Day 1 Monday 28 March 2022 Fly Gisborne to Wellington
Welcome to Wellington!
This morning depart Gisborne at 10.35am for your flight to Wellington arriving at 11.50am. Upon arrival met by our professional and experienced Leisure Time Travel Tour Manager who will accompany our group through to our departure from Blenheim at the end of the tour.
From the airport we proceed on a city tour with highlights including Parliament Buildings; Oriental Bay; and if time permits, some free time for shopping. Wellington - a capital city of natural beauty, heritage architecture, art and culture. Wedged between bushclad hills and a splendid natural harbour, Wellington enjoys an incomparable setting of ever-changing moods. On a clear day, the harbour sparkles but the arrival of southern storms can bring amazingly dramatic seas and winds. Tonight we will meet for a dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: James Cook Hotel GrandChancellor - 1 night
Day 2 Tuesday 29 March 2022 Wellington / Picton / Nelson (BD)
This morning we cruise the Wellington Harbour out onto the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry and through New Zealand’s only true sounds, the
picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound into Picton. Ferry departs 9:00am / arrives 12.30pm.
At Picton we meet our South Island driver and board our coach for the journey through to Nelson. At the top of the north-west corner of the South Island, isone of the sunniest regions of New Zealand. Nelson is a truly beautiful region that should not be missed by the visitor who loves nature, adventure, art, crafts, wineries and good food. Dinner at the hotel this evening.
Accommodation: Trailways Hotel, Nelson - 2 Nights
Day 3 Wednesday 30 March 2022 Abel Tasman Day Excursion (BLD)
This morning we travel by coach to Kaiteriteri. Here we board a comfortable vessel for a half day cruise from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui and return. Stay onboard as we call into popular beaches along the coast. Pause for photographs at famous Split Apple Rock, view sea birds and seals at Tonga and Adele Islands. A picnic lunch is included. In the afternoon we return to Nelson where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight, we enjoy a dinner together in the hotel restaurant.
Day 4 Thursday 31 March 2022 Nelson / Punakaiki (BD)
Today we head south reaching St Arnaud on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park. Our journey follows the Buller River as we travel through the small settlements of Murchison and Inangahua which was affected by a large earthquake in 1968. Travelling through the rugged Buller Gorge we reach the coast at Westport, which is the oldest European settlement on the West Coast. Our journey takes us south along the coast skirting the edges of the Paparoa National Park before arriving in Punakaiki, renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and blowholes. We dine in the hotel restaurant tonight. Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort - 1 night
Day 5 Friday 1 April 2022 Punakaiki / Hokitika (BD)
We have a leisurely start today then travel down the scenic coastline to the gold and coal mining town of Greymouth, the West Coast’s largest settlement. Here we visit Shantytown Heritage Park, a recreated goldrush town which tells stories of fortitude and pioneering spirit through a fascinating mix of experience and displays. See the old-style steam driven mill, visit Chinatown, pan for gold and explore the village with shops and buildings featuring stories of life in the early years of colonisation both on the West Coast and New Zealand.
With a greater understanding of the challenges that the West Coast pioneers faced, we head south to Hokitika, home to a wide variety of artists, sculptors, jade carvers, craft artists, jewellers and painters – many of whom are inspired by local landscapes and the raw materials available in the area (jade, gold and other minerals, driftwood, timber, clay, shell, bone and fibres). We enjoy dinner together this evening.
Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel - 1 night
Day 6 Saturday 2 April 2022 Hokitika / Arthurs Pass / Christchurch (BD)
This morning we visit the West Coast Treetop Walk. This will give us an exhilarating treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants. With easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 metres high and over 450 metres long, we’ll experience life with the birds high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Our walk will be a leisurely 45 minute to one hour stroll through the beautiful West Coast rainforest Afterwards we will continue on to Arthurs Pass where here in the afternoon we board the famous Tranz Alpine train for our journey traversing the South Island from West Coast to East Coast. From Arthurs Pass in the heart of the mighty Southern Alps we travel across towering viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys then cross the fertile Canterbury Plains to arrive in Christchurch. You will be met by your driver on arrival into Christchurch in the early evening. Tonight we dine in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Cotswold – 3 nights
Day 7 Sunday 3 April 2022 Christchurch (BD)
This morning we join a 30 minute Punting on the Avon excursion. Enjoy the sights of Christchurch with knowledgeable and professional boatmen, in straw boaters and traditional dress, giving an informative and entertaining guide to the Avon River and the Botanic Gardens.
The rest of your day is at your leisure. Included is a pass on the restored heritage Christchurch Tram so you can enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre. Knowledgeable drivers will inform you about the city, its landmarks, and local sights. Your day-long ticket allows you to get on and off the tram as often as you please! Board at any of the 17 Tram stops and get on and off with your ticket throughout the day. The Trams run every 15- 20 minutes. Tonight we will enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Day 8 Monday 4 April 2022 Akaroa Day Excursion (BD)
We depart the hotel by coach this morning to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa was settled by the French in an early attempt to colonise New Zealand and still retains a good deal of French character in its street names, boutique shops and cafes. Visit a cheese factory en-route and sample the local produce then explore the charming village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture. Explore the delightful village and time for lunch (not included).
In the afternoon visit the fabulous Giant’s House where the sculpture mosaic garden is colourful, exuberant, interactive, fun, and full of surprises. An historic Akaroa house with original contemporary artworks, terraced gardens with sculptures, mosaics, ceramics – The Giant’s House is a unique creation by artist Josie Martin. The gardens are a fully integrated and inseparable combination of art works and gardens - a contrast and balance of the hard and soft. Original, quirky, colourful, seriously playful, interactive and joyous celebration of life, complete with a highly polished stainless steel Giant sculpture, Bella Vita. Late afternoon we return to Christchurch. Tonight we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 9 Tuesday 5 April 2022 Christchurch / Kaikoura (BD)
This morning we travel north through the northern Canterbury Plains to the Waipara District. Here a treat awaits as we board a vintage train and travel along the Weka Pass Railway. Volunteers who form the Weka Pass Railway will warmly welcome you aboard. Their excursion trains travel over 12.8 km of scenic line through the unique limestone beauty of the Weka Pass. This will be an experience to be remembered, and includes a special stop to photograph your engine at work up the line. The line traverses past rolling hills and trough scenic limestone country, best enjoyed from the open-air viewing carriage.** May be steam or diesel train.
At the conclusion of our rail journey, we reboard our coach to continue our travels north. As we approach Kaikoura, there are spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The coastal town of Kaikoura is renowned for its abundant marine life. The sea around Kaikoura is rich in nutrients, which attracts a wide variety of sea life. Upon arrival we’ll take an orientation drive around this coastal town. Tonight we dine at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: The Lobster Inn Motor Lodge Kaikoura – 1 night Mixture of room types
Day 10 Wednesday 6 April 2022 Kaikoura/Blenheim (BD)
After breakfast at a local café we enjoy a Whale Watch experience by purpose-built boat and see magnificent whales in their natural environment. The upwelling of nutrient rich waters around Kaikoura support an abundant and diverse fauna of vertebrates, fish and marine mammals. In addition to whales we may also see Dusky Dolphins and the rare Hector Dolphins, seals, sea lions and a large variety of seabirds including the smallest of the penguins, the little Blue Penguin. After lunch (own cost), we will depart Kaikoura for our short journey north to the wine region of Blenheim.
This evening we dine at our hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Hotel Marlborough– 2 nights
Day 11 Thursday 7 April 2022 Blenheim (BD)
We start the day with a visit to Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum for privately guided tours of the Knights of the Sky and Dangerous Skies exhibitions. The development of aviation and the stories of the men that flew them are brought to life in two distinctive exhibitions. The first featuring the extensive collection of World War One aircraft and rare memorabilia belonging to Sir Peter Jackson and showcasing the talents of WingNut Films and Weta Workshop in Knights of the Sky. The second exhibition, the story of aviation continues with Dangerous Skies in World War II. The aircraft, some exclusive to Omaka, are given the trademark theatrical treatment the museum has become famous for.
Afterwards we will enjoy a wine tasting at a local vineyard. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.
This evening enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 12 Friday 8 April 2022 Fly Blenheim / Gisborne (B)
We end our South Island tour with a transfer to Blenheim Airport. As we check for our departure flight, we farewell our Leisure Time Travel Tour Manager at Blenheim Airport. Depart Blenheim at 9.40am and arrive back into Gisborne at 1.30pm.