The Deep South awaits

Southern Explorer

Cruising Stewart Island

Discover the adventure, nature, and raw untainted beauty of the deep south.

If you want to see the deep, deep south, then you've come to the right place. The deep south is hidden away, but with us it is super easy to access and discover. We are along side you throughout the entire journey.

This unforgettable tour starts and finishes in Dunedin, and comprises of coach transport to Invercargill, cruising throughout Stewart Island for a week, immersing yourself in all things seafood at the Bluff Oyster festival, then touring on our coach around the jaw dropping sights of the Catlins, before returning to Dunedin.

For a true experience of the deep, deep south, there is no better tour than our mighty Southern Explorer!

Is this tour for me?
Reserve your spot
per person
initial deposit
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*Custom departure points available for all tours

What’s included?
9 nights
All activities stated in itinerary
All transport
Expert local guides
All meals
Moderate - High fitness level

Tour highlights


Day 1

Whanganui / Home – Invercargill

Whanganui / Home (May 15th)

Depart Whanganui racecourse at 7.30am, and travel to Levin for some freshly baked morning tea. From here, travel into Wellington airport in time to catch our 1pm flight to Dunedin.

*If you are flying into Dunedin from another destination, you will meet the tour leader at the airport (all tickets and details will be provided in your personal information pack sent prior to travel).


After we have collected our luggage, we board the coach and head south down SH1 to Invercargill. We arrive at our comfortable accommodation in time for dinner, before resting our head for the night.

Accommodation: Ascot Park Hotel

Day 2

 Invercargill – Stewart Island

 Invercargill (May 16th)

After a scrumptious breakfast, we take the short drive down to Bluff to catch the ferry over to Stewart Island. The one hour journey across the Foveaux Strait is on board a purpose-built catamaran, and the friendly and helpful crew on board will provide an informative commentary and point out many places of interest, as well as any wildlife.

On arrival at Halfmoon Bay wharf, we are met by the crew of Affinity who will be hosting us for our Stewart Island Cruise. Once onboard Affinity, you will be shown to your cabins, then it is time to join Stewart Island Experience for a Village and Bays Tour. During this tour, you will explore Oban and the surrounding bays in a minibus, guides will share their local knowledge of the history and environment of Stewart Island, and you will gain an insight into New Zealand’s southernmost community. During your tour, there is plenty of time available for photo stops and short walks. Highlights include Lee Bay, the gateway to Rakiura National Park, beautiful Horseshoe Bay and stunning views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock. When the tour is finished you will return to Affinity and lunch will be served.

After lunch, it is back ashore to walk to Ackers Point (approximately two hours return), or you can choose to enjoy time to yourself around the township.

We all meet back onboard Affinity for afternoon tea, as we cruise to our overnight anchorage in Paterson Inlet.

Accommodation: Onboard our vessel, Affinity

Stewart Island
Day 3

Stewart Island Cruising

Stewart Island Cruising (May 17th)

After breakfast, we will cruise to one of our secret spots and you will have the opportunity to fish for Stewart Island Blue Cod. On completion of fishing, we cruise back into the shore to walk from Horseshoe Bay to Port William, where the vessel will be awaiting your return with fresh fish on the menu for dinner. If you prefer to stay onboard to enjoy this peace of paradise, you are more than welcome.

Accommodation: Onboard our vessel, Affinity

Day 4

Stewart Island Cruising

Stewart Island Cruising (May 18th)

Today, we visit the outstanding Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary which is a highlight of Stewart Island for many people. Keep your eyes and ears open as you may well see and hear Saddlebacks, Tui, Bellbirds, Stewart Island Robins, Kiwis, Kakas and Keas.

Ulva Goodwillie, your guide, who is named after the Island, is a direct descendant of the first Maori people of Stewart Island. She is passionate and truly knowledgeable about this special place and would love to share it with you. She provides you with a unique experience, learning about native flora and fauna from a local Stewart Island perspective. We will drop the guide back at the main island then cruise to an overnight anchorage.

Accommodation: Onboard our vessel, Affinity

Day 5

Stewart Island Cruising

Stewart Island Cruising (May 19th)

Today, we will cruise into Glory Cove and look at the salmon and mussel farms while explaining the processes these types of marine farms go through.

We will then cruise to Millers Beach in Paterson Inlet where you have the opportunity to go ashore for a short stroll to the old whaler’s repair base, which was used by the Antarctic whalers. There are sign posted history boards here to show you this important part of whaling history.

We will take a short cruise to Kaipipi Bay where you have the option to go ashore to walk through the native bush back to Golden Bay (this is a four hour walk) where Affinity will be awaiting your return.

Accommodation: Onboard our vessel, Affinity

Day 6

 Stewart Island Cruising

 Stewart Island Cruising (May 20th)

Today after breakfast, we cruise to Port Adventure where you will go ashore to wander and explore the beautiful sandy beaches and inlets – you never know what treasures you may find washed up on the beach.

Accommodation: Onboard our vessel, Affinity

Day 7

Stewart Island - Invercargill

Stewart Island - Invercargill (May 21st)

As today is your last day onboard Affinity, we reflect on the adventures we have shared as we leisurely cruise back to Halfmoon Bay, stopping on the way for another nature walk.


The vessel and crew bid you farewell at 1500 hours, when you board the fast ferry back to the mainland, and then board our coach to return to Invercargill.

Accommodation: Ascot Park Hotel

Day 8

Bluff Oyster Festival

Bluff Oyster Festival (May 22nd)

The salty seaside township of Bluff is home to this festive event, and brought to you by the locals of Bluff with a uniquely Southland flavour. There is a large range of entertainment, such as numerous street stalls, live music, the oyster opening and eating competitions.

Complementing the sumptuous Bluff oyster is a variety of other seafoods available such as crayfish, paua, scallops, salmon, blue cod and whitebait. There is also local fare that will tempt any taste buds like the sought after muttonbird, venison, lamb, beef, and pork, all washed down with great Southern ales and a selection of New Zealand wines.

To ensure you can make the most of this day, you will be given a return bus ticket which will pick you up and drop you off at our accommodation at various times throughout the day, so you can choose how long to spend in Bluff. We all meet back for dinner to swap stories of this great, unique day in the deep south.

Accommodation: Ascot Park Hotel

Day 9

Invercargill - Catlins Coast – Dunedin

Invercargill - Catlins Coast (May 23rd)

Today is a real day of exploring as we travel the spectacular Catlins Coast. You will experience the world of native forests fringed by high cliffs, deserted sandy beaches, sparkling bays, cascading waterfalls, picturesque lighthouses and even a petrified forest. These environments are home to an array of fauna, from native birds, to seals, sea lions, dolphins, and penguins. The Catlins natural landscapes are enthralling, and the wildlife is extraordinary, and we will be seeing the best of this hidden gem.


We arrive in our great central Dunedin hotel in time for our last dinner together, and a toast to this amazing trip exploring the lower reaches of the beautiful south.

Accommodation: The Victoria Hotel

Day 10

Dunedin – Whanganui / Home

Dunedin (May 24th)

After a relaxing start to the day, we board the coach and head out to the Dunedin airport to catch our 11am flight back to Wellington, where you will be transferred back to Whanganui, or any other region you call home.

Whanganui / Home

Optional extras

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Meet your tour guides

Jason Granville

After years in the broadcasting industry, Jase hung up his headphones to run Take It Easy Tours. This has meant he can still pick up the microphone to inform travellers and encourage friendly banter while on tour.

Jimmy Elliott

Jimmy has a wealth of experience and uses this to ensure all trips with Take It Easy Tours are well organised, informative, diverse and a whole heap of fun.

Reserve your spot

initial deposit
Payment plans available
per person

Frequently asked questions

Can you collect me from my door?

Yes, it would be our pleasure. We can arrange for you to be picked up and returned to your front door at the conclusion of any tour.

How about travel insurance?

We strongly recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. It just puts your mind at ease. Remember to make sure you are covered for and loss of personal possessions, sickness, accidents or travel delays. Feel free to ask us for any tips to make this quick and easy for you.

How active are your tours?

We are called Take it Easy for a reason as we like to do just that. Do as much or as little as you like - after all it's your holiday! However, there is walking and various activities on each tour that require various levels of fitness. Please check with us if you are unsure about anything and relax knowing that there's always another option for you if you would rather miss out on any activity. We always have a back up plan.

I have some dietary requirements?

Please just let us know in advance and we will sort everything for you. Chefs are used to all sorts now when it comes to diet so as long as we know - we’ll have you covered.

What happens if I have to cancel?

Cancellation charges do apply so again we recommend travel insurance. Our cancellation policy is clearly outlined for each tour so make sure you cast your eye over it and please feel free to ask any questions.

What kind of accommodation do we stay in?

Having a good night's rest after a day out touring is very important so we personally choose all of our accommodation. Generally, four star accommodation when available - with all the comforts you need for a relaxed night.

What types of transport do we use?

Our buses are quality touring coaches that are very comfortable and fully air conditioned. They range in size from 19-28 seats ensuring that we can easily access all those secret spots off the beaten track. All vehicles are regularly serviced as your safety is our priority.

Coaches and luggage trailers are always locked and secure but we recommended you take any valuables with you when staying overnight.

Can I earn Air New Zealanad airpoints on my flights?

Yes, you can earn airpoints with Take It Easy Tours when we are using Air New Zealand flights. All you need to do is get in contact with us and let us know your airpoints number for each time you wish to earn points.

Still have questions?

Get in touch with our friendly staff

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