Christmas and New Year Combo
Join us for an extended break away over this year’s festive season. Travel to Wellington, before enjoying Christmas Day Lunch at Blenheim, bring in the New Year in Nelson, where we will explore what the Nelson & Tasman Region has to offer. This is a well balanced tour taking in the popular sights and activities, but all at a relaxed pace.
Sunday 23 December 2018 to Thursday 3 January 2019 (12 Days)
Day 1 – Sunday 23 December 2018 Hamilton to Wellington (D)
Today we commence our Christmas Tour heading south via Taupo and the Desert Road to our first nights’ accommodation in Wellington. The Pohutukawa trees along the coastal route from Paraparaumu will be a sight to see, indicating Christmas is upon us – our very own New Zealand Christmas Trees. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington – 1 night
Day 2 – Monday 24 December 2018 Wellington to Blenheim (BD)
This morning, we make our way to the ferry terminal to board the Interislander for our sea voyage across the Cook Strait to Picton. The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton is one of New Zealand’s most iconic tourist experiences. During your Interislander journey, take a stroll on the decks, perhaps enjoy a meal (own cost), a drink, or even catch the latest movie release. Or, of course, simply be awed by the breathtaking views. On arrival in Picton, you have time to purchase lunch and browse the shops before we travel to Blenheim. Blenheim is situated in the heart of wine-growing Marlborough and is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand, with an estimated average of 2,438 hours of sunshine a year. On arrival, we will visit one of Marlborough’s premium wineries, Villa Maria. Here we will sample their award winning wine & learn about the Villa Maria range. After this, we travel to our accommodation for the next two nights. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at our hotel.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim – 2 nights
Day 3 – Tuesday 25 December 2018 Blenheim (BLD)
Today we’ll enjoy a leisurely morning, before enjoying a delicious Christmas Lunch at the hotel. After lunch, we embark on a scenic drive around Marlborough. Our first stop will be Pelorus Bridge. Here we can walk through the Beech and Podo-carp Forest as well as view the many sculptured boulders in the Pelorus River. After Pelorus Bridge, we visit Havelock, known for being the world famous Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. We then retrace our steps back to Blenheim for the evening, and we will have dinner in the hotel.
Day 4 – Wednesday 26 December 2018 Blenheim to Hanmer Springs (BD)
After breakfast this morning, we depart Blenheim, and travel along the rugged coastline through to Kaikoura. This stretch of highway was closed following the Seddon Earthquake in November 2016. The earthquake pushed the land up by up to seven metres, and at Ohau Point 160,000m3 of slip material had covered the highway. This road is now being rebuilt and will still feature the amazing scenery this road was known for prior to the earthquake. The seaside settlement of Kaikoura, is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow-capped for many months of the year. After a lunch stop in Kaikoura (own cost) we continue our journey to the alpine village of Hanmer Springs. Hanmer Springs is a village of around 1,000 permanent residents with so much to offer, from the award-winning thermal pools to the many outdoor adventures and activities. Dinner tonight will be at our motel.
Accommodation: Hot Springs Motor Lodge – 1 night
Day 5 – Thursday 27 December 2018 Hanmer Springs to Nelson (BD)
After breakfast this morning, we depart Hanmer Springs, and travel north via the Lewis Pass up to Nelson, and meet up with the passengers arriving for the New Year Tour. The city of Nelson is an area well known for its fruit growing, secluded beaches and high ratio of sunshine hours. It is also the place where Baron Rutherford “the father of nuclear physics” began his life and early education. There is a memorial at Brightwater to mark the birthplace of this man who first split the atom. This afternoon we enjoy an orientation of Nelson and Tahunanui before settling into our accommodation for the evening. Tonight we will enjoy our farewell dinner at the Speights Ale House.
Accommodation: Beachcomber Motor Inn, Nelson – 6 nights
Day 6 – Friday 28 December 2018 Nelson City Sights (BD)
This morning, we’ll say farewell to some of our passengers departing today, before visiting the Wearable Arts Museum and Classic Cars Collection. All of the garments on display have performed on stage in the annual World of Wearable Art™ Awards. Here you will truly appreciate the intricate detailing of these incredible creations. The Classic cars are some of the most sought after models in Classic Motoring, presented to the highest standard, with some having undergone extensive restoration. As well as being classic examples of automotive technology, these cars tell an important story about the Twentieth Century. This afternoon we visit McCashins Brewery for a guided tour of the brewery. The knowledgeable tour guide will take us through the history of the brewery, the process to create their fine Stoke and Rochdale products, and show us the features of the brewery. On completion of the tour, we’ll have the opportunity to sample a range of their beer and cider and you will be given a take home souvenir glass. The distinctive range of beverages is lovingly handcrafted from traditional recipes that have been the pride of the McCashin family for almost 30 years. They use only the finest natural ingredients, sourced mainly from the Nelson region. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 7 – Saturday 29 December 2018 Abel Tasman National Park (BD)
Departing Nelson we travel to the golden sand beaches of Kaiteriteri where we board our cruise boat travelling around and through various bays and beach areas. We will stop in Motueka on our way for a cuppa and for you to purchase lunch to enjoy on the cruise. While on board the cruise, we’ll get a chance to see and photograph the world-famous Split Apple Rock from close up, see native Fur Seals (Kekeno) in their natural habitat, marvel at the golden sands and the turquoise waters of the Astrolabe Roadstead, Anchorage, Bark Bay and Medlands Beach all before returning to Kaiteriteri. On our way back to Nelson we will stop at Mapua Wharf, where you can browse the selection of shops and galleries, or simply enjoy an icecream on the wharf. We will visit the Eyebright Store which was started in 1986 on the Appleby Plains in sunny Nelson, by Adrienne and Peter Owen who still run the business today. What began as a tiny endeavour growing dried flowers on 1/8 of an acre in the midst of a burgeoning cafe, wine and arts region, gradually expanded as the demand for flowers grew and Eyebright supplied stores throughout NZ. Tonight we will enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 8 – Sunday 30 December 2018 Nelson Sightseeing (B)
This morning we enjoy a visit to Nelson Provincial Museum. The Lower Gallery leads visitors through an exploration of Te Tau Ihu, top of the South Island from Tasman Bay to Golden Bay. This treasure-filled exhibition focuses on the region’s facinating history and identity, offering the opportunity for hours of discovery. The upper level and gallery are used for exhibitions with local, topical, cultural or international themes. A vibrant stained-glass window featuring New Zealand’s unique creatures and plants may be admired from the top floor. After our museum visit, there will be time to purchase lunch from a local café, and browse the shops within the city centre. This afternoon, we visit Founders Heritage Park for a self guided visit through a village of character buildings that are set in beautiful well established gardens. Explore displays of Nelson’s heritage, learn the stories of the local people and meet the working artisans. The iconic Windmill Gift Shop has a range of local crafts made onsite and fun old-school gifts that will take you back to your childhood. Tonight is free for you to explore the local restaurants.
Day 9 – Monday 31 December 2018 Nelson Lakes (BD)
Today we enjoy a scenic drive to the Nelson Lakes District. Nelson Lakes National Park is the northernmost part of the Southern Alps. From every angle you will find you need to stop and photograph the impressive native beech forests, river valleys, glacial lakes and craggy peaks. This area features two lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa. Our visit today will take us to St Arnaud which sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. We will take the opportunity of stopping at Lake Rotoiti, to enjoy a picnic lunch (own cost) taking in the stunning views of the lake stretching all the way to snow-capped mountains in the distance. After lunch, we journey back to Nelson. Tonight we will have a group dinner at our hotel.
Day 10 – Tuesday 1 January 2019 Nelson City Sights (BD)
Happy New Year! Today we celebrate the New Year with a visit to Washbourn Gardens. We will make a stop at a venue for you to purchase something for a picnic lunch before our visit. The Gardens take their name from Doctor Washbourn who owned the house and all the land right up to Hill Street in the early part of last century. The house was built in 1924 but sadly Doctor Washbourn died in 1926. Features of the gardens are the Fuchsia House, The Old Richmond Gaol which is a point of historical interest, The Fernery, The Begonia House and The Currie Gazebo. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax before we begin the journey home tomorrow. Tonight we’ll have dinner at the hotel.
Day 11 – Wednesday 2 January 2019 Nelson to Wellington (BD)
Departing Nelson we travel over the Whangamoa Saddle. This time we will make time to stop at the Pelorus Bridge and some may like to do the short bush walk to stretch your legs before boarding the Interislander for our return journey out through the Marlborough Sounds, and the open seas of Cook Strait to Wellington. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at our hotel.
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington – 1 night
Day 12 – Thursday 3 January 2019 Wellington to Home Cities (B)
This morning we farewell the capital city and begin our journey home via State Highway 1. Bid farewell to your driver and the new friends you have made while enjoying the tour.