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9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight

9 days 8 nights
Christchurch to Christchurch
from NZD$3,646pp
was NZD$3,970pp
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The 9-day Southern Spotlight tour explores the wonderful scenery of the South Island. The city of Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier and you take the world-famous TranzAlpine train from Arthurs Pass to Christchurch. With lots of opportunities to enjoy the many great optional tours and activities, this is the ideal tour for those wishing to see the best of the South Island at a relaxing pace.

This Tour Also Features

  • Milford Sound Cruise
  • TSS Earnslaw cruise & dinner at Walter Peak high country farm, Queenstown
  • TranzAlpine Train from Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
  • Visit to Jade Factory
  • Meals included: 8 breakfasts, 4 dinners, 1 special dinner
Tour full itinerary
Itinerary
Day One - Welcome to Christchurch
Tour day 1
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 1
AAT Kings 9 day Southern Spotlight

The 9-day Southern Spotlight tour explores the wonderful scenery of the South Island. The city of Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier and you take the world-famous TranzAlpine train from Arthurs Pass to Christchurch. With lots of opportunities to enjoy the many great optional tours and activities, this is the ideal tour for those wishing to see the best of the South Island at a relaxing pace.

Welcome to Christchurch

This afternoon, explore Christchurch at your leisure before meeting your travel director for a welcome reception back at your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Superbly situated in the very heart of the garden city, Hotel Ibis Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square, and is close to cafes, restaurants, museums and many of Christchurch's most popular attractions.

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Day Two - Christchurch to Mt. Cook to Omarama
Tour day 2
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 2
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, Pukaki and onto Omarama

This morning you may wish to take a brief walk around the city centre and Cathedral Square before departure. Later, head out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains to soak up some spectacular sightseeing. Sweeping views across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo framed by a backdrop of rugged hills and snow-capped mountains provide stunning alpine photography opportunities. You will visit the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd, and stop for a quick photo with the bronze statue of a collie dog, the touching tribute to the sheepdogs which helped develop the Mackenzie Country. You may want to take in Mount Cook National Park from the air this afternoon, on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (optional – at own expense). Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Positioned at the crossroads linking north, south, east and west, the Gateway Hotel features a full restaurant and cocktail bar with views of the Southern Alps, the Heritage Gateway Hotel has everything you need to rest and refresh.

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Day Three - Omarama to Dunedin
Tour day 3
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 3
Omarama to Oamaru to Dunedin

Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, which marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power. From the Waitaki Valley you will then travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and its famous white limestone buildings. As well as shipping limestone to the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for construction of their Town Halls and various churches, Oamaru locals made sure that their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid-late 1800’s had to offer. This afternoon you will make your way down to the Southernmost New Zealand city, Dunedin. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional excursion to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or explore the city and its museums, cafés and shops.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star
Meals included: Breakfast
Just two blocks from the Octagon in the heart of the city, Scenic Hotel Dunedin City is close to shops, parks and the best city attractions and services.

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Day Four - Dunedin to Te Anau
Tour day 4
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 4
Dunedin to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park

This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to journey out to the gorgeous Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only castle (optional - at your own expense). Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university, Otago University. Dunedin, also known as the Edinburgh of the Sough, has strong connections to its northern hemisphere sister city, even down to sharing many of the same street names – so take a wander down George Street, noting Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry. This afternoon travel through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land. You are sure to find the perfect sheep photo here! As your excursion continues, the rolling, grassy hills once again turn back into heavily forested, rugged mountains, and you meander your way up into the Fiordland National Park to the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau. This evening you have the opportunity to head out across the lake to the Glow Worm Caves for a tour (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
The perfect base for all your Fiordland travel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable accommodation right in the heart of Te Anau.

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Day Five - Te Anau to Milford Sound and Queenstown
Tour day 5
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 5
Te Anau to Milford Sound, enjoy a cruise then onto Queenstown

Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go! After leaving Te Anau, you will journey through the Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where, as the name suggests, you can see the stunning mountain scenery perfectly reflected in the waters of the lakes. Then on to the Homer Tunnel, man’s attempt to master the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side of the tunnel, you are presented with one of the world’s most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley.
You will have a stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, and then it’s on to Milford Sound, where you will cruise the waters of this natural wonder. Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as they plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. From the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound, you will travel on to the beautiful sights of Queenstown. An orientation tour skirting around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, takes you into the city centre.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Meals included: Breakfast
The Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Queenstown Lakefront is conveniently located within walking distance to the centre of Queenstown and just a few minutes stroll from the picturesque Lake Wakatipu.

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Day Six - Queenstown free day
Tour day 6
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 6
Explore Queenstown at leisure, this evening visit Walter Peak Station

Explore exciting Queenstown your way! Why not soar through the trees on a Ziptrek Ecotour, or raft the mighty white water rapids of the Kawarau River? Take the opportunity to ride the Shotover Jet Boat or venture out onto the Dart River for a longer jet safari. Join a Queenstown Original Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines, or play a round of golf at one of the spectacular alpine courses around Queenstown. Your Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences. After a day of activity, sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is believed to be the only coal-fired passenger carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. Partake in a gourmet BBQ Highlight Dinner at Walter Peaks’ Colonel’s Homestead and then enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing a glimpse into high-country farm life. On the cruise back to Queenstown, join in a vintage sing-a-long or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner
The Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Queenstown Lakefront is conveniently located within walking distance to the centre of Queenstown and just a few minutes stroll from the picturesque Lake Wakatipu.

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Day Seven - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier
Tour day 7
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 7
Queenstown to Arrowtown, Wanaka and onto Franz Josef

This morning you will leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind, and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. On the way out of the Queenstown region, you will stop and visit the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown on the Arrow River, previously one of the world’s richest rivers. From here you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan, where you will stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Dunstan, you will travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea, followed by Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows.
Following an ancient greenstone trail, you will travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes, to the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers. Your final destination for today is the extraordinary rivers of ice that make up Franz Josef Glacier. You may want to get up close and personal with the glaciers on a helicopter flight. Your flight will hover over the snow face, and may land high up in the valley so that you can walk across the ice fall – subject to weather conditions (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Located in the heart of Franz Josef Village the hotel offers all the amenities you would expect and is close to the shops, restaurants and activities on offer.

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Day Eight - Franz Josef to Christchurch
Tour day 8
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight - Day 8
Franz Josef to Arthurs Pass then the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch

This morning, you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you’ll head off to the drift-wood strewn beaches of Hokitika. As well as being one of the few West Coast communities to embrace its coastal landscape, Hokitika struck it rich in the resources stakes. Here you will visit a pounamu factory (native greenstone or jade), for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Maori tradition says it is bad luck to buy pounamu for yourself, so if you fancy a trinket of your own, make sure you have someone there to purchase it for you. From Hokitika, you will travel inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass. Here you will board the TranzAlpine train to head back to the East Coast, to Christchurch city. This spectacular train journey dates back to 1914, and is rated as one of the world’s most scenic train trips. The train forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. This evening join your Travel Director and Driver, and your new-found friends for a Farewell Dinner.

 
*Please be aware, there are some departure dates where the train may not be available due to covid-related schedule changes outside of AAT Kings's control. If this occurs, your journey through the incredible Arthur's Pass will continue onboard your coach. Chat to a consultant to check the current schedule for your preferred departure.

Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)
Accommodation type: Hotel 3 star
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Superbly situated in the very heart of the garden city, Hotel Ibis Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square, and is close to cafes, restaurants, museums and many of Christchurch's most popular attractions.

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Day Nine - Depart Christchurch today
Tour day 9
Christchurch final day

Your tour arrangements conclude after breakfast today. We can organise you a transfer to deliver you to Christchurch airport for your onward journey.

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Remember - we can create this itinerary with any style of accommodation or customise it to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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Oct 16, 2022
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