Top of the South Island

7 Day Inspiring Journey | Christchurch Return

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Top of the South Island

7 Day Inspiring Journey | Christchurch Return

Top of the South

7 Day Inspiring Journey | Christchurch Return | Travel Period: 1 Oct 2020 – 31 Mar 2021

Top of the South

7 Day Inspiring Journey

Christchurch Return

Marvel at the scenic splendour of the South Island on this journey through mighty fiords, tranquil bays and rolling hills of the countryside, and discover why New Zealand is a world-renowned wine making region. The natural wonders of the South Island are waiting to be discovered on this epic seven-day journey. Cruise the majestic waters of Queen Charlotte Sound, get close to marine life at Kaikoura, and discover beautiful Nelson. Experience a culinary discovery through Marlborough and relax in Hanmer Springs’ famous hot pools.

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Enjoy private tastings at some of the Marlborough region’s best vineyards. Delight in an incredible dining experience at the famous Hans Herzog restaurant.


Experience an unforgettable whale watching cruise in Kaikoura. Enjoy one of the world’s most picturesque rail journeys, the Coastal Pacific to Kaikoura.


Make your travel matter with locals at a native tree planting experience in Christchurch. Meet Mike & Antonia who share stories of Queen Charlotte Sound on an exclusive cruise.


Relax and rejuvenate in the famous Hanmer Springs thermal hot pools

Welcome to Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, rimmed by mountains and known for its English heritage, gardens and green expanses. After meeting your Journey Director and fellow travellers, join a local specialist to hear stories of its rebuild after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Over 900 buildings were demolished in the CBD after the quakes. This afternoon, make your travel matter with a native tree planting experience at Christchurch Adventure Park as part of the flora re-generation on the Port Hills after the wildfires of 2017. This evening, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Dinner.

Hotel: Distinction Christchurch Hotel

Included Meals: Welcome Dinner

Today we board the world famous Coastal Pacific rail journey to Kaikoura. With the Pacific Ocean lapping on one side and the Kaikoura ranges rising majestically on the other, the Coastal Pacific is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world. Sit back and relax in comfort as you watch the stunning scenery unfold in front of you. We take some time to explore Kaikoura before heading out to find the world’s largest toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale, for which the region is renowned.  After the unforgettable cruise we continue our journey up the East Coast to the wine making region of Marlborough. Tonight, join your fellow travellers for dinner at your hotel.

Hotel: Blenheim, 2 nights

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

World famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest winegrowing region and is a must-visit for wine and food lovers alike. Discovering the diverse landscapes of the valleys of vines to sheltered waterways of the Marlborough Sounds, the fresh seafood sought by the world’s finest chefs, and the farm to plate dining experiences are what today is all about. This morning, we explore this picturesque and fertile region, visiting several vineyards along the way. Tonight, indulge in an incredible dining experience at the famous Hans Herzog restaurant. 

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

At the Arapawa Seafarms, our hosts Mike and Antonia Radon await. Take in the untouched beauty of your surrounds as you cruise through the myriad waterways and tranquil bays of the Queen Charlotte Sound on our way to Whekenui Bay on Arapawa Island.  Flanked by Queen Charlotte Sound, Tory Channel and the Cook Strait, Arapawa Island was a whaling base in the Marlborough Sounds from the late 1820’s until the mid-1960’s.  The whaling industry long since abandoned, and has given way to salmon, mussel and oyster farms which we will be lucky enough to spot as we travel to Whekenui Bay.  On arrival you will be greeted by Mike and Antonia who will personally guide you on a tour of the farm which is not only a place of work but their beautiful home. Discover how the stunning Blue Pearl came to be and see how they are produced. Enjoy morning tea at the Radon Homestead, where you will have a chance to take in the spectacular views before we cruise back to Picton.  This afternoon travel through the Marlborough Region along the Pelorus River and through the Rai Valley on your way to Nelson.  Enjoy a relaxing afternoon before joining your fellow travellers for Dinner at Oceano Restaurant. 

Hotel: The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson, 2 nights

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today is yours to explore the vibrant city of Nelson and surrounds, known for its vibrant arts scene and beautiful reserves and national parks. Set amongst stunning landscapes, beaches, lakes and mountains, take a trip to the natural paradise of Abel Tasman National Park, or for a more relaxing day, choose an Art and Wine tour. 

Included Meals: Breakfast

Travel through the centre of New Zealand’s scenic South Island, through Murchison and into the Lewis Pass region to Hanmer Springs. This is the dream New Zealand holiday destination, bursting with opportunities for unforgettable adventure, as well being the ideal spot for relaxation and indulgence. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and towering forests, this charming town has a main street filled with boutique shops, cafes and eateries. Famous for its natural hot springs, you may wish to treat yourself to the ultimate rejuvenation or a spa treatment. Tonight is yours to relax and enjoy this beautiful alpine village at your leisure 

Hotel: Clear Ridge Apartments, Hanmer Springs

Included Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a leisurely start today before we head to Waipara for our Celebration lunch. Waipara is a picturesque valley just 45 minutes north of Christchurch, and is one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions, famous for pinot noir and riesling grapes. After enjoying lunch at a local winery, we continue to Christchurch and bid farewell to our fellow travellers and Journey Director.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Please note: This itinerary may be subject to change.

Your Guided Holiday includes a range of quality accommodation for your comfort.
The accommodation you will enjoy on this tour includes:

 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

The newly renovated Distinction Christchurch Hotel is an urban escape combining sophisticated smarts and familiar warmth whilst standing proud amongst the buzz of the rejuvenation of Cathedral Square.

Ideally positioned in the heart of the city only a few minutes' walk from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and future Christchurch Convention Centre.


  • Wi-Fi
  • Sauna
  • Gym facilities
  • TV
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Rutherford Hotel Nelson is Nelson’s only 24-hour fully-serviced hotel, offering luxurious rooms and suites. Our central location means Nelson’s many galleries and City attractions are just a stone’s throw away. All rooms have a view of the harbour, city, historic South Street or Nelson’s beautiful cathedral.

Our stylish accommodation will suit anyone looking for a great place to stay in Nelson. We also offer rooms with disabled access on request. All of our rooms have WiFi capabilities.


  • En-suite bathrooms (shower over bath)
  • Bathrobes
  • WiFi
  • Sky TV
  • Direct dial phone
  • Mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities

Relax in style in your own fully equipped, 5 star luxury ‘home away from home’ apartment that’s perfectly situated near the alpine hot pools of Hanmer.

Need accommodation before or after your tour?

Our special discounted rates make booking accommodation with us during your holiday both easy and affordable at selected AAT Kings hotels and resorts. Find out more

  • Hand-picked accommodation, selected to immerse you in your destination
  • Most meals, including Local Dining Experiences. See Dining tab below
  • Complimentary refreshments throughout the journey
  • Travel by bespoke vehicle with reclining seats, WiFi and air-conditioning
  • A maximum of 22 guests to share your journey
  • Expert Driver Guide escort
  • All entrance and National Park fees
  • Sustainable Travel Kit, including refillable water bottle and backpack
  • Exclusive immersive activities and interaction with local communities
  • Built-in leisure time, to explore destinations as you wish
  • Airport transfers (see Flight Information below)

What to Bring

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and hat
  • Warm layers in cooler months
  • Camera
  • A sense of adventure

Fitness Requirements

  • Low level of fitness required


  • 6 Full buffet breakfasts
  • 1 Celebration Lunch
  • 2 Dinners with wine
  • 2 Local Dining Experiences

Flight Information

  • Day 1: Flights to arrive prior to 8am into Christchurch Airport (Pre-accommodation available at Distinction Hotel)
  • Day 7: Flights to depart after 6:30pm from Christchurch Airport