Friday 24 November Christchurch (D)
Plenty of time today to meet with your tour group at the Christchurch Hotel.
Tonight, we dine together for the first time.
Saturday 25 November Akaroa Full Day (B.D)
Following breakfast this morning, we take an easy drive south-east of Christchurch, to Akaroa – New Zealand’s only French settlement and sitting at the heart of an ancient volcano, stacked with sparkling bays and green hills.
On arrival at Akaroa Harbour, we board a cruise to discover the mischievous Hector’s dolphins. Easily identified by their rounded dorsal fins, the Hector’s dolphins are only found in New Zealand waters. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the dramatic panoramic views, while playful dolphins ride the bow.
At the conclusion of the tour we return to our Christchurch accommodation. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Sunday 26 November Christchurch – Hanmer (B.D)
Today we remember one of New Zealand’s most tragic events with a morning tour of the Christchurch City rebuild. It has been nine years since the earthquake occurred in Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February 2011 and since this time, over 40 billion dollars has been invested into development to rebuild the once-vibrant city.
We depart Christchurch and drive through to Hanmer Springs for an overnight stay, a picturesque alpine town best known for its natural hot pools and dazzling landscapes. There is time this afternoon to relax at the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. Every drop of thermal water is heated by Mother Nature and infused with minerals – a process that takes 173 years. Ease your aching muscles in the natural rock and Sulphur pools, while savouring the stunning backdrop.
Tuesday 28 November Blenheim – Marlborough Sounds (B)
A relaxing start to the day before we head over the hill to Picton and enjoy the picturesque town at the start of the Marlborough Sounds. After lunch ( own expense) we join our cruise for the afternoon.
Cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui, sample local seafood such as Regal salmon, Cloudy Bay Clams and Greenshell mussels, with Marlborough sauvignon blanc for the definitive wine/food match.
Discover the natural beauty of Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui while relaxing aboard our well-appointed catamaran. Learn about this fascinating industry in the Marlborough Sounds from our knowledgeable crew and take in the picturesque scenery, keeping an eye out for local wildlife including seals, dolphins and birds.
Wednesday 29 November Blenheim – Nelson (B.L.D)
After breakfast, we pay a visit to Omaka Air Museum, a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. Not just for enthusiasts, the centre retells the story of aviation during two World Wars, the time in which the most intense period of aviation development took place. Here we have a chance to explore the Dangerous Skies WWII exhibition along with the famous Sir Peter Jacksons collection of WWI aircrafts & artefacts in his Knights of The Sky exhibition.
Then we head to Marlborough, the jewel of the New Zealand wine industry to enjoy a delicious lunch today at the iconic Wither Hills Cellar Door and Vineyard, overlooking the beautiful Wairau Valley.
After lunch we enjoy a scenic drive through to Nelson and onto our accommodation for the next 3 nights.
The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Thursday 30 November Nelson (B.D)
Today we enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Nelson. See local attractions such as Queens Gardens, The Suter Art Gallery, Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, Founders Heritage Park and more.
We also visit the Classic Cars Museum. The Classic Car Collection displays a stunning range of cars dating from 1908, all in immaculate condition.
The afternoon is at leisure and tonight we dine together at a local restaurant.
Friday 01 December Nelson (B.L*)
Today you have the option of having a free day in Nelson, or alternatively join a cruise along the Abel Tasman coastline. We drive to Kaiteriteri where we join our cruise, visiting Split Apple Rock, New Zealand Fur Seals and other bays of interest. The smallest and one of the most visited of New Zealand’s National Parks, the Abel Tasman was named after the great Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman who anchored his ships in Wainui, Golden Bay in 1642. Populated by Maori for over 500 years and first settled by Europeans in 1855, the golden sandy beaches and granite outcrops are now enhanced by regenerating native forest. We arrive in Awaroa and enjoy lunch at the beautiful Awaroa Lodge. Surrounded by pristine waterways and native forest, the Lodge has been constructed to make the most of its secluded location, and it is not accessible by road. Note: On arrival at Awaroa, there is a 15-minute walk from the beach to the lodge, so travellers must be capable of walking to/from the lodge from the boat. Lunch is included if you opt for the cruise / own arrangements for lunch if you opt for the free day in Nelson.
In the afternoon, we return to our accommodation in Nelson. The evening is at leisure.
Saturday 02 December Nelson – Punakaiki (B.D)
We depart Nelson and rejoin the coach for travel through to Punakaiki, bypassing Glenhope & Murchison. A lunch stop will be taken along the way.
Our accommodation for the night is Punakaiki resort, situated in Paparoa National Park just 300 meters from the magnificent Pancake Rocks and Blowholes and 2-minutes-walk from the Punakaiki beach.
Sunday 03 December Punakaiki – Hokitika (B.L.D)
This morning travel along the Great Coast Road to the world-famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, part of the Paparoa National Park in Punakaiki. Wander along the paved walkway through native forest and coastal scrub, leading to large cliff faces with horizontal slices resembling stacks of pancakes.
Continuing, we stop en route to visit the Brunner Coal Mine Memorial Site to view the historic site of the 1896 disaster. When coal ruled, this was New Zealand’s most important centre of industry, and to this day the Brunner Mine explosion remains New Zealand’s worst workplace accident. The disaster caught the attention of the whole nation and eventually led to improved workplace safety legislation and practices. Here at the Brunner Mine Site, you can walk through the industrial ruins and see some of the last remaining beehive coke ovens.
We then visit Monteith’s Brewery to enjoy a tasting of the local produce over a delicious lunch. This brewery has been family owned since 1868 and are still brewing with the same traditions they used back then.
Then on to the Hokitika Gorge, a glacial river turquoise in colour surrounded by dramatic rock formations. A short walk descending through the hardwood forest will lead you to a swing bridge which crosses the Hokitika River and provides a postcard-worthy photo opportunity.
Our accommodation is located right on the doorstep to the Tasman Sea with uninterrupted views of the beach.
Monday 04 December Hokitika – Christchurch (B.D)
This morning we visit the famous Treetop Walkway, a thrilling treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants. Experience life with the birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Enjoy a leisurely walk along a steel platform 20 metres high and over 450 metres long and feel the adrenalin rush as you climb to the top of Hokitika Tower 40 metres above the forest floor.
Leaving Hokitika late morning, we travel back to Greymouth, where there is time for a lunch stop before we join the TranzAlpine train mid-afternoon for travel through to Christchurch. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres one-way, taking just under 5 hours. Along this journey you’ll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the mighty Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. Arrival time in Christchurch is approx. 6.30pm.
On arrival in Christchurch, we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Tuesday 05 December Christchurch (B.D)
Following breakfast this morning, we take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola to experience stunning 360° views of the city, Lyttelton Harbour and beyond from the summit station situated atop the Port Hills. At the conclusion of the Gondola ride, we take a short 20-minute drive east of Christchurch to Sumner Beach for lunch (own expense); an idyllic place to spend some time in the sun away from the centre of Christchurch.
You have the afternoon free to relax or to enjoy a bit of last-minute shopping.
Tonight, we come together to enjoy our final dinner as a group.
Wednesday 06 December Christchurch – Home (B)
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and it is time to bid your fellow tour members farewell. Travellers will be transferred to the Christchurch Airport domestic terminal, to join their return flights home.