Kia ora! Welcome to New Zealand and the start of your South Island discovery tour. Be sure to have your insurance details and next of kin information at the Welcome Meeting at 6pm on your first day.
If you arrive early there is plenty to see and do in the adventure capital of the world, from an adrenaline fix, admiring the stunning scenery around you or explore the cosmopolitan town.
Queenstown to Wanaka
Start your day with a short drive to the well-preserved gold mining town of Arrowtown for a guided walk. Take time to browse some of the art galleries and museums before you carry on your journey to the stunning town of Wanaka. Nestled high in New Zealand’s Southern Island alps, Wanaka is near to several lakes, mountains and Mt Aspiring National Park and is renowned for its multitude of outdoor activities. You’ll have a momentous day of exploration and fun in the area. Take a look at one of New Zealand’s oldest and most photographed hotels – the iconic Cardrona Hotel. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore this quaint lakeside town. Later on, meet up with your group for a traditional farm tour and dinner followed by a night of glamping.
Breakfast and dinner included
Wanaka to Dunedin
Head to the stunning location of Lake Wanaka to learn about Maori culture and be treated to the Hongi greeting, a Haka performance and traditional Maori tales. Afterwards continue through central Otago to the island’s south-east coast to the town of Dunedin. An enchanting seaside city you will see glimpses of Scottish, Maori, Victorian and Edwardian heritage during your stay in Dunedin, with its historic limestone buildings that the city is famous for. Enjoy the rest of the day as free time, we recommend exploring the city’s enviable foodie scene. Why not try out some craft beers and cheese and check out the Otago Farmers Market - the fresh food is unmissable. Perhaps even take an optional visit to the Otago Museum to learn more about New Zealand’s nature and culture.
Dunedin to Catlins
You’ll continue your journey today to the Catlins, heading off the beaten track into the rural heartlands to witness podocarp forests, rugged coastlines and hidden lakes and waterfalls. Explore the Cathedral Caves, which owe its name to its immense size, measuring up to 30 metres high and 200 metres long. In the afternoon witness the sea lions sunbathing on the golden beaches whilst you stroll along the sands with your guide.
Catlins to Stewart Island
Take an hour’s ferry ride across the Foceaux Strait to New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island. A haven for birdwatchers, the island’s unspoiled forests, beaches and bays are home to a variety of bird species which include the endangered brown kiwi, flightless Stewart Island Kiwi and the nearly extinct Kakapo parrots. A great spot for hiking with a variety of walks for all levels of fitness is available or you can join an optional organised tour with a nature guide who will lead you across the peninsula with commentary on the flora and fauna.
Stewart Island to Te Anau
Travel to the lovely lakeside town of Te-Anau, the gateway of Fiordland National Park, where mountains and valleys magically compete for attention. Explore the park on your drive through this tranquil landscape. Tonight, you have the opportunity to take an optional tour of the Glowworm Caves on an underground boat ride to see thousands of glow worms illuminate the caves. You’ll be spending the night in Te Anau tonight.
Doubtful Sound Cruise
After breakfast this morning you’ll be making your way towards Doubtful Sound, the second largest fiord in the national park. Firstly, sail across Lake Manapouri looking out for dolphins and seals at play as you make your way past hundreds of plunging waterfalls, rugged peaks and lush rainforests. Lunch will be a picnic onboard the boat before returning to Te Anau for the evening.
Breakfast and lunch included
Te Anau – Queenstown
Make the leisurely journey back to Queenstown today stopping along the way for a wine and cave tour at a winery in the Gibbston Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of Vines’. More than 70% of the grapes grown here are pinot noir, however there are also some other really excellent local wines, like chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and sauvignon blanc. Sample a glass or two and cheesery before your journey to Queenstown where you can enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.
Enjoy a free day in Queenstown, perhaps consider a jet boat ride, white water rafting or a pleasant cruise along Lake Wakatipu onboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. The cruise will take you to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a decadent barbeque at the Colonel’s homestead. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your group tonight at a local restaurant.
After breakfast at your hotel, your tour will come to an end. You may wish to extend your stay in Queenstown. With so many great experiences encompassing nature, adventure, hiking and relaxation – it would be a shame not to.