50% at time of Booking, balance 30 days prior to tour date
This is made even more special because it is designed for small group tours which make things more personal and relaxing for you.
No longs queues on and off coaches or at bathrooms or coffee outlets. Smaller coaches can go places larger ones cannot, which mean you get to see more with your time away.
Come away with us for a short break and experience a city re imagined, great train journeys, mountains, forest, rivers, lakes, history, arts & artisans, beautiful scenery, nature, wildlife, indulgence of great foods & lots of pampering. It does not get much better than this.
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, The Museum and 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 arts scenes everywhere. This is a city becoming transformed whilst not losing some of its old-world charm. 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.
Climb aboard and transverse to the Wild West Coast on the famous TranzAlpine Rail journey – one of the world’s greatest.
West Coast South Island is home to gorged rivers and thick rainforests and described as an untamed wilderness. Things are just a bit different in the west. You will have time to explore the rich history of the coastal towns such as Greymouth, once the site of the Maori pa Mawhera (which means ‘widespread river mouth’, in reference to the town’s river mouth location), Greymouth is considered the heart of the West Coast. It is the largest town on the South Island’s west coast and the arrival point for the Tranz Alpine train journey from Christchurch. The area has a history of gold mining, Jade (Ponamu) hunting & coal mining. Local brewery Monteith’s is something of a New Zealand icon, and available for a tasting session & tour. The town takes its name from the Grey River, and therefore from Sir George Grey.
Take your time to peruse the shops before we collect you and put you back on board our small coach and travel northward to Punakaiki – renown for the spectacular Pancake Rocks. We will take a slight detour enroute to pay our respects to some of those men who have lost their lives in the regions coal mines. You get to visit The Brunner mine memorial where 65 men lost their lives back in 1896 and the most recent Pike River Memorial – to the 29 lost miners. This detour will take us through Blackball – which is famous as the birthplace of the Labour Party of New Zealand back in 1908.
On arrival at Punakaiki – just relax and enjoy the views before dinner or take a stroll down onto the beach.
Overnight at the Punakaiki Resort
From Punakaiki we venture upwards to Charleston – take a wee train ride on the Nile River Rainforest Train – this is the easiest way to travel where bush trams once traversed and the open carriages give you an excellent opportunity to experience spectacular landscapes of the Nile River Canyons in the Paparoa National Park. You will become immersed into the history & raw beauty of the region. Have a quick cuppa then we are off across the Lower Buller Gorge to the Upper Buller Gorge Swing bridge. We will take a stop here and take a short walk across the swing bridge. Maybe a bit of gold panning if we have time. Then onto Murchison for a bite of lunch and stroll around the shops. Onwards we travel through Wakefield to Nelson. First stop will be at the Rutherford Memorial, before arriving at our hotel. Staying of course at the Heritage Rutherford Hotel. The hotel boasts a prime spot only minutes’ walk from Nelson’s landmark cathedral and main shopping district (including just a block away from Jens Hansen Goldsmiths, creators of the ring in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy), and an equally good base from which to explore the great outdoors – with three national parks, sandy beaches, blue seas and mountain wilderness at your doorstep.
We will relax a little then share our evening meal together.
Overnight in Heritage Rutherford Hotel
Time to explore Nelson – a region desired by iwi for its natural resources, European explorers spotted its potential too and, over time, they were followed by the artisans, creatives and entrepreneurs who embody the spirit of Nelson Tasman today. A place to visit where all the best bits of New Zealand are distilled into a single destination. There is more to do then time will allow but we will do our best to tick a few boxes of the best things to do & see.
First stop this morning to visit the Nelson Provincial Museum –The Lower Gallery exhibition leads visitors through an exploration of Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island from Tasman Bay to Golden Bay. This treasure-filled exhibition focuses on the region’s fascinating history and identity, offering an opportunity for hours of discovery.
The Upper Gallery is home to our short-term exhibitions, as well as a rooftop garden. A vibrant stained-glass window featuring New Zealand’s unique creatures and plants may be admired from the top floor.
Our next stop this morning will be to visit Pics Peanut Butter World, then onto, Tahunanui Beach, then we are off to find the Centre of New Zealand Monument and if you would like some time to peruse city centre before departing the region.
Moving on again we will travel to Picton, and if our time permits, we may take a detour off the beaten track to visit Cable Bay.
Overnight Picton Yacht Club Hotel
Today you have a very full day’s travel – This morning you will head out on the water to explore The Sounds. Hop onboard Beachcomber cruise vessel and cruise from Picton, up through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to historical Ship Cove. Along the way your skipper will provide a commentary on the surrounds, history and the wildlife be it bird, fish or mammal! As the name would suggest the highlight of this tour is a 30-minute stopover at Ship Cove. Named by Captain James Cook in 1770 when he stopped for replenishment of his ship. Upon re-joining your vessel cruise via Endeavour Inlet to view Furneaux Lodge and Punga Cove Resort before returning to Picton.
Time for a quick bite to eat before boarding the Coastal Explorer train – which will take you along the coastline to Kaikoura. I will meet you here with the bus and we will take a short time to check out the seal colony and NZ’s most famous dolphin, whale and marine life town of Kaikoura.
Continuing southward we gently meander our way across to the foothills of the Southern Alps, still on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Here lies a magical destination famous for its ‘healing’ waters and thermal pools. Where the air is crisp and fresh, in its elevated position 380 metres above sea level, Hanmer Springs is home to the beautiful Thermal Pools and Spa.
Today is a big day so this is the perfect place to relax and indulge yourself at days end.
Overnight – Hanmer Springs Retreat
This morning spends some time relaxing in one of New Zealand’s best Spa Complex’s. With a range of 22 outdoor thermal pools including the new cascades, relaxing rock pools, soothing sulphur pools, an array of water jets and bubbles – at a range of differing temperatures. Plus, a luxurious day spa with a range of treatments, private pools, sauna and steam rooms. I am sure you will find something to suit whatever ails you. Alternatively, we can always book you a Spa Treatment of choice. Please take the time to indulge before we travel the last leg of our journey.
We slowly meander back via Culverden, Hurunui, Waipara, Amberley, Woodend & Kaiapoi to where our South Island adventure began in Christchurch.
Arrive at the airport in time to board your plane for your homeward journey. Arriving back home feeling rested and your memory bank filled with new treasures.