Southern Heritage & Nature Journey, 10 Days
The accommodationDay 1 Christchurch
Christchurch is known as the 'Garden City' for its award-winning expanse of parks and gardens. Hire a bike or stroll through the botanic gardens through the north and south Hagley Parks for a lovely day out, take a leisurely punt ride down the picturesque Avon River, and head up to Summit Road for panoramic views over the city. While in the city, don't miss a visit to the International Antarctic Centre, showcasing the grandeur of the Antarctic through sound and light shows and interactive exhibits. With an eclectic assortment of cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city, unique shopping malls and fascinating museums, art spaces, and tram and gondola rides, there is plenty to see and do.
Stay 1 night in ChristchurchDay 2 Christchurch to Lake Tekapo (258km)
As you make your way to Lake Tekapo, stop into the farming town of Ashburton to see the vintage railway, aviation and car museums or the beautiful Trotts Garden, selected as a garden of International Significance by The Royal Institute of Horticulture. A little further south is the town of Geraldine, where you can shop for arts & crafts, or visit famous Barkers, a store offering delicious jams, chutneys and syrups.
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. The town is located on the shores of the turquoise waters of the beautiful Lake Tekapo and faces north across the dramatic mountains of the Southern Alps. Visit the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, situated on the shores of the lake, built in 1935 and a popular spot for photos looking out to the Southern Alps over the lake. If you are lucky, you will see the natural Southern Lights, best seen between April and September, with a symphony of colour coming to life.
You will find an array of activities, whether you are visiting in summer or winter. Take a dip in the hot pools, or relax and rejuvenate with a spa treatment all year round. In summer slide down the world's largest inflatable slide, or in winter, slide across the ice skating rink and try your hand at snow tubing.
Stay 1 night in Lake TekapoDay 3 - 4 Lake Tekapo to Dunedin (287km)
As you make your way to Dunedin, you will pass breathtaking beaches and fascinating geology. Stop off at Moeraki to see the giant round boulders that lie across the beach, and a little further down is the Katiki Point Lighthouse, where you can see the fur seals and penguins resting. As you continue your journey, you may like to stop at the white sand beaches of Waikouati or Karitane for a stroll, or see New Zealand's native birds and reptiles at the Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary, before arriving into Dunedin.
Dunedin, often referred to as the 'Edinburgh of the South' is rich in Scottish heritage and is one of the Southern Hemisphere's best preserved Victoria and Edwardian cities. Follow the Street Art Trail for a whimsical journey, or take a trip through history at one of the museums, such as Otago Museum, or Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Visit Speights Brewery for a guided historic tour through the working brewery which has been operating since 1879, or stop in for a meal and a cold brew. A must-see is Larnach Castle, built in 1871, a well-restored Victorian grandeur, where you can tour its beautiful rooms and gardens, and if time permits, book ahead for high tea.
Get out and explore the outskirts for the city. Take a picturesque journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway as it takes you through the the Central Otago hinterland and into the deep and narrow Taieri Gorge, or visit the adjacent Otago Peninsula and see the albatross sanctuary inhabited by seals, sea lions, penguins and up to 20 other species of seabird.
Stay 2 nights in DunedinDay 5 - 6 Dunedin to Te Anau (287km or 371km via the Caitlins)
From Dunedin, you can either head straight to Te Anau or we recommend taking the coastal detour driving through the beautiful and famous Caitlins region. Stop by Nugget point, to spot fur seals, sea lions, sooty shearwaters, shags, yellow-eyed penguins, spoonbills and gannets. Looking out to the waves, you may even eye Hector Dolphins, the smallest of the dolphin species. If time allows before hitting the road to Te Anau, the Catlins River Walk leads you through beech forest and is known for its hidden waterfalls and rare native birds.
Make your way to Te Anau- the gateway to the stunning Fiordland National Park with the iconic and breathtaking Milford and Doubtful sounds, easily accessible. Te Anau is home to the majestic Lake Manapouri and the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, where you travel across the beautiful Lake Te Anau and head underground to view glittering glowworms in the cave systems.
A trip into the world-renowned Milford Sound is the best way to spend your day. Get up close to steep cliffs rising out of the deep waters and cascading waterfalls on a boat cruise. See the 160-metre high Bowen Falls or the Stirling Falls, and watch the fur seals sunbathing on the rocks, look out for penguins and dolphins, and on occasion you may spot a whale as it makes its way into the fiords. Visit the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove to learn about the local marine life, see black coral, delicate anemones and 11-legged sea stars. Others may choose to kayak the Sound, join a scenic flight to see it from above, or hike the fiords in and around the park. A real highlight is to stay overnight on a boat cruise for a real treat.
Please note, if you choose to drive the route, be sure to give yourself plenty of time as conditions can vary greatly, particularly in winter and there is a cost to parking on the grounds. You may consider leaving your car at Te Anau or Queenstown and taking the coach transfer directly into Milford Sound
Stay 2 nights in Te AnauDay 7 - 10 Te Anau to Queenstown (171km)
As you make your way into Queenstown, enjoy the scenery from mountain ranges to lakeside vistas as the road winds its way around Lake Wakatipu. Stop off for a coffee in Kingston, the home of the famous vintage steam train the Kingston Flyer, before taking on the famous devil staircase. This revered 40km cliff side drive received it's name from a time when it was a single lane gravel road. The drive now boasts incredible lake views from various angles as you make your way into the stunning Queenstown, driving past the famous and winter time favourite the Remarkable Mountains range.
Queenstown is New Zealand's most prosperous resort town with an array of summer and winter activities to do from heart-racing jaw-dropping action, to soft-adventure, pure relaxation and exploring hidden gems surrounding the town. A great introduction into Queenstown is to head up to Skyline Queenstown where you can enjoy the most spectacular views over the town, lake and mountains. Travel by gondola up 450m above the town to the Skyline complex, try your hand at the gravity-fuelled luge, or enjoy a meal at their onsite restaurant. Head down to the lake's edge for a picnic, or take a leisurely scenic cruise along Lake Wakatipu by a vintage steamship, TSS Earnslaw, and stop into Walter Peak High Country Farm for lunch. A must-do experience is to head to Fergburger, Queenstown's iconic institution serving delicious burgers
The adrenaline junkies will have a plethora of action-packed activities to choose from. Take a breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons with the award-winning Shotover Jet, or jump out of an aircraft into thin air, or bungy jump or catapult from a bridge. Or, if shopping till you drop sounds better than dropping from a ledge, try the many boutiques, like pre-loved fashion boutique, The Walk In Wardrobe, plus a weekly arts & crafts market. Finish your day soaking at the Onsen Hot Pools, open day or night. If you are travelling in winter, discover a wonderland of world-class ski areas and a range of winter fun. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are the closest ski fields to Queenstown, with Cardrona located 45-minutes from Queenstown towards Wanaka, and Treble Cone north of Wanaka. As well as skiing and snowboarding, you can heli-ski and snowshoe.
Explore the surrounding areas of Queenstown and discover hidden gems. North of Queenstown is the charming village of Arrowtown where you can learn about the area's prospecting history. The town centre is brimming with art galleries to explore, and many examples of Maori culture to discover. Travel east to discover wineries in the Central Otago wine region, and be sure to visit Gibbston Winery and experience an underground wine cave. To the west, travelling south and around the lake, is the rusty town of Glenorchy, set against a background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, and is a prime location for film scouts, with scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia movies. Discover hidden streams, rock pools and dramatic chasms on a hiking trail, 4WD tour, horseback trek, or a jet boat or kayak tour along the Dart River.
Stay 3 nights in Queenstown
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