Southern Spotlight Guided Tour

Price From

$3429

9 days

Tick all the boxes of must-dos in the South Island. Journey through the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine train, have a night out at a High Country Station in Central Otago, cruise down the still waters of Milford Sound, and roam through the stone-hewn campus of New Zealand’s oldest university in Dunedin.
Locations Visited Christchurch, Omarama, Dunedin, Te Anau, Queenstown, Franz Josef
Countries Visited New Zealand
Travel Style Best Buys
Accomodations 8 nights included
Age Requirements Minimum age 5

Itinerary

Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm and you will be transferred from the airport to your Christchurch hotel. After check-in, you can head out and explore Christchurch. Step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax as the Christchurch Tram 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 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. This evening, meet your fellow travellers and your AAT Kings Travel Director at a welcome reception at your hotel.
AccomodationIbis Hotel Christchurch
MealsWelcome Reception
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 view the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd and 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 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 Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
AccomodationHeritage Gateway Hotel
MealsBreakfast, Dinner
Your day starts with a 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. 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.
AccomodationScenic Hotel Dunedin City
MealsBreakfast
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. 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. 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 journey 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 Glow Worm Caves for a tour (Optional Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
AccomodationDistinction Luxmore Hotel
MealsBreakfast, Dinner
Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go! After leaving Te Anau, you will journey 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 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. 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.
AccomodationCopthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown
MealsBreakfast
Explore exciting Queenstown your way! Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet Boat 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 or visit our native birds at Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park. 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 98 Queenstown, join in a vintage sing-along or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.
AccomodationCopthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown
MealsBreakfast, Highlight Dinner
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
AccomodationScenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Graham Wing)
MealsBreakfast, Dinner
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 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. From Hokitika, you will travel inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass. This evening, join your AAT Kings Travel Director and Driver, and your new-found friends for a Farewell Dinner.
AccomodationIbis Hotel Christchurch
MealsBreakfast, Farewell Dinner
Your AAT Kings New Zealand holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. Your flights can depart any time today, and you will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight.
MealsBreakfast

Highlights

  • FLEXIBLE HOLIDAYS: With 150 bars and cafes in the Queenstown you'll have plenty to choose from on your free evening in Queenstown
  • ICONIC SITES: No trip to the South Island is complete without a trip on the TranzAlpine train - his iconic train journey is a must
  • TIME FOR YOU: With free days and afternoons on this guided holiday there is plenty of down-time or an optional experience
  • SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL: Your visit to Fiordland National Park will contribute to protecting New Zealand wilderness and native birdlife in the area

What's Included

  • Some meals
  • Travel by luxury coach
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • Handcrafted Highlights
  • Experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide
  • Airport transfers (see flight information below)

Terms & Conditions

Please note that airfares are not included in price.

Updated on 17Aug2021 and may be subject to change. Full terms and conditions apply. Prices listed are per person, land only and based on double occupancy. Single room supplements are available upon booking. Deposit must be paid within 7 days of booking. Valid on new bookings made between 03Aug2021-31Dec2021. GrownUps members offer may not be combinable with all offers. Final payment is due 45 days prior to departure. If your booking departs within 45 days, final payment is due at time of booking. Pricing is in New Zealand dollars. Discount applies to land portion of your trip price. Trips and departures are subject to availability and can be withdrawn at any time. Other restrictions may apply; for full terms and conditions contact GrownUps Holidays on 0800 842 685.