Welcome to Christchurch! Please schedule flights to arrive by 4pm in time for a welcome meeting and drink.
Travel to the charming village of Akaroa, a former French and British settlement. Take a nature cruise on Akaroa Harbour for a chance to see some of the native wildlife, including New Zealand fur seals, the white flippered blue penguin, and the Hector's dolphin, one of the smallest and rarest in the world. After lunch, you will have time to explore the village with its colonial architecture, galleries and cafes. Return to Christchurch where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B,L)
Today, travel on the scenic TranzAlpine, one of the world's great train journeys. From the comfort of first-class carriages, see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmlands, followed by the spectacular gorges and rivers of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthur's Pass National Park. The train features large panoramic windows, an onboard cafe, and in-seat audio commentary. Disembark in Greymouth and attend a private jade carving demonstration with a traditional carver. Spend the next two nights in the small town of Franz Josef, located at the base of the impressive Franz Josef Glacier. (B)
This morning, explore this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage area. Your Glacier Valley walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier's path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier's history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka Roimate o Hine Hukatere. After a brief climb, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing face of the glacier. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You may opt to take a kayak tour, explore more walking tracks on your own, take a scenic flightseeing or helicopter tour, spend time at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, or relax in one of the glacier hot pools. (B,L)
Today's journey takes us along New Zealand's rugged west coast, through rainforests, and over Haast Pass to the resort town of Wanaka. Before arriving at your hotel, visit Cardrona Distillery for a visit and tasting. The remainder of your day is free to explore as you wish. Recommendations include paddle boarding or kayaking along Lake Wanaka, take a horseback riding tour, or climb to the top of Mt Iron for amazing views of the Southern Alps, Pisa Range, and Lake Wanaka. (B)
Travel across the heart of the South Island. Board your ship for an overnight cruise in the spectacular Milford Sound (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience while you cruise the full length of this beautiful fiord before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. Be ready for stunning waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and the chance to see New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and Fiordland-crested penguins. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner onboard featuring local food and wine and perhaps share in some star-gazing. (B,D)
Accommodation Spotlight: Spend the evening on the Milford Mariner and wake up in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The cruise is relaxing, allowing plenty of time to take in the fiord's spectacular scenery and wildlife. The ship features spacious viewing decks, a dining room, bar, observation lounge and all cabins feature private ensuites. It's the ultimate Milford Sound experience!
NOTE: A carry-on bag is recommended for the overnight on the Milford Mariner. Make sure to pack non-slip walking shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater or jacket, change of clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, swimwear, camera, and cash/credit cards for the bar and snacks.
This morning explore more of this famous sound. You may wish to take a boat or kayak tour. Disembark the ship and continue to Queenstown, "the Adventure Capital of the World". As your evening is at leisure, why not take a gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak for breathtaking views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkable Mountains. (B)
Enjoy a day at leisure. Options for your free time include an exciting jet boat ride on the Dart River, a self-guided cycling tour, see movie locations on a Lord of the Rings tour, grab a burger at the famous Fergburger, sample some of the region's best wines, go to new heights on a scenic helicopter flight, or browse the many shops and art galleries in town. Tonight, join your Tour Director and fellow travel companions for a fun, progressive farewell dinner through the streets of Queenstown. (B,D)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. You may also choose to extend your time in Queenstown and explore more on your own. Extra nights are available for purchase. (B)