Circumnavigate the Southern Alps, crossing at the head via Arthurs Pass, travelling the rugged West Coast and through the southern fiords. On the journey back north we travel through the Mackenzie Basin to the base of the majestic Mt Cook and back onto Canterbury Plains and then Christchurch City.
Tuesday 27 October – Monday 09 November 2020 (14 Days)
Day 1 Tuesday 27 October 2020 – HOME CITIES TO CHRISTCHURCH (D)
Today you make your way to our Christchurch accommodation. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at our hotel where you will meet your fellow travellers.
Quality Hotel Elms, Christchurch
Day 2 Wednesday 28 October 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH TO WESTPORT (BD)
Departing Christchurch this morning, you have the opportunity (at own cost) to traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthur’s Pass. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. The train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the Village of Arthur’s Pass by the coach for us to continue our journey to the West Coast via the Otira Viaduct opened in 1999. ‘The Coast’ as locals call it, is one of the world’s special places, with mind-blowing topography. Ancient uplifts of the earth’s crust created the impressive vertical ramparts of the main divide of the Southern Alps. These cloud-piercing mountains rise within 30km of a breathtaking coast. Five of our national parks are here, and South West New Zealand has been declared a World Heritage Area. Our next stop will be Shanty Town. With two village streets filled with shops and buildings to explore, you’ll find fascinating stories of life in the early years of colonisation both on the West Coast and New Zealand. All tickets to Shantytown include a ride on a vintage steam train. You will take a short trip through lush native rain forest along the Infants Creek Tram line which follows an original sawmill tram track of the 1800’s. The 1.5 km track travels to a photo stop at the end of the line, where you will find information about saw-milling in the area and maybe see a few weka – a native NZ flightless bird. There will be time available here to purchase your lunch (own cost). Departing Shantytown we continue north travelling along the coast road through to Westport, where we stay for the next two nights.
Westport Motor Inn, Westport – 2 nights
Day 3 Thursday 29 October 2020 – WESTPORT (BLD)
This morning we travel to Charleston to board the Nile River Rainforest Train recreated a bygone era where bush trams once prevailed. The train provides visitors with a fantastic way to experience the spectacular landscapes of the Nile River Canyon in the South Island’s Paparoa National Park Enjoy the landscape and interpret the environment as the train meanders its way through the rainforest beside the Nile River. Pass through many of the film sites for the BBC’s “The Lost World” production and imagine the pioneers at work in the canyon. Arrive at “Softrock Station”, nestled beneath the towering limestone buffs. Take a short walk from the station through the rainforest to the Nile River Suspension Bridge or a longer walk to the Nile River Caves entrance, before the return journey to the festival station at Charleston. We then depart Charleston and travel north to Karamea and have lunch at the Karamea Hotel. We also visit Kohaihai the “start or finish” of the Heaphy Track. Time here allows for a brief bushwalk across the swingbridge into a sub tropical forest. We then return to our accommodation in Westport.
Day 4 Friday 30 October 2020 – WESTPORT TO HOKITIKA (B)
This morning we depart Westport and return via the coast road to Punakaiki where you will have time to visit the pancake rocks. These sedimentary rocks have been hammered by the sea, and wind erosion forming layered rocks giving a look of a large stack of pancakes. There is a 20 minute loop walk here for those wishing to view these fascinating rocks. Continuing our journey we head back to Greymouth where you will have time to stretch your legs before we travel south to Hokitika. On arrival, there is time to purchase lunch at one of the local cafes (own cost). After lunch we travel to the Hokitika Gorge to admire its unbelievably turquoise waters, enjoying views of farmland, rivers and the mountains along the way. Before arriving at our accommodation we will make one more stop at the Treetops Walk – a leisurely 45 minute to one hour stroll through the beautiful West Coast rainforest tree tops viewing the exquisite Lake Mahinapua through the richly diverse forest foliage. We then arrive at our accommodation in Hokitika. Our accommodation is conveniently located within the heart of Hokitika so tonight we suggest you take the opportunity to go out and meet some of the locals within the many cafes, restaurants and bars. We highly recommend the Whitebait Fritters which you should be able to find on most menus in town!
Accommodation: Beachfront (Oceanview Rooms), Hokitika
Day 5 Saturday 31 October 2020 – HOKITIKA- HAAST (BD)
Departing Hokitika we travel through Ross where in 1909 two miners reworking the bank of Jones Creek, unearthed a fist-sized nugget weighing about 3.1kg. This was a celebrated find, and the nugget was christened ‘the Honourable Roddy Nugget’, after the Minister of Mines Roderick McKenzie. We then continue on to Whataroa to visit the Waitangiroto heron colony. We will view the magnificent Kotuku (White Heron), the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill), the Kawapaka (Little Shag) and other Bird life – all in their natural environment. This is a unique experience to New Zealand’s only Kotuku (White Heron) nesting site. After this wonderful experience we continue on to our accommodation at Haast – gateway to the Haast World Heritage Park.
Heartland Haast Hotel, Haast
Day 6 Sunday 1 November 2020 – HAAST – QUEENSTOWN (BD)
Departing Haast this morning, we head in-land over the Haast Pass, the lowest of the South Island mountain passes crossing the Southern Alps. Once over the Pass the scenery changes dramatically as the road descends past the waters of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea and into Central Otago. On arrival in Wanaka, there will be time available for you to purchase some lunch, and explore the resort town. Departing Wanaka we travel to Cromwell then onto visit the site of New Zealand’s first commercial Bungy Jump platform at Kawarau Gorge. There will be time to watch the jumpers and even partake in a jump! Our next stop is to historic Arrowtown – a quaint town away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown with plenty of shops and historic remains from the Gold Rush days. We then travel to Queenstown where we stay for the next two nights. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Copthorne Hotel Lakefront, Queenstown – 2 nights
Day 7 Monday 2 November 2020 – QUEENSTOWN (B)
Today is at leisure. Visit the Remarkable’s or Coronet Peak. Experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover or Kawarau Rivers. Perhaps a scenic 4 wheel drive excursion through Skippers Canyon, or a tour to Glenorchy to visit Lord of the Rings movie sites, or maybe just browse in the many shops and galleries – it’s up to you. Tonight is free for you to explore the local restaurants, cafes and bars, or perhaps you’d like to take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer ‘TSS Earnslaw’ to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel’s Homestead. Ask the office for pricing and assistance with booking any of these trips.
Day 8 Tuesday 3 November 2020 – QUEENSTOWN – TE ANAU (B)
Leaving Queenstown you skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau to reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound and enjoy a cruise of the Sound. The Sound is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound you return to Te Anau reaching our overnight accommodation.
Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Lake Te Anau
Day 9 Wednesday 4 November 2020 – TE ANAU – DUNEDIN (BD)
Departing Te Anau, travel through some of New Zealand’s most populated sheep country through to Lumsden and onto Gore before arriving in Dunedin – “the Edinburgh of the South”. Upon our arrival into Dunedin, enjoy the views of the harbour from the hill suburbs. See the University of Otago with its historic blue stone buildings on the banks of the Leith River. Travel through the CBD along George and Princes Streets and through the Octagon which features the historic Town Hall and St Pauls Anglican Cathedral and a statue of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns. See the stunning white sandy beaches of St Clair and St Kilda before returning to the city. This afternoon, visit Olveston House – an impressive turn-of-the-century house that is still home to all the lavish furnishings and art collections that have been collected from all corners of the world.
Distinction Hotel, Dunedin – 2 nights
Day 10 Thursday 5 November 2020 – DUNEDIN SIGHTSEEING (B)
Today is at leisure. You have the opportunity to board an optional train ride – the Taieri Gorge Train Excursion from the historic Dunedin Railway Station for a scenic train ride into the spectacular Taieri Gorge to Pukerangi and return. As an option this evening enjoy a tour around a historic working Brewery where you will discover how Speight’s became a legend in the south. After the tour pop down to the Ale House, situated within the Brewery and enjoy good Southern fare and all of the Speight’s range fresh from the tap.
Day 11 Friday 6 November 2020 – DUNEDIN – TWIZEL (BD)
Today is a day for spectacular sights as we travel north. Stop at Moeraki and see the unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach then continue on to the coastal town of Oamaru, where you will have time to look at the ‘White Stone City’ where the old buildings have been constructed with local limestone. It was from Oamaru that New Zealand’s first frozen meat was shipped in 1882 taking over three months to reach England, and thus began New Zealand’s most important export industry. Travelling inland through Benmore and Otematata, through Sailors Cutting before arriving at Omarama.
Heritage Gateway, Omarama
Day 12 Saturday 7 November 2020 – TWIZEL – CHRISTCHURCH (B)
After breakfast this morning we head north to skirt the shore of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Time is available to enjoy an optional scenic flight over the ancient rivers of ice and the West Coast Glaciers (weather permitting – a highly recommended option). Travelling to Tekapo, you’ll witness the magnificent blue waters of Lake Tekapo. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Collie dog, before travelling the vast Mackenzie Basin, over Burke’s Pass through Fairlie, Geraldine, Ashburton and across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.
Quality Hotel Elms, Christchurch
Day 13 Sunday 8 November 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH SIGHTSEEING (BD)
This morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the ‘Garden City’. Highlights include the River Avon, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery; Bridge of Remembrance; the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial and the Art Deco New Regent Street. Learn about the effects of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 14 Monday 9 November 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH – HOME PORT (B)
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch Domestic Airport for your flight back home (own arrangements for flights).