Southern Gardens & Historic Homes

Easy Twin Share

From $3,585 per person

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Friday 30 September – Thursday 06 October 2022 (7 Days)

If you’re looking for inspiration for your garden or home, or are simply interested in history and garden design, what better way to spark creativity than to explore the South Island on this special interest tour. We travel from Blenheim down to Dunedin and visit Victorian villas, local gardens, historic homes and lodges, sculpture parks and top vineyards.

Day 1              Friday 30 September 2022
This morning we fly from Auckland Domestic Airport to Blenheim where we are met by our coach and tour driver/guide for our tour. Departing the airport, we enjoy a short orientation tour of the Blenheim area enroute to our first visit today which is the sumptuous tasting room and cellar at Wither Hills Vineyards for a wine tasting of their award-winning wine. This afternoon we reboard the coach to visit a Garden of National Significance - Upton Oaks. The gardens at Upton Oaks have been developed over many years and have been created to harmonise and compliment the style of the 1911 Victorian Villa that sits on the property. The garden consists of different garden areas, all contained within a formal framework of hedges and walls, which define and separate the garden rooms. A favourite feature is the large formal 17th-century style knot garden which is divided into different colour sections by buxus. View the herbaceous borders and pond plus the productive garden which is accessed via a small olive grove, or along the rose walk, to large raised vegetable beds and espaliered fruit trees on brick walls.  Our next visit for today is the private garden and homestead - Hortensia House. Our host, Huguette did not work to plan or set out to create a particular style, it simply evolved with time, like a cottage garden. Masses of color co-ordinated flowers in hazy pastels, to blue and yellow plantings match the trim on the Victorian style house. Blue is carried through the garden as a key colour in the bridge and outdoor furniture. Huguette also extended plantings of her cherished blue hydrangeas to line the entire driveway and create a stunning sight in summer. Spring Creek, the stream which bisects the garden is a gem of pristine and peaceful water. A “Monet” inspired bridge crosses the stream in front of the house. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel restaurant – a perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and your driver/guide.
Accommodation:  Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim – 2 nights

Day 2              Saturday 01 October 2022
Start the day with a visit to our second Garden of National Significance – Welton House. Settled high on an ancient dune and surrounded by geometric rows of vineyard, Welton House Garden is at once thoroughly modern whilst proudly celebrating its 150-year history. Owner Wendy Palmer and her garden designer brother Ross have created a plant lovers paradise, filled with rare horticultural beauties and clever use of the more commonplace. Highlights include unique and extensive topiary hedges, powerful, oversized wooden steps, platforms and pergolas that settle the garden in its place. The productive kitchen garden, orchard and large-scale composting reflects the sustainability ethos of the garden. The current homestead, Welton House, was built in 1901 and over the years has been extensively enlarged and remodeled however it maintains its character and is adorned with many original features including soaring ceilings and extensive New Zealand native woods wearing the golden patina of age. From the beginning, the seven-acre garden, has been a significant part of the local community and was renowned for its elegant, annual garden parties and fierce tennis tournaments. This tradition continues with frequent fundraisers for local charities.Our next visit is to Marlborough Lodge. Designed by Thomas Turnbull and built in 1901 for the Sisters of Mercy, this historic Victorian Convent was originally located next to Saint Mary's Church in Blenheim. It provided nineteen bedrooms for the nuns, a library, music room, sewing room, office, and a beautiful chapel upstairs on the first floor but is now luxury accommodation. Native timbers were extensively used in the construction including Matai, Rimu and Kauri. One of the many splendid examples of Victorian craftsmanship is the substantial carved staircase, constructed entirely from Kauri.  We wander among the established trees and stroll through the gardens with head gardener exploring the wide arrange of vegetables, fruit, berries, herbs & citrus. Taste the fresh produce during a light lunch in the harvest restaurant.  Following our scrumptious lunch, our last visit for the day is Woodend Gardens & Vineyard. Enter through a formal gateway and along an extensive curved driveway lined with blue agapanthus that sets a stunning scene for the established gardens. The garden features many different zones all with unique elements and hidden sanctuaries. 40-metre-high eucalyptus (gum) trees planted almost a century ago stand proud in the SW corner. Many other large specimen trees are also established on the property including liquidambar trees, dogwoods, magnolias & Gleditsia.
This evening is at leisure.

Day 3              Sunday 02 October 2022
Depart Blenheim and visit Barewood Gardens.  Barewood has been developed within a framework of mature trees, which helps to create a tranquil oasis. A simple water feature greets visitors on arrival. The romantic century old homestead with wide verandahs dripping in white wisteria and old-fashioned roses flows seamlessly into lush herbaceous borders and sweeping lawns. This afternoon we drive along a thin ledge of land pinned between the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged ranges to Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea then travel across the farmlands of the North Canterbury Plains. Here enjoy some time at leisure to purchase lunch – own cost. This afternoon we continue south where on our arrival we enjoy the sights of the ‘Garden City’ including the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Dinner is included in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold, Christchurch – 2 nights

Day 4              Monday 03 October 2022
AKAROA VISIT          (B)
After breakfast today we depart the hotel by coach to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. On the way stop at the Frensham Gardens which has been planned with year-round interest in mind. Much thought has gone into the placement of colour, the short and long-distance views, and the filtering of light which is created by judicious pruning. There is also a serious plant collection which is always being added to. Departing the gardens travel on towards Akaroa making a stop at Little River Café for morning tea (at own expense). 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. Explore the charming village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture. Lunch today is at own expense. This afternoon visit the Giant’s House with Artists Gardens. The Giant's House is an historic Akaroa house with original artworks, terraced gardens with sculptures and mosaics. The house has many extraordinary features - a grand entrance hall with mahogany staircase imported from France, original open fireplaces, beautifully proportioned rooms, a conservatory with mosaic floor, a large sunny sheltered verandah, quirky bathrooms, bright yellow farmhouse kitchen, comfortable large bedrooms with unique artistic features and artwork throughout. After our visit we retrace our steps back to Christchurch. Tonight dinner is at your leisure.

Day 5              Tuesday 04 October 2022   
Departing Christchurch, we make our way out to Governors Bay to Ohinetahi for a guided tour of the gardens and sculptures. With gardens considered to be among the finest in New Zealand, Ohinetahi sits just 20-minutes over the Port Hills from Christchurch, in the delightful setting of Governors Bay. Today, Ohinetahi is as well known for its displays of art, architectural works and sculptures as it is for its magnificent grounds. But the gardens have a special significance, dating back to 1865 when then-owner and keen botanist Thomas H Potts began planting them. Our next garden visit is to Akaunui Historic House and Gardens. The Akaunui garden was originally designed by Alfred Buxton, established over 100-years ago. During the last 15-years major developments have taken place and the garden now covers 6-hectares and includes magnificent old trees (both native and exotic) and a wide variety of recently planted species. There is a pond, a creek and a bog garden, a woodland garden with a large collection of rhododendrons and associated plants; formal and less formal gardens, many roses and a productive vegetable garden. The garden complements the imposing century old double storey brick homestead. Today we enjoy lunch at the Akaunui Homestead with our charming hostess. On our return to Ashburton we visit Trott’s Gardens. The woodland area was developed around a series of gently curving paths.  Later the water gardens were added and finally the English inspired formal gardens. The layout is such that the garden areas are integrated yet contain elements of surprise as visitors explore.  Dinner tonight is included at the hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Ashburton, Ashburton

Day 6              Wednesday 05 October 2022        
From Ashburton, we travel down the coast to Oamaru with its lovely white stone buildings, and stop here for some time to see Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct. On arrival to Dunedin we head out to the Otago Peninsula, firstly to visit Larnach Castle high on the hills above Otago Harbour. Learn about the tragic and scandalous history of this superbly crafted building which was built in 1871 and see the unique collection of New Zealand antiques and furniture. Enjoy a guided tour around the beautiful gardens and climb the tower for panoramic views over Otago Harbour, Dunedin City and Taiaroa Heads. Our next stop is the Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens, situated in a coastal valley overlooking the magnificent Otago Harbour.  Sheltered by a ring of pine and eucalypts, Glenfalloch features original European trees from 1872, with much underplanting. In the summer, native clematis climb the trees, with peonies and lilies flowering beneath. There is also a bush walk through ancient matai, where birdlife includes tui, bellbirds and native pigeons. We then travel back into Dunedin to settle in for the evening. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Dunedin

Day 7              Thursday 06 October 2022 
This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Dunedin.  See the Historic Dunedin Railway Station, 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, First Church of Otago and St Pauls Anglican Cathedral and a statue of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns. We visit the Dunedin Botanical Gardens which is internationally renowned and finish our Dunedin tour with a guided tour of Olveston, which is a fine example of an Edwardian home and the lifestyle of that era.  The tour allows an intimate glimpse of the lifestyle of a privileged family in the early 1900's, reflecting a lifestyle enjoyed by just a few, but now representing a most important piece in the mosaic of early New Zealand life as a whole. Visitors are very conscious of the family throughout the home, enjoying and experiencing the many treasures that were an integral part of the family's day-to-day life. Afterwards we will be transferred to Dunedin Airport for our flight back to Auckland.

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 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.  The Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, sauna, spa, ample parking, wireless Internet and quality, relaxed dining and socialising in the licensed Seymours Restaurant and Bar.

Heartland Hotel Cotswold Exterior

Heartland Hotel Cotswold

The Heartland Hotel Cotswold is situated on the edge of Christchurch's CBD, an easy stroll to shops, restaurants, bars and attractions the area has to offer. The Tudor-style architecture and classic charm are carried throughout the hotel with understated style, onsite facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, gym, sauna, award-winning gardens and the Earl of Essex Bar. With 77 guest rooms all well equipped with the modern amenities a guest needs and access to the hotel's facilities.

Hotel Ashburton

Hotel Ashburton

Set amidst 4 hectares of landscaped gardens, Hotel Ashburton offers a seasonal outdoor pool and a restaurant. It is next to Ashburton Racecourse and a 5-minute drive from Ashburton Town Centre. The heated guest rooms are fitted electric blankets, a fridge and ironing equipment. Each room offers a flat-screen TV with cable channels and some have a bathtub in the en suite bathroom.

Distinction Hotel Dunedin Exterior at Night

Distinction Dunedin

Distinction Dunedin Hotel is located in the heart of the city, formerly Chief Post Office built in 1937 this hotel combines the historic charm with modern amenities and finishings to create a unique stay for guests whilst being close to many of the attractions and activities the area has to offer. All 121 elegant guest suites and studios are spacious and modern with all of the facilities and furnishings a guest could need.

Tour Inclusions

  • Door to door home collection & drop off service available from select areas - further information available here
  • 6 nights accommodation with private en suite
  • Touring in modern air conditioned tour coach
  • Auckland to Blenheim and Dunedin to Auckland flight with Air New Zealand - other ports on application
  • 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 3 dinners included
  • Wine tasting at Wither Hills Winery
  • Visit Upton Oaks
  • Visit Hotensia House
  • Visit Welton House
  • Visit Marlborough Lodge
  • Visit Woodend Gardens & Vineyards
  • Visit Barewood Gardens
  • Visit Frensham Gardens
  • Guided tour of Ohinetahi Gardens and Sculptures
  • Guided tour including lunch at Akaunui Historic House & Gardens
  • Visit Trott's Gardens
  • Guided tour around Larnach Castle & Gardens
  • Visit Glenfalloch Gardens
  • Guided tour of Olveston House
  • Roadside morning teas from coach where possible

Tour Payments Per Person ($NZD)

Club Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost: $3,550.00
Non Member Share Twin Cost: $3,585.00
Single Supplement: $640.00
Non-refundable deposit due at time of booking $200.00

Full balance of tour payment due by Friday 19 August 2022

Early Bird Offer Book and pay in full by Thursday 02 June 2022 and receive $100 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.

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