Queenstown Southern Loop

Explore the rugged reaches of the South Island on this six-day trip with Intrepid, beginning and ending in Queenstown. Make your way to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake and sail the silent waters of glacier-carved Fiordland National Park with an unforgettable cruise on Milford Sound. Cross to the sometimes forgotten corner of Otago – the rugged cliffs of the Catlins – to hike to coastal caves, then span the gap to untouched Stewart Island to explore the wilderness, listening out for the call of the kiwi. Crafted to give the right amount of active adventure and time to relax, this is the perfect southern getaway.
Tour details
Tour Provider Intrepid Travel
Price From
Number of Days
Start Location
Queenstown, New Zealand
End Location
Queenstown, New Zealand
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
1 to 12
Tour Style
Tour Themes
Physical Rating
Itinerary Open all
Day 1: Queenstown - Te Anau
Welcome to the South Island! Make your own way to the hotel, where the adventure kicks off with a 10 am welcome meeting where you'll join up with your leader and group. If you’re looking for more time in ‘Adventure Capital of the World', look to book in some time after the end of the trip. After the meeting, head to the lovely lakeside town of Te Anau – gateway to Fiordland National Park. Watch the stunning landscapes pass by as you round the bottom of Lake Wakatipu with the aptly named The Remarkables mountains in the background. The five-hour drive will take you to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake, which extends into the fiords and deeply forested mountains. Tonight you there's an optional chance to head underground by boat and see thousands of glow worms illuminate subterranean caves, to spectacular effect.
Day 2: Te Anau
The stunning, unforgettable sights of the fiords are best experienced by boat, so today you’ll set off for a memorable cruise on Milford Sound, known locally as Piopiotahi. Sail along the waters that pour out into the Tasman Sea, and look out for bottlenose dolphins and fur seals at play. Nature feels close here in the silence of the sound as you make your way past countless tumbling, misting cascades, soaring icy peaks, lush rainforest and twisting inlets. Soak up the surrounds so stunning that they feel almost fake, and breathe in the crisp mountain air. Afterwards get a different perspective of the sound, surrounded by native bush, as you take on the lookout track with your leader. There’s a bit of a climb, but the views are more than worth it to look down on the water and up at the peaks. The spectacular views keep on coming with a Mirror Lakes walk, where the peaks and greenery reflect in the clear lake waters. Return to Te Anau in time for dinner this evening – maybe seek out some local fare like venison or even lobster for dinner.
Day 3: The Catlins
This morning it’s time to swap one side of the island for the other as you make your way to what feels like a forgotten corner of Otago – the Catlins. This untamed coastal wilderness is home to rugged cliffs, dense forest, and some spectacular hidden waterfalls. Explore the Cathedral Caves, only accessible at low tide after a walk through forest down to the beach. The work of water over thousands of years, the impressive sea cave complex reaches up to 200 metres into the cliff and reach heights of over 30 metres inside. Test the aptness of the name by trying out the church-like acoustics. After lunch take the time to soak up the sights of pounding surf, windswept beaches and sunbathing sea lions as you stroll the sands with your leader.
Day 4: Stewart Island
Head to the very bottom of the island and take a ferry across the Foveaux Strait to the country’s third largest landmass, Stewart Island. It takes about one hour to travel the 30-kilometre strait. The island is almost entirely national park, which makes its unspoiled forests, beaches and bays a haven for hikers of all abilities as well as birdwatchers – it’s home to endangered brown kiwi, flightless Stewart Island kiwi and nearly extinct kakapo parrots. In the Maori language the island is known as Rakiura, which means ‘the land of glowing skies’. So tonight your leader will brief you to find the best nearby vantage point to explore the night sky.
Day 5: Stewart Island
Enjoy a full day to explore the island as you discover the coast and Rakiura National Park. There will be cruises on the bays and inlets spotting penguins and seabirds and walks along forested coastal tracks past early Maori settlements. Learn about the local flora and fauna, and relax on the beach for a picnic lunch. Take in the views over glistening William Bay and see if you can spot the mountains of the South Island in the distance. Then give your legs a rest as you jump in a van for a scenic road trip back to Halfmoon Bay. Return to your accommodation and enjoy the rest of the evening to relax after your full day of island exploration, joining the group for an included dinner at local restaurant tonight.
Day 6: Stewart Island - Queenstown
Your trip comes to an end today when you arrive back in Queenstown at approximately 2 pm. If you have extra time to spend in Queenstown, make sure to get out and take advantage of the numerous adventure activities on offer. The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu not only serve as spectacular props to get your adrenaline fix, they’re also beautiful to look at. The town is also a great base for exploring Central Otago’s excellent vineyards and historic mining towns.
  • Meals: 5 breakfasts, 1 dinner
  • Transport: Private vehicle, Ferry
  • Accommodation: Hotel (5 nights)
  • Milford Sound - Cruise
  • Milford Sound - Leader-led walk to Milford Lookout
  • Milford Sound - Walk to Mirror Lakes and Lake Gunn
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Nugget Point Lighthouse
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Cathedral Caves
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led Dark Sky briefing
Departure dates
Start End Availability Price NZD
31 May 2021 05 Jun 2021 10 $2,308
27 Sep 2021 02 Oct 2021 7 $2,444
25 Oct 2021 30 Oct 2021 10 $2,444
08 Nov 2021 13 Nov 2021 8 $2,444
22 Nov 2021 27 Nov 2021 Fully Booked $2,664
06 Dec 2021 11 Dec 2021 12 $2,444
27 Dec 2021 01 Jan 2022 10 $2,444
03 Jan 2022 08 Jan 2022 9 $2,444
17 Jan 2022 22 Jan 2022 12 $2,444
07 Feb 2022 12 Feb 2022 12 $2,444
14 Mar 2022 19 Mar 2022 8 $2,444
11 Apr 2022 16 Apr 2022 12 $2,444
09 May 2022 14 May 2022 12 $2,715
06 Jun 2022 11 Jun 2022 12 $2,715
19 Sep 2022 24 Sep 2022 12 $2,715
17 Oct 2022 22 Oct 2022 12 $2,715
14 Nov 2022 19 Nov 2022 12 $2,715
12 Dec 2022 17 Dec 2022 12 $2,715
09 Jan 2023 14 Jan 2023 12 $2,715
30 Jan 2023 04 Feb 2023 12 $2,715
20 Feb 2023 25 Feb 2023 12 $2,715
20 Mar 2023 25 Mar 2023 12 $2,715
24 Apr 2023 29 Apr 2023 12 $2,715
15 May 2023 20 May 2023 12 $2,715