South Island Nature Encounters

moderate - twin share - small group

From $4,940 per person

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Friday 26 November – Saturday 04 December 2021 (9 Days)

We explore the coastal and nature-rich delights from Christchurch down to Stewart Island. Highlights include; a cruise on Akaroa Harbour, an evening penguin parade in Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders, Orokonui Ecosanctuary, the Royal Albatross Centre, Otago Peninsula cruise, the Catlin’s, Curio Bay, the Petrified Forest and two nights on Stewart Island with a multitude of opportunities to encounter local wildlife including a kiwi spotting tour.


Day 1          Friday 26 November 2021
Our tour commences today with a flight from Auckland to Christchurch (other ports on application, extra charges may apply). On arrival in Christchurch, we enjoy an orientation tour of the garden city including the Avon River, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens. before we are transferred to our accommodation.  The remainder of day at leisure to relax or stroll around Christchurch.  Tonight, we will enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel to meet our fellow travellers.
Accommodation: Quality Hotel Elms, Christchurch – 2 nights

Day 2          Saturday 27 November 2021
This morning we travel by coach to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.  En route we will pass Lake Ellesmere, one of New Zealand's most important wetland ecosystems and home to 170 species of birds. Akaroa was settled by the French in an early attempt to colonise New Zealand and still retains a good deal of French character in its street names, boutique shops and cafes.  On arrival there will be time to explore the charming village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture.  Time is available for you to purchase lunch (own cost). In the afternoon we enjoy a cruise on Akaroa Harbour which is known for its wildlife including penguins, marine birdlife and the very rare Hector’s Dolphins (smallest species in the world).  While on this cruise we may catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant (shag) species and the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You’ll also see New Zealand Fur Seals sunning themselves on the rocks near Seal Bay. We return back to Christchurch in the late afternoon, travelling via Governors Bay and Lyttelton. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.

Day 3          Sunday 28 November 2021
After a leisurely breakfast this morning we depart Christchurch and travel south along State Highway 1. We pass through Ashburton and Temuka before arriving in Timaru where there will be time for you to purchase lunch (own cost). After our lunch stop, we’ll enjoy a short walk around the Otipua Wetlands. This one hour return walk will take us through the wetland restorative project, where there is a wide variety of native trees and tussock being planted. There is also a four hectare lake, and a variety of birdlife including royal spoonbills, pied stilts, swans, chestnut breasted shellducks, mallard and paradise ducks and white-faced herons to name a few. We then continue to the coastal town of Oamaru where we will stay overnight. With many of Oamaru’s old buildings having been constructed with local limestone, the southern part of Oamaru's main business district ranks as one of New Zealand's most impressive streetscapes. There will be time here to explore the heritage precinct before we check in at our accommodation. This evening we dine in the hotel restaurant before our evening tour.  Discover kororā, the Little Blue Penguin, the world’s smallest penguin in its natural habitat at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Each evening, rafts of Little Blue Penguins arrive at the beach and scurry home to their cliff-side burrows. We will be located at the premium viewing area, the perfect place to watch the penguins as they cross the parade area and head towards their nest sites. Non flash photos are permitted.
Accommodation: Brydone Hotel, Oamaru

Day 4          Monday 29 November 2021          
OAMARU – DUNEDIN          (BD)
We allow time for a sleep in this morning after our late night last night, before we commence our travel to Dunedin. We will stop in at Moeraki and see the unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach then continue towards Dunedin. Before reaching Dunedin, we visit Orokonui Eco Sanctuary for a one hour guided tour of the forest.  The highlights tour takes visitors through grassland, regenerating forest, and the start of an ancient forest habitat. This cross section of habitats is commonly home to a range of native fauna including tuatara, Otago Skinks, korimako, tūī, and kākā. Guides will share their knowledge of Orokonui's history, its conservation stories, and discuss any taoka (treasured) native species you encounter along the way. The tour finishes at a viewing platform, amongst 600 year old podocarp/broadleaf forest. From here we will travel into Dunedin where we will have a sightseeing tour on arrival. We then travel to our accommodation for the next two nights. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Victoria Hotel, Dunedin – 2 nights

Day 5          Tuesday 30 November 2021
Today we travel out to visit Natures Wonders at the tip of the Otago Peninsula.  Owned by the Reid Family, this is a self-funded conservation effort to ensure that this land is preserved for all future generations to enjoy, by protecting the penguins, fur seals and other wildlife.  Here we board an 8-wheel all-terrain vehicle for an exhilarating 1-hour cross country tour.  Enjoy a very close encounter with a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals and their pups basking on the rocks and swimming in natural pools in front of you then walk down to a  purpose built hide on Penguin Beach to view little blue penguins in their nests (if in season) and maybe spot the rare and shy yellow eyed penguin in the nest or on the beach any time of the day.  Then return to the highest point of the farm, 201 metres above sea level from where you have spectacular 360-degree views of the beautiful Otago Peninsula. After our tour, there will be time to purchase lunch at the on site café (own cost). Our next stop along the peninsula is to Taiaroa Heads to visit the Royal Albatross Centre– the only mainland nesting site in the world.  There will be a talk explaining the life cycle of these majestic birds then a walk up to the Observatory to view the nesting sites (steep pathway but leisurely pace).  Our last visit on the Otago Peninsula is to Weller’s Rock where we depart on a one hour cruise aboard the Monarch vessel on the sparkling waters around Taiaroa Heads.  See an interesting variety of sea birds which nest along the cliff face and if the weather is favourable you may see majestic Royal Albatross flying overhead to their nesting sites.  We travel back into Dunedin, where the remainder of your evening including dinner is at leisure.

Day 6          Wednesday 01 December 2021
After breakfast this morning, we travel south to Balclutha then travel through the Southern Scenic route of the Catlins. The Catlins offers a glimpse of rural New Zealand set amid native forests, fringed by high cliffs and golden beaches. This spectacular coastal stretch is home to an array of marine life – sea lions are regular beach visitors, while dolphins frolic in the shallows. The Catlins also boasts a variety of sea and forest birds. We will travel through this area with multiple stops along the way, including a visit to Pounawea, and Purakaunui Falls situated amongst lush podocarp and beech forest, which cascade 20 metres over three distinct tiers. We also visit Curio Bay (if the tides are right) and walk amongst the Petrified Forest before arriving in Invercargill where we will stay for the next two nights. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at our hotel.
Accommodation: Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill – 2 nights

Day 7          Thursday 02 December 2021
This morning we travel to Bluff where we board the catamaran to Stewart Island. Upon arriving we enjoy the Village and Bays Tour. During this highlights tour our friendly guide will provide an insight into Stewart Island’s community, history and environment. Unspoiled, incredibly beautiful and steeped in stories of Maori legend, Stewart Island is well worth this informative introduction. There is plenty of time to get off the bus for photo stops and short walks along the way. Highlights include the Rakiura National Park entrance at Lee Bay, Halfmoon and Horseshoe Bays and views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock. After the Village and Bays tour there will be some time for you to purchase some lunch and explore Stewart Island and relax for the remainder of the afternoon before we enjoy a group dinner at South Sea Hotel.  After dinner, as night falls we join a kiwi spotting tour.  Travel by boat and walk uphill by torch/flash light to a remote beach where you may see these creatures foraging for insects among the seaweed on the shoreline.  A good level of fitness and agility is required.  You will require comfortable walking shoes/boots and a warm jacket/sweater.
Accommodation: Bay Motel, Stewart Island – 2 nights

Day 8           Friday 03 December 2021
This morning we walk over the hill to Golden Bay Wharf and depart by boat for a half-day excursion visiting the bird sanctuary of Ulva Island.  A local guide joins us for a guided walking tour of this picturesque, forested island, which is predator free and has become an open sanctuary for species of native birds.  There are recently released rare South Island saddlebacks and the threatened South Island Robin as well as tui, bellbird, fantail, kaka, weak and parakeet.  At the conclusion of our visit to Ulva Island we return to Golden Bay Wharf, then walk back to Oban, where the remainder of the day can be for relaxing or going for a walk. Dinner tonight will be at the South Sea Hotel.

Day 9           Saturday 04 December 2021
We board the early morning ferry back to Bluff and transfer to Invercargill Airport. Our tour concludes with our flight from Invercargill to Auckland.

Please note – This tour does include walking tours, therefore a reasonable level of mobility is required to enjoy this tour.  Not suitable for wheelchairs or those with very limited mobility.  


Quality Elms, Christchurch - Exterior view

Quality Hotel Elms

The Quality Hotel Elms is situated in a quiet suburban area yet accessible to many of the attractions and activities the area has to offer, surrounded by award-winning gardens and is ideally situated midway between the airport and central city. All 97 guest rooms are well appointed and equipped with all the amenities a guest could need, offering luxurious accommodation in an ideal location for those wanting to explore the area.

Brydone Hotel Oamaru, exterior from the road

Brydone Hotel

Built in 1881, Brydone Hotel Oamaru is located in central Oamaru, within walking distance of the historic town centre. Spacious and well-furnished, all rooms have satellite TV. Some rooms also have a luxury spa bath.

Victoria Hotel Dunedin Exterior View

The Victoria Hotel

This small hotel is located close to the Octagon, which is the heart of Dunedin City, and just minutes walk away from the city's attractions, shops and historic Dunedin Railway Station.

Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill exterior at night

Kelvin Hotel

Kelvin Hotel is situated in the city centre, only a short walk to major attractions and a 10-minute drive to the Invercargill Airport. The hotel offers rooms with a flat-screen TV, mini bar and free Wi-Fi access. There is an on-site bar and restaurant.

Bay Motel Exterior

Bay Motel

A short 5-minute walk from the heart of the Oban Township, the centrally located Bay Motel is the ideal choice for your stay on the island. Modern, generous sized, and serviced rooms offering views of Halfmoon Bay or the surrounding bush clad hills.

Tour Inclusions

  • Door to door home collection & drop off service available from select areas - refer to further information available here
  • 8 nights accommodation - twin/double rooms, all with private facilities (single rooms available with surcharge)
  • Auckland - Dunedin and Invercargill - Auckland flights with Air New Zealand - other ports on application, price on application
  • Touring in modern air conditioned vehicle
  • 8 breakfasts and 7 dinners included
  • Nature cruise on Akaroa Harbour
  • Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony Premium Evening Viewing
  • Guided tour of Okokonui Eco Sanctuary
  • 1-hour cross country tour with Natures Wonders
  • Visit Royal Albatross Centre
  • 1-hour cruise onboard Monarch vessel around Otago Harbour
  • Return ferry crossing to Stewart Island
  • Village and Bays Tour
  • Evening Kiwi Spotting tour on Stewart Island
  • Half day guided tour of Ulva Island
  • Roadside morning teas from the coach - where possible

Tour Payments Per Person ($NZD)

Club Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost:$4,895.00
Non Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost:$4,940.00
Single Supplement:$750.00
Non-refundable deposit due at time of booking$200.00

Full balance of tour payment due by Friday 15 October 2021

Book and pay in full by Thursday 29 July 2021 and receive $150.00 discount per person!


Are door to door collections included on this tour? YES

Yes. Leisure Time Travel 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? MODERATE

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

Level 1 – Easy

  • Relaxed paced tour
  • Be able to participate in small walks at a relaxed pace for 10-15 minutes
  • Walk on mostly level ground
  • Tackle an occasional flight of stairs
  • Occasionally need to stand for up to 15 minutes
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided

Level 2 – Moderate

  • Be able to participate in walks with time to rest at least every 20-30 minutes
  • Stand for 30 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Tackle a flight of stairs or incline
  • Walk confidently on uneven and undulating surfaces
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided

 Level 3 – Active

  • Participate in walks for 45-60 minutes at a time without having to rest
  • Walk up an incline equal to a flight of stairs without stopping
  • Stand for 60 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Walk confidently over uneven ground or undulating surfaces
  • 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.

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.


South Island Nature Encounter Map

Interislander ferry sailing between North and South Island New Zealand
Leisure Time Tours visits Pelorus Bridge on their Christmas Tour
Shopping in Christchurch city centre
people looking at rock formation on a beach
Monarch Wildlife cruise from Dunedin
Queenstown aerial view new
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