12 Days South Island Explorer Tour
From $4,660 per person
The South Island has an unparalleled variety of landscapes from the changing views through Arthurs Pass, the majestic Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, to the stunning views across Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, and the remarkable Mountains. One of the highlights of this tour is the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow. Ranked in the top four Warbirds airshow in the world and with certainly the most spectacular scenery! A background of epic mountain ranges and the magnificent Clutha River Valley, this even is a must for everyone – not just aviation enthusiests!
Day 1: Wednesday 8 April 2020 – HOME CITIES TO CHRISTCHURCH (D)
Departing from Auckland (other locations on application) you fly to Christchurch Airport. Welcome to the South Island! Today you are met at the Christchurch Airport and following an orientation tour of Christchurch city, you will be taken to your hotel. The remainder of the day at leisure to relax or stroll around Christchurch. Dinner tonight is included at your hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Elms Hotel, Christchurch
Day 2: Thursday 9 April 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH—FRANZ JOSEF (BD)
From Christchurch we traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthurs Pass. From the carriages, we’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the alpine village of Arthurs Pass by our coach. We continue our journey to the West Coast – or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south we tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. On arrival, time is available for optional scenic flights, before continuing onto our accommodation for the night.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef
Day 3: Friday 10 April 2020 – FRANZ JOSEF TO QUEENSTOWN (B)
Driving towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park we travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makarora and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. Then travel via Cromwell following the Kawarau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Tonight is free for you to explore the local restaurants, cafes and bars.
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel, Queenstown – 4 nights
Day 4: Saturday 11 April 2020 – WARBIRDS OVER WANAKA AIRSHOW (B)
Today we take the journey across to Wanaka for a tour highlight – the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow. This biennial event is the largest warbird airshow in the Southern Hemisphere and showcases some of the world’s best examples of WWII flying aircraft in action. The scenery this show is set in is spectacular! Renowned for its stunning mountains, lakes and wilderness, this natural amphitheatre provides a stunning backdrop for Warbirds Over Wanaka. A General Admission Pass to the airshow included today (can be upgraded to a gold pass for extra cost). At the conclusion of the day’s events, retrace our journey back to Queenstown. Tonight is at leisure for you to sample some of Queenstown’s excellent restaurants, cafés and bars.
Day 5: Sunday 12 April 2020 – WARBIRDS OVER WANAKA AIRSHOW (B)
Again take the journey back to Wanaka for the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow. A General Admission Pass to the airshow included today. At the conclusion of the day’s events, retrace the journey back to Queenstown.
Day 6: Monday 13 April 2020 – QUEENSTOWN AT LEISURE (B)
Today is at leisure. Queenstown has a plethora of optional sightseeing activities available from jet-boating on the thrilling Shotover Jet; a jet-boat excursion along the scenic and remote Dart River; winery tours to the premier Central Otago wineries; 4WD tours into unforgettable Skippers Canyon; scenic flights; fly-fishing or if you dare – bungy jumping or tandem sky-diving! Extra cost for optional sightseeing excursions, please enquire about these at time of booking.
Day 7: Tuesday 14 April 2020 – QUEENSTOWN TO INVERCARGILL (BD)
From Queenstown travel around the shores of Lake Wakatipu on State Highway 6 through farmland and rural communities to Invercargill. On arrival in Invercargill you will have time to purchase lunch, before we make a visit to Queens Park. Highlights of this New Zealand Garden of National Significance include a stunning rose garden, a rhododendron dell, an azalea garden, a Japanese garden, bush paths through a selection of native plants, rock and herb gardens, and a stumpery. An indoor Winter Garden features tropical and flowering plants, and a range of cacti are displayed in an adjoining structure. The park also houses an impressive bird aviary, farmyard area, and animal enclosures. This afternoon, we visit Bill Richardson’s Transport World. This is the largest private collection of its type in the world. Designed to have something for everyone and, not just for vehicle enthusiasts, Transport World is proving popular with guests from all walks of life. Housed in over 15,000sqm of exquisite ‘sheds’ are over 300 vehicles including retro Kombi’s, Henry Ford Letter Cars, Model T’s, stunning 1930’s V8’s and over 200 vintage petrol pumps. We then check in at our accommodation in Invercargill where we stay for the next two nights. Dinner tonight is included at the hotel.
Accommodation: Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill – 2 nights
Day 8: Wednesday 15 April 2020 – STEWART ISLAND (B)
This morning we travel to Bluff. As an option we board the catamaran to Stewart Island (extra cost). Stewart Island is a relatively unspoilt paradise of native bush, rain forests, sand dunes and wetlands boasting wonderful birdlife. It is home to 130 different species of birds – some of them rare, and some endangered including the Southern Tokoeka, one of five species of Kiwi. On arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of Oban Village and the surrounding bays. Highlights include the Rakiura National Park entrance at Lee Bay, Halfmoon and Horseshoe Bay and views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock. After the tour, there is time for you to browse the shops before returning to Bluff by ferry. Those not choosing the Stewart Island option, today is at leisure in Invercargill. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 9: Thursday 16 April 2020 – INVERCARGILL TO DUNEDIN VIA CATLINS (BD)
Today we travel across flat farmland towards the east coast and the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins to Dunedin. The Catlins is a place of awesome natural beauty with dense forest, farmland, towering cliffs, rocky coastal bays. There are wonderful views of this rugged coastline as the road winds north. En-route stops will be made to see some of the interesting places the Catlins offers. This wild coast claimed many ships and as a result, two lighthouses are features. The first of these at Waipapa Point was the scene of New Zealand’s worst civilian shipping disaster. At Curio Bay see one of the world’s most extensive and least disturbed examples of a Jurassic fossilised forest.. The walking path to the spectacular Nugget Point lighthouse offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the coast. Continuing north the road turns inland through the small town of Balclutha on the banks of the Clutha River then travels through rolling sheep country to Dunedin. Dinner tonight is included at the hotel.
Accommodation: The Victoria Hotel, Dunedin – 2 nights
Day 10: Friday 17 April 2020 – DUNEDIN (B)
Today is at leisure. Choose from the many optional activities that Dunedin has to offer. Perhaps a visit to Olveston House, a Jacobean style home filled with early New Zealand paintings and antiques. Perhaps this afternoon join the Taieri Gorge Train excursion to the extremities of Dunedin City some sixty kilometres from the station. Enquire with the office about pre-booking optional activities.
Day 11: Saturday 18 April 2020 – DUNEDIN TO CHRISTCHURCH (BD)
Depart Dunedin travelling north across the Otago Hills. At Moeraki we make a stop to see the fascinating giant marble like boulders on the beach. Pass through Oamaru and Timaru and cross the sheep and cropping areas of the fertile Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. The snow-capped Southern Alps can be seen to the West for much of the journey. This afternoon enjoy we get the feel of this ‘English City’ with a sightseeing tour of Christchurch City. Our first visit is the Canterbury Museum, where we learn about the history and geography of the area. Other sights include Christ College, Hagley Park, and the Art Centre, with a stop at Sumner for a walk along the beach. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Elms Hotel, Christchurch
Day 12: Sunday 19 April 2020 – DEPART CHRISTCHURCH (B)
Farewell from the South Island! This morning you are transferred to the Christchurch Airport to connect with your flight to your home port.