
    Approx 35 mins
  • New Zealand’s highest mountain
  • Spectacular views

  • Franz Josef Glacier Heli Hike
    Approx 3 hours
  • Scenic helicopter flight
  • Ice hike

  • Fox and Franz Josef Glacier Landing by Helicopter
    Approx 30min
  • Spectacular glacial scenery
  • Thrilling glacier landing
  • Expansive snowfields

  • Mount John Observatory Tour
    Approx 2 hours
  • Mount John summit
  • Panoramic views
  • Star gazing

  • Trailfinders is Trustpilot’s No.1 rated travel company
    Our latest new zealand & the pacific holiday reviews

    Central South Island Fast Facts

    Time Zone


    Flight Time to Central South Island


    Visa Required?

    £20 Off your visa service charge if you have booked your holiday with Trailfinders.

    Recommended Immunisations

    Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio booster

    20% Discount off immunisations at our London Travel Clinic if you have booked your holiday with Trailfinders.

    Trailfinders Travel Insurance

    Enjoy comprehensive cover in Central South Island from just £65 for 7 days with our superb value Single Trip Travel Insurance.

    Visa information given is given for British citizens holding a valid UK passport with at least 6 months validity remaining. Immunisation guidelines assume routine UK childhood immunisation has been given and will not apply to all situations. Medical advice should be sought. Your Trailfinders consultant will advise you of the specific visa and immunisation requirements for your trip.


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