New Zealand's capital of cool launches your exploration of the 'south'. On arrival in Wellington (flights to arrive prior to 4pm), you'll be transferred to your hotel. Meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception this evening.
This morning we head out with a 'Local Specialist' on a walking tour of this quirky creative capital. Gain insight into Wellington's rich culture and the vibrant food and drink scene. Afterwards you are free to discover more of Wellington on your own.
Board the Interislander ferry for a cruise across Cook Strait to the South Island. You'll meander through a maze of arms and inlets into the sleepy seaside village of Picton, then it's on to Blenheim for an orientation tour before arriving at your hotel. Later we visit one of the region's famous wineries, Hans Herzog Estate, for a tasting and 3-course Regional Dinner paired with matching wines.
Today explore the Marlborough region, your way. You could choose an Optional Experience half day tour of the best wineries in the region or embark on a Marlborough Icons tour: a visit to two wineries followed by a delicious Marlborough Sounds waterfront lunch, then a relaxing cruise through the Marlborough Sounds, accompanied by fresh local seafood and Marlborough sauvignon blanc.
Travel to Kaikoura, keeping a keen eye out for Sperm Whales. You could choose to take an Optional Experience flight over Kaikoura Sea Canyon, before travelling to Christchurch. See how the city is rebuilding itself after its devastating earthquakes and visit the Transitional Cathedral, the world's only cathedral made substantially of cardboard.
'Connect with Locals' Angie and Stan Taylor at their home Morelea, to experience some warm Kiwi hospitality. Indulge in a 'Be My Guest' barbecue lunch and hear about a lifetime spent farming in New Zealand. Pavlova is on the menu and you'll get to witness Angie preparing this famous dessert. From here it's on towards the spectacular scenery of the Southern Alps and then along the shores of majestic Lake Pukaki, before arriving in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in Australasia, helped Sir Edmund Hillary hone his skills in preparation for his conquest of Everest. Tonight, enjoy dinner with a breathtaking mountain view.
This morning you'll experience the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's largest, by boat. On arrival in the Tasman Valley, take a 30-minute alpine walk to the terminal lake and then board your boat to view the melting ice-face and icebergs that have carved into its murky waters. The lake feels eerie and magical at the same time as you cruise slowly, while a 'Local specialist' shares the history of the glacier, the lake and Mount Cook National Park. All this plus an awesome backdrop of New Zealand's highest and most spectacular mountains, Mounts Cook and Tasman. Later you will have time to enjoy your surroundings back at the Hermitage. A star gazing Optional Experience is available after dinner this evening.
This is another scenic day, where you will travel over the Lindis Pass through Central Otago. Visit Cromwell for a taste of some of the town's delicious stone fruit. On the way into Queenstown, stop to visit the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown, with its beautiful tree-lined avenues and 19th century wooden buildings. Then make your way to Fiordland National Park and the South Island's largest lake and the town of Te Anau. This afternoon consider an Optional Experience jet boat ride down the majestic trout-filled Waiau River to serene Lake Manapouri, stepping into ancient beech forests and learning about this unique location in the National Park.
Leave Te Anau and journey through Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. 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 it's through 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, 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 this unforgettable experience, you will travel on to the adventure capital, Queenstown. An orientation tour around the shores of Lake Wakatipu takes you into the town centre on the way to your hotel.
Spend your final day in Queenstown as you wish. You may consider an Optional Experience and take a scenic tour visiting the many locations of the Lord of the Rings films or cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand's oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station and indulge in a gourmet barbecue lunch at the Colonel's Homestead. This evening, join your Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner at The Boatshed, with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables.
Say farewell to your fellow travellers as your holiday comes to an end this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Queenstown Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime).