This year, we are spending Christmas at the top of the South Island. We travel down to Wellington by coach and stay overnight, before cruising through the Marlborough Sounds on the Interislander. Christmas Day will be spent in Blenheim, situated in the heart of wine-growing Marlborough. We’ll also travel down the newly rebuilt State Highway 1 to Kaikoura, which was damaged in the November 2016 earthquake. We’ll stay in the alpine village of Hanmer Springs before making our way to Nelson for the final night of the tour.
Sunday 23 December to Friday 28 December 2018 (6 Days)
Day 1- Sunday 23 December 2018 HOME CITIES 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 the 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 we 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 – 1 night
Day 6- Friday 28 December 2018 Nelson to Home Cities (B)
Today we depart our accommodation and make our way to the airport for the flight back to Auckland, keeping with us the fond memories of new acquaintances and lasting images of the beautiful area of the South Island we have experienced.