Join us in the spectacular Queenstown for Christmas. Start the tour off with a few days in Queenstown exploring the local sights and Arrowtown. Enjoy a day tour to Fiordland National Park with a cruise on Majestic Milford Sound. Travel to Lake Tekapo for a night and then continue onto Christchurch where you will farewell your group. This tour starts in Queenstown and finishes in Christchurch, but we can also help you with pre & post tour arrangements.
- 6 Nights accommodation, twin/double rooms, (single rooms available with surcharge) all with private facilities
- Tour Admissions as per itinerary
- Daily Breakfasts (B), Lunch (L) and Dinners (D) where indicated on the itinerary
- Touring in modern air conditioned tour coach
Day 1 - Arrive Queenstown (D)
Welcome to your South Island Christmas Tour! On arrival in Queenstown you are met and transferred to your accommodation. Queenstown, nestled among glacier-rounded hills and dramatic rugged mountain peaks, is New Zealand’s premier year-round alpine resort. It offers a host of holiday attractions for the visitor from helicopter flights and trips on jet-boats, to walks and tramps. The town is steeped in the history of the goldmining days, evident from the many relics scattered in and among the surrounding hills. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner together at the hotel restaurant to meet your fellow travel companions that you will be experiencing your Christmas tour with.
Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Hotel, Queenstown – 5 nights
Day 2 - Queenstown touring (B, D)
Today we take you on a tour of the outlying areas of Queenstown. Our first stop is to the world famous Shotover Jet! Enjoy a thrilling jetboat ride skimming over thrashing rapids in just inches of water through the narrow twisting gorges of the Shotover River. Experience the adrenaline rush as your driver skilfully whips the boat past rocky outcrops and skims around crags and boulders then hold on as the driver spins the boat in the ‘trademark’ Shotover Jet 360 degree spin. After our adrenalin rush we next travel to the quaint village of Arrowtown a township with a colourful history. Many of the original sycamore trees, planted by the goldminers, cover the town's cottages and stone buildings with a canopy of gold. In its heyday Arrowtown was a rough and ready frontier town. There are many beautiful and interesting walks around this historical area. Arrowtown's Museum houses a fascinating collection of tools and artefacts used by the miners of the goldrush era, and one of the best presentations of pioneer relics in the country. Within the vault of what was an 1860's bank are stored thousands of priceless exhibits: gold pans, shovels, maps, clothing, weaponry and even a gold nugget or two - a living, breathing peep into the past. We travel back to Queenstown via the Lake Hayes area, and then into Queenstown town for some free time to explore the shops, cafes and galleries.
Day 3 - Christmas in Queenstown (B, L, D)
Merry Christmas! A relaxed day today with breakfast at leisure then time to relax – take a walk down to the lake or into town being transferred to enjoy a one-of-a-kind, celebratory Christmas Day Lunch in a festive atmosphere at the Skyline Restaurant complete with Christmas crackers, cheery decorations and an appearance from Santa! Relax, take in the live music and entertainment and enjoy Queenstown's most spectacular dining vista on top of Bob’s Peak overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. After our delicious lunch you might like to try some adventure with a few Luge rides down the mountainside! The remainder of your day is to relax and enjoy Queenstown. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Day 4 - Milford Day Tour (B, L, D)
Travel south along the shores of Lake Wakatipu with magnificent views of the south arm of the lake and the mountains. Leaving the lake continue south through the glacial formed valley that is now farmland. Pass through small farming towns before reaching Lake Te Anau the largest freshwater lake in the South Island and the gateway to Fiordland National Park. Travel into Fiordland National Park and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Eglinton Valley formed by an ancient glacier. View rivers, lakes, tussock flats, beech forests and everywhere precipitous mountains surround the traveller. Pass by the Hollyford Valley then the road climbs to the Homer Tunnel hewn out of a solid rock wall. Drive through the tunnel and out into the Cleddau Valley that descends to majestic Milford Sound. There are magnificent snow capped peaks to be viewed en route to Milford Sound. At Milford Sound depart on a cruise of the Sound on a comfortable boat. The Sound is dominated by mountains the most famous being Mitre Peak which rises a mile high out of the Sound. The cruise will take you past magnificent waterfalls to the Tasman Sea. Seals and dolphins are often seen in the clear waters of the fiord. Enjoy a picnic lunch on board during your cruise. At the conclusion of the cruise board the coach for the return journey to Queenstown. Dinner tonight at our accommodation.
Day 5 - Queenstown wineries & food (B, D)
After a long but wonderful day yesterday a chance to sleep in today and we start our day after lunch embarking on a tour of some of New Zealand’s best wineries. The Central Otago is an area of poor, schisty soils known for its harsh winters and long warm summer days. These conditions are ideal for growing the world's best grape varieties. Gibbston Valley Winery is nestled into a rugged mountain valley 25km from Queenstown, and set amongst ten year old vines. The complex combines modern boutique winemaking technology with the rustic charm of Central Otago architecture. It embodies all the traditional romance and atmosphere associated with winemaking. Join a guided tour of the vineyard and winery, completing the experience with a tasting in the caves. Travel 76 metres underground into the Gibbston Valley Wine Cave. The rocky schist walls within the cave are lined with barrels of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay still reaching their prime. With constant humidity and a temperature of around 14 degrees Celsius, the cave provides a perfect haven for the maturation of these wines as well as providing a unique atmosphere for wine tasting. Next we visit Peregrine which boasts one of New Zealand’s most spectacular wineries with only a gleaming expanse of silver in the shape of a falcon’s wing visible from the road. As so often the case in Central Otago, Pinot Noir rules the Peregrine roost with a number of different Pinots produced. The cellar door features the mainstay Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir, an extraordinarily consistent regional blend; the Karearea Pinot Noir (made only in exceptional years); and the entry-level Saddleback Pinot Noir. After visiting these landmark wineries we return to the hotel to freshen up before our evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board the coal fired vintage steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Station for a brief entertaining farm show and a delicious buffet dinner in the elegant dining room of the Colonel’s Homestead. On the return journey join a sing-a-long with the ship’s pianist then return to Steamer Wharf.
Day 6 - Queenstown to Lake Tekapo (B, D)
Full day drive to Christchurch travelling north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge, past pretty Lake Dunstan and across the distinctive Central Otago countryside to the Lindis Pass. Pass the small towns of Omarama and Twizel then see the huge Waitaki hydro electricity generation scheme in the Waitaki Valley. On a clear day, New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mt Cook can be seen from the head of Lake Pukaki. See the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo then we arrive at our overnight accommodation for dinner. This evening some may which to enhance their knowledge of the Southern Skies at Cowan’s Private Observatory (optional excursion at additional cost). Designed specifically with stargazing in mind, Cowan’s Private Observatory is the perfect stargazing experience. Nestled in a giant purpose-built crater to provide maximum wind protection and minimum light pollution, our expert astronomy guides will enhance your knowledge and understanding of our Southern Skies with our powerful optical telescopes.
Accommodation: Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Day 7 - Lake Tekapo to Christchurch (B, D)
A chance for a later start today departing Lake Tekapo crossing the MacKenzie Country named after a 19th Century sheep stealer, pass through Burkes Pass and the small rural towns of Fairlie and Geraldine. Travel north across the alluvial Canterbury Plains, New Zealand’s chief cropping area and drive into Christchurch City. On our arrival this afternoon we tour Christchurch, "the most English city outside England", which grew out of a planned Anglican settlement in the 1850's. The city’s beautiful urban parks and formal gardens shaded by oaks and willows. In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic centre's stone-built buildings and the Christchurch Cathedral after many years of indecision is now being lovingly restored. On our tour we will visit the shops and stalls of the Arts Centre, we include a ride on the historic tram around the city circuit. We also visit the Canterbury Museum and the new Christchurch Art Gallery. Finally today we enjoy a 30 minute Punting in the Park service by knowledgeable and professional boatmen, in straw boaters and traditional dress, giving an informative and entertaining guide to the Avon River and the Botanic gardens. We check into our hotel before regathering again for our final dinner together at our accommodation.
Accommodation: Quality Elms Hotel, Christchurch
Day 8 - Christchurch to home port (B)
Farewell from the South Island – we hope that you have had a wonderful time with us! After breakfast you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch Airport for your flight back home.