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Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024 - an 8  day New Zealand Tour

Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024

Warbirds over Wanaka is back in 2024, after 2022 & 2021 were cancelled this is a must see event for any aviation enthusiast…

The flying displays and events on the ground will be the highlight of the tour, but we have plenty of other visits lined up to make this a truly memorable trip for all. Beginning in Christchurch we visit the NZ Air Force Museum, then to the Ashburton Aviation museum. We travel through the amazing landscape of the Mackenzie Country to Cromwell, our base for 4 days as we experience all 3 days of the airshow (or if you prefer join some of our optional programs). With 2 nights in Queenstown we include Highlands Motorsport Park, The Goldfields Mining Centre, historic Arrowtown, a cruise to Walter Peak Station on the TSS Earnslaw, and much more!

Date TBC - Price TBC

DAY 1 - After picking you up from home (all part of the Hinterland service) we arrive at Tauranga Airport to check in for our direct flight to Christchurch. On arrival in the Garden City, we will board our tour coach for the short journey to the first of our “aviation” themed destinations, this one being the Air Force Museum of New Zealand at Wigram.

First we have time for lunch (at your cost) at the Contact Café, located alongside the historic aircraft with views across the former Wigram airfield to the Port Hills, before our guided tour. Suitably replenished it's time for an in depth “behind the scenes” guided tour, this extended tour offers access to the restoration workshop as well as the reserve collection of aircraft, vehicles and engines that are not normally open to the public.

Departing the museum, we leave Christchurch and head south along SH1 to Ashburton, which has a strong aviation history. The town was a training centre in World War 2 with 50 Tiger Moths based here. We dine together tonight at our hotel in Ashburton.

DAY 2 - Today we have a 350km journey, so sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing scenery of the South Island as we head to our hotel in Cromwell, our location for the next 4 nights. Here we can enjoy all of the action of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Warbirds Airshow – Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024, for all 3 days.

After a leisurely breakfast we leave for the Ashburton Aviation Museum which houses a collection of over 20 aircraft. A guided tour is arranged  for you to view the collection, which include the Devon, Vampire, Harvard, Harrier GR3, Canberra B2 Bomber Cockpit, Meteor, Zlin, DC3, Vampire and Tiger Moth to name a few. We will also be able to visit the aircraft restoration workshop. 

Our lunch destination today is at the Barkers Foodstore and Eatery in Geraldine, another NZ icon. New in 2019, the store offers a great range of lunch options and chance to stock up on those special preserves we all love. Following lunch (your cost) we travel further inland, through Burkes Pass and into the legendary Mackenzie - an area of great wide-open spaces, the highest mountains, awe-inspiring glaciers and vivid turquoise lakes.

We take a break at Burkes Pass – chance to browse the quirky Three Creeks Arts and Crafts Shop - housed in the old General Store. There is also a 1950s service station and a blacksmith shop and trading store. The shops provide a wealth of art works, crafts, giftware, retro collectibles, wooden furniture, and more.

Our route then travels past Lake Tekapo with its famous Church of the Good Shepherd.

Then Lake Pukaki where we should have views of Aoraki / Mount Cook before our next “comfort stop” at Omarama's Wrinkly Ram Café. No time today to enjoy their sheep show, just some nice afternoon tea. Our final leg of the journey today takes us over the Lindis Pass, through the gold mining area of Bendigo, finally alongside Lake Dunstan to our accommodation in Cromwell. Tonight, we will dine at our lakeside hotel.

Day 3 - Today is the first day of the Warbirds over Wanaka International Air Show (acclaimed as one of the world's top four Warbird airshows), which in 2024 celebrates 36 years of operation. Started by aviation entrepreneur Sir Tim Wallis in 1988, this is now a biennial centre piece of Central Otago’s tourist attractions with around 50,000 attending this amazing showcase of all things aviation. Our GOLD PASS tickets offer us the best 3-day experience – with great seating in the grandstand situated directly in front of the runway. An attached large marquee and hospitality area offers a range food and beverage options to purchase. Complimentary tea, coffee and water are available to us throughout the show.

GOLD PASS holders also receive an airshow branded bag, gold cap and badge, an airshow programme, a voucher for one free drink and free entry to the Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction (see below). You will also be able to mingle with the pilots, get autographs and walk the flight line on Saturday or Sunday.

The Warbirds and Wheels museum houses New Zealand’s best collection of luxury American classic cars and vintage vehicles. The recent extensive upgrade showcases how classic cars, warbirds and people’s lives have changed from the major conflicts of the 20th century through to modern times. The attraction also boasts six fighter  aircraft from World War 1 and World War 2 through to the impressive SkyHawk and more modern jets. You can visit the museum at any time during the airshow.

Friday is practice day so there is no airshow scheduled, but all ground displays are open and Warbirds, civil and military aircraft will be conducting practice displays in preparation for the following days. Returning to Cromwell after the practice day, there is time to freshen up before we head out to a top restaurant to sample great local produce.

Day 4 - Today is Airshow Display Day – which commences at 10.00am. We will make an early start to arrive in good time.  Spend the day making full use of your Gold Pass privileges, really enjoy the amazing flying displays and also get close to the aircraft and displays on the ground. The finale each day is worth waiting for as aircraft attack the ground based enemy - with plenty of large pyrotechnics going off. You can also expect to see the RNZAF here celebrating their 85th Anniversary. If you want to keep abreast of the flight program leading up to the show then see the official airshow website here.

After this action packed day we will return to Cromwell where we will dine at our lakeside hotel and no doubt you will have plenty to talk about.

Day 5 - The final day of the air show.  The program today replicates the one we saw yesterday but there may be a few additional aircraft flying due to operational issues the day prior. If you have had your fill of planes, then we will have a few options available that you could opt for (some additional charges may apply) while others attend the show.

The National Transport and Toy Museum situated alongside the airshow may be of interest and can take a whole day to explore fully (entry $20 or seniors $17). This fascinating museum houses one of the largest private collections in the world, with over 600 vehicles, including classic cars, motorcycles, fire appliances, military vehicles, buses, trucks, tractors, construction gear and boats. There are also 20 civilian and military aircraft from the 1930’s to 1990’s as well as a collection of over 60,000 toys. There is something for everyone, such as clockwork and battery powered toys, dolls, teddy bears, pedal cars, remote control models, money boxes and 1,000’s of scale models.

Or you may want to just relax at the hotel and “do your own thing” today before we meet up again this evening for dinner at one of the best local restaurants.

Day 6 - Today we leave Cromwell and head to Queenstown, with our first stop being the Highlands Motorsport Park - rated as the #1 activity in the region on TripAdvisor. Included in our program is a visit to see some classic and ultra-modern vehicles at the Highlands Motorsport Museum. You don’t have to be a motorsport junkie to enjoy the visit as there are some optional, less fast-paced experiences as well. Stroll through the impressive sculpture park and enjoy the incredible mountain vistas on the horizon. Indulge in the Aroma Room wine tasting, an exceptional experience for the senses. But if you want a hot lap in a Ferrari or a blast around the go-kart track, then let us know in advance and we will make it happen (for a fee!).

A short drive along the stunning Kawarau Gorge brings us to the Goldfields Mining Centre, situated on this fast-flowing river. Once known as Gee’s Flat, the centre is now a historic reserve, set aside by the Department of Conservation to preserve an authentic mining site where gold has been mined for over 100 years and can still be found in the rocks & gravels of this unique area. Our guide will give an informative talk about the Central Otago goldrush and demonstrate the California sluice gun, revealing its awesome water pressure used to dislodge gold bearing ore. Then we will see a stamper battery in operation as it is used to crush gold-bearing rock. Our tour will conclude with a chance for us to pan for our own.

Next, we head to historic Arrowtown, passing through the Kawarau Gorge and Gibbston Valley. We have plenty of time here for lunch at any of the local cafes or restaurants (your cost) as well as exploring the quaint boutique shops, the museum, or the Chinese miners village, before we continue to Queenstown.

Arriving at our central hotel mid-afternoon you will have time to explore Queenstown before we dine this evening at our hotel restaurant.

Day 7 - Following a late start and hearty breakfast, we first ride the Skyline Gondola up to Bob's Peak. At over 450 metres above Queenstown, this must do attraction affords stunning views over the city, The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu far below. Chance here for you to try your skill on the luge track, (extra cost). We return back down to the lakefront in time to board Queenstown’s most iconic attraction – the TSS Earnslaw. As we cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, this 107-year-old steamship provides us with a taste of yesteryear. You can even view the engine room as she chugs across the lake.

Our visit to Walter Peak Station begins with a sumptuous BBQ style buffet lunch, after which you can explore the gardens and grounds or join the resident shepherd for a sheep farming demonstration. On return to Queenstown the rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to plan as you wish, you may not even need dinner tonight after your amazing lunch. 

Day 8 - Sadly today is the last of our Warbirds over Wanaka tour, so we must leave Queenstown and head back to Tauranga. Our flights north should have us back to Tauranga, arriving in the afternoon where the Hinterland team of drivers will be waiting to make the final transfer back to your door after this amazing trip.

What's Included:

  • 8 days of touring

  • 7 nights quality accommodation

  • Door to door service (Tauranga area)

  • Air NZ flight to Christchurch

  • Quality air-conditioned vehicle

  • Full commentary from your guide

  • All breakfasts and most dinners*

  • Air Force Museum of NZ - Wigram

  • Ashburton Aviation Museum

  • 3 day GOLD pass to Warbirds

  • Warbirds Commemorative program

  • Warbirds gold hat and gold badge

  • Complimentary tea/coffee/water

  • Flightline grandstand seating

  • Warbirds and Wheels museum

  • Exclusive food and beverage area

  • Alternative trips while in Cromwell

  • Highlands Motorsport Park

  • Goldfields Mining Centre tour

  • Cruise on the historic TSS Earnslaw

  • BBQ lunch at Walter Peak Station

  • Sheep Show at Walter Peak Station

  • Ride the Skyline Gondola Queenstown

  • Air NZ flights back from Queenstown

Not included:

  • Any lunches unless specified* 

  • Morning/afternoon tea stops*

  • Any alcoholic beverages with meals

A single room surcharge of $650 applies.

You will see:

  • Christchurch & the Canterbury Plains

  • Wigram Air Force Museum

  • Ashburton Aviation Museum 

  • Barkers Foodstore and Eatery

  • Mackenzie Country & Burkes Pass

  • Lake Tekapo

  • Church of the Good Shepherd 

  • Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook

  • Lindis Pass and Lake Dunstan

  • Cromwell Historic Precinct

  • Lake Wanaka

  • Queenstown and Arrowtown​

  • Lake Wakatipu & Walter Peak Station

Veterans Special Area

If you have served in any theatre of war then the airshow has a special "veterans only" area for you and your family.


Located in the Gold Pass holders area, a special marquee offers a great place to catch up with fellow veterans and also chance to meet Sir Tim Wallis who will visit each day at 3pm. You will need to register for this.

Skyline Gondola, Queenstown
The Earnslaw cruising to Walter Peak Station

The Ultimate Warbirds Over Wanaka Tour  - a 12  day New Zealand Tour

For the Ultimate Warbirds Tour you can extend the program for another 4 days to include Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, the Croydon Aviation Company at Mandeville and all the sights of Invercargill. Details below.

DAY 8 - After a leisurely breakfast, we make a late checkout and leave Queenstown as we continue on this extended program of the Warbirds Over Wanaka 8 day tour. Our first stop this morning is at the historic mining settlement of Arrowtown where you can explore the historic main street, the Chinese Village or browse the interesting boutique shops.

Departing Arrowtown, we make a quick stop at the AJ Hackett bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge, to watch the intrepid adventurers as they plunge head first towards the river 43 metres below. Fancy a go yourself - maybe not - but grab some pictures to remind yourself what you missed.

It's then just a few minutes drive along the valley to an award winning restaurant at the Gibbston Valley Winery for our included lunch. On arrival we will enjoy wine tasting and a visit to the largest wine cave in New Zealand - this must-do activity includes 4 delicious wine tastings. The winery restaurant combines stunning surrounds with the elegant beauty of Gibbston Valley wine and food, with time to enjoy this very popular venue.

Following lunch we then head south along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, past Kingston (once the railhead of the rail line from Invercargill) on to Te Anau - our location for the next three nights. We will have plenty of stops along the route to make the most of the stunning landscapes of this region.

After checking in at our lakefront motel, your evening is free for you to relax as you wish. There are many restaurants within a few minutes walk if you fancy a meal this evening.

DAY 9 - 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 offering amazing views across to Mount Lyall and other snow capped peaks. We then head into the mountains, through the beech forest of the Eglington Valley. We stop at the Mirror Lakes which offer stunning views of the Earl Mountains, and a short walk to the viewpoint allows us to stretch our legs.

Our journey continues as we travel ever higher to cross the central divide again. The road 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 will be 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 thousands of feet into the water and the majestic and aptly named Mitre Peak rises almost 6000 feet out of the deep blue waters. On our route back to Te Anau after our cruise we will stop at Te Anau Downs on the lake shore where remnants remain of an early hydro-power scheme to supply power to a large sheep station.


Returning to Te Anau, there's time to relax before we dine out at a top local restaurant just a short walk from our motel.

DAY 10 - One of the South Island's most unique experiences is the Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise. After a short drive from Te Anau we will check in for the first part of this full day adventure at Manapouri. Today we will experience the spectacular, remote wilderness of Doubtful Sound beginning with a journey across Lake Manapouri, then over the breathtaking Wilmot Pass (New Zealand's most expensive and majestic road) by coach and into the heart of Fiordland National Park. We’ll pause along the way to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening below. The isolation makes this fiord a very special place, a must-do adventure for all.  

Once we arrive in Doubtful Sound, we will board the Patea Explorer for a 3 hour cruise along the spectacular pristine fiord. During the cruise, nature guides will share with you their passion for the region, answer any questions, point out landmarks and provide all the information about the varied wildlife you may see - including dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland crested penguin.

A limited selection of snacks are available on board to purchase (cash only) and complimentary tea and coffee are available throughout the cruise, as well as a licensed bar. At the end of this amazing adventure we return to Te Anau where will dine out together at another top local restaurant.

DAY 11 - After a relaxing start to the day we depart for Invercargill, 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 historic DeHavilland aircraft in the southern hemisphere.

Fancy a flight in a Tiger Moth biplane? - it can be arranged! - but at an additional cost. 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 in the on-site shop (something for those not as interested in the behind the scenes workshop tour). 


After lunch we continue on to Gore, the self styled capital of the brown trout and a chance for a photo of the town's iconic fish statue. It's also the location of another of New Zealand's unusual museums - The Hokonui Moonshine Museum. This will be a trip back in time - Gore being a centre for illicit whisky distilling and bootlegging.

The adventures of the Scottish settlers and their exploits to avoid run-ins with the law are kept alive through dioramas, audio-visuals and artefacts. You can taste 'Old Hokonui' whisky - made to the original recipe, at the end of your visit, or even take a bottle or two home with you from a range of merchandise available to buy.

Suitably enlightened - and maybe even replenished - an hours drive will take us to New Zealand's most southerly city - Invercargill - which was immortalised in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian". Our visit to the city would not be complete without calling in at the mecca of all things Burt Munro - the iconic E.Hayes Store, where you will find many of Burt's record breaking motorcycles and other interesting things. After checking into our hotel we dine together at one of Invercargill's top restaurants. 

Day 12 - Our final day of this extended Warbirds Over Wanaka tour. After checking out of our hotel we head to the amazing Bill Richardson Transport World, which has become a real Southland icon. Their Grille Cafe is our breakfast venue today - great food in a truly unique ambience.

The museum is the largest private automotive museum of its type in the world, with more than 300 vintage vehicles - something to interest everyone. From one man’s passion, what began in a humble back shed has been transformed into a truly spectacular family legacy. This world-class experience has become Invercargill’s leading visitor attraction - with collections including Henry Ford letter cars, 1930s V8s, Volkswagen Kombis, and vintage trucks of all makes and models including a show stopping 1940 Dodge Airflow Texaco tanker. Bill Richardson Transport World is a petrol head’s heaven, with an engaging movie theatre, wearable arts and more, here you can expect the unexpected.

Just a short drive brings us to the airport to check in for our mid-day flights back to Tauranga, where the Hinterland drivers will be waiting to transfer you back to your home.

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.

Date TBC - Price TBC

Additional inclusions to the above:

  • 4 more days of touring

  • 3 more nights quality accommodation

  • All breakfasts and most dinners*

  • Special winery lunch in Gibbston Valley

  • Milford Sound cruise

  • Doubtful Sound full day experience

  • Croydon Heritage Aviation Centre

  • Hokonui Moonshine Museum

  • E Hayes Burt Munro Exhibition

  • Bill Richardson Transport World

  • Air NZ flights back from Invercargill

Additional things you will see:

  • Gibbston Valley Wine Cave

  • Te Anau and Milford Sound

  • Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound

  • Gore and Invercargill

  • Southland

A single room surcharge of $950 applies.

Doubtful Sound.jpg
Milford Sound Reflection
Bill Richardson Transport World.jpg

* 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.

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