Tour departs: 16 October 2020
Begin with 3-nights in beautiful Wanaka, before a 2-night stay in the famous ‘Valley of the Vines”. Enjoy a leisurely cruise on Lake Wakatipu onboard the famous TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm, along with Chantecler Gardens. We then head to Manapouri to join an unforgettable overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, the deepest of all the fiords in New Zealand.
Special highlights include a 4WD experience accessing a wide range of unique backcountry tracks in the High Country & Danseys Pass, a 2-night stay at the Luxurious Mount Cook Country Estate, nestled between the Ohau Ranges and Lake Pukaki and within Aoraki Dark Sky Reserve & a Tasman Glacial Encounter.
This tour may also be combined with the Top of the South tour.
Friday 16 October Queenstown – Wanaka (D)
This morning meet with your tour group at Queenstown Airport and set off by coach via the Crown Range Road to Wanaka, enjoying the spectacular scenery en route. Enjoy lunch (own expense) at the iconic Cardrona Hotel; Established in 1863 it is one of the oldest, most-photographed and legendary hotels in New Zealand – and well known for their scones! Travelling on, we stop at the nearby Cardrona Whisky Distillery located in the valley of picturesque snow-capped mountains. Discover the secrets to Cardrona’s artisan spirits, see where the malt is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and matured before tasting the wares with a tutored spirit tasting! On arrival into Wanaka this afternoon, we are transferred to the Award-Winning Edgewater Resort for the next 3-nights. Tonight, we dine together for the first time.
Saturday 17 October Wanaka (B)
After breakfast, we drive by coach to West Wanaka and board a jet boat for a trip up the Matukituki River. Travel at speed over shallow braids, drift into turns and stop in deep pools to enjoy the magic landscape & hear stories of our land from your local guides. Return to the banks of the Matukituki River to enjoy morning tea, before then setting off on a 4WD safari, travelling the private back roads of West Wanaka Station, a 30,000- acre deer farm steeped in history and bordering the majestic snow-capped peaks and glaciers of Mt Aspiring National Park. At the conclusion of the tour, we return to Wanaka where you can enjoy lunch at the one of the many café’s lining the shores of Lake Wanaka. Later we meet again for an afternoon cruise on Lake Wanaka. Relax in comfort as you cruise up the arm to Stevensons Island where we will make a beach landing. Your guide will take you ashore for a short hike (optional) to the summit to view the Minaret Peaks with some excellent photo opportunities. The evening is at leisure.
Sunday 18 October Wanaka (B, D)
This morning we drive to Wanaka’s famous Blue Pools to enjoy a short walk. Stroll through beech forest to a swing bridge that crosses the Makarora River, then cross the Blue Pools bridge for great views up the river gorge. Along the way look out for large trout feeding in the pools and listen for the threatened yellowhead which can often be heard in the canopy. We enjoy morning tea in Makarora, surrounded by vast alpine scenery. The afternoon we visit Puzzling World; a mix of bizarre buildings, rooms of illusion and the world-famous Great Maze. Originally opened in 1973, many people have since visited the attraction in a test to complete the $100,000 Psychic Challenge. This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Monday 19 October Wanaka – Kinross (B, L, D)
Following breakfast, we depart Wanaka and travel to Cromwell, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Dunstan. Sit back and relax as you travel past well-known New Zealand vineyards such as Akarua, Pisa Range Estate Locharburn, Ata Mara, and more. We make a brief stop at the Höglund Art Glass Gallery to admire the works from Ola Hoglund and Marie Simberg-Hoglund. Their glass artwork has earned them world-wide praise and is internationally renowned and highly sought after by both public and private collectors. When the Clyde dam was completed in 1990, Cromwell’s main street disappeared under Lake Dunstan. Some of the historic buildings dating back to the gold rush of the 1860’s were saved or rebuilt on higher ground, creating the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Step back in time to the gold rush and explore heritage buildings, many with artisan businesses in them. Lunch today will be at the world class Mt. Difficulty restaurant and Cellar Door, where you can enjoy spectacular panorama views of Bannockburn and the Cromwell Basin while enjoying a delicious meal. We continue through the Gibbston Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of the Vines’ and one of the most scenic wine growing areas you’ll ever encounter, through to our accommodation for the next 2-nights, Kinross Cottages. This afternoon we enjoy a private wine tasting and discover why Kinross rose to be a finalist in 2019 NZ Cellar Door of the Year Awards.
Tuesday 20 October Kinross – Queenstown – Arrowtown (B, L)
Departing Kinross this morning, we make a visit to the Chantecler Gardens, a 40-acre property that includes 12 acres of mature gardens and nestled in the heart of the Wakitipu Basin. At midday today, we set off on a cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw across to Walter Peak High Country Farm for lunch. Once at the lakeside Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, savour the delicious aromas as the chef has the best of local produce sizzling away on the grill. An entertaining farm demonstration is also included, or you can explore the beautiful lakeside gardens. Before returning to our accommodation, we make a brief visit to Arrowtown (time permitting), a historic New Zealand treasure. Remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
Wednesday 21 October Kinross – Manapouri (B, D)
We depart Kinross this morning, and head towards Lake Manapouri and board the Real Journeys Doubtful Sound overnight cruise. As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter. After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat – or to simply relax on board. For the adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming.
Thursday 22 October Manapouri – Invercargill (B, D)
After a hearty cooked breakfast, spend the morning exploring other parts of the fiord, before returning to Manapouri and disembarking. We rejoin the coach in Manapouri and continue our drive along the Southern Scenic Route. Enjoy stops at Riverton Paua shop, Tuatapere and more. We arrive in Invercargill mid-afternoon and are transferred to our accommodation for the next 3-nights. Tonight, we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
Friday 23 October Invercargill (B, D)
No visit to Invercargill is complete without visiting the Bill Richardson Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca, a wheeled collection that has taken nearly 50 years to amass. SOther highlights today include Queenspark and the Tuatarium, one of the world’s best enclosures, where you can see 100+ live tuatara thriving in an environment that mimics their natural habitat (viewable from outside). The afternoon is at leisure before dining together at a local restaurant.
Saturday 24 October Invercargill – Bluff (B)
This morning we travel to Bluff, where we join the ferry to Stewart Island. Over 85% of the island is National Park and it is a prime destination for birdwatchers and those wishing to catch a glimpse of the famous Aurora Australis which often appears in these southern skies. We enjoy a day tour of the island, encompassing the history and beauty of the area. Mid-afternoon, we return to Bluff via ferry and back to our hotel. The evening is at leisure.
Sunday 25 October Bluff – Catlins – Dunedin (B, D)
We depart Invercargill this morning and travel the route through the Catlins, and onto Dunedin. See Curio Bay, Fossilised Forest, the Lost Gypsy Caravan (if open), Purakaunui Falls, Owaka and more. We arrive in Dunedin this afternoon and are transferred to our accommodation for the next 2-nights. We enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.
Monday 26 October Dunedin (B)
Today we explore Dunedin and pay visit to some of the well-known attractions including Larnach Castle and Gardens and Olveston Historic Home. We also tour the Royal Albatross Centre, the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross in the world.
Tuesday 27 October Dunedin – Mount Cook (B, L, D)
Leaving Dunedin, we take the coach through to Naseby where we meet with the High Country Journeys team. Here we join a 4WD tour through some of the most stunning and majestic scenery in the South Island, accessing a wide range of unique backcountry tracks in the High Country. Continue over Danseys Pass, a classic, unsealed and stunningly beautiful alpine pass. Arriving at Danseys Pass you can’t help but feel a sense of achievement and freedom; it truly is away from it all. We rejoin our coach in Duntroon and continue on to our accommodation at the luxurious Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat – set in a forest wilderness, nestled between the turquoise blue waters of Lake Pukaki and the majestic Ben Ohau ranges. Tonight, we will pay a visit to the Pukaki Observatory and Wine Cellar, located within the retreat and in the heart of the gold level Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve. The observatory is set in a rural location with absolutely no light pollution. Starting in the wine cellar you will be treated to a wine matching experience with top wines from the local region, whilst being introduced the stars, planets, nebula and cluster objects currently present in the night sky. Moving through to the Observatory, view the Milky Way Galaxy, stars and planets through a 6” refractor telescope.
Wednesday 28 October Mount Cook (B, D)
Today we travel into the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, home of some of the most scenic mountains and glaciers in New Zealand. There is time to wander around the Hermitage grounds before we move on to New Zealand’s Tasman Glacier terminal lake for a fascinating glacial encounter. From here we cruise the rapidly growing terminal lake taking in spectacular mountain views and scenery. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the glacier allowing you to touch and taste the 300-500-yearold glacial crystals.
Thursday 29 October Mount Cook – Tekapo – Christchurch (B, D)
Departing Mount Cook, we enjoy a short drive through to Lake Tekapo. Enjoy free time in Tekapo and take in picturesque views of the milky-turquoise lake, the church of the Good Sheppard, and other local sights of interest. Continue through to Christchurch and to our overnight accommodation. Our final dinner tonight will be at an award-winning local restaurant.
Friday 30 October Christchurch – Home (B)
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Bid your fellow tour members farewell today as you transfer to Christchurch airport to join your flight home.
Maher Tours 2020
Images courtesy of Maher Tours