Christmas & New Year Tour

Easy Twin Share

From $6,255 per person

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Friday 23 December 2022 – Tuesday 03 January 2023 (12 Days)

Celebrate Christmas and welcome in 2023 with us as we explore the top of the South Island. This tour is packed full of history, nature encounters on land and sea and plenty of good food and company. Highlights include the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant, Kaikoura Whale Watching, and a Queen Charlotte Sound cruise. Don’t miss out on this great holiday season experience.

Day 1              Friday 23 December 2022
ARRIVE NELSON          (D)
We begin our tour today with a flight from Auckland to Nelson. Located on the shores of Port Nelson the city is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art Iovers and is New Zealand’s largest fishing port as well as one of the country’s sunniest cities. On arrival we visit the Classic Cars Museum, where we experience a world class collection of classic cars. After our museum visit, we arrive at our accommodation and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Heritage Rutherford Hotel, Nelson – 3 nights

Day 2              Saturday 24 December 2022  
Today we travel to Kaiteriteri, gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. On arrival we enjoy a picnic lunch before departing on a Sea Shuttle catamaran for a cruise along the stunning shoreline of Abel Tasman National Park. En route learn about the history of the park and view the famous Split Apple Rock, a fur seal colony, and the golden beaches and crystal-clear waters of Abel Tasman National Park. This afternoon on our way back to Nelson we stop in at Mapua Wharf which is home to a vibrant collection of restaurants, cafes, galleries, and boutique stores. Dinner is included in the hotel restaurant this evening.

Day 3              Sunday 25 December 2022  
Merry Christmas!
After a leisurely morning, we enjoy a delicious Christmas Day Lunch in the hotel restaurant. This afternoon, we take a scenic drive to the Nelson Lakes District. Nelson Lakes National Park is the northernmost part of the Southern Alps. This area features two lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa. Our visit today takes us to St Arnaud which sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti taking in the stunning views of the lake stretching all the way to snow-capped mountains in the distance.  Tonight we have dinner at our hotel.

Day 4              Monday 26 December 2022  
Departing Nelson we drive south through the lovely Waimea Valley once well known for the growing of tobacco.   Continuing south through rugged and remote bush covered mountains, the road follows the Buller River towards the coast. Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Buller Gorge before reaching the West Coast. We continue down the coast to the small settlement of Punakaiki on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. Punakaiki is renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and blowholes. These stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature. There is time on arrival for those who wish to do the loop walk to view the Pancake Rocks, otherwise take time to relax at our overnight accommodation. We enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: The Ocean View Retreat, Punakaiki

Day 5              Tuesday 27 December 2022  
Today we head inland to Reefton and cross the Lewis Pass, the northernmost of the three main passes across the Southern Alps The journey through Springs Junction, Maruia Springs then across the Lewis Pass is very pretty. We continue to the small alpine village of Hanmer Springs, a quiet resort town famed for its hot thermal water pools. There is time available here to purchase lunch (own cost) and for those who wish to have a soak at the hot pools (own cost, remember to bring swimwear and a towel). From Hanmer Springs, we travel through the wine region of Waipara before arriving in Christchurch. We enjoy a brief orientation tour of the city before checking into our accommodation for the next three nights. We dine in the hotel restaurant this evening.
Accommodation: The Chateau on the Park, Christchurch – 3 nights

Day 6              Wednesday 28 December 2022
This morning is at leisure to explore Christchurch. Our hotel is located across the road from Hagley Park, so perhaps enjoy a stroll through Hagley Park to the Botanic Gardens or explore the central city to view the new buildings that have been constructed since the devastating Canterbury Earthquake in 2011. This afternoon we reconvene as a group and travel out towards the Port Hills to enjoy a ride on the Christchurch Gondola. Take in the spectacular 360-degree views and see Christchurch from a different perspective: gaze at the snow-capped Southern Alps, sprawling Canterbury Plains and the sparkling waters of Pegasus Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Tonight we dine on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant, New Zealand’s only restaurant tramcar. Experience the luxury of the colonial style dining tram and be treated to the finest service, cuisine and beverages New Zealand has to offer. Incorporate fabulous dining with a sightseeing tour showcasing Christchurch’s inner-city vibrancy and heritage – truly a mix of the old and the new.

Day 7              Thursday 29 December 2022  
Today we travel to the historical seaside village of Akaroa. On arrival we visit the fabulous Giant’s House where the sculpture mosaic garden is colourful, exuberant, interactive, fun, and full of surprises. There is time available in Akaroa to wander through the main street of the village and purchase lunch (own cost). We leave behind this quaint town to travel through Gebbies Pass to Charteris Bay, where we visit Orton Bradley Park, a private rural property situated on the southern shores of Lyttelton Harbour. A local guide gives us a talk on the history of the gardens on the property as we walk around. In addition to the talk and fantastic garden walks, the heritage buildings are also open allowing us to explore how life was over 100-years ago. From Charteris Bay we arrive into the seaside port of Lyttelton. The Port is the major trade gateway to the South Island. Every day goods are loaded and unloaded which keep Canterbury moving. We return to Christchurch via the Lyttelton Tunnel.  The tunnel opened in 1964 and saves 8-km in distance between Lyttelton and Christchurch and avoids the hill climb. On arrival back into Christchurch, the evening including dinner is at leisure.

Day 8              Friday 30 December 2022  
Departing Christchurch today we travel across the northern Canterbury Plains to climb into the Hunderlee Ranges before dropping down and heading towards the coast. The road north follows the indentations of a wild coastline constantly changing seascapes as it skirts an exposed rock-strewn shore at the foot of the seaward Kaikoura Mountains. There are spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean as we head to Kaikoura, this coastal town is renowned for its abundant and varied marine life. The sea around Kaikoura is rich in nutrients, which attracts a wide variety of sea life. On arrival in Kaikoura there is time to purchase lunch (own cost) before we visit the Kaikoura Museum.  The impressive collections and exhibitions bring to life the richness of the unique heritage of Kaikoura’s diverse and colourful history. The exhibitions highlight the district’s fascinating connection with the spectacular ocean on its doorstep. The Kaikoura Earthquake Exhibition is a compelling exhibition that looks at the impacts of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake on the people, landscape and the natural environment. There is time to explore the exhibits on our self-guided visit to the museum. After our museum visit we check in to our accommodation for the evening. We enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight.
Accommodation: Sudima Hotel, Kaikoura – 1 night

Day 9              Saturday 31 December 2022  
Our highlight for today is a Whale Watch experience. We board the modern purpose-built catamaran for an exciting close-up encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment. The upwelling of nutrient rich waters around Kaikoura support an abundant and diverse fauna of vertebrates, fish and marine mammals. At times we may also see Dusky Dolphins and the rare Hector Dolphins, NZ fur seals, sea lions and a large variety of seabirds including the smallest of the penguins, the little Blue Penguin. Following our exciting Whale Watch experience, there is time to purchase lunch (own cost) in town. This afternoon we travel north following the rugged coastline before arriving in Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine country. A visit to Marlborough wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the excellent wines being produced here so we visit one of Marlborough’s premier wineries and sample their award-winning wines, before arriving at our accommodation for the next three nights. Dinner is at our hotel tonight.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim – 3 nights

Day 10            Sunday 01 January 2023
Happy New year!
We start the day with a visit to Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum for a self-guided tour of the Knights of the Sky and Dangerous Skies exhibitions.  The development of aviation and the stories of the men that flew them are brought to life in two distinctive exhibitions. The first featuring the extensive collection of World War I aircraft and rare memorabilia belonging to Sir Peter Jackson and showcasing the talents of WingNut Films and Weta Workshop in Knights of the Sky. The second exhibition, the story of aviation continues with Dangerous Skies in World War II, the aircraft, some exclusive to Omaka, are given the trademark theatrical treatment the museum has become famous for. Afterwards, we embark on a scenic drive around Marlborough. Our first stop is at the 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 Mussel Capital of the World. We retrace our steps back to Blenheim, where the remainder of the afternoon including dinner is at leisure.

Day 11            Monday 02 January 2023  
Before travelling out to Picton, we stop in at Makana Confections, a boutique chocolate factory and sample their divine hand-made chocolates. We travel to Picton, where there is time to take a walk along the pretty foreshore and purchase lunch (own cost). This afternoon we explore Queen Charlotte Sound by boat. The Beachcomber mail boat is the only official licensed New Zealand Post Rural Delivery service in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Share the excitement of mail days as the skipper delivers mail, freight and groceries to the families who live in the various bays, inlets and coves of the Sound. At the conclusion of our cruise, we retrace our steps back to Blenheim. We enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight.

Day 12            Tuesday 03 January 2023  
Today we say farewell to our travelling companions as our tour concludes with our flight from Blenheim to Auckland.

The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson exterior car port

Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

Rutherford Hotel Nelson is within easy walking distance of the central city and close to many of the attractions the area has to offer, boasting a unique blend of local charm and cosmopolitan sophistication. Guest facilities at the hotel include restaurants, a bar, cafe, gym, sauna and outdoor swimming pool. Many of the 113 guest rooms have been recently refurbished and offer a range of in-room amenities as well as access to the hotel's facilities.

Ocean View Retreat Punakaiki

The Ocean View Retreat, Punakaiki

Located on right on the stunning beach in Puankaiki, the Ocean view Retreat offers spectacular accommodation and views. Relax and take in the wilderness and tranquillity of this area from the deck onsite. There are plenty of walks and stretches of beach to wander, and the retreat is close to the famous Pancake Rocks.

Pinnacles Motel & Edge Resort

Chateau on the Park

Set in five acres of beautifully landscaped garden, The Chateau on the Park boasts a moat, private vineyard and a rose garden, a tranquil retreat only minutes from the many attractions of the area. The Deluxe Rooms offer a comfortable stay in a spacious, well equipped guest room featuring spectacular garden views, small seating area and ensuite.

Sudima Kaikoura

Sudima Kaikoura

Opening in Spring of 2022, this superbly located Sudima hotel is right on the shoreline of Kaikoura, offering stunning views of both the water and the mountains and within easy walking distance to the township.

Scenic Hotel Marlborough Exterior Patio Area

Scenic Hotel Marlborough

Scenic Hotel Marlborough is a contemporary and stylish property located in the heart of sunny Marlborough. The result of a multi-million dollar upgrade of the former Heartland Hotel Marlborough, Scenic Hotel Marlborough offers guests the ultimate in modern comfort and service. Located in the heart of Marlborough, the hotel is just minutes' walk from the centre of Blenheim, and puts some of New Zealand's finest food and wine virtually on your doorstep.

Tour Inclusions

  • Door to door home collection & drop off service available from select areas - refer to further information available here
  • Auckland – Nelson and Blenheim - Auckland flights with Air New Zealand - other ports on application / price on application
  • 11 nights accommodation - twin/double rooms, all with private facilities (single rooms available with surcharge)
  • Tour admissions as per itinerary
  • Touring in modern air-conditioned vehicle
  • Breakfasts (B), Lunches (L), Dinners (D) where indicated on your daily itinerary - 11x breakfasts, 2x lunches, 9x dinners
  • Roadside Morning Teas – where possible
  • Admission to Nelson Classic Cars Museum
  • Abel Tasman National Park Cruise
  • Guided tour of Pic’s Peanut Butter World
  • Ride on Christchurch Gondola
  • Dinner onboard the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant
  • Admission to Giant’s House
  • Admission and guided tour of Orton Bradley Park
  • Admission to Kaikoura Museum
  • Whale Watch Experience
  • Wine tasting in Blenheim
  • Guided tour of Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
  • Mail Boat Cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound

Tour Payments Per Person ($NZD)

Twin/Double Share: $6,255.00
Single Supplement: $1,275.00
Non-refundable deposit due at time of booking $200.00

Discounts available for Travel Club Members - Please Enquire

Full balance of tour payment due by Friday 11 November 2022

Early Bird Offer Book and pay in full by Thursday 25 August 2022 and receive $150.00 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
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.

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.

Is this tour a guaranteed departure? NO

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

Are roadside morning teas included on our tours? 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.

Christmas & New Year Tour

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