South and Stewart Island Grand Discovery Tour 20 days/19 nights.
Arrive Picton or Blenheim October 23, February 04, March 19
PICTON - MARLBOROUGH TOUR - KAIKOURA - CHRISTCHURCH - LAKE TEKAPO - MT COOK - OAMARU - DUNEDIN (2 nights) - OTAGO PENINSULA TOUR - CATLINS, BLUFF, STEWART ISLAND - DOUBTFUL SOUND day CRUISE (overnight cruise option) - TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN - WANAKA - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER - HOKITIKA - PUNAKAIKI PANCAKE ROCKS - WESTPORT - FAREWELL SPIT - ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK. NELSON
This tour is guaranteed to operate for a minimum of 2 passengers. For six or more you will have your own mini bus and driver. With less than 6 we will probably use local operators in each area for your tour. This tour can depart any day for a minimum of 4 at the same price.
Unsolicited comments from past passengers:
We are back down to earth after a wonderful tour. For me it was certainly a GRAND DISCOVERING OF THE SOUTH AND STEWART ISLANDS. My husband had been to most places and we had done a fairly thorough research job but this knowledge had not taken any of the surprise or anticipation away. The content of the trip was exceptional for apart from the many places listed there were yet more surprises. We hope that many more tourists, both New Zealanders and overseas, will take the opportunity to see what we did. (A. P. New Zealand)
Day 1. Saturday. ARRIVE BLENHEIM OR PICTON (B)
Depart Wellington by Interislander for the scenic cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, Coach or train from Christchurch, or fly from Auckland to Blenheim and transfer to Picton. (Travel to Blenheim airport, or Picton not included)
This afternoon relax and cruise the Marlborough Sounds spotting dolphins and other wildlife and numerous bays and baches. Stopover with time to explore Cook's Cove where Captain Cook spent some 171 days and visit his monument.. Overnight in Picton.
Day 2. Sunday. PICTON - BLENHEIM - CHRISTCHURCH (B)
Visit the "Edwin Fox" ship restoration project. The "Edwin Fox" is the oldest merchant ship still in existence, and 9th oldest ship overall.. Continue to the Marlborough Museum to discover Marlborough's 700 year old Maori and European history. and Peter Jackson's KNIGHTS OF THE SKY World War 1 and DANGEROUS SKIES World War 2 exhibitions. Marlborough is famous for its wines and we will visit a local winery for tasting and the opportunity for lunch among the vines before enjoying the scenic drive down the Kaikoura Coast with a stopover in the charming seaside town of Kaikoura. Optional Whale Watch cruise or flight available - extra expense. Overnight in Christchurch.
Day 3. Monday. CHRISTCHURCH - MOUNT COOK (B)
Drive across the fertile Canterbury Plains and over Burke's Pass to Lake Tekapo. See the sheep dog monument and Church of the Good Shepherd. Travel along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Free time for alpine walks, visit the National Park headquarters, or take a ski plane or helicopter flight to land on the snows of the glaciers - extra expense and weather permitting. Accommodation at the Hermitage in Mt Cook view rooms. Admission to the Sir Edmund Hillary centre is included.
Day 4. Tuesday. MOUNT COOK - OAMARU - DUNEDIN (B)
We highly recommend the cruise among the icebergs on the lake at the base of the Tasman Glacier in summer - extra expense.
Drive down the Waitaki River Valley with a visit to the Benmore Hydro dam, the historic centre of Oamaru, and enjoy some beach time to explore the unique Moeraki Boulders. Accommodation in Dunedin for 2 nights.
Day 5. Wednesday. DUNEDIN (B)
Visit historic "Olveston House", Dunedin Chinese Garden, Knox Church, The Octagon, and the world's steepest street. This afternoon tour the Otago Peninsula including Larnachs Castle, Royal Albatross Centre, and see the local wildlife including seals, and Yellow Eyed penguins.
Day 6. Thursday. DUNEDIN - CATLINS - INVERCARGILL. B)
Enjoy a scenic drive through the Catlins. one of New Zealand's most beautiful and unspoiled wilderness areas. See the wildlife, waterfalls,and beautiful coastal scenery and visit Nugget Point lighthouse and the petrified forest (available low tide only). Continue to Invercargill for 2 nights at Kelvin Hotel or similar.
Day 7. Friday. INVERCARGILL. (Stewart Island option) (B)
Visit Bluff this morning for a photo stop at the famous signpost, Invercargill city gardens, and Oreti Beach, home of exploits of Burt Munro, Optional visit to the Transport Museum and to Croydon Aviation, home of the Tiger Moth reconstruction factory at Mandeville with the opportunity for a flight if you wish - extra expense.
STEWART ISLAND OPTIONS
Cruise from Bluff to Stewart Island and enjoy a guided one hour tour of Oban before cruising Patterson Inlet for a guided walk through the Ulva island wildlife sanctuary. Cruise back to Bluff and return to the Kelvin Hotel - extra cost $390
Fly from Invercargill to Stewart Island and join a 3.5 hour cruise to discover more history of Stewart Island. See Harold's Bay stone cottage, Ackers point, Ulva Island, wildlife, Marine Farms, The Neck and the historic Whalers Base. Return to Oban for an hour tour to catch up on the local people! Time to visit the excellent museum if you wish (extra expense) before flying back to Invercargill. $420.
HUMP RIDGE TRACK OPTION
For the fit the 3 day 62 km loop walk commences from Tuatapere friday and you can rejoin us in Te Anau on monday. Cost $1,745.
Day 8. Saturday. INVERCARGILL - TE ANAU. (B)
We take the scenic back roads via Riverton and Tuatapere with a visit to Lake Hauroko, and optional 30 minute round trip walk to The Peninsula lookout overlooking Lake Monowai. Continue to Te Anau for 2 nights at Luxmore Hotel.
Day 9. Sunday. TE ANAU - FREE DAY (B)
Free day to relax in Te Anau or take a cruise across the lakes to the Te Anau glowworm caves ($99) or a scenic flight by floatplane over magnificent Fiordland.
DOUBTFUL SOUND OPTIONS
1 day tour with 2 cruises! 9am - 6.15pm. $259.
Transfer to Manapouri and cruise across Lake Manapouri to join your scenic cruise across bush clad Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Join your coach to drive across Wilmot Pass through the lush rainforest to Doubtful Sound and join your cruise exploring Doubtful Sound to the Tasman Sea and some of the many fiords before retracing your steps to Te Anau.
Overnight cruise - extra cost per person with credit for hotel not used:
share twin cabin with en suite $625. Share 4 berth cabin $480
Late morning drive to Manapouri to join your scenic cruise across bush clad Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Join your coach to drive across Wilmot Pass through the lush rainforest to Doubtful Sound and join your overnight cruise exploring Doubtful Sound to the Tasman Sea. Anchor overnight in a quiet bay and you have the opportunity to kayak up to the massive cliffs or take a cruise in the ships tender. A picnic lunch is included as you cross Lake Manapouri and dinner on board. Monday: Disembark after breakfast and retrace your steps across Wilmot Pass and Lake Manapouri and drive to Queenstown arriving mid afternoon. Please note that this cruise is extremely popular. Early bookings are essential.
You are welcome to break your tour in Te Anau if you wish to enjoy the Milford, Routeburn, or Hollyford guided walks and rejoin us in Queenstown.
Day 10. Monday. TE ANAU - MILFORD SOUND - QUEENSTOWN (BL)
A day of magnificent scenery as we travel through the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys with stops at various lookout points and visit to the Mirror Lakes then on through the Homer tunnel to the 'Roaring Chasm' and Milford Sound. Enjoy a cruise to the head of the Sound under majestic Mitre Peak and see the Bowen waterfall before retracing our steps to Te Anau and on to Queenstown arriving late afternoon. A picnic lunch is included during your cruise. Accommodation at Scenic Suites or Heritage Hotel.
Day 11 Tuesday. QUEENSTOWN (B)
Free morning to explore the town with options available to Skyline gondola and we strongly recommend the exhilirating Shotover jet boat ride.
We depart the wharf at midday on the historic steamer "Earnslaw" and cruise across the lake to Walter Peak for a barbecue lunch at the Colonels homestead returning 3.45pm..
Day 12. Wednesday QUEENSTOWN - GLENORCHY (B)
This morning we drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the charming town of Glenorchy for a visit to some of the Lord of the Rings sites and walk in the forest. Free time this afternoon for other activities.
Day 13. Thursday. QUEENSTOWN - WANAKA - FRANZ JOSEF (B)
Visit the historic gold mining cenre of Arrowtown and Kawarau Gorge bungy bridge (try it if you dare). Cross the Crown Range to Wanaka for a brief stop with optional admission to amazing Puzzling World and see the 'Wanaka tree' Continue through Makarora and over the Haast Pass into the rainforest and spectacular coastline of the West Coast. Visit Shipwreck beach, and beautiful Lake Matheson. Scenic hotel Franz Josef.
Day 14. Friday. FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER - HOKITIKA (B)
Visit the Franz Josef Glacier lookout with time for a helicopter or ski plane flight or heli hike on the glacier (extra expense and weather permitting) or bush walk. This afternoon drive north to Hokitika. Enjoy the wetlands eco cruise and see jade carvers at work. Overnight Beachfront Hotel Hokitika.
Optional fabulous White Heron tour November to early March including a 20 minute jetboat cruise on the Lake Okarito lagoon and a walk through the rainforest to the bird hide. We have 30-40 minutes here to see the White Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Little Shag and other birdlife. Extra cost $145
Day 15. Saturday. HOKITIKA - PUNAKAIKI - CHRISTCHURCH (B)
Visit the recreated gold mining village of Shantytown to pan for gold and ride the train into the forest and the site of an old saw mill. After a short tour of Greymouth continue to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in the Paparoa National Park. Drive across Arthurs Pass to Christchurch for 1 night.
Day 16. Sunday CHRISTCHURCH - HANMER SPRINGS (B)
Free morning to relax in Christchurch and early afternoon we leave for the charming resort of Hanmer Springs. Take a walk in the forest, relax in the hot pools, or just enjoy the quietness of nature.
Day 17. Monday. HANMER SPRINGS - GOLDEN BAY (B)
Visit Westport including the coal museum then on to the Denniston incline lookout, Nelson Lakes National Park, and to Golden Bay for 2 nights.
Day 18. Tuesday GOLDEN BAY (B)
Visit the amazing Pupu Springs and on through Collingwood to visit spectacular Whirinaki beach for a 1 hour walk to enjoy the sea caves, seal pups, wind swept sand dunes, and coastal rock formations. A 30 minute walk to Pillar Point will give spectacular views of Farewell Spit and Golden Bay. We also visit the Abel Tasman Memorial and we recommend a scenic flight over Farewell Spit to really appreciate the area.
Day 19. Wednesday ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK (B)
Drive to Kaiteriteri to join your scenic cruise along the shores of the Abel Tasman National Park. Drop in to Tonga Quarry with the option to land for a 2 hour walk over a foreseted saddle to Medlands Beach. Return to Kaiteriteri and drive to Nelson.
Abel Tasman stayover option. You are welcome to join the Abel Tasman Park guided walk with 1 night accommodation at Awaroa Lodge and 1 day at Torrent Bay. Walk between if you wish or take the ferry. All meals are provided at the Lodges and you have the use of kayaks and the opportunity to catch up with fellow loves of nature. Transfer to Nelson friday for 1 night and depart saturday.
Day 20. Thursday NELSON DEPART (B)
Free time to explore Nelson and we will transfer you to the airport when you are ready to leave.