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Dunedin and Southern Lakes South Island Family Tour

5 nights, Queenstown to Queenstown

Dunedin and Southern Lakes South Island Family Tour

Experience the mountains and alpine lakes of the South Island on this family tour, based from the Adventure Capital of Queenstown.  Highlights throughout include a close up encounter with the rare yellow eyed penguins in Dunedin. On reaching Queenstown you'll journey up the Skyline Gondola for a bird's eye view of the mountains and lake.  The next day you'll cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Station for a kiwi style BBQ lunch and farm tour.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Dunedin Railway Station
Lake Hayes, Arrowtown on a sunny day
The beautiful Otago Peninsula
View of the Queenstown Skyline at dusk
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Today you'll cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the historic TSS Earnslaw steamship for a farm tour and BBQ lunch

TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch

TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch
TSS Earnslaw cruise and Walter Peak Farm tour including gourmet BBQ lunch

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience - a delicious barbeque lunch and farm tour in a stunning lakeside setting. First take a scenic cruise from Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm on board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw - one of the last remaining fully functional coal-fired passenger ships in the southern hemisphere. The vintage steamship was originally built in Dunedin and once completed it was dismantled, shipped by rail to Kingston and then reassembled before being launched onto the lake where it has been transporting goods and passengers since 1912.

Disembark and take in the picturesque shores of the Station. Relax on the lakeside terrace at the Colonel's Homestead Restaurant and savour the aromas of the best local produce being cooked the grill. The seasonal menu has plenty to choose from - salads, vegetables and succulent meat. If you're vegetarian, you will be well catered for also. Finish your meal with a scrumptious dessert before joining an entertaining farm demonstration or exploring the beautiful lakeside gardens.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride
Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern hemisphere - and take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak and Coronet Peak - one of Queenstown's Ski field.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 3 - Explore more of Queenstown's scenery and activities

Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds
Explore Queenstown and surrounds

Queenstown may be New Zealand's ‘adventure capital,’ but it offers far more than a fast paced action-packed holiday.  On the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath the soaring Remarkables Mountain Range, this small town is surrounded by a plethora of historic, gastronomic and scenic wonders. Head through Gibbston Valley to sample some of the region’s best wine. We recommend stopping at the Chard Farm cellar door, visiting the architecturally award winning Peregrine vineyard or taking a cellar cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery. Cruise to Walter Peak station for dinner on board a 100 year old steamship -  the TSS Earnslaw. While you're there, a farm tour is a must do for those not familiar with rural living.

Take some time to wander the waterfront, and grab lunch at one of the many amazing cafes and restaurants on offer. Try Vudu’s Pantry and larder or for a holiday treat go to Michelin star chef Josh Emett's ‘Rata. Check out nearby historic Arrowtown and enhance your experience with a four wheel drive trip to Macetown - a disused gold mining settlement built in the 1800’s.Take a leisurely lakeside stroll or ride the gondola for breathtaking views. Venture further afield into the Fiordland National Park or head over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Drive through Lord Of The Rings country or for the really fanatic, jump aboard one of many dedicated LOTR tours. After all of that - if you do really want the adrenaline rush Queenstown is known for, take your pick from the Shotover Jet, Nevis Bungy, Canyon Swing, Zipline, Luge or White Water Rafting.

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride - suggested

Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride
Shotover Jet - Canyon Jet Boat Ride

Shotover Jet is the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons. It's a thrilling ride - skimming past rocky outcrops at close range in your Shotover Jet 'Big Red', as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath taking speeds. And a major highlight - hold tight for the world famous Shotover Jet full 360 degree spins!

Adventure Quad Bike Tour - suggested

Adventure Quad Bike Tour
Adventure Quad Bike Tour
Adventure Quad Bike Tour
Adventure Quad Bike Tour

The Adventure Quad Bike Tour offers tailor made tours for families, beginner and experienced riders across 11,000 acres of New Zealand's best off-road terrain. The adventure tour is designed for those looking for excitement and a challenge. This tour gives you the most amount of ride time (1.5 hours) within the half day tour. You will begin your adventure at the gold workings on the Kawarau River and progresses up into the mountains. You will ride in small select groups according to ability, so whether you're a beginner or a professional you are guaranteed a challenging and exciting time.

Dart River Safaris Funyaks - suggested

Dart River Safaris Funyaks
Dart River Safaris Funyaks
Dart River Safaris Funyaks
Dart River Safaris Funyaks

The best way to see, touch and feel the breathtaking Dart River valley. Jet boat for 1¼ hours to the upper reaches of the Dart River, where visitors disembark and inflate their own canoe. After a full safety and paddling instruction, your Funyak journey begins. Paddle downstream on a glacier-fed river amidst rocky peaks and dense rainforests. Enjoy a wilderness buffet lunch and explore the Rock Burn Chasm and ancient beech forests. Paddle to Paradise then transfer to an awaiting back road coach for the return trip through Paradise. Funyaks is suitable for most ages with average fitness and no previous experience is required.

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments
Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

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Day 4 - Pass through historic gold mining towns and bountiful orchards to on your way to Dunedin

Driving distance and time: 274 kms / 170 miles : 3.3 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Queenstown to Dunedin

Queenstown to Dunedin
Queenstown to Dunedin
Queenstown to Dunedin
Queenstown to Dunedin

Your route today is a historic one with many small towns along the way. Go through the Kawarau Gorge and stop at one of its renowned wineries. The gorge is also home to the world's first commercial bungy jumping operation and a viewing platform lets you watch others as you build the courage to try it yourself - or not! A little further you'll come to Cromwell, sitting beside the man-made Lake Dunstan - created when the valley was flooded in 1992 as part of the hydro electric scheme. As a result, much of the original town is now submerged, but several historic buildings were relocated to 'Old Cromwell Town'.

Continue on through the Otago Goldfields. Pass the townships of Alexandra, Lawrence and Roxburgh - once with booming populations three times their current at the height of the 1800's gold-rush. Many of the old settlements remain and are worth a look if you can spare the time. Alexandra in more recent times has become the 'stone fruit capital' of New Zealand - named for its ideal fruit growing climate.  As you drive further south the landscape changes to rolling hills and windswept farmland - melding fluidly with the rugged coast of Dunedin, your destination for the night.

Accommodation: Motel on York

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 5 - Discover the unique wildlife of the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
Explore Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula

Known as the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin City has a heavy Scottish influence. Surrounded by rugged coastal plains and windswept beaches it’s home to an eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture as well as industrial technology. Renowned for its Flemish Baroque-inspired ‘gingerbread house’ Railway Station, this university town is bustling with life. Head to the Saturday farmers market held in the aforementioned railway grounds for a taste of organic produce, handmade crepes and local honey. Explore the many cafes and wine bars in The Octagon, then continue on a self-guided walking tour of the internationally acclaimed Street Art dotted around the city. Drive to the coast and watch the freighters passing in the distance while you sunbathe, or hire a mountain bike and test your legs on one of the many trails available in the area. For a more immersive historical experience, follow the coast to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. On your way back be sure to head to the Otago Peninsula to see the largest mainland Albatross colony in the world.

Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour

Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour
Penguin Place Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve - Evening Tour

Learn about the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguin when you visit Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve dedicated to ensuring the survival of this unique species. The project is entirely funded by guided tours which allows the conservation team to engage in habitat restoration, predator control, a research program and on-site rehabilitation care for the sick starving and wounded birds.
When you take a tour, you will learn about the issues the Yellow Eyed Penguin faces , their life cycle and how the project is carried out. You'll take a short bus trip over the reserve and be led on foot by your guide through a system of covered trenches to viewing hides which allow access to the living and breeding grounds of this very shy bird without disturbing them.

Accommodation: Motel on York

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York
Accommodation: Motel on York

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Day 6 - Leaving Dunedin, head to Queenstown for your onward travel

Driving distance and time: 278 kms / 172 miles : 3.5 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Dunedin to Queenstown

Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown
Dunedin to Queenstown

This drive takes you through the heart of the historical Otago Goldfields . The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra - once booming mining towns in the late 1800's gold rush - now sleepy sun-traps bearing the little resemblance to their bustling past. However, some buildings do remain as do the original shafts and workings. In more recent times Alexandra has become the 'stone fruit capital' of New Zealand -  with the ideal climate for the trees. It is also a great place to buy some of the local produce. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy before passing through the Gibbston Wine Valley to arrive at your destination today, Queenstown.  
 

Depart Queenstown today

Explore more of Queenstown before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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