20% at time of Booking, balance 30 days prior to tour date
Lunch x 1 (L)
Breakfasts x 7 (B)
Dinners x 7 (D)
Attractions where stated
Tour highlights as listed
We cannot recommend enough for you to get out and discover the places and experiences that come alive during March, April, and May, especially in the South Island.
Nature expresses itself best in autumn with a kaleidoscope of colours from alluring gold to vivid reds. The weather is still kind to the visitor with the hot days quietly making way to the chillier temperatures. The colder weather help turn the autumn leaves red and gold. This is a spectacular time of year for photographers and artists who want to make the most of the autumn colours and lake reflections.
Deciduous trees turn brilliant hues of burnt orange, red, yellow, and gold, and it’s all set against a sky that seems far too blue to be true. Particularly around Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown if you want the best seasonal photos.
If this sounds like what you would like to experience, then read on as we offer the top South Island autumn destinations and experiences to help you have a memorable holiday.
Touching down in the charming Christchurch we check out all the changes post-earthquake, some 10 years on. The best overview of the city’s changing landscapes is captured by hopping on board the tram and discover The New Regent street, the Cardboard Cathedral, Earthquake Memorial, and lots of interesting stops along the route. Not to forget some of the original sight’s pre-earthquake – like the Botanical Gardens which are a blaze of colour in autumn, The Museum and the Arts Centre which have all been lovingly restored to their former glory. You will be pleasantly surprised at the new architecture, street arts and public art scenes everywhere. This is a city becoming transformed whilst not losing some of its old-world charm. Even the Cathedral is showing signs of a loving repair.
Tonight, we stay inner city so you can as much time as you wish to explore.
We will dine altogether this evening. A surprise awaits you.
Accommodation – Novotel City Centre (D)
Today we leave Christchurch city and head inland to Mount Cook-Aoraki. New Zealand’s tallest mountain situated in amongst the Southern Alps. En route we stop at a farming community village of Geraldine before we navigate Burkes Pass and arrive at Lake Tekapo, an exquisite blue lake, with the Southern Alps as its backdrop. Hopefully with some snow still on its peaks. We visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and hear the story of a famous sheep dog. From here we drive up to Mt John observatory and enjoy the grandeur of this area. Next is Lake Pukaki, a real jewel before we arrive at Mount Cook. If time permits, and weather allows, you can spend time on a short walk on one of the base tracks.
Accommodation – The Hermitage Hotel @ Mt Cook (B, D)
Queenstown here we come. Leaving the majestic Aoraki behind us today we head to Twizel, then Omarama, over the Lindis Pass to Cromwell, then Arrowtown.
We will make a stop in Arrowtown, a thriving community in the Gold rush era, and today, beautifully restored to that same ambience. Arrowtown is at its absolute best in the autumn. The hills are a blaze of reds, and yellows & oranges, while the streets are paved with a carpet of golden leaves. Spend some time perusing the remarkably interesting shops, chat with the locals who are always so keen to have new visitors.
Grab yourself some lunch and soak up the ambiance of Autumn in Arrowtown.
We will move on after lunch so that finally, you get to see Queenstown. A thriving tourist destination nestled in underneath the Remarkable ranges and on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. This afternoon you are treated to A Lake Cruise onboard the MV Earnslaw.
On return from our cruise – you can wander the lake edge to the downtown shopping area. Shops are open a bit later in Queenstown, albeit a lot less busy than ever before with no international travellers in town.
Overnight Accommodation – The Rydges – Queenstown (B, D)
This morning we drive to Milford. The scenery is unforgettable, even if it happens to be raining. You will pass through golden tussock pastures, beech forests, tranquil crystal-clear lakes and rivers, climbing up through the mountains and mist, through the Homer tunnel and into the gateway to Milford Sound. There will be plenty of photo stops enroute, along with being fully narrated. At Milford you will board a large and comfortable cruising vessel and you will cruise the Milford Sounds taking in the awesomeness of Mitre Peak, Bowen Falls, Cheddau Valley, and the natural animal life. Cruise time is 2.5hrs with a full commentary on board. We then travel back to Queenstown by road.
However, if anybody wishes to opt to fly, to not only save time but also enjoy the grandeur of the regions from above – this can be arranged for you prior.
NB: Milford Sound – Fly option is additional to your tour cost.
Overnight – The Rydges – Queenstown (B,L,D)
Today we have an early start. We have a long drive, through the lakes district and to the rain forest on the West Coast. Traversing the Crown Range from Queenstown to Wanaka. Stop to view the tree growing in the lake, then a visit to the Puzzling World for a bit of fun and laughter.
Passing Lake Hawea, following the Makarora river before venturing out to meet the coast at Haast. The drive from Haast to Franz Josef really is spectacular. Passing by lakes Moeraki & Paringa before arriving as Fox Glacier. Take a short visit to view the mouth of the Fox, then continue to Franz Josef where you will be staying overnight. There are 3 beautiful glacier hot pools available at Franz Josef, take some time to relax.
Glacier country allows you opportunity to discover two of the world’s most accessible rivers of ice plunging down through rainforest almost to sea level. The Franz Josef and the Fox Glacier just minutes from the towns that take the glacier’s names. Visitors can walk to the terminal face, land on the snow via a sightseeing plane or helicopter or simply gaze at their cold, blue, white wonders beyond.
My recommendation is to take a flight over both these glaciers and land on Fox Glacier and hop out onto it. (additional cost) This truly is an awesome experience for all ages.
Overnight Accommodation – Scenic Hotel Franz Josef (B, D)
If you wish to take a flight onto the Glacier – we can book this in advance and allow time for a glacier flight & landing – it really is incredibly special.
This morning we depart Franz Josef and continue our travels northward. Continuing through the lakes district – passing close to lakes Wahapo and Ianthe. Next little town is Ross – today an exceedingly small community but once was bustling due to gold & logging.
En route to Hokitika we will stop to admire the South Island’s number one tree top walk. A uniquely wild and wonderful destination of discovery. Recharge, refresh and enjoy great local foods in the comfort of the Mahinapua Café nestled quietly beside the tranquil Johnnies Creek.
We will spend some time in Hokitika and experience a Jade factory tour. Jade (Pomamu) is found on the riverbeds all around this wonderful remote area. Once cut and polished this stone makes wonderful jewellery.
No visit to Hokitika is complete without visiting the Hokitika Gorge. Sometimes you see photos of a tourist spot and think it cannot look as good as that in real life. The Hokitika Gorge really does look that good, if not better.
Hokitika Gorge is a short walk from the car park through a mainly rimu and podocarp forest to a viewing platform where the water has to be seen to be believed.
Arrive at Greymouth late afternoon and overnight.
Overnight Accommodation – Ashley Hotel Greymouth (B, D)
On our return we will take a short stop at Brunner Mine Memorial site. On our return into Greymouth town centre, we will place you onto the world famous Tranzalpine train in readiness for the afternoon journey back to Christchurch.
Today you will journey over the Southern Alps, with a short stop at Arthur’s pass before arriving back to into Christchurch railway station.
Along this journey between Christchurch and Greymouth, you will see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and see miles of native beech forest. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way. You will traverse the majestic Canterbury Plains, to the backdrop of the mighty Southern Alps.
This is a journey of a lifetime. (Tranzalpine is currently only running three days each week – today is your lucky day)
This evening, we will all share a farewell dinner together.
Overnight accommodation – The Elms – Christchurch
Today you bid farewell to your newly made friends and travelling companions. Depart Christchurch for your next destination.
If time permits, we will take a quick visit to the Antarctic Centre and see what’s new.
NB: All Zealandier Tours prices include transport, fuel costs, accommodation, all breakfasts & dinners, with some lunches as per listed.
Attractions where listed
Drinks are NOT included – these are your individual costs.
Zealandier tours itineraries could be subject to change should the weather or unforeseen circumstances occur.