AAT Kings 14 Day Southern Spirit 23/24
Christchurch to Wellington
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AAT Kings

AAT Kings 14 Day Southern Spirit 23/24

It’s hard to do the South Island of New Zealand justice in just two weeks. But we’ve been exploring this part of the country for years, and know which azure lakes, yawning gorges, gem-like glaciers and unpeopled beaches will set your heart racing. From Milford Sound tours to Franz Josef Glacier tours, Christchurch tours to Queenstown tours, get set for 14 days of eye-opening attractions glimpsed from planes, trains, automobiles and boats. This trip to New Zealand is hard to beat.

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Tour summary and feature
Quick Itinerary Details

Escorted coach tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$5,665 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Wellington

14 days/13 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 9 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

Christchurch City Tour
Cruise on the Interislander Ferry
Day trip to Stewart Island
Larnach Castle
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch – Omarama

Day 3: Omarama – Dunedin Free Time

Day 4: Dunedin – Invercargill

Day 5: Stewart Island

Day 6: Invercargill – Queenstown

Day 7: Queenstown Free Time

Day 8: Queenstown – Franz Josef

Day 9: Franz Josef – Punakaiki

Day 10: Punakaiki – Nelson

Day 11: Nelson Free Time

Day 12: Nelson – Wellington

Day 13: Wellington Free Time

Day 14: Farewell from Wellington

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 14 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch
Christchurch Transitional Cardboard Cathederal

Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm. Take some time to relax or explore independently. You may like to step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax on the Christchurch Tram as it takes you around the 'must-see' central attractions. The tram drivers provide a live commentary throughout the loop, identifying points of interest, historic architecture and the changes the city is under-going since the 2011 earthquake. This evening, meet your fellow travelling companions and your AAT Kings Travel Director for a welcome reception at your hotel.

Staying in:

  • Ibis Hotel Christchurch (1 night)
Day 2 - Christchurch – Omarama
Christchurch Tramway

After a Christchurch city sights tour, you will 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 Experience - at own expense). Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Staying in:

  • Heritage Gateway Hotel (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Omarama – Dunedin Free Time
Aerial View of Otago Peninsula

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 Experience to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or journey out to Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only Castle. Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Dunedin’s inner city.

Staying in:

  • Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 4 - Dunedin – Invercargill
Dunedin Railway Station

This morning we leave Dunedin and travel through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land through to Gore, the country music capital of New Zealand for a lunch stop. As your journey continues, you arrive into Invercargill, New Zealands southernmost city. This commercial hub is full of grand architecture and gardens. A city obsessed with motoring history, there are tributes to speed legends across town, from the famous Burt Munro to Bill Richardson and his shed full of classic vehicles – the largest private collection of its type in the world. This afternoon you will have some free time to explore this city and its offerings.

Staying in:

  • Kelvin Hotel (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 5 - Stewart Island
A bay on Stewart Island

Board a ferry at Bluff and cruise to Stewart Island. Stewart Island is known by locals as Rakiura which is the Maori reference to Glowing Skies. It has been described as rugged, pristine and tranquil – and rightly so as 97% of the island is designated National Park and Conservation Estate.  This means the birdlife, native flora & fauna and other natural environmental features have been able to thrive. Once you arrive, you will gain an entertaining insight into New Zealand’s southernmost community and learn about the history and environment of Stewart Island on a Village and Bays tour. Later, enjoy some free time. Join a guided sail around Paterson Inlet that will take you past unique places including Acker’s Cottage before docking at Ulva Island to admire the bird life and native flora. For a more active option you could hire an E-bike and explore the Island for yourself. Travel back to Bluff by ferry before arriving back to your accommodation in Invercargill.

Staying in:

  • Kelvin Hotel (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 6 - Invercargill – Queenstown
TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu Queenstown

Enjoy a relaxed start in Invercargill before departing for Queenstown. Known for its adventure you will have a free afternoon to explore. Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet Boat or venture out on a Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour. If laid-back and relaxed is more your idea of fun, then join a Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences. This evening, why not sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station (Optional Experience, own expense). 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-along or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 7 - Queenstown Free Time
View from the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown

While Queenstown wears its Global Adventure badge proudly, it’s also the perfect place to relax and explore. The town boasts great shopping with luxury brands, iconic New Zealand design stores and boutique fashion. If bungy jumping or tree-to-tree ziplining aren't your cup of tea, consider an Optional Experience to spectacular Milford Sound, travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Fiordland National Park. Experience magnificent scenery and many photo opportunities afforded by the Mirror Lakes, Knobs Flat, Hollyford Valley lookout (Pop’s view), Cleddau Valley and the Chasm, drive through the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel towards the iconic Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls before reaching Milford Sound for your cruise.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 8 - Queenstown – Franz Josef
AAT Kings coach alongside a South Island lake

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. As you amble down the beautiful tree-lined avenues, past the 19th century wooden buildings, you will feel like you have stepped into a movie set. 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. Our 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 Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Graham Wing) (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Franz Josef – Punakaiki
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 8, you will get another chance to fly up to the glaciers this morning or you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you 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 resource's 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. Then, continue to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Tonight, we stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront. Enjoy dinner while watching the thundering surf at your doorstep

Staying in:

  • Ocean View Retreat Punakaiki (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Punakaiki – Nelson
Nelson Inlet

Soak up the scenic wilderness of the Heritage Highway through the impressive Buller Gorge and the Kahurangi National Park before arriving in Nelson.

Staying in:

  • The Rutherford Hotel (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 11 - Nelson Free Time
Beach at Dusk in Nelson

On this day at leisure, you’ll have the opportunity to journey to the top of the South Island and enjoy a relaxing cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park, or perhaps take a short bush walk, relax in sunny Nelson or explore the many arts and craft shops. The choice is yours!

Staying in:

  • The Rutherford Hotel (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 12 - Nelson – Wellington
Interislander Cruise to Wellington

This morning, we travel to the pretty seaside fishing village of Picton where you will board the Interislander for a cruise across the Cook Strait, from the South Island to the North. Surprisingly it takes longer to cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound and up the Tory Channel than it does to cross the open ocean of Cook Strait. You will meander through a maze of arms and inlets out of Picton. Once in Wellington enjoy a City tour including viewing New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings. Tonight, is an evening at leisure, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Wellington’s inner city.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 13 - Wellington Free Time
The Beehive in Wellington, NZ Parliment Building

You have a day at leisure to see the sights of your choice. Perhaps take a tour of Parliament or one of the Lord of the Rings movie tours, or venture to Weta Workshop, the home of the special effects' wizards whose work features in many blockbuster movies. Enjoy the café lifestyle in our capital city or simply shop till you drop, there is something in Wellington for everyone! This evening enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Staying in:

  • Travelodge Wellington (1 night)
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14 - Farewell from Wellington
Wellington Cable Car

Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast.

Meals included: Breakfast
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AAT Kings 14 Day Southern Spirit 23/24

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This tour has 6 departure dates.
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Starts Status Twin/Double (2 people sharing) Single occupancy You save  
Oct 5, 2023
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,735
now NZD$6,376
was NZD$9,090
now NZD$8,731
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NZD$359
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Nov 30, 2023
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,735
now NZD$6,376
was NZD$9,090
now NZD$8,731
save
NZD$359
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Dec 14, 2023
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,735
now NZD$6,376
was NZD$9,090
now NZD$8,731
save
NZD$359
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Jan 4, 2024
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,735
now NZD$6,376
was NZD$9,090
now NZD$8,731
save
NZD$359
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Feb 1, 2024
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,925
now NZD$6,553
was NZD$9,345
now NZD$8,973
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NZD$372
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Mar 7, 2024
(Thursday)
was NZD$6,925
now NZD$6,553
was NZD$9,345
now NZD$8,973
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NZD$372
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