Additional options not inclusive are
Some of the experiences you will love along the way
Today we fly to Queenstown; the jewel in the crown of the south – surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. The natural beauty and the unique energy of this region create the perfect backdrop for your new adventure. You will be overnighting here in Queenstown, staying at the Rydges Lakeland Resort Hotel. You get to enjoy unparalleled views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges from this hotel. Add to this you are walking distance to the town centre which means you can use the afternoon freely to peruse the centre of Queenstown, or partake of an excursion of your choice. We will all dine together this evening and partake of Queenstowns southern hospitality & cuisine.
Accommodation Queenstown – RYDGES HOTEL
This morning you will enjoy a leisurely breakfast from your accommodation dining room overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountain range as the backdrop. It is just gorgeous; this is when you realize we live in such a beautiful country.
After breakfast we can peruse shops in downtown Queenstown – before departing for Arrowtown – again take your time to peruse the shops and /or the little houses of the early Gold miners – Arrowtown today is charming & quirky, a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. You’ll be enchanted by historic Arrowtown, a New Zealand treasure.
Departing we continue southwards to the Croydon Aviation Heritage Trust Museum and factory at Mandeville Airfield. Tiger Moth flights are a specialty and you could take a quick spin at your cost if you so please.
Next stop is in Gore, famous for Trout, we visit the Eastern Southland Gallery, sample a dram of whisky and catch up on the history of the prohibition days at Hokonui Moonshine Museum.
Arrive into Invercargill in late afternoon – check into our accommodation and relax. There is even a lovely warm pool & spa complex here. Very welcoming and cosy with spacious gardens to walk
Accommodation Invercargill – ASCOT PARK HOTEL
Invercargill – It’s a gateway to a wilderness area- including Stewart Island, with its Rakiura Track. Queens Park features flower displays and sports facilities. In town, Bill Richardson Transport World features a vast collection of vintage automobiles. To the southeast, Waituna Lagoon is home to abundant birdlife and trout populations.
You will dine in-house for breakfast at your leisure. We have the morning to ourselves to peruse Invercargill before we fly to Stewart Island this afternoon.
Places of interest to visit
The flight to Stewart Island takes 20 minutes, taking you past world record holder Burt Munro’s test track, Oreti Beach and mainland New Zealand’s southernmost town – Bluff and across the Foveaux Strait.
Finally, you will land on the largest island National Park in New Zealand with approximately 85% of the island reserved as Department of Conservation land. Stewart Island is one of New Zealand’s largely undiscovered eco-tourism destinations. With its network of stunning bays, inlets, golden sand beaches and densely forested hills, Stewart Island combines a spectacular mix of breath-taking landscapes.
This will be your home for the next 2 nights.
Accommodation Stewart Island – SOUTH SEA HOTEL
Wake up to the sounds of bird calls – kaka and tui. Stewart Island is a unique environment; despite being Subantarctic, its clear turquoise sea and white sand beaches make Stewart Island look more like a tropical paradise. The Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) can be regularly sighted from the island, making it a spectacular location for astrotourism and leading to the name Rakiura, “The Land of Glowing Skies”.Roughly 85% of Stewart Island forms the wild and enchanting Rakiura National Park. One of the best ways to experience the park is by tramping the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, which explores the island’s range of unmodified ecosystems – from rainforests and wetlands to vast sand dunes. The island is home to over 280km walking tracks making it a great destination for trampers and hikers alike. Other activities include, birding, fishing, sea kayaking, diving and hunting.
Later today we climb aboard the local tour bus for a Village & Bays tour – we drive most of Stewart Island’s 28km of road – including Oban and the surrounding beaches and the gateway to Rakiura National Park. Our on-board local guide provides insights into Stewart Island’s community.
You get to spend some quality time with the locals, we will eat local & travel local.
This evening you can choose to take the opportunity of going on a Wild Kiwi Encounter.
At dusk depart halfmoon bay on a catamaran and head across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove- your tour guide will lead you on a well-formed track across the peninsula to a secluded sandy beach. As dusk sets and daylight diminishes you have a torch light and on the wide-open sandy beach the Kiwi are often out feeding amongst the grasses and seaweed. It is here in the darkness you will see the Southern Brown Kiwi searching for its food.
This tour is optional extra. Takes approx. 4 hours – cost is $199 pp
Just take these two days and relax and explore at your own pace – island time. Unspoilt, relaxing and incredibly beautiful, Stewart Island is a showcase of untouched New Zealand.
Accommodation Stewart Island – SOUTH SEA HOTEL
This morning we return to the mainland, then begin our return journey. We take the long way home – back to Dunedin via the Catlin’s. A rugged, sparsely populated area, the Catlin’s features a scenic coastal landscape and dense temperate rainforest, both of which harbour many endangered species of birds, most notably the rare yellow-eyed penguin. The coast attracts numerous marine mammals, among them New Zealand fur seals and Hooker’s sea lions. In general terms the area enjoys a maritime temperate climate. Its exposed location leads to its frequently wild weather and heavy ocean swells, which are an attraction to big-wave surfers, and have also caused numerous shipwrecks.
Tonight, we will stay at Kaka Point and dine by the sea at The Point Café
Accommodation Catlin’s – NUGGET VIEW MOTEL
The iconic Nugget Point (or ‘The Nuggets’ as referred to by the locals) is located near Kaka Point. There is a short walk to the Nugget Point Lighthouse. Wave-eroded rocks, which are likened to the shape of gold nuggets, can be seen from the viewing platform at the end of the path. The lighthouse was built in 1869-70, is 9.5 metres high and situated 76 metres above sea level. Along the way you may see the fur seal colony on the rocks at sea level to the left of the track and also below the lighthouse, or the many seabirds that make “The Nuggets” their home. Then continue our journey to Balclutha, along the Taieri River mouth and onto Otago Peninsula.
We arrive at Dunedin around midday, in time to put you onto the Taieri Gorge rail ride to Middlemarch & back. One of NZ’s best loved rail journeys. This is a fascinating journey into some of New Zealand’s most iconic scenery and history, where passengers are amazed at the engineering feats of New Zealand’s early pioneers, set among the stunning landscape of the gorge. Negotiating the winding gorge, the comfortable train travels through ten tunnels and across numerous bridges including the famous Wingatui Viaduct – the second largest wrought iron structure in operation in the world.
On your return to rail station we will transfer you to our accommodation. Once we have checked into our accommodation place you will have opportunity to wander around city centre (Octagon) maybe visit the Speight Factory, or just enjoy the hustle & bustle of a university town.
Dunedin is a city in New Zealand, at the head of Otago Harbour on the South Island’s southeast coast. It’s known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, Victorian and Edwardian architecture, and a large student population. Otago Peninsula, home to colonies of albatross, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins.
In 1848 a Scottish settlement was established by the Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland. Between 1855 and 1900 many thousands of Scots emigrated to the incorporated city. Dunedin became wealthy during the Central Otago Gold Rush, beginning in the 1860s. In the mid-1860s, and between 1878 and 1881, it was New Zealand’s largest urban area. The city population at 5 March 2013 was 120,246. While Tauranga, Napier-Hastings and Hamilton have eclipsed the city in size of population since the 1980s to make it only the seventh-largest urban area in New Zealand, Dunedin is still considered one of the four main cities of New Zealand for historic, cultural and geographic reasons. Dunedin has a diverse economy, which includes manufacturing, publishing and technology-based industries as well as education, research and tourism.
Accommodation Dunedin – SCENIC HOTEL
This morning we take some time to explore Larnach Castle and gardens, before continuing to Tairoa Heads to the Albatross centre.
Larnach Castle is a mock castle on the ridge of the Otago Peninsula. It is one of a few houses of this scale in New Zealand. The house was built by the prominent entrepreneur and politician, William Larnach.
Since 1967, the castle has been privately owned by the Barker family, and opened as a tourist attraction, as “New Zealand’s only castle”.
The castle and grounds are open daily to the public. The Larnach Castle gardens are one of only five gardens nationwide to have been given the rating of “Garden of International Significance” by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. These were the first gardens in the South Island to receive the title. In 2018, Larnach Castle was designated a New Zealand Landmark by Heritage New Zealand. It really is a must-see icon whilst in Dunedin.
Taiaroa Heads – Located on the windswept end of the Otago Peninsula, Taiaroa Head or Pukekura is world renown as the only mainland colony of albatross in the Southern Hemisphere. Pukekura was an important site for Maori and (later) European settlers. With nearly 10,000 seabirds residing on Taiaroa Head/Pukekura the wildlife viewing opportunities here are immense, but timing is everything.
Royal Albatross – Every year about half of the headland’s 200 northern royal albatross make landfall for courtship or to nest. With a breeding cycle of 11 months, viewing albatross is almost a year-round event.
Sand-fly Bay – if the weather is good, time permits and you are feeling up to it we may take a short walk down to Sand-fly Bay – remarkable for its native fauna and flora and its spectacular views of the Otago Peninsula coastline and cliff tops. It has a significant colony of yellow-eyed penguins/hoiho and seabirds such as spotted shags, sooty shearwaters and variable oystercatchers. New Zealand fur seals/kekeno and New Zealand sea lions/rāpoka haul out on the rocks and beach and wallow in the sand.
Then it will be time to depart for the airport – to fly home.
This short tour will immerse you into the deep southern regions of Aotearoa- New Zealand.