Southern Wonders

9 Day Guided Vacation | Christchurch Return

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Southern Wonders

9 Day Guided Vacation | Christchurch Return

Southern Wonders

9 Day Guided Vacation | Christchurch Return | Travel Period: 1 Apr 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Southern Wonders

9 Day Guided Vacation

Christchurch Return

Isn’t nature the greatest tonic? It certainly is on this South Island tour encapsulating the region’s hits, as well as some unsung gems. At sea level, cruise Milford Sound or chug across the isle on the TranzAlpine; from altitude, alight on Franz Josef Glacier in a chopper or explore Mount Cook. Your city gateways – Queenstown, Christchurch, Dunedin – envelop arguably the world’s best wineries.

Why you'll love this trip:

  • Experience an adventure through the South of New Zealand
  • See the Icons of the South Island with more free time
  • Venture into an untouched world of Milford Sound where you will embark on a Scenic Cruise
  • Travel on Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw and visit Walter Peak Station and enjoy a highlight dinner

image map

Flexible Vacations

Queenstown boasts 150+ bars, restaurants, and cafés. Thankfully, you have free hours to eat your way around town.

Iconic Sites

Few rail journeys excite the imagination like the TranzAlpine, traversing the South Island from Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch.

Time For You

Adventures often happen when you least expect. Explore at your own pace and uncover those surprise memorable moments.

Sustainable Travel

Fiordland National Park is one of the world’s great wilderness areas. Your visit will help protect and preserve it.

Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm. Take some time to relax or explore independently. You may like to step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax on the Christchurch Tram as it takes you around the 'must-see' central attractions. The tram drivers provide a live commentary throughout the loop, identifying points of interest, historic architecture and the changes the city is under-going since the 2011 earthquake. This evening, meet your fellow travelling companions and your AAT Kings Travel Director for a welcome reception at your hotel.

Hotel: Ibis Hotel Christchurch

First up this morning you will board the TranzAlpine train and head out through the majestic Canturbury Plains towards the Southern Alps onto Arthurs Pass. 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. From Aurthurs Pass we 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 resource's 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. Your final destination 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 Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Hotel: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Graham Wing)

If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 2, you may get another chance to fly up to the glaciers this morning. If you aren’t flying, you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village before we head out of Franz Josef following an ancient greenstone trail. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers. Travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast to the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes. From here you will travel further into Central Otago. View Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows, followed by the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Hawea you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan. Stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. Later, 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. Then it’s on to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand!

Hotel: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown , 2 nights

Explore Queenstown your way! Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet or venture out on a Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour. If laid-back and relaxed is more your idea of fun, then join a Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines. 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-along or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.

Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go! From the beautiful sights of Queenstown, you will travel out to the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound. 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. 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 the waters of this natural wonder. Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as they plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. After leaving Milford Sound, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Te Anau on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. This evening you have the opportunity to head out across the lake to the Glow Worm Caves for a tour (Optional Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Hotel: Distinction Luxmore Hotel

You may want to take an early morning walk along the shoreline of the South Island’s biggest lake, before you depart the township of Te Anau this morning. The heavily forested, rugged mountains of Fiordland National Park turn into rolling, grassy hills as you meander your way down to the city of Dunedin. 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 – so take a wander down George Street, noting Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional experience to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or explore the city and its museums, cafés and shops.

Hotel: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City

This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to 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. From Dunedin 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. Then you will journey along the Waitaki River, which marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power.  Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Hotel: Heritage Gateway Hotel

You may want to take in Mount Cook National Park from the air this morning, on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (optional – at own expense). 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. This afternoon head through the South Canterbury country towns of Fairlie and Geraldine and out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.  Enjoy a city sights tour and see how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. 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! Tonight, enjoy a dinner at your hotel.

Hotel: Ibis Hotel Christchurch

Your AAT Kings New Zealand holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. Your flights can depart any time today.

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

Ibis Christchurch is ready to welcome you. Adjacent to the new shopping heart of Christchurch, Cashell Mall. The "pop up" shopping precinct is the new vibrant heart of the city, featuring many new designer shops and modern cafes. Ibis Hotel Christchurch is very close to the famous Cathedral Square, the historic heart of the city providing easy access to the outer lying attractions and the airport. The Ibis features 155 contemporary rooms, restaurant OOPEN, a bar and meeting room.

    Features

  • 220/240 V AC
  • Data port in room
  • Air-conditioning
  • Flat Screen TV
  • Satellite/cable colour TV
  • Work Desk
  • Direct Dial Telephone
  • Manual temperature control
  • Wi-Fi in room (Pay)
  • Mini-bar (surcharge)
  • Coffee/tea making facilities
  • Ensuite
  • Shower
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Security peephole
  • Automatic wake up call
  • Operator wake up call
  • Alarm Clock
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier sits at the edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, and is just moments from one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions, the Franz Josef Glacier. Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier makes the most of its alpine location and offers quality accommodation in two separate hotel ‘wings’. Stay in either the Douglas or Graham wing, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings within Franz Josef village. Our hotel is in a premium location, making it the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the magnificent Westland region.

    Features

  • Hair Dryer
  • Wireless Internet access
  • Work Desk
  • Mini Bar
  • Iron / Ironing Board
  • Tea & Coffee Facilities
  • Refrigerator
  • Four Spa Pools
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront is located on Frankton Road, just five minutes stroll to the heart of Queenstown.

The hotel resort is close to many wonderful activities, from the town's world famous jet boat rides to radical white water rafting, bungee jumping, vineyards, international golf courses and ski fields.

    Features

  • Ensuite
  • TV
  • Tea & Coffee Facilities
  • Refrigerator
  • Mini-bar (surcharge)
  • Telephone - Voice Mail
  • Iron / Ironing Board
  • Hairdryer
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Escape to the serene surroundings of Lake Te Anau before heading out to explore the world-famous beauty of Fiordland National Park. The hotel is located in the heart of the visitor-friendly township of Te Anau, in the stunning and world-famous region of Fiordland.

    Features

  • Ensuite
  • Heater
  • Phone
  • TV
  • Refrigerator
  • Bathroom Amenities
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

This stylish hotel has a fresh contemporary design, with clean lines and dramatic features softened by natural elements such as timber and neutral tones. At once energetic, yet restful, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is well in tune with the beat of this vibrant city. Located in the heart of the city and just blocks from the Octagon, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is within walking distance of many of the city's main attractions, great restaurants and shopping centres. So whether you are visiting Dunedin for business or pleasure look no further than the exquisite Scenic Hotel Dunedin City for your accommodation choice!

    Features

  • Tea & Coffee Facilities
  • Mini Bar
  • Work Desk
  • Hair Dryer
  • Iron / Ironing Board
  • Wireless Internet access
  • Refrigerator
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Located in the heart of the Mackenzie/Waitaki region, a unique area of New Zealand's South Island. Set amongst landscaped gardens with views of the surrounding mountains, the Heritage Gateway Hotel is a peaceful place to stay.

    Features

  • Ensuite
  • Tea & Coffee Facilities
  • Wireless Internet access
  • Phone
  • TV
  • Electric blankets
  • Iron / Ironing Board
  • Hairdryer
  • Refrigerator
 Accommodation Hotel
 Accommodation Hotel

Ibis Christchurch is ready to welcome you. Adjacent to the new shopping heart of Christchurch, Cashell Mall. The "pop up" shopping precinct is the new vibrant heart of the city, featuring many new designer shops and modern cafes. Ibis Hotel Christchurch is very close to the famous Cathedral Square, the historic heart of the city providing easy access to the outer lying attractions and the airport. The Ibis features 155 contemporary rooms, restaurant OOPEN, a bar and meeting room.

    Features

  • 220/240 V AC
  • Data port in room
  • Air-conditioning
  • Flat Screen TV
  • Satellite/cable colour TV
  • Work Desk
  • Direct Dial Telephone
  • Manual temperature control
  • Wi-Fi in room (Pay)
  • Mini-bar (surcharge)
  • Coffee/tea making facilities
  • Ensuite
  • Shower
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Security peephole
  • Automatic wake up call
  • Operator wake up call
  • Alarm Clock
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

  • Specialist team of two highly experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide
  • 1 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Fiordland National Park
  • Centrally located premium 3.5-star hotels

What to Bring

  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and hat
  • Water bottle
  • Warm layers in cooler months
  • Camera
  • Comfortable walking shoes

Fitness Requirements

  • Low level of fitness required

Dining

  • 8 Full Breakfasts
  • 3 Dinners
  • 1 Highlight Dinner
  • 1 Farewell Dinner

Flight Information

  • Day 1: Flights to arrive by 4:00pm into Christchurch airport
  • Day 9: Flights to depart any time from Christchurch airport

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