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Best of the Lower South Island - a  9  day New Zealand Tour

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Best of the Lower South Island

Queenstown, Arrowtown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Gore, Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru, Mt Cook, and more…

Our new shorter "Best of the Lower South Island" tour showcases the ultimate sights of the southern part of New Zealand. This 9 day - 8 night itinerary includes Queenstown (2 nights), Milford Sound, Te Anau (2 nights), Gore, Dunedin (2 nights), Oamaru, Mt Cook (1 night) and Christchurch (1 night). We cruise on the famous TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station, take the world renowned Milford Sound cruise. See the Catlins Coastline at Nugget Point, visit Larnach Castle in Dunedin and much more.  

Next date TBC
$3795pp twin share

DAY 1 - Today you will fly into Queenstown to join the last 9 days of our South Island Ultimate Highlights tour. After your transfer from the airport to the hotel, depending on your flight arrival time, you could time have a look around the town on your own before joining your guide and the rest of the group for dinner at the hotel this evening.

DAY 2 - Following a late start and hearty breakfast, we take the Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak. Travelling up 450 metres above Queenstown, this must do attraction affords stunning views over Queenstown, The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu far below. Why not try your skill on the luge track? (extra cost). We then head back to the lakefront to board Queenstown’s most iconic attraction – the TSS Earnslaw. ​Cruising across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, this 107 year old steamship provides a real taste of yesteryear - you can even view the engine room. Our visit to Walter Peak Station begins with a sumptuous buffet lunch, after which you can explore the gardens and grounds or watch a sheep farming demonstration.​ On return to Queenstown the rest of the afternoon and evening is free to do as you wish, you may not even need dinner tonight after your amazing lunch. 

DAY 3 - Sadly we have to leave Queenstown behind as we make our way south towards Fiordland National Park, but not before our first stop this morning at the historic mining town of Arrowtown. Here you can explore the historic main street, the Chinese Village or just browse the interesting boutique shops for a while. ​

 

Departing Arrowtown, we stop at the AJ Hackett bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge for a chance to watch the intrepid adventurers as they plunge head first towards the river 43 metres below. Fancy a go yourself - maybe not - but take some pictures to remind yourself what you missed. We then head south along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, past Kingston - once the rail head of the railway and home of the Kinsgton Flyer, on to Te Anau, for our next two nights.

DAY 4 - Today its time for another of New Zealand's must see destinations - the majestic Milford Sound. Departing our hotel, the journey begins as we follow the shore line of Lake Te Anau which has amazing views to Mount Lyall and other snow capped peaks. We then head into the mountains, through the beech forest of the Eglington Valley. A stop at the Mirror Lakes to see the famous reflections. ​Our journey continues as we travel ever higher to cross the central divide. Our route offers views of the dramatic landscape as we head into the Hollyford Valley, crossing river after river, past lakes formed in deep glacial valleys, until we reach the Homer Tunnel. Completed in 1953, the 1.2km long tunnel made the once impossible route to Milford Sound possible for all.

Arriving at Milford Sound there is time to have lunch at a riverside lodge (at your cost) before we board our cruise vessel for a truly memorable experience. Our cruise will take us out into the Sound where towering waterfalls cascade into the water and the majestic and aptly named Mitre Peak rises almost 6000 feet out of water. ​On our return journey back to Te Anau we stop at Te Anau Downs on the lake shore, where remnants remain of an early hydro-power scheme, that once supplied power to a large sheep station. On our last evening in the Southern Alps we will dine out at another top local restaurant.

DAY 5 - After a relaxing start to the day we depart for Dunedin, travelling across the extensive Southland region, to our first destination - the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre. This nationally significant museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating New Zealand’s light civil aviation heritage. On display is the largest collection of de Havilland aircraft in the Southern Hemisphere. ​If you fancy a flight in a Tiger Moth biplane it can be arranged (additional costs apply), a chance to tick off another bucket list item perhaps? This will also be our lunch stop today with time to browse the interesting gifts, homeware and clothing shop (something for those not as interested in the behind the scenes aircraft workshop tour we include). 

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After lunch we continue on to Gore, the self styled capital of the brown trout and chance for a photo of the iconic fish statue before we head to the northern part of The Catlins. This rugged and sparsely populated area offers a scenic coastal landscape where we visit a must see destination, the lighthouse at Nugget Point.

An easy walk to one of the country's oldest lighthouses offers a panoramic view of the coastline with the famous rocks named by Captain Cook because they looked like pieces of gold. It is also home to some of the world’s rarest penguins and one of the only places you might see seals, sea lions and elephant seals in the same area. We then head back onto SH1 to Dunedin. This evening we will dine at the famous Speights Ale House.

DAY 6 - After a delicious breakfast this morning, we are met by a local guide who will show us around ‘The Edinburgh of the South’. Dunedin is a fascinating city full of history and character and we will get to see some of it's most iconic sights. We begin with a drive out to the beach suburbs of St Clair and St Kilda, to watch the Pacific Ocean waves crash ashore. Then its up onto the High Road of the Otago Peninsula to Larnach Castle, where after a guided tour of the castle and gardens we will enjoy lunch (included today) in the castle's ballroom Cafe.

Heading back into the city along the harbour side Low Road we get to see more iconic sights including the ornate Railway Station, Baldwin Street (the world’s steepest), Otago University and many other historic landmarks. After our lovely lunch at the castle today we do not include dinner, so you are free to do your own thing this evening.

DAY 7 - Departing Dunedin early today, we head north along the coast to see the world famous Moeraki Boulders. These strange rock formations can be seen on the beach just a few steps down from the cafe car park. Though not unique (as similar boulder formations exist in the Hokianga in the Far North) their origins are still not 100% known.

Continuing north we stop at one of New Zealand's most significant early sheep stations  - Totara Estate. Here you will have a guided tour of the original farm buildings followed by refreshments similar to those served to the workers in the 1880's. We then continue on to Oamaru with its lovely Victorian limestone buildings and home of the "Steampunk" movement. Time here to explore the interesting art and craft shops for a while or buy a snack from any of the many cafes.

We then head inland up the Waitaki Valley, passing some of the hydro-electric lakes that power much of the country. Continuing on, the mountains get closer as we travel further inland, alongside Lake Pukaki, to our overnight stay at Mt Cook village. With New Zealand’s highest mountain towering over us, we stay at The Hermitage – one of New Zealand’s most iconic hotels.

DAY 8 - Before we leave The Hermitage, we have time to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre where we can discover the history of this iconic region. This tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary (humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers) showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region, its people and its place in the universe. 

We then depart towards Christchurch, our first stop today being the lakeside town of Lake Tekapo - made famous by its iconic chapel situated on the lake shore. Set against a stunning backdrop, the Church of the Good Shepherd was built to the glory of God and as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country. We then continue on to Christchurch, with a stop for a light lunch in Fairlie at its famous bakery (at your cost). ​This evening we will dine at our Christchurch hotel, our last night of a wonderful trip.

DAY 9 - Sadly our Best of the Lower South Island Tour must come to an end, so after our last breakfast together its just a short drive to Christchurch Airport for our direct flight home, having an enjoyed the wonderful sights of this part of New Zealand. 

All Hinterland multi-day tours can be taken by clients from any region of New Zealand or Australia. Please contact us for details. Additional charges may apply.

What's Included:

  • 9 days of touring

  • 8 nights quality accommodation

  • Quality air-conditioned vehicle

  • Full commentary from your guide

  • All breakfasts and dinners*

  • Cruise on the historic TSS Earnslaw

  • BBQ lunch at Walter Peak Station

  • Sheep Show at Walter Peak Station

  • Skyline Gondola Queenstown

  • Milford Sound Cruise

  • Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre

  • Nugget Point Lighthouse

  • Dunedin City & Larnach Castle Tour

  • Lunch at Larnach Castle

  • Tour and morning tea at Totara Park

  • Flight from Christchurch home

You will see:

  • Queenstown and Arrowtown​

  • Lake Wakatipu & Walter Peak Station

  • Te Anau and Lake Te Anau

  • Milford Sound and Mitre Peak

  • Gore and The Catlins Coast

  • Dunedin and The Otago Peninsula

  • The Waitaki Valley and hydro lakes

  • Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook

  • Mackenzie Country

  • Lake Tekapo

  • Church of the Good Shepherd 

The Earnslaw cruising to Walter Peak Station
Mitre Peak at Milford Sound

Not included:

  • Any lunches unless specified* 

  • Morning/afternoon tea costs*

  • Any alcoholic beverages with meals

  • Flights to Queenstown

We can arrange your flights to Queenstown at additional cost or you can make your own arrangements.

* Please note, that unless specified in the itinerary we do not usually include the cost of lunches or morning and afternoon tea stops in the tour cost, but we always make stops where there are a range of options available so you can choose what you want, and have flexibility to do things on your own if you wish.

You can now extend the Best of the Lower South tour by adding our new "Top of the South Island"  7 day tour from Christchurch for an amazing ultimate South Island experience. Click here for details

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