South island best of rail
Includes: Accommodation (3 & 4 Star Hotels), All Dinners & Cooked Breakfasts, All Listed Trains, All Listed Sights & Admissions, Transfers / Home Pickup from designated centres (If not listed call or email us for details).
DATES: SPRING SPECIALS 16 Oct, 30 Oct. 16 Oct 2019, 30 Oct 2019, 27 Nov 2019 – SORRY NO SEATS LEFT! 19 Feb 2020, 4 Mar 2020, 18 Mar 2020,
1 Apr 2020, 8 Apr 2020, 15 Apr 2020, 22 Apr 2020
HOTEL/HOME PICKUP FROM CHRISTCHURCH: Join the Tour travelling on the Tranz Alpine to Arthurs Pass. Complimentary return transfer to original pickup location (Want to return elsewhere? Call or email us).
NZ$4299 per person (sharetwin) $3999 SPRING SPECIAL DATES!
Travelling Solo? Matched Twin (same gender) No Extra Cost!
NZ$950 Single Supplement (to Guarantee Single Room)
Day 1. Tranz Alpine Train, Greymouth (B,D)
Today join the Tranz Alpine train, which is regarded as one of the top rail journeys in the world. Head up into the Southern Alps and view dramatic alpine scenery – mountain peaks, rugged gorges and rivers. Stop at Arthur’s Pass, the alpine village in the centre of the Alps. Then to Greymouth, the region’s chief commercial centre. A short drive will take us to Shantytown, a fascinating reconstructed gold mining town, where you can still actually pan for gold. Travel back in time to a reminder of New Zealand’s West Coast’s turbulent nineteenth century gold-mining past. This is your chance to get into the cab of a steam train with the Train Driver and see how it all happens! You get to see it all going on, shovel coal in the fire, pull the horn, and see the action up close. Hear and see the fire roar, taste the steam, and get a bit of coal dust on your jeans. Then to our hotel to freshen up before dinner.
Stay: Kingsgate Hotel (or similar)
Day 2. Greymouth , Fox Glacier (B,D)
We leave Greymouth this morning and drive south along the coastal road which boasts wonderful panoramic views of alpine scenery and dense native forests, as we head towards glacier country. We will stop at Lake Matheson (weather permitting, note lake is approximately 1km walk each way from coach parking area) noted for its magnificent mirror-like reflections of the Southern Alps. We then continue on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. These twin rivers of ice are unique, as nowhere in the world outside the polar regions are glaciers found so close to sea level. At Franz Josef Glacier (weather permitting), you have the opportunity to take an optional scenic flight over these spectacular ice-flows.
Stay: Heartland Fox Glacier or Heartland Hotel Haast
Day 3. Fox Glacier, Queenstown (B,D)
Continuing south, we will pass isolated and lovely Bruce Bay before reaching the small settlement of Haast. Leaving the coast today, we will travel inland past Thunder Creek Falls to the “Gates of the Haast.” Then it is a steep climb, following the ancient Maori Greenstone Pilgrimage route through the Haast Pass, and down to the shores of the milky, glacier-fed Lakes of Hawea and Wanaka, to arrive in the picturesque township of Wanaka. We then travel through rich farmlands to join the Clutha River where it enters the Kawarau Gorge and continue past the most southerly vineyard in the world to make a stop at the Kawarau Bridge. This is the now world-famous place where you may be tempted to try bungy jumping, diving from the Kawarau Bridge towards the river 150 feet below, with a giant rubber band tied around your ankles! The final stop before reaching Queenstown will be made at historic and picturesque Arrowtown where you see many of the original wood and stone buildings from the “gold rush” years still in use. There will be time to browse around before rejoining the coach for the short drive to Queenstown, where we will stay for two nights.
Stay: Holiday Inn Queenstown (or similar)
Day 4. Queenstown, Cruise on TSS Earnslaw & Dinner at Walter Peak (B,SD)
Today, the entire day is at leisure for you to enjoy the many scenic delights of this world-famous alpine resort. Perhaps you would like to take a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping jetboat ride on the Shotover River, experience the exhilaration of white water rafting or explore the remote Skippers Canyon. Wherever your interests may lie, we guarantee that Queenstown has something for you. Your tour leader can assist you in planning your day and making arrangements. This evening, we will board the vintage steamship T.S.S. Earnslaw for a delightful cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak, a high country sheep station. There is time to inspect the sheep and highland cattle before relaxing in the Colonel’s Homestead and enjoying some friendly Kiwi Hospitality and a sumptuous dinner, which is one of the culinary highlights of the tour.
Stay: Holiday Inn Queenstown (or similar)
Day 5. Queenstown, Milford Sound Cruise, Te Anau (B,D)
This morning we drive along Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau and enter Southland. Here, outstanding scenery greets us as we continue through the beech forests of the Eglington Valley with its steep walls, grassy floor and exquisite mirror-like lakes before entering the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. We pass through Cascade Creek and the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel, stopping at The Chasm, before continuing on through the glacial formations of the Cleddau Valley and descending to Milford. Here, we board our boat and follow the deep icy blue waterway to explore the hidden depths of Milford Sound. There is plenty of time to admire the intricately carved deep fiord and rock walls, and the most memorable of them all: Mitre Peak. Sitting at 6,000 feet, it is the tallest peak in the world rising directly from the bottom of the ocean. We cruise by tumbling waterfalls of Lady Bowen falls, Stirling Falls and many others as we journey to the hidden mouth of the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea. Watch out for the schools of playful dolphins that surf the bow wave of the boat and spot the seals basking in the sun on the rocky shores. Then our coach will take us to our hotel in Te Anau, home of the South Island’s largest lake.
Stay: Distinction Luxmore Te Anau
Day 6. Te Anau, Bluff, Invercargill (B,D)
This morning, we drive along Lake Manapouri, said to be New Zealand’s most beautiful lake, before crossing the rich and fertile country of Southland. Invercargill boasts being both the southernmost & westernmost city in New Zealand, and is essentially the gateway to Bluff, home of its namesake: the world-famous Bluff oysters. Bluff oysters are widely regarded as the finest in the world! Enjoy a brief tour of Bluff and Invercargill, before having free time.
Stewart Island Optional Excursions
We recommend booking early to avoid disappointment. All optional excursions are subject to availability. Excursions include return ferry to Stewart Island & return transfers from Bluff to Invercargill.
- Stewart Island Sights
- Ulva Island Cruise & Sanctuary
- Stewart Island on your own
Stay: Ibis Invercargill
Day 7. Invercargill, The Catlins, Dunedin (B,D)
This morning, we depart Invercargill for Dunedin via the magnificent coastal vistas of the Catlins, famed for the wildlife, forests and rugged natural beauty. Late this afternoon, we arrive at the traditionally “Scottish City” of Dunedin – quaint, friendly and once New Zealand’s hub of commerce. During the gold rush years, Dunedin was New Zealand’s largest and most prosperous city and is home to New Zealand’s first university. We will stop at the Olveston House, a 35 room Jacobean mansion that allows an intimate view of the life of a prosperous Dunedin merchant and his family in Edwardian times. The mansion houses a treasure of Georgian and Victorian furniture, paintings, silver, china and glassware with a notable oriental collection.
Stay: Victoria Hotel (or similar)
Day 8. Dunedin, Taieri Gorge, Larnach Castle Dinner (B,SD)
Today, we travel on the Taieri Gorge Railway – one of the top rail experiences in New Zealand. We depart from the Dunedin Railway Station, a beautiful example of gothic architecture which Otago is famous for, and also New Zealand’s most photographed building. Travel aboard the vintage and wonderfully preserved & maintained carriages out of Dunedin and up into the Otago Mainland. Enjoy fascinating commentary during the journey before returning to the Dunedin Railway Station, where you are either returned to your accommodation or stay to enjoy exploring sights of the city – perhaps take a short walk up to the Octagon, the commercial heart of the city and home to many restaurants and pubs. This evening, we visit Larnach Castle, an imposing stone mansion that was constructed in 1871 by William Larnach, a former government minister. Your guide will inform you of the dark Larnach secrets as you are escorted through the mansion to view the ornately furnished rooms and halls. Here, we are privileged to enjoy an exclusive sumptuous dinner at the castle.
Stay: Victoria Hotel (or similar)
Day 9. Dunedin, Mt Cook, Omarama (B,D)
Today’s coach journey is highlighted by magnificent mountains, crystal clear lakes and man-made wonders as we pass the hydro dams at Waitaki and Aviemore, and on to Mt Cook National Park, home of New Zealand’s highest mountain. This afternoon is at leisure in Mount Cook for optional flightseeing by plane or helicopter over majestic Mount Cook and breathtaking Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers (weather permitting). We then travel to Omarama where we will stay overnight.
Stay: Heritage Gateway (or similar)
Day 10. Omarama, Christchurch (B)
Sadly, this is the last day of our tour. This morning, our tour will continue to beautiful Lake Tekapo, where a stop is made to view the Church of the Good Shepherd. Crossing Burkes Pass, we travel through the sheep-stations and tussock-covered lands of the MacKenzie Country and across the colourful patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains, the country’s largest wheat producing area, before arriving in Christchurch, the second largest metropolitan area in New Zealand. On arrival at Christchurch, we will return you to your nominated Christchurch address/hotel.