9 Day Southern Spotlight
9 Day Southern Spotlight
Low cost AAT Kings escorted tour of the South Island of New Zealand. Explore Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. Experience spectacular Fox Glacier, and awe-inspiring Milford Sound.
Please Note: - For all departures from April 2020 onwards, there are some minor changes to the tour itinerary. Your Relaxing Journeys consultant will advise of changes at time of booking.
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|Tour Type:||Low Cost Coach Tour|
|From:||Christchurch to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Oct 2019 to Mar 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $2845 per person|
|Tour Operator:||AAT Kings Tours|
|8 nights accommodation in comfortable hotels|
|8 fully cooked breakfasts (B) and 6 dinners (D)|
|Travel over the Canterbury Plains|
|Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo|
|View mighty Aoraki Mount 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 ItineraryView Tour PDF
On arrival in Christchurch you will be transferred to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4pm). Join your Tour Director and fellow travellers this evening for a welcome reception.
Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch
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 sheepdog statue, a touching tribute to the working dogs which helped develop the Mackenzie farm country. You may want to take in Aoraki Mount 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 region at Ōmarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Ōmarama (B, D)
Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, and a photo stop at the Waitaki hydro 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 Ōamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and 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, Ōamaru locals made sure that their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid to late 1800s 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 Speight’s Brewery, or ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Dunedin (B, D)
This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to visit the Cadbury World, 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 South’, has strong connections to its northern hemisphere sister city, even down to sharing many of the same street names; 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)
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 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 the 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 Stratosfare Restaurant (own expense) overlooking Queenstown – the ultimate way to end a highlight day!
Stay: Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Queenstown (2 nights) (B)
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 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 barbecue highlight dinner at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, 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-along or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the TSS Earnslaw. (B, D)
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 nineteenth 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 pounamu (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 Mount 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) (B, D)
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 to the driftwood 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 (native greenstone or jade) studio for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Māori 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 newfound friends, for a farewell dinner.
Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch (B, D)
Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight. (B)
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Low cost AAT Kings escorted tour of the South Island of New Zealand. Explore Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. Experience spectacular Fox Glacier,... Read More
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