Saturday 18 December Home – Dunedin (D)
Today, we meet at Dunedin Airport. Flights to arrive prior to 1pm.
This afternoon we enjoy a comprehensive tour of Larnach Castle and Gardens and Olveston Historic Home before we check in to our hotel for our overnight stay.
Tonight, we will all meet for our first dinner together at the hotel.
Sunday 19 December Dunedin – Invercargill (B,D)
We depart Dunedin this morning and travel the route through the Catlins to Invercargill. See Nugget Point Lighthouse, Pukakaunui Falls, the Lost Gypsy Caravan, Fossilised Forest, Curio Bay and more.
We arrive in Invercargill early evening and are transferred to our accommodation.
Monday 20 December Invercargill – Stewart Island (B.D)
No visit to Invercargill is complete without visiting the Bill Richardson Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca, a wheeled collection that has taken nearly 50 years to amass. Starting out as one man’s passion and further developed by his family, it now includes two world class automotive museums which house hundreds of classic cars, vintage trucks and motorcycles. We enjoy a tour this morning, followed by free time for self-exploration.
After lunch, we make our way to Invercargill Airport where we join our mid-afternoon flight to Stewart Island. We check into our hotel and enjoy dinner together this evening.
Tuesday 21 December Stewart Island (B.D)
We have a full day to enjoy this natural wonderland. Over 85% of the island is National Park and it is a prime destination for birdwatchers and those wishing to catch a glimpse of the famous Aurora Australis which often appears in these southern skies.
We enjoy a day tour of the island, encompassing the history and beauty of the area. We gain an entertaining insight into New Zealand’s southernmost community and learn about the history and environment of Stewart Island. At the conclusion of the tour, the afternoon is free – don’t forget to try the world-famous fish and chips for lunch!
Tonight, after an early dinner in town, we join the Wild Kiwi Encounter for cruise and then walk to a wide sandy beach where Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) are often found feeding among the grasses and seaweed.
Wednesday 22 December Stewart Island (B.L)
A leisurely start to the day, after our late-night activity yesterday.
At midday, we discover Stewart Island from the water on a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary The cruise will showcase some of Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery with its hidden coves and unspoilt beaches. We’ll hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from our guide as we pass various landmarks. While on board, keep a look out for fur seals and penguins – there are a lot of them around this area.
Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary, Ulva Island and we’ll stop there for a 45-minute guided walk. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. A regular highlight is to encounter an inquisitive weka on the beach.
For the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet, relax on board our modern catamaran and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to base.
The rest of the day is yours to spend at your leisure.
Thursday 23 December Stewart Island – Invercargill – Manapouri (Join Doubtful Sound Cruise) (B.D)
We depart Stewart Island by ferry. On arrival in Bluff, we rejoin our coach and travel through Lake Manapouri, where we will join our cruise. Originally called Roto-au (the rainy lake) by early Maori and then Moturau (many islands), this lake is the second deepest in New Zealand with a circumference of 170kms and deepest point of 444 metres.
At midday we board the Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight cruise. As we cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring we miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter. An unforgettable experience.
After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, tour members can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat – or to simply relax on board.
Friday 24 December Manapouri – Arrowtown (B.D)
After a hearty cooked breakfast, spend the morning exploring other parts of the fiord, before returning to Manapouri and disembarking. We rejoin the coach in Manapouri and continue our drive, arriving in Arrowtown late-afternoon.
Our home for the next three nights is the stunningly beautiful Millbrook resort. We enjoy dinner together at the resort this evening.
Saturday 25 December Christmas Day – TSS Earnslaw Cruise + Walter Peak BBQ Lunch (B.L)
Merry Christmas! At midday today, we set off on a cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw across to Walter Peak High Country Farm (approx. 45-minutes) for a special BBQ Christmas lunch. Once at the lakeside Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, savour the delicious aromas as the chef has the best of local produce sizzling away on the grill.
Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak High Country Farm is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Its colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. An entertaining farm demonstration is also included, or you can explore the beautiful lakeside gardens.
We return to Millbrook in the afternoon and the rest of the day is at leisure.
Sunday 26 December Arrowtown/Queenstown (B.D)
A full day at leisure today, with plenty of options available. On-site at the resort, there is golf of course, wine tasting, spa options or just relax and enjoy the views up to Coronet Peak. Or make use of the complimentary shuttle into Arrowtown for a wander around the shops.
Alternatively, we will be running a coach transfer from Millbrook Resort into Queenstown, with a return pick-up in the afternoon, should any tour members wish to head into town to do a bit of shopping or explore the many galleries, cafes etc.
This evening, we enjoy our final dinner together.
Monday 27 December Queenstown – Home (B)
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. We transfer to Queenstown Airport this morning, in time to join our flights home.