Central Otago Off The Beaten Track

easy - twin share - small group

From $3,860 per person

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Saturday 07 – Thursday 12 May 2022 (6 Days)

Discover the diverse landscapes of Central Otago; huge skies, spectacular lakes, barren plains and rugged river canyons. Highlights include Ranfurly, Naseby and St Bathans; the Maniototo International Curling Rink; a Clutha River cruise; a guided orchard tour; Cardrona Distillery; and an exciting 4WD excursion.  We spend two nights at the Cardrona Hotel, one of New Zealand’s oldest and most iconic hotels.  


Day 1          Saturday 07 May 2022
Our tour commences today with a flight from Auckland to Dunedin. Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand, Dunedin wears its Scottish heritage with pride.  She is a city of gracious dignity and charm, characterised by many handsome stone buildings mixed with a quirky city vibe influenced by the local university students.  Upon arrival, we take a brief orientation tour of central Dunedin to see some of the impressive exteriors of Dunedin’s heritage buildings including the Dunedin Railway Station, First Church, and St. Pauls Cathedral in the Octagon.  We dine at the hotel this evening.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, Dunedin

Day 2          Sunday 08 May 2022  
Today we have an early start and head deep into Central Otago visiting some of the small towns and settlements that are definitely ‘off-the-beaten track’.   From Dunedin we head inland through Outram and Mosgiel then head north through the towns of Kokonga and Middlemarch before reaching Ranfurly.   Here we make a stop to visit the largest kennel of Alaskan Malamutes in the Southern Hemisphere.  Nigel & Rose have had a passion for Sled dogs for over 30 years & enjoy sharing their love of their dogs & experiences.  Nearby is Naseby, often referred to as ‘the jewel of the Maniototo’.  One of New Zealand’s unparalleled places, the Maniototo is a vast, soulful plain fringed by craggy, tussock-clad hills and sturdy mountain ranges.  Historically a gold mining centre, Naseby now showcases perfectly preserved Victorian shops and buildings and features New Zealand’s only year-round curling rink – bowling on ice!   At the Maniototo International Curling Rink we don non-slip shoes, receive some tuition then try our hand at this unique game – it’s not a matter of muscle power, just skill and strategy and, of course, good sportsmanship!    Each lane caters for two teams of four players - 8 players in total.  Depending upon final group numbers, we may share lane space with other parties.  As we leave the Maniototo, we pass through the small communities of Wedderburn, Idaburn and Hills Creek before reaching St Bathans.  This tiny town of about 10 permanent residents was once a place of riches as the Otago Gold Rush swept through this region in the mid-late-1800s.   Once a boomtown and home to around 2000 miners, now some buildings from that era remain today and it is easy to imagine the town as it was during the gold rush.    See the iconic Vulcan Hotel built in 1882 and a fine example of mud-brick construction – and reputably haunted!   Across from the Vulcan is the Blue Lake which was created by extensive mining activity.   Surrounding rocks give the water an astonishing blue colour which is offset by surrounding columns of white quartz tailings.  Our destination for the next two nights is Cromwell set on the shores of Lake Dunstan.  Established by gold miners, its treasure is now stone fruit.  In the 1980’s-1990's Cromwell underwent a major transformation with the construction of the Clyde Dam power station.   When the dam was completed in 1992, the valley behind the town was flooded to create Lake Dunstan.  After our day of travels, we dine at our accommodation this evening.
Accommodation:  Heritage Lake Resort Cromwell – 2 nights

Day 3          Monday 09 May 2022  
Our day exploring the region around Clyde and Alexandra commences with a stop at the lookout at the Clyde Dam, the largest concrete gravity dam in New Zealand.   The town of Clyde is steeped in history and culture and would have been rammed with rowdy gold miners in the 1860s.  Here we take some time to explore the perfectly preserved historic buildings precinct and take a potter around the boutique shops.   Alexandra is a gold mining town at its heart with its personality very much rooted around farming and the outdoors.  Time here for a wander then we take a Clutha River Heritage Cruise for a journey back in time venturing through the spectacular scenery of the Roxburgh Gorge to the perfectly preserved gold mines (1860’s) of Doctors Point and Butchers Point. This offers a unique opportunity to explore these isolated reaches of the mighty Clutha River and view some of New Zealand’s best examples of European and Chinese Gold mining.  Commencing with the discovery of gold in New Zealand, all the way through to gold mining during the depression, your skipper will bring to life tales of endeavour and hardship.    Land and take a guided tour of the Doctors Point gold mine, highlighting points of interest and explaining how the mine operated. Guests will view the miners huts tucked away in the spectacular schist formations, an array of gold mining relics and wander through one of the best preserved gold mines in New Zealand.    Then sit back and enjoy a leisurely return trip to Alexandra, with plenty of opportunity to take in the stunning Central Otago scenery. Following our cruise, we retrace our journey our back to Cromwell.   This evening we dine at The Stoaker Room Bistro where they showcase delicious regional cuisine steam baked, steam grilled or smoked in Stoaker Barrels - rustic converted wine barrels!

Day 4          Tuesday 10 May 2022  
The giant fruit sculpture that features on the outskirts of Cromwell hints at the importance of fruit-growing to the region and today we visit Jackson Orchards for a fun, informative and educational insight into one of Central Otago’s orchards.   During our guided tour learn why bees are so vital to growing fruit, why trees here grow on ‘V’ shape trellis and more as we make our way through the orchard. We make a stop at the impressive Highlands Motorsport Park to visit their museum which introduces the history of racing and is home to some of the rarest cars in NZ motorsport history but also some hidden gems that include an authentic American sheriff’s patrol car and the only Aston Martin Vulcan in the Southern Hemisphere.  Opportunity here to pre-book a ‘Supercar Fast Dash’ or a ride in the ‘Highlands Taxi’ a Porsche Cayenne Turbo!  (extra cost for optional excursions).  Located on the shores of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell has the appearance of a modern town, but its history stretches back to the gold rush days of the 1800s.    This history is best experienced in 'Old Cromwell Town’, a mix of original and reconstructed buildings from the old main street of the 1860’s gold town of Cromwell.   We take time to have a wander through this heritage area and a walk along the lakeshore.  This afternoon we travel along the base of the Pisa Range and through the small settlements of Queensberry and Luggate to Wanaka on the shores of Lake Wanaka then head to Cardrona, our home for the next two nights.  Established in 1863, the Cardrona Hotel is one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels and is one of only two remaining buildings from the Cardrona Valley gold rush era.  Rumoured to be the most photographed building in New Zealand, the hotel is certainly one of New Zealand’s most iconic.  Located in a picturesque alpine valley between Queenstown and Wanaka, the hotel blends historic charm with modern comforts.  Dine this evening at the Cardrona Hotel which serves traditional pub favourites with a twist, using the freshest seasonal produce from the Central Otago region.
Accommodation: Cardrona Hotel  - 2 nights

Day 5          Wednesday 11 May 2022  
WANAKA          (BD)
We’ll take a short wander along the lakeshore to see #ThatWanakaTree – reputably one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand!  Then we meet local guides and take an exciting 4WD adventure that encompasses Wanaka’s finest lakeside scenery plus an exciting (and sometimes rugged!) 4WD journey through West Wanaka Station – a real, alpine mountain farm.  This 2½-hour guided scenic safari adventure gives us the rare opportunity to visit a working New Zealand high country farm.  We travel by 4WD and get to take in some of the most stunning scenery Lake Wanaka has to offer and enjoy an easy optional nature walk.  West Wanaka Station is a privately owned family farm and with exclusive access, we will encounter alpaca, red deer, high country cattle, sheep and horses.  We’ll also discover magnificent panoramic views across Lake Wanaka to snow-capped mountains and see locations made famous by the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.  Relax with a cup of coffee and delicious home baking at their exclusive ‘alpine café’ high in the hills.  Mid-afternoon we visit the family owned and operated Cardrona Distillery.   The location in the Cardrona Valley was selected for its pristine location and the pure source of alpine water for producing hand-crafted Single Malt Whisky, Gin, Single Malt Vodka and limited edition Liqueurs.  We’ll discover the secrets to Cardrona’s artisan spirits, starting with the water source, malted barley and yeast.  We’ll see where the malt is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and matured before tasting the wares with a tutored spirit tasting of Cardrona spirits.  After our day of explorations, we’ll dine at the Cardrona Hotel this evening.

Day 6          Thursday 12 May 2022
This morning we head over the famed Crown Range Road, New Zealand’s highest main road and famous for its switchbacks and spectacular views towards Queenstown.  We pass pretty Lake Hayes before arriving at Queenstown Airport.   Our time exploring Central Otago comes to a close as we fly Queenstown to Auckland.

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross Dunedin, Exterior from across the street

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

Scenic Hotel Southern Cross is a landmark building that reflects Dunedin's distinctive charm and heritage along with the modern day comforts in which guests demand. The hotel is located in a prime position, with easy access to Dunedin’s best local attractions and city highlights. Scenic Hotel Southern Cross features 178 attractive rooms and suites, and extensive hotel facilities.

Lake Resort, Cromwell - Villas over water at sunset

Lake Resort Cromwell

Heritage Collection Lake Resort Cromwell, Heritage’s Cromwell hotel, offers guests elegant villa accommodation set on the shores of Lake Dunstan, Central Otago. The boatshed themed accommodation has one and three bedroom villas with decks and access to the waterway, and studio rooms on the upper levels

Cardrona Hotel with Cardrona Car parked in front

Cardrona Hotel

Cardrona Hotel blends historic charm with modern comforts, providing a truly unique experience. Located in a picturesque alpine valley between Queenstown and Wanaka, Cardrona is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate, while still only a stone’s throw from all that Central Otago has to offer. An onsite bar and restaurant, laundry facilities, hot tub, ski drying room and beautiful gardens are all available for guests to enjoy during their stay.

Tour Inclusions

  • Door to door home collection & drop off service available from select areas - further information available here
  • 5 nights accommodation - twin/double rooms, all with private facilities (single rooms available with surcharge)
  • Touring in modern air-conditioned vehicle
  • Roadside Morning Teas – where possible
  • 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 5 dinners included
  • Visit largest kennel of Alaskan Malamutes
  • Learn how to curl at the Maniototo International Curling Rink
  • Visit St Bathans
  • Clutha River Heritage Cruise
  • Guided tour of Jacksons Orchards
  • Admission to Highlands Motorsport Park museum
  • Visit Cardrona Distillery

Tour Payments Per Person ($NZD)

Club Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost:$3,830.00
Non Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost:$3,860.00
Single Supplement:$500.00
Non-refundable deposit due at time of booking$200.00

Full balance of tour payment due by Friday 25 March 2022

Book and pay in full by Friday 07 January 2022 and receive $100.00 discount per person!


Are door to door collections included on this tour? YES

Yes. Leisure Time Tours offers a free home collection and drop off service from selected Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua and most Auckland City areas. Our complimentary collections are based on your individual post code, other home collection locations available at an additional cost. Alternatively you may wish to meet us at our Hamilton depot in which case you can park your car in our secure yard free of charge for the duration of your holiday. For all tours that have a flight component, we can also offer door to door collections from Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin city areas.

Please refer to our Home Collection flyer for further information about this service.

Is the Guaranteed twin Share Price available on this tour? YES

Yes. Our Guaranteed Twin Share price is available for those passengers willing to share with another single traveller of the same gender. If there isn’t another passenger of the same gender to share with we GUARANTEE our twin share price. Leisure Times Tours accepts no responsibility for the compatibility of passengers travelling under this arrangement. If someone is not compatible with the person they have been matched up with, all additional costs incurred to assist with changing their shared room type to two single rooms will be at the expense of both travellers and will be subject to availability. Acceptance of a guaranteed twin share room is subject to the individual’s medical condition being suitable for this type of arrangement.

Please note that the guaranteed twin share pricing is not available to pre & post tour accommodation arrangements.

What fitness level is required for this tour? EASY LEVEL

To ensure that you select the right tour for you, we’ve developed a very clear set of fitness recommendations for our tours. These physical ratings clearly explain how much physical exertion is required to participate on each tour.

Level 1 – Easy

  • Relaxed paced tour
  • Be able to participate in guided or unguided small walking tours at a relaxed pace.
  • Walk on mostly level ground
  • Tackle an occasional flight of stairs
  • Occasionally need to stand for up to 10 minutes
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided

Level 2 – Moderate

  • Be able to participate in walking tours with time to rest at least every 10 minutes
  • Stand for 15 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Tackle a flight of stairs or incline
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided
  • Walk confidently on bush tracks

 Level 3 – Active

  • Participate in walking tours without having to rest for up to 20 minutes
  • Walk up an incline equal to a flight of stairs without stopping
  • Stand for 30 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Walk over uneven ground and walk through soft sand
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided
Is this tour a guaranteed departure? NO

This tour will be guaranteed once there are 10 passengers booked on the tour.

Can you assist with pre & post tour accommodation? YES

Yes we can. Should you wish to arrive earlier or stay longer we can book in some pre and post tour accommodation for you. Please ask at the time of booking if you require this.

Will there be a daily seat rotation on this tour? YES

Passengers rotate seats in the coach daily so that all passengers have the opportunity to enjoy forward and window seating. All passengers are expected to participate as a booking condition.

Are roadside morning teas included on this tour? YES

Yes. A point of difference is that wherever possible we offer our passengers roadside refreshments served from the coach. This gives all passengers the chance to mix and mingle over a hot cuppa allowing us to share our experiences as we journey together.

Do I need travel insurance?

Leisure Time Tours strongly advises all passengers to purchase a travel insurance policy. A comprehensive travel insurance policy may prevent you from spending extra money in case of an emergency and will help you feel protected during your holiday. We are agents for Cover More Travel Insurance. Ask us for a no obligation insurance quote today.

How much luggage can I bring?

Luggage is restricted to one suitcase and one small item of hand luggage per person. Baggage handling of one suitcase per person, at each hotel, is included in the trip price. Carry-on/hand luggage handling is the responsibility of each guest and all personal items must be taken off the coach by you each day of the trip.

What clothing should I pack?

When on tour, dress is generally relaxed and casual with an informal dress standard on most occasions. Casual wear is recommended for travelling with something a little more formal for evening dining. If taking part in outdoor activities, make sure you have a waterproof coat, comfortable footwear and dress in layers to help you adjust to any sudden changes in climate. Be prepared for New Zealand’s powerful sun, even on cold windy days, bringing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Terms & Conditions….
Valid from 14 September 2021

Acceptance of Terms and Conditions
If you book a Packaged Tour with us and pay your deposit, you are deemed to have accepted these terms.  If you booked your Packaged Tour with us through an agent, the agent is deemed to have accepted these terms on your behalf.  We may ask you to sign a copy of these terms when you join your Packaged Tour to provide a record of your acceptance of these terms and you agree to sign these terms on our request.

The itinerary for your Packaged Tour was correct at the time of printing, but it is subject to change without notice.  Your itinerary could change due to road or weather conditions, changes imposed by other tour operators or a range of other factors outside our control.  You agree that we have no liability to you for changes to your itinerary.

Price Amendments
Prices were correct at the time and date of printing, however Leisure Time Travel reserves the right to amend the price subject to any changes in price imposed by other tour operators and carriers included in the itinerary or major fluctuation in the exchange rates, or increases in government or other levies. The final tour cost will be guaranteed not to change once the full and final payment has been received. Tour Price excludes drinks, telephone calls, travel insurance and items of a personal nature. Leisure Time Travel also reserves the right to cancel the tour due to low numbers and in this instance a full refund will be provided.

*Guaranteed Twin Share Prices
Our Guaranteed Twin Share price is available for those passengers willing to share with another single traveller of the same gender. If there isn’t another passenger of the same gender to share with we GUARANTEE our twin share price. Leisure Times Tours accepts no responsibility for the compatibility of passengers travelling under this arrangement. If someone is not compatible with the person they have been matched up with, all additional costs incurred to assist with changing their shared room type to two single rooms will be at the expense of both travellers and will be subject to availability. Acceptance of a guaranteed twin share room is subject to the individual’s medical condition being suitable for this type of arrangement.

Health and Fitness
Passengers should be in good health and able to walk moderate distances to fully participate and experience the sightseeing opportunities within the enclosed itinerary.  All passengers are required to acknowledge that they are of reasonable health and are considered to be fit to travel and are not travelling contrary to any medical advice.  By acknowledging their health and fitness to participate passengers are indemnifying us from all actions, claims and demands arising out of any lack of health and fitness.  We reserve the right to remove a passenger from a tour if their health or fitness interferes with any other passenger’s experiences or the day to day running of the tour.  In this instance our normal cancellation terms and conditions will apply.  You agree that we have no liability to you for any loss, damage, costs or other effects of health problems you may encounter on your Packaged Tour.

Health and Safety Information Including COVID-19
For the health and safety of all passengers on tour any illness (such as fever, coughing or difficulty breathing) will not be accepted onboard the coach unless they can provide us with a negative Covid19 test result received within the past 72 hours.  Should any passenger start to feel unwell on arrival or while on tour, they must immediately advise their tour manager and contact Healthline then visit a medical practitioner/medical centre/hospital.  To return to the tour the passenger must be deemed fit and well to participate fully on a coach tour, obtaining and providing us with a written medical clearance – not just a negative Covid19 test.  Any costs incurred will be at the passenger’s own expense.

COVID-19 Vaccination
Our passengers’ safety, and that of our staff and suppliers, has always been our top priority. As of 1 December 2021, Leisure Time Travel requires all passengers joining our tours to produce proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. If a passenger is unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, they may apply for an exemption to us by providing a medical certificate to us. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19. This is your official vaccination certificate (electronic or paper) and it must identify your name and date of vaccination with final dose given at least 14-days before the start date of your tour.

Payments, Cancellations and Refunds
A non-refundable deposit per person is required at time of booking to confirm your seat. All balance payments must be received by Leisure Time Travel prior to the date specified as per itinerary or your booking confirmation. Payments are available to be made by Cash, Cheque, Direct Credit or EFTPOS only –  Credit Card payments are not available without an additional surcharge.  Leisure Time Travel reserves the right to amend or reschedule the tour due the result of circumstances outside the company’s control. Leisure Time Travel also reserves the right to cancel the tour due to insufficient numbers and in this  instance a substitute date will be offered or a full refund will be made available. Tour Price excludes drinks, telephone calls, travel insurance and items of a personal nature.

Travel Insurance
Leisure Time Travel strongly advises all passengers to purchase a travel insurance policy when booking a tour. A comprehensive travel insurance policy gives peace of mind for unexpected issues or emergencies that may arise prior to or during a tour. We are agents for Cover More Travel Insurance. Cover More now provide insurance cover for a number of COVID-19 related medical, cancellation and amendments costs, giving you confidence to book your trip.  Ask us for a no obligation insurance quote today or further information about travel insurance for your upcoming tour.

New Zealand Cancellation Policy
If you cancel your booking:

  • 42+ days prior to tour commencement, loss of non-refundable deposit
  • 30-41 days prior to tour commencement your cancellation charge will be 50% of the holiday price (50% refund) plus any applicable supplier cancellation fees
  • 30 days prior to tour commencement your cancellation charge will be 100% of the holiday price (no refund)

No refunds on any unused portions of any itinerary.  The exception is if a sightseeing service is cancelled by operator due to weather conditions/safety concerns etc and the operator authorises a refund.  Any such refunds will be processed through agent.
Please note that any applicable airline content does not apply to the above refunds – see your airline for their specific cancellation/refund policies.


COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy
COVID-19 has created uncertainty for us all, therefore for cancellations directly related to COVID-19, we have negotiated special terms with our suppliers which would override ‘normal cancellation’ terms as outlined above;

If the New Zealand Government imposes travel restrictions that would impact our ability to deliver your travel package prior to commencing travel, passengers will receive a full credit, less any applicable airline cancellation fees.  If travel restrictions are imposed while on tour, we will seek credits on any unused portions of the itinerary from all suppliers.  Any applicable credits will first be applied to any additional costs that our company may have incurred on the passenger’s behalf e.g. if alternative accommodation or transportation to repatriate the passenger to their home city or nearest airport etc is required.  Any remaining refunds will be credited to the booking agent to enable them to pass onto their passenger.


Central Otago Off the Beaten Track Map

People walking through old Cromwell Town
Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell
Cromwell Lookout over water
Cardrona Hotel with Cardrona Hotel Classic Car parked out front
Vulcan Hotel, St Bathans through the trees
Naesby International Curling, people having a go on the ice
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