9 Day Southern Spotlight

9 Day Southern Spotlight

Low cost AAT Kings escorted tour of the South Island of New Zealand. Explore Christchurch, Dunedin & Queenstown. Experience spectacular Fox Glacier, and the awe inspiring Milford Sound.

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Tour Info

Tour Type: Low Cost Coach Tour
From: Christchurch to Christchurch
Departures: Jun 2018 to Sep 2019
Price:
From (NZD) $2515 per person
Tour Operator: AAT Kings Tours
Pace: Comfortable
Duration: 9 Days
Tour Code: LCQR

Inclusions

8 nights accommodation in comfortable hotels
8 fully cooked breakfasts (B) & 6 dinners (D)
Travel over the Canterbury Plains
Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo
View mighty Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain
Tour the sights of Dunedin
Cruise on Milford Sound
See Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls
Full day at leisure in Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital
Cruise Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw
Visit historic Arrowtown
Stay at spectacular Franz Josef Glacier
Journey on the TranzAlpine Train

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

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Day 1
Arrive Christchurch

On arrival in Christchurch you will be transferred to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4.00pm). Join your Tour Director and fellow travellers this evening for a Welcome Reception.

Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch

Day 2
Christchurch - Omarama

This morning you may wish to take a brief walk around the city centre and Cathedral Square before departure. See how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and pop into the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square, the temporary home of the Christchurch Cathedral. It is the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard! After a Christchurch city sights tour, you will head out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains to soak up some spectacular sightseeing.

Sweeping views across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo framed by a backdrop of rugged hills and snow-capped mountains provide stunning alpine photography opportunities. You will visit the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd, and stop for a quick photo with the bronze statue of a collie dog, the touching tribute to the sheepdogs which helped develop the Mackenzie Country. You may want to take in Mt Cook National Park from the air this afternoon, on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (optional experience – at own expense). Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Stay: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Omarama (B, D)

Day 3
Omarama - Dunedin

Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, and a photo stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. The Waitaki River marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power. The Benmore Dam holds back New Zealand’s largest artificial lake, and when the Benmore Power Station was opened in 1965 it was the largest power station in New Zealand. Even today, it is still the second largest, and generates enough electricity each year for about 298,000 average New Zealand homes.

From the Waitaki Valley you will then travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and its famous white limestone buildings. As well as shipping limestone to the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for construction of their Town Halls and various churches, Oamaru locals made sure that their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid-late 1800’s had to offer.

This afternoon you will make your way down to the Southernmost New Zealand city, Dunedin. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional excursion to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or ride the historic Taieri Gorge railway. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Dunedin (B, D)

Day 4
Dunedin - Te Anau

This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to visit the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, or journey out to the gorgeous Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only castle. Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university, Otago University. Dunedin, also known as the Edinburgh of the Sough, has strong connections to its northern hemisphere sister city, even down to sharing many of the same street names – so take a wander down George Street, noting Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry.

This afternoon travel through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land. New Zealand is internationally known for its sheep farming, and these are sights many visitors to this country recognise as typically ‘New Zealand’. You are sure to find the perfect sheep photo here! As your excursion continues, the rolling, grassy hills once again turn back into heavily forested, rugged mountains, and you meander your way up into the Fiordland National Park to the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau. This evening you have the opportunity to head out across the lake to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves for a tour (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Stay: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau (B, D)

Day 5
Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go. And you will probably want to have a spare battery or two on hand… just in case. After leaving Te Anau, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where, as the name suggests, you can see the stunning mountain scenery perfectly reflected in the waters of the lakes.

Then on to the Homer Tunnel, man’s attempt to master the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side of the tunnel, you are presented with one of the world’s most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley. You will have a stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, and then it’s on to Milford Sound, where you will cruise on the waters of this natural wonder.

Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as these plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. From the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound, you will travel on to the beautiful sights of Queenstown. An orientation tour skirting around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, takes you into the city centre. Tonight you may want to take a gondola up Bob’s Peak, and dine at the Skyline Restaurant, Stratosfare, (own expense) overlooking Queenstown – the ultimate way to end a highlight day!

Stay: Copthorne Hotel & Resort, Queenstown (2 nights) (B)

Day 6
Queenstown at Leisure

Explore exciting Queenstown your way! Why not soar through the trees on a Ziptrek Ecotour, or raft the mighty white water rapids of the Kawarau River? Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet Boat or venture out onto the Dart River for a longer jet safari. If laid-back and relaxed is more your idea of fun then join a Queenstown Original Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines, or play a round of golf at one of the spectacular alpine courses around Queenstown. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences.

After a day of activity, sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is believed to be the only coal-fired passenger carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. Partake in a gourmet BBQ Highlight Dinner at Walter Peaks’ Colonel’s Homestead and then enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing a glimpse into high-country farm life. On the cruise back to Queenstown, join in a vintage sing-a-long or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw. (B, D)

Day 7
Queenstown - Franz Josef

This morning you will leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind, and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. On the way out of the Queenstown region, you will stop and visit the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. As you amble down the beautiful tree-lined avenues, past the 19th century wooden buildings, you will feel like you have stepped into a movie set.

From here you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan, where you will stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Dunstan, you will travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea, followed by Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows. Following an ancient greenstone trail, you will travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes, to the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers.

Our final destination for today is the extraordinary rivers of ice that make up Franz Josef Glacier. You may want to get up close and personal with the glaciers on a helicopter flight. Your flight will hover over the snow face, and may land high up in the valley so that you can walk across the ice fall – subject to weather conditions (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Graham Wing), Franz Josef (B, D)

Day 8
Franz Josef - Christchurch

If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 15, you will get another chance to fly up to the glaciers this morning or you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you head off to the drift-wood strewn beaches of Hokitika. As well as being one of the few West Coast communities to embrace its coastal landscape, Hokitika struck it rich in the resources stakes. Here you will visit a pounamu factory (native greenstone or jade), for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Maori tradition says it is bad luck to buy pounamu for yourself, so if you fancy a trinket of your own, make sure you have someone there to purchase it for you.

From Hokitika, you will travel inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass. Here you will board the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch city. This spectacular train journey dates back to 1914, and is rated as one of the world’s most scenic train trips. The train forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. This evening join your AAT Kings Travel Director and Driver, and your new-found friends for a Farewell Dinner.

Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch (B, D)

Day 9
Depart Christchurch

Your Holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You’ll be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight. (B)

4.7/5.0

There are 65 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.7 out of 5.

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Tour Reviews

4
04/02/2018
Very well organised - tour director Kevin was excellent.
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5
26/11/2017
Sarah our tour guide is a credit to your company and Mike our driver was excellent. Enjoyed the experience.
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5
17/09/2017
Excellent choice of places to visit. Lots of variety. Both Tour director and driver were excellent +++
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5
11/06/2017
I rate this tour 'excellent' because: it was very well organised at all times, the arrangements were very reliable, I felt safe and secure, plus the tour manager was very very good at his job. As a lone woman traveller, I felt included and welcome. I chose this tour because it went to all the places I wanted to go and fitted in with my travel dates - that all worked out very well. Lastly, my group of 30 was very friendly.
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5
12/02/2017
Great guide. Excellent bus & accommodations. Very well organized. Couldn't be more pleased.
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5
08/01/2017
Shame about the rain in Milford Sound and not seeing the Franz Josef glacier due to bad weather but the rest of the tour was very good. The drive into and out of Milford Sound and then on to Queenstown made for a rather long day sitting down all day. I would have liked to go back to Te Anau and spent another night there. The tour guide and driver were superb at their jobs. Very knowledgeable and organised.
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5
01/01/2017
Excellent tour director and driver. Itinerary well thought out. Would prefer less buffet meals, more fixed menu type meals. Optional extras were unexpectedly high and not accurate pricing on the handed out sheets. We would have liked to know these prices in advance but had a fabulous time anyway.
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5
27/11/2016
The tour was wonderful and staff very helpful and welcoming.
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5
23/10/2016
Thoroughly enjoyed every moment, but as with all tours would have loved to spend a bit longer in some places e.g. Arrowtown, including Manapouri and Doubtful Sound would have added to the experience but would require an extra day. Our tour guide, Lu, was excellent and as the only NZers we were impressed with the history, facts and figures she imparted about the countryside to our fellow travellers. Hotel accommodation was excellent and so were the breakfasts and buffet dinners, but the menu dinners left much to be desired especially the final dinner at the Ibis, Christchurch.
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4
21/02/2016
Overall the tour and all inclusions (including tour director and driver) were excellent. The only negative I would like to raise is the accommodation at the Ibis Hotel in Christchurch were we spent 2 nights before (& including) the tour and 2 nights after. We were a party of 3 and the room was so small \"you couldn't swing a dead cat around it\". It was very unfortunate as the rest of the tour was so good and very professionally organised, but this was not a good way to start and end our holiday in NZ.
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5
07/02/2016
Fantastic tour. Great tour guide and driver. Accommodation very good. The highlight for us was Milford Sound. Service and communication was excellent.
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5
17/01/2016
We had a fantastic time, everything was well organized, Lu and Paul were amazing, nothing was too much trouble. Loved all the sites. Accommodation was great except for the Ibis at Christchurch, it was very poky. Will definitely recommend this tour and Relaxing Journeys.
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5
10/01/2016
A thoroughly enjoyable experience. The booking with Toni was seamless and the AAT Kings crew of Sarah and Nathan were totally professional. Plenty of additional hidden treasures that were not mentioned in the brochures. I would highly recommend this trip.
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4
20/12/2015
Journey was very smooth and relaxing. Tour Guide Ted was very informative and has shared useful knowledge about NZ with us. Driver Trent was also fun and well behaved. I have one suggestion to increase the time in Lake Pukaki from 15 mins to 30 mins and reduce time in Arrowtown from 45mins to 15mins as there was nothing much to see than doing shopping (this concern has been raised by all in the coach). Overall experience was fun and beautiful location with beautiful memories. Thank you.
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5
25/10/2015
A fantastically organised trip from the first day of booking to being taken to the airport for my trip home. Great hotels, informative tour guide and a brilliant driver. A good selection of optional trips, most of which I took and loved. Would go again and will recommend to friends.
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5
27/09/2015
The tour was well organized. Our tour director and driver were A-1 (no complaints whatever). Most accommodations were very good. The hotel was a little far from town in Quesnston. The Ibis was very good but not excellent (although the location was very good), All meals will excellent. The Franz Josef Glacier trip was disappointing. This could be left out or changed on other trips.
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5
14/06/2015
The Southern Spotlight tour is a well paced, interesting ride through New Zealand's amazing South Island. Hotel rooms are good quality and breakfasts and dinners provided are delicious with plenty of choices. Our Tour Guide and Coach Driver worked hard at making our journey fun and comfortable while taking us via the most picturesque destinations. We are fortunate to have travelled on this coach tour and to have also met many other friendly and like-minded passengers. Awesome.
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5
22/02/2015
Excellent informative & humorous tour guide & skilfull driver. Moving seats numerically on coach good & sitting near various people formed good friendships. Much more to see & relax rather than driving ourselves. Excellent hotels with good buffets. Disappointed with Mercure in Christchurch. 5 Star view with 1 star food. enjoyed the steamer trip to the Governors house/farm. This tour was part of a holiday to meet up with college friends from 50 years ago in London, which was great fun. Friends who also were in South island, driving round themselves were quite tired as such distances need to be covered to appreciate the wonderful scenery.
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5
01/02/2015
A great way to see the South Island in a short time. Very well run tour.
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4
23/11/2014
I have enjoyed the tour a lot. Scenery is sooooo fantastic. Tour guide JP Hiroti is very knowledgeable and answered every questions we had. JP also gave very sound suggestions for options on where to go, what to eat, what to do, what to see. We felt very safe traveling in Eric's (the driver) coach. We were thankful for him to do the hardwork while we enjoyed sitting back & relaxing. All participants in the tour were humorous and funny. I like the idea of shifting a seat number each day so as to interact with different people. In terms of accommodation, Heritage Gateway hotel in Otago feels more like a motel. However, all hotels serve great breakfast and dinner. Internet connection is very limited considering people like to upload the photos they have taken as soon as possible on social media. Price can still be quite pricey for Asian travelers. Pretty much add-ons in tour is necessary to make this tour worthwhile.
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5
16/11/2014
Very well organised good variety of locations we covered a lot of miles hotels food all good great driver. Shame we didn't get to Milford Sound or do the helicopter over glaciers due to the weather. Thoroughly recommend AAT Kings. Liked seat allocation - very fair.
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5
09/11/2014
First coach tour ever for me but after a fantastic time meeting new friends, having a fantastic guide in Ngaire and the best driver in Trent we would do another for sure when we can. Thank you to you and your team for all the work you put into the tour. Cheers and Beers.
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5
26/10/2014
New Zealand is very scenic and our tour guide and the driver made our journey more memorable. They were also very helpful.
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5
13/04/2014
I absolutely love New Zealand. The food was beautiful, the people were nice and lovely, the Tour Director was funny (Kevin) and our coach driver was an awesome driver (Monica) I didn't have to worry about anything and was not forced to spend on anything. The Tour Director was honest on which activities we should do and was really knowledgeable in the country. I was really happy with the people around me. They were all so nice and funny and have so many wonderful stories to tell. Even though I was travelling on my own I was never lonely as the people around me tried to include me in whatever they are doing. I am already booking my next holiday with Relaxing Journeys and can't wait to go back to New Zealand (this time to the north). Thank you Mani and AAT Kings.
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5
06/04/2014
I only arrived back in the UK yesterday but just to say fabulous trip, the AAT Kings coach tour was fantastic, both driver & tour guide excelled themselves , going that one step further to make it a perfect trip. I would love to do another trip with them. Thanks too to your services in arranging the trip. I was disappointed the two extra day trips I hoped to do after the tour didn't happen through your company but I managed to book the Kiakoura whale watching through Kiwi Rail via the Trans Coastal train - you could promote this service to others as the whole day worked perfectly. Thanks again. (Ed. We’ll look into it!)
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4
16/03/2014
We were very pleased with the tour. It was our first bus tour so we really didn't know whether we would enjoy it or not, but we certainly did. Accommodations were very good with the exception of the Ibis in Christchurch where the rooms were painfully small. All other services at the hotel were fine. Tour guide Ngairy was outstanding.
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4
23/02/2014
Toured the South Island with this group. The people travelling on this tour were exceptionally pleasant and interesting. The tour guide gave us a good insight into life in New Zealand. We were lucky with the weather as it was mostly fine and sunny. The extra excursions offered had something for everybody. My highlight was the helicopter trip to the glaciers - unforgettable! The Monarch wildlife tour was great but the trip to see the yellow-eyed penguins was questionable? I thought it was disruptive to the rare penguin and this endeavour to save them should be funded by government and not by these visiting groups. However this is another issue and not the fault of AAT Kings. Overall a great trip. Thanks.
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5
09/02/2014
Being able to book those excursions which were not dependent on the weather at the beginning of the tour, rather than booking on a day to day basis would have been useful and would also have given us times which suited us better. Some tours were fully booked at the times we really wanted and we had to take alternative timings. Otherwise the tour was excellent and Julianne, the tour director, was helpful and cheerful at all times. Alan Caddick, the coach driver, should be commended on his smooth driving, knowledge, helpfulness and unfailing cheerfulness. Well done.
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5
09/02/2014
Everything about the tour; guide, driver, hotels & places included were wonderful.
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4
05/01/2014
We really enjoyed the trip. Beautiful places. Hotels we really good and the food was delicious. We thought the train trip was really special.
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5
15/12/2013
My daughter and I have just returned from a 3 week holiday in New Zealand. The first part of the holiday was the Southern Spotlight tour with yourselves. This was absolutely brilliant. Ted our guide was very informative and humorous and Grant our driver was helpful, kind and a very skilled driver. Overall the whole experience was brilliant and I have already recommended you to friends. All of the major highlights of the south island were covered. I loved the seat rotation on the coach which allowed us to speak to lots of different people on our tour. There was a real mix and it was great to get to know everybody. The Scenic hotels were superb and had the best beds and service. All the other hotels were also of good quality and the organisation in getting room keys and bags to rooms was very good. The food at each hotel was also very good and there was a wide variety available. The highlight of the tour for me was the steam boat ride across the lake in Queenstown with the farmstead dinner which was absolutely fabulous. My daughter's highlight was horse-riding in Queenstown which wasn't on the activities list but Ted made a call and organised it for us. The whole booking process was painless, your website is very informative and helpful and I felt comfortable when booking online with you. If I had to find a criticism it would be the journey to Milford Sound over the mountains was long and winding. I can see that this would be difficult to improve on as there is only one way in and one way out. The rest of the journey was very well planned, stops were spaced nicely apart and gave us enough time to stretch our legs, have lunch and a look around or do some shopping.
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5
24/11/2013
I want to thank you for the attention you paid to all the details. AAT Kings, guide and driver were wonderful. The scenery was absolutely superb, and really, I just loved the whole experience. The spirit of the people of Christchurch inspired me deeply as they set about recovering from the terrible earthquake. The way they have painted and decorated and built from shipping containers and cardboard is so imaginative, and the flowers pots and art works around the city carry the theme of hope. This spiritual experience was a bonus to the spiritual experience of all the magnificence and beauty of nature, especially Fiordland. Thank you Mani, for everything you did to make my dream come true.
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4
13/10/2013
I had a great time, our guide Ngaire was amazing she had a great knowledge of New Zealand. Our driver Trent was great we always felt so safe. I travelled as a single but made lots friends and felt it was ideal. The accommodation was of a good level and also the included meals were lovely, something for everyone. The included tours were well organised and the optional tours that I went on were amazing. I loved the South Island, so I think I will do the North Island again on AAT Kings next year.
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4
12/10/2013
Accomodation Great. Bus Driver and Tour Guide (Ngiare) fantastic & very knowledgeable about New Zealand. Maybe could have had more time looking around smaller towns like Oamaru. Lime stone buildings. Sometimes rushed having our lunch but I guess if you want to see most things you have limited time. Overall enjoyed the trip.
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5
07/04/2013
Had a lovely trip, with a lovely bunch of people on it. The Tour operator and bus driver were most helpful and made sure we got to see all the amazing sights, we also had great communication on the bus as the operator held quizzes during the long journeys and sing songs. Possibly the only down side - we covered a lot in a short time - maybe a day or two added on would mean shorter travel journeys. Had an amazing trip. Thank you.
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5
17/02/2013
Very well organised and a high standard of hotels throughout. Interesting places and beautiful scenery. Friendly and efficient people and extremely helpful.
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5
11/02/2013
I am just back from touring the South of New Zealand. I've never had such a great holiday. I was actually very worried when I booked my tour with Relaxing Journeys, but to my surprise everything went so well, without any problems from the time I landed in Christchurch to the end of the tour. Kirby my Tour Consultant was so helpful in choosing the right tour for me. I must say she was excellent and answered all my questions. I would recommend using Realaxing Journey to anyone who wants to tour New Zealand, because there is no better way to see the country and you know that you will be in great hands. The country was breathtaking. My Tour Director Ted and my coach Driver, Paul were so funny and helpful - even the music they played in the coach was so mesmerizing. There is no words to explain how well they planned the whole tour. The hotels we stayed in were really good, they even catered for my vegetarian meals.The beds in the hotel were so comfortable, and the views from the hotels were breathtaking. We had 49 wonderful people on the coach, which I liked, as I made so many friends. The Milford Sound, the TSS Earnslaw, the highlight dinner, the wildlife cruise and everything in the itinerary was so well planned to my suprise. I only have good memories about the whole trip, so if there is anyone reading this review I suggest you book through Relaxing Journeys, because they will make your holiday as memorable as mine!
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5
20/01/2013
An excellent tour for seeing what the South Island has to offer. Hotels good, rooms spacious clean and well equipped...but no outstanding views mostly the back, parking lot or garden of the Hotel. Coach was very comfortable. Our Tour Manager, Mark was very good & full of useful information about the areas visited. Our Coach Driver Vale was very competent - one of only a few drivers validated to drive the Milford Sound road during winter! Also full of information especially about the Maori, I felt very safe in his hands. The included excursions were good. Walter Peak Dinner Sailing from Queenstown on the Earnslaw steam boat, TranzAlpine Express from Arthurs Pass to Christchurch had wonderful scenery. Optional excursions were very varied and had something for everyone. Suggestion would be to maybe include the 'Pancake Rocks'. Little complaint - I feel the group was too big with 44 people.
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5
20/01/2013
While visiting our son and his family in Auckland we went on the Southern Spotlights tour of the South Island, we were not disappointed. The guide, Mark, was excellent, informative and helpful, especially to an elderly man on his own. Vale was a safe and confident driver who also was very knowledgeable. The tour was at a hectic pace but they squeezed so much in. The hotels on the whole were good but, as the weather was very hot, they could have done with fans in the rooms. The atmosphere among the group was very good and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. I would recommend this tour and this company to anyone.
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5
05/01/2013
I cannot speak highly enough of this excellent tour. Even encountering some unusual and inconvenient weather, our tour guide Phil and driver, Mark went above and beyond to keep the tour on track and incredibly enjoyable. It was obvious the amount of time and research than had gone into this tour. Travel, accomodation, meals, organisation, tour highlights were absolutely wonderful. My first tour with AAT and definitely not my last. Already looking for my next destination with AAT. Thanks to Kirby and Relaxing Journeys for keeping me informed throughout the whole process from booking to end of tour feedback.
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5
30/12/2012
Right from the start booking with Michelle, nothing was too much trouble. Frank the 'pick-up man' at Christchurch (what a good start to be picked up in a big BMW). The meals were VERY good, the accomodation above 3 star, the rooms at the Mecure in Queenstown had 5 star views. The service at all accomodation was excellent, bags in your room within 10 mins of arrival. Paul our driver and Mark the tour co-ordinator were very professional and nothing was too much trouble for either of them. But, the best thing about the trip was just how beautiful NZ's South Island was. Ive travelled all over Europe, and the South Island is just as beautifull, and a lot closer and definately a lot cheaper. A big g'day to our fellow travellers, thanks for your great company. Lots of memories. Relaxing Journeys and AAT Kings...FANTASTIC!
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4
29/02/2012
We couldn't have asked for a better tour director and driver. Iris and Vale were top notch, and both went the extra mile to ensure that we had an enjoyable trip. We went home smiling with lots of memories and photos! We would also like to thank Kirby, our tour consultant, for being patient with us - helping us with our booking and answering all our questions.
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5
29/02/2012
We both enjoyed the tour, the Tour Director, Iris, was really informative on all aspects of New Zealand and was enjoyable to listen to. The driver, Vale, was excellent in all aspects also, especially when we had a lady on the bus cut her leg. Luckily we had a nurse on board who advised we should get her leg stitched, Vale went out of his way to take us to Twizel and we waited until the lady was stitched up again, he said he would take us to our hotel and come back for the lady but we all said no, we would wait for Anne who appreciated us waiting for her. We had a lovely group of people on board and we all mixed in really well, my sister has lots of photos to take back to the UK and was pleased I had arranged this tour. We would both recommend this tour.
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4
26/02/2012
An excellent way to tour the South Island, taking in the sights at a relaxing pace. The Tour Director (Phil) was knowledgeable, and witty making it a joy to travel. Mark, the Driver was excellent in his handling of the coach, we felt safe. Overall, it was an enthralling tour.
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5
12/02/2012
This 9 day Southern Spotlight trip was awesome! Everything was very well organized from the beginning to the end. From booking and tour arrangements with Georgie who helped us organize our booking preferences and to Marty Paranihi who was our tour director and to Paul Luxmore who was our driver. The trip was really well organized to enable us to see the best of the South Island sights within a short 9 days! We could not have done it by ourselves otherwise. Highly recommend this trip to anyone who appreaciates the rugged beauty of the South Island!
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5
05/02/2012
A very interesting, informative and entertaining tour. We covered a great deal in a short time and the free day in Queenstown was very welcome. As it was my first coach tour ever, I was a bit anxious that I wouldn't like being herded on and off the coach. But it was fine - energetic but well paced. The only problem was that many passengers came down with the nasty cold and cough virus which went round the coach. More fresh air circulating may have reduced the spread. Every hotel was of good quality and the food delicious. A very enjoyable holiday.
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5
04/02/2012
AAT Kings have great people working for them, Murray the driver, had my full confidence, which is unusual, as I am not a good passenger. I prefer to be behind the wheel. Ngaire was very informative and helpful, despite some of the complaining folks that were on the tour. The places we visited and the hotels we stayed at were great, it was a marvellous tour, one I would recommend to anyone wanting to see New Zealand. I also enjoyed working with Kirby and the others on Relaxing Journeys team, they were all so helpful and answered all my queries in a very timely manner. Thanks heaps for a fab time.
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5
08/01/2012
Our tour guide Marty was fantastic and organised a brilliant tour. The scenery of the South Island was beautiful. We especially enjoyed our time in Dunedin, Milford Sound and Queenstown.
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4
01/01/2012
Overall the tour was very enjoyable, but quite intensive in terms of distance, time spent in a place, one night stays in hotels except in Queenstown where we were able to relax a bit more, but overall for a nine day tour we saw a lot of the fantastic sites in South Island, plus we were able to do quite a few optional extras, such as two light plane flights, one over Mount Cook, the other whale watching; as well as a helicopter flight to Fox Glacier. I think this nine day tour is ideal to get an appreciation of what the South Island has to offer and if you should want to return again you can earmark special places of interest you would like to spend more time at. We of course had spent a week in the North Island before joining the tour; Christmas at a batch on the coast for four days, then driving down to Wellington to eventually fly into Christchurch to meet up with AAT Kings, which made our holiday even better. Just a note, that our tour rep. Ngaire, and our driver Vale were absolutely first class and a bundle of fun to be with, and they definitely enhanced our journey. Overall it was a brilliant holiday which we both will never forget.
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4
25/12/2011
It was excellent. We enjoyed every bit of it. Our tour guide Clarke and the driver Mark were marvellous, very well organised, very efficient, and above all very friendly. And to you Kirby, thanks for organising such wonderful tour for us.
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5
17/07/2011
Our tour of New Zealand was superb and well organised right from the pickup and drop off at the airport. We really enjoyed the company of all who were on the tour. Our tour guide Lu Tyree was excellent and made us all very comfortable during our trip. All additional tours were well arranged. Our coach driver Darryl was very helpful and efficient. We would recommend this tour to anyone who want to visit south island in winter. Tour though hectic was worth it as we could cover the South Island. We are looking foward to tour teh North Island next year!
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5
09/02/2011
Fantastic tour. Beautiful country, lots fitted in to a short period. Our driver, Murray, and tour guide, Iris, were excellent, extremely knowledgeable and good fun. It was very good value with hotels throughout of a good standard. We wouldn't hesitate to book another trip when we come back again. Thanks for giving us some lovely memories.
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5
06/02/2011
It was an excellent tour well worth the money, with great hotels and great food and Paul our driver was excellent as some of the roads were narrow and winding, a very smooth bus trip. Sue our rep was very informative and she kept us informed at every stage of our journey, excellent scenery and she was good company. I would certainly consider doing another trip in the near future, possibly Australia.
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4
30/01/2011
Amazing trip, so much packed into a short time but every minute enjoyable. Tour staff so knowledgable and so happy to talk about places they have probably seen a million times. Hotels all great. A most beautiful country and heart breaking when we left to see what had happened to Christchurch. Thank you all so much for everything.
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4
07/11/2010
Tour and arrangements were great. Pre and post accommodation at Ibis Christchurch was good. Robin Duncan our tour leader had a knowledge and friendliness un-surpassed. Tumati or driver was excellent. We enjoyed the company of fellow travellers and extra tours offered. Fox Glacier Hotel? We didn't like it, but overall everything was fine. Many thanks to Georgie Walpole who made our arrangements over the computer. We hope to be back!
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4
10/10/2010
Well, an amazing trip and thank you so much for being efficient in assisting with my trip and such a professional tour. This was my first big travelling experience on my own and I was very anxious and cautious it was going to be a wonderful experience and not a bad one. You hear of so many bad things whilst travelling and I know my family were more anxious than me! Although I was only with the tour for 9 days and stayed with family before I joined you I was most enthralled and in awe of how beautiful New Zealand really is. It's no wonder that my cousin fell in love with it over 25 years ago and it's taking me this long to see this wonderful country! I was fortunate to see the South Island only, however, I do intend to return in a few years time to catch up with family and friends and attempt the North Island. I must say that overall the hotel accommodation was spot on, however, one slight disappointment was hotel at Fox's Glacier. I must insist that you commend our Tour Director, 'Marty' and coach driver 'Megan' as they are such a wonderful team. Very obliging, professional, good fun to be with, and Marty had so much knowledge and fun attitude and managed the tour to a very high spec. The people on the my tour were great, and made me feel very welcome and we all had a good laugh. I made such good friends and do intend to keep in contact with a few. I have recommended your site to a few people here in the UK and I will definitely use your company again. I had an awesome time and it was a very special birthday for me this year, it exceeded my expectations!! I was NOT disappointed! Thank you all once again and with best wishes and a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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5
14/03/2010
Everyone we interacted with in arranging and conducting the tour was outstanding; Georgina Walpole from Relaxing Journeys, the tour director, Marty, the coach driver John, and Frank who shuttled us to the Christchurch Airport. We lived in New Zealand for nearly a year about 26 years ago and drove to nearly everywhere included in this tour. We selected this tour because we felt that it covered the best places that the South Island has to offer, as we were traveling with friends who had not been to New Zealand before. We thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the many scenic locations and activities that the tour offered. The tour was very enjoyable, and we learned many new things from Marty's commentary. Because of the size of the group, some rest stops were a little inconvenient for the ladies, as there were long lines to use the facilities. However, everyone seemed to accept that condition, and people did not appear to be too upset about it. Based on this experience, we would certainly return to Relaxing Journeys and AAT Kings if we were to travel to New Zealand again.
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5
14/02/2010
This was the most spectacular and enjoyable tour. Our tour director Julie and driver Tamatai were both amazing and Julie's knowledge and commentaries were fantastic. We met lovely people. The tour was excellent value for money, hotels and foods first class, could not fault it. If we ever do another trip we will certainly book with you again. I would just mention also that Georgie who I arranged the tour with was most helpful all through and kept me up to date at all times.
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5
08/11/2009
We must say how much we enjoyed our tour of the South Island. This was was the first time that we had visited NZ and immediately fell in love with this wonderful country that has amazing and varied scenery. The tour was well organised using hotels that were well appointed and clean. The overall package represented excellent value for money. The tour captain and driver were terrific as they were amusing, informative and looked after us so well. The organisation of the trip was handled so well by Georgine Walpole at the office and made arranging our holiday so seamless. Thanks again for making this trip an unforgettable experience and will certainly recommend your firm.
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5
26/10/2009
The tour was excellent. For the type of tour, the accommodation was good, the Mercure Resort in Queenstown being excellent. The meals and service in all the hotels were excellent. The itinerary of the tour was excellent and the available time for optional tours was well organised. The transfers from and to the airports were on time and the driver's guidance at the airports was appreciated. The tour bus was comfortable and the bus 'Chauffeur' Tamati Tehuia was extremely skilled in handling the driving. His attitude was totally professional, cordial and helpful with a good humour at all times. Jo Smith the Tour Director was incredible. Her personality, jovial ways, organising ability, her thoughtfullness, local knowledge and knowledge of the traditions and history of New Zealand were all brilliant. The only suggestion I would have, is that after a day on the road a self service dinner would be more appropriate than a sit down and waited on meal as it was at the Kingsgate hotel in Dunedin. It takes too long to be served.
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5
25/02/2009
We had always wanted to visit NZ. As we were staying with our son whilst in Australia, he suggested we do a tour. He and his wife arranged it all for us and thanks to them and Relaxing Journeys we can now tick off the dream. It was fantastic, good value for money, our fellow passengers were good to know and our tour director Terry and driver Paul were brilliant. It was well organized, friendly and we saw more of NZ than we would have if we had travelled alone, thank you.
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5
15/02/2009
Despite our flight to Christchurch being cancelled by Jetstar resulting is us arriving at 11.30pm we were still met at the airport and transported to our hotel by the delightful Frank. He have us an interesting history of places we passed on our short trip. Our very capable tour guide Robin had left clear directions for us, since we missed out on the met and greet night. Robin was excellent with great people skills and knowledge of NZ, she made sure we saw as much as possible and worked very hard to run a smooth holiday. Julian, our driver, was extremely careful and at all times we felt very safe in his capable hands. Julian always had a smile on his face and willing to assist whenever he could. There were two people on the tour who had mobility problems and Julian showed great empathy by giving them a hand when needed. We were happy with our hotels and meals, sometimes lunch or dinner was a tad too early but we understand that was to fit in with the intoner. NZ is a very beautiful country and we hope to visit again and we will certainly use your company, also we have already recommended you to friends.
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4
19/01/2009
My wife and I couldn't have been happier with our tour. We just ticked all the excellent ' boxes in the 'satisfaction questionnaire, handed out before the end of the South Island trip. However, we would like to add that with over 40 years experience of 'package' holidays and tours we have only twice previously felt impelled to write to congratulate the courier/driver. In this case, without doubt, Tour Manager TERRY PETERSON and Driver GAVIN JENSEN are the best that we have ever come across. Not only for their individual efficiency, expertise, 'people handling' skills and the impeccable way they worked as a team, but also for their humour, which can be the 'icing on the cake' where long coach journeys are concerned. This tour was part of our second trip to NZ, mainly staying with sets of friends in North Island, from which we have just returned. We extol the virtues of New Zealand to one and all here in the UK, and would not hesitate to recommend your company to anyone expressing interest in NZ trips.
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5
30/11/2008
Just to let you know that we had the most amazing time in New Zealand! AAT Kings certainly DO put on good trips! Our Tour Director (Jean Paul Hiroti) and driver (Gavin Jensen) looked after us all very well and provided so much interesting information that we came away from New Zealand with a real understanding of the country's culture and heritage. Thank you for an amazing holiday. We hope one day to be able to book with you again.
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4
30/11/2008
A wonderful experience - from Georgie's initial suggestion and help to the expertise of Julie (the tour director) and John (the driver). It was our first ever coach tour and it surpassed all expectations. The hotels were exactly as we were lead to expect and the food was better. I'm not giving you credit for the indescribable scenery and weather! We have just had a great holiday. Thanks. Geoff & Gill Knappett.
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Enquire about our 9 Day Southern Spotlight

9 Day Southern Spotlight
Low Cost Coach Tour
Tour Code: LCQR
From (NZD) $2515 per person
Save (NZD) $135 per person
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Departures: Jun 2018 to Sep 2019
Rating:
65 reviews (4.7/5)

Low cost AAT Kings escorted tour of the South Island of New Zealand. Explore Christchurch, Dunedin & Queenstown. Experience spectacular Fox Glacier, a... Read More

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9 Day Southern Spotlight
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