All about the 10 Day Picton to Queenstown Tour

If you don't have time for the full South Island trip, then this is an excellent way to see and experience some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery on the planet. The South Island of New Zealand is a visual paradise filled with jaw-dropping scenery hosting adventurous activities.

Expect to see sparse high country land, incredible glacier fed blue lakes, sheer and towering cliff faces with endless waterfalls. Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand is our final destination on the Southern Light, where you can rest your legs from numerous hikes and bikes or opt for a challenge and jump out of a plane if that’s on your bucket list. The Southern Light will give you a very good introduction of why we love New Zealand - this section also offers some very special camp spots that we have strategically placed so we can bring you much closer to nature than you’d ever have expected.

If camping is not your style let us know as we can also offer upgrades to comfortable cabins on tour. 

Highlights on tour are goes the list:

Infamous Mount Cook
Adrenalin rush of Queenstown
The natural beauty of Kaikoura
The spectacular Milford Sound
Real Lord of the Rings country
Cultural and historical treasures
New Zealand’s World Heritage Sites
The wildlife spotting paradise of Otago Peninsula
Numerous remote locations that other tours and tourists don't reach

From the top of the South Island, our trip takes you to a huge range of natural wonders from glaciers and mountains to beautiful beaches and wild coastlines. There are plenty of wildlife encounters along the way (such as whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins) as well as the odd adrenalin rush and many other great activities. If its hikes and bike ride you’re looking for, then you won't be disappointed as we have a heap of superb options.

Bring a friend along to share this tour of discovery, or make new mates amongst your fellow travellers and create lasting memories and lifetime friendships!

10 Day Picton to Queenstown Tour Itinerary - 10 days

  • Day 1 Picton to Kaikoura
    Leaving Picton at 11am we travel the scenic Pacific coast to Kaikoura where close encounters with seals and sea birds are common. Kaikoura translates to 'meal of crayfish' (Kai - food, koura - crayfish) a reference to the abundance of seafood and sea life in the area. The town has transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a hot spot for whale watching, dolphin swimming and seal spotting. This picturesque town sits right on the ocean
    at the foot of the mountains – a spectacular spot. Stretch your legs with a recommended afternoon peninsula walk and build up an appetite for a tasty feast of locally caught fresh seafood.
    Walks: Kaikoura peninsula walk
    Bike rides: Kowhai bike track and a short road ride
    Optional activities: whale watching, sea kayaking, deep sea fishing
    Cabin upgrades: basic single from $50, basic double from $18pp - (limited rooms available!)
    Meals: breakfast, & dinner
  • Day 2 Kaikoura to Christchurch to Rangitata
    For those that are keen there is the chance to rise early for a wonderful sunrise and then enjoy one of our most highly rated optional activities – dolphin swimming. The resident dusky dolphins are amongst the most interactive and entertaining in the World and it’s not unusual to swim with pods of 50 or more in their natural habitat, the ocean! We then have the chance to explore this quaint seaside town before heading south to Christchurch to collect and drop off those starting or ending their tour. You’ll have time to explore Christchurch
    city and buy your lunch from one of the many quirky container cafes at the ‘Restart Mall’. At 2:30pm we travel towards the Southern Alps with fantastic views across the Canterbury Plains – real Lord of the Rings country! Tonight’s unique camp is at the Shearer’s Headquarters (an actual operating farm) located at the foot of the
    Southern Alps.
    Walks: take an early walk around our coastal camp, evening walk in Peel Forest
    Bike rides: 18km country road, 9km country road cycling around camp
    Activities (own cost): highly recommended dolphin swim, dolphin viewing
    Cabin upgrades: basic single or double room from $15pp
    Meals: breakfast & dinner
  • Day 3 Rangitata to Lake Pukaki
    Wake up to mountain views and refresh yourself even more white water rafting on the mighty Rangitata River! If rafting isn’t for you then no problem - soak it all in with a morning cycle or walk through the Peel Forest. We then continue through more jaw dropping landscapes (they don’t stop in the South Island) to the picture postcard, Lake Tekapo. Here you will view the most spectacular turquoise waters which get their colour from the glacial flour brought down from the rivers flowing from glaciers high up in the mountains. Leaving Tekapo we head to
    one of our best wilderness camps – sitting on the shores of Lake Pukaki you can set up your tent and take in the views of the lake with New Zealand’s highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook visible in the distance.
    Walks: Peel Forest walks, lakeside walks around camp
    Bike rides: Tekapo Canal Alps to Ocean 30km, edge of Lake Pukaki trail riding
    Activities (own cost): white water rafting (grade 5 rapids!)
    Cabin upgrades: no – wilderness camp no upgrade options
    Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner
  • Day 4 Lake Pukaki to Moeraki
    Immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for and explore Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain following a trail up the Hooker valley where you’ll cross swing bridges and get stunning
    views of the mountains before finishing up at a glacial lake with views of the Hooker Valley glacier. We then travel back towards the Pacific coast for a quick stop in the historic town of Oamaru before continuing onwards to the small village of Moeraki. Walk to a
    great view point offering expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and try to spot a little Blue Penguin along the shore. If you have a bike it’s possible to visit a colony of extremely rare Yellow-eyed Penguins near to camp.
    Walks: to the base of Mount Cook and Hooker Valley, the Moeraki heritage Trail and viewpoint
    Bike rides: 15km road ride to Peter’s lookout, Alps2Ocean Omarama trail ride 13km, Yellow-eyed Penguin colony
    Cabin upgrades: basic single from $58, basic double from $23pp - (limited rooms available!)
    Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner
  • Day 5 Moeraki to Dunedin
    Before travelling south, we make a stop at the nearby Moeraki Boulders and then it’s onto the historic Scottish city of Dunedin, the South Island's second-largest city. This southern city is home to the world’s steepest residential street and the coastline is home to
    some fantastic and rare wildlife. It’s possible to take a tour onto the Otago Peninsula to view some of this diverse wildlife which includes Albatross and Fur Seals. For the adventurous why not try surfing at one of Dunedin’s best breaks! Our camp is a short distance from the beach with a variety of restaurants close by to choose from.
    Walks: tide permitting - walk to the Moeraki Boulders, walk the World’s steepest street
    Bike rides: 6km downhill ride into Dunedin, explore Dunedin by bike, ride to camp or along the waterfront
    Activities (own cost): Speight's brewery tour, surfing, Otago Peninsula wildlife tour
    Cabin upgrades: basic single from $40, basic double from $12pp
    Meals: breakfast
  • Day 6 Dunedin to Hollyford
    Today is one of our longer travel days as we drive through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic natural scenery on our way to Fiordland. Large parts of the landscape have been carved out over thousands of years to leave stunning paths that weave through
    snow-capped mountains. We stop briefly in Te Anau, the hub and gateway town for Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound and your last chance to get supplies for those doing the Routeburn Track tomorrow. From Te Anau we make our way into the gigantic
    Fiordland National Park, encompassing some 12,500km2 it is New Zealand’s largest National Park. Tonight’s camp is a pretty special place in the heart of the Hollyford Valley, established in the 1930s. You can learn more about the history of the camp at the onsite
    museum. Cyclists have the chance to cycle to camp through some great native bush and walkers can do some nice short walks from camp (ask your guide about the secret glow worm trails).
    Walks: plenty of short walks from camp
    Bike rides: 8km road cycle to camp
    Cabin upgrades: basic single from $45, basic double from $15pp - (limited rooms available!)
    Meals: breakfast & dinner
  • Day 7 Hollyford to Te Anau
    Travel one of the world’s most scenic routes into Milford Sound! Described as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. We highly recommend taking in the boat trip on Milford Sound with dramatic waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and possible wildlife spotting of dolphins, penguins and seals! As it’s just the one road in and out, we head back along the same breath-taking route to our lakeside camp in Te Anau. Along the way, we drop off those doing the 3-day Routeburn
    Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. This 3-day hike passes through two National Parks and is a haven for native birdlife. sheer rock faces, pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls and dense, luxuriant forest.
    Walks: 3-day Routeburn Track (re-join group in Queenstown on day 14) – pre-book as
    soon as possible as this activity can book out months in advance!
    Bike rides: 10.5km Te Anau loop, Ivan Wilson Park mountain bike trail
    Activities (own cost): highly recommend Milford boat cruise, Routeburn Track, Te Anau glow worm caves & boat ride
    Cabin upgrades: basic single from $25, basic double from $25pp
    Meals: breakfast & lunch
  • Day 8 Te Anau to Queenstown
    Today we journey to Queenstown along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. Once we arrive at the adventure capital of New Zealand you can enjoy spectacular views, a free Gondola ride and a huge selection of activities to choose from. There is
    everything here, from adrenalin pumping bungy, canyon swing and skydiving to a relaxing horse trek or boat cruise – this place has it all. There are great tracks around the lake ideal for bikers and hikers and all with wonderful views of this alpine region. walks: Queenstown lakefront or hill walks
    Bike rides: Lake Wakatipu trail 16km
    Activities (own cost): too many to list – something for everyone (see our website or ask us for details)
    Cabin upgrades: single en-suite from $135, double en-suite from $58pp - (limited rooms available!)
    Meals: breakfast
  • Day 9 Queenstown
    With so much to do we spend the full day in fantastic Queenstown with the opportunity to enjoy those once in a lifetime experiences (don’t forget to try the legendary and very tasty Fergburger!). Routeburn Track walkers re-join the group here at midday with time to
    try some of the many exciting activities this vibrant city has to offer. Tonight, we dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a true kiwi feast (own cost).
    Walks: Queenstown walks, Ben Lomond
    Bike rides: Lake Wakatipu trail, Queenstown trail 48km
    Activities (own cost): too many to list – something for everyone (see our website or ask us for details)
    Cabin upgrades: single en-suite from $135, double en-suite from $58pp - (limited rooms available!)
    Meals: breakfast
  • Day 10 Queenstown
    A last chance to indulge in the Queenstown action before finishing your tour with us here and saying farewell to your fellow travellers by 2:30pm.
    Walks: multiple walking options
    Bike rides: road cycling around town
    Activities (own cost): too many to list – something for everyone (ask us for details)
    Meals: breakfast
Real Adventure Group Real People
Real Kiwi Says:
Our trips involve a great deal of activity and we appreciate the importance of good food. We usually offer breakfast, lunch and dinner which saves you time and money. With an average meal out in NZ costing around $30 you'll save a fortune compared to other tours you could go on! Rather than wake up in a hostel dorm, we wake up to amazing views, fresh air and away from the crowds. By staying in these carefully selected sites you get to experience amazing sunrises, spectacular sunsets, campfires, sleeping to the sound of the ocean, morning dips, lakeside dining to name a few. There are camping and cabin accommodation options (so something for everyone) and we do occasionally use hostels (3 on the entire 28-day trip) to give you access to the bustling city centres.

Special Deals

10 Day Picton to Queenstown Tour Price information
NZD per person



Tour code: SL10
Secure your seat today with only a 10% deposit!
Camping (Twin-Share) September 2020 to March 2021
Local fees payable
Supplement for Single Tent September 2020 to March 2021
Supplement for Single Tent September 2019 to March 2020

Departure information


Picton pickup: 11 am outside the Picton Railway Station.


October: 24
November: 2, 11, 20, 29
December: 8, 17, 26


More information

Important Notes

Things you need to know about this tour

^ Single travellers will be paired in a tent with a person of the same sex or can upgrade to their own tent for $90
Cabin upgrades are available most nights for a small fee, payable on the day. When staying in our more remote and picturesque campsites upgrades are not available but alternatives will be found in the event of inclement weather.
Optional bicycle hire for the duration of the tour is $175 (subject to change)
Customers may bring their own bicycle and will be charged a handling fee of $65
Sleeping bag hire is $50
A shuttle bus option is available for customers wishing to finish their trip in Christchurch at an approximate cost $NZ50. Further touring options are also available.
This tour is recommended for persons 18 years and older however requests for younger participants will be considered on a case by case basis.

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