New Zealand South Island self drive tour, Lakes & Alps

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our partners behind this vacation promote inclusivity on all their trips and across their business and we are all committed to ensuring travelers face no discrimination on any part of the trip they control.
Dietary requirements:
We can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

This self-drive adventure gives you the freedom to explore the natural wonders of New Zealand's South Island by road, train, on foot and even by boat. By not taking any flights, using local owned transport, and walking, you can see much more of the islandís stunning landscape and local heritage.

New Zealand is abundant with beautiful National Parks which are protected to preserve native wildlife and plant species. The Department of Conservation manages the largest areas of these, running programmes to restore species and heritage, and provide opportunities for people to engage with nature. They also manage threats to places and species, including fire, biosecurity and climate change. Through DOC we can offer a wealth of information including maps, policies, alerts, weather, track information, safety outdoors, litter guidelines, wildlife protection, and care codes. And any money for entrance fees and DOC guides mean we are supporting the ongoing conservation efforts on research and development ideas, and summer scholarship projects, and native species-specific protection programmes.

This itinerary takes you to many of the breath-taking lakes and glaciers of the South Island which are in protected National Parks managed by The Department of Conservation. As well as providing great insight into the formation of the lakes and the region, each Visitor Centre offers education on environmental issues and how to travel responsibly through the area. Providing information on safety, and guidelines for the protection of wildlife, nature and marine mammals. There is also the opportunity to book local tours to glaciers, boat trips and trekking with the benefit of an expert local guides employed by DOC.

You will visit the South Islandís largest national park, Fiordland National Park, with the largest tract of untouched forest in New Zealand. Here you will find Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area and learn about native flora, fauna and history with a local guide. You will also see New Zealand's third largest national park, Mt Aspiring National Park with spectacular mountains, glaciers, alpine lakes, and home to a diverse range of landscapes with varied ecosystems.

For our self-drive itineraries we have chosen a hire car company in lie with the principles we believe in, also supporting the Tiaki promise. This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available, and if you want to go the extra eco-mile, there's an option to upgrade to a hybrid vehicle.

The Impacts of this Trip

There is no better way to learn about the area and community than through the people, and New Zealand excels in small, family-run bed and breakfasts which are featured in this tour. Feel the warmth of the Kiwi people as they open their homes and share their passion for their homeland. One example of this is Westwood Lodge which has made a commitment to reduce their footprint on by adopting sustainable environmental, economic and social practices. Management and staff are all actively involved in an ongoing commitment to reduce their impact on the natural environment.

We recognise the importance of supporting local cultures through tourism, and are proud to use local companies on the ground which give jobs to people in the area, maintaining the heritage and localised knowledge, as well as supporting families. We wish for tourism to have a positive effect on the local communities you visit, helping them to thrive by giving revenue directly to the people. By using locally owned and operated hotels, transport, local expert guides, and local producers, we can ensure this happens. We also support the Department of Conservation National Parks which provide employment across the country in conservation, research and tourism.

In this self-drive itinerary we recommend stop-offs along the way to eat at locally owned cafes and restaurants and go to local shops, in order to support small businesses, as well as give you the real taste of Kiwi culture. Visit historic settlements in the Bendigo Reserve steeped in local history of the Otago gold rush, and the quaint village of Tarras with many local artists and craftsman's wares for sale plus some fine local foods.

We also want to celebrate the traditions of the Maori people, by giving you the opportunity to visit and learn about their culture on this tour. This allows you to contribute to the Maori way of life, with all activity fees going directly to support the local Maori community.


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