AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Spotlight
Escorted coach tour from Christchurch to Christchurch
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
AAT Kings

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.

Tour summary and feature

Escorted coach tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,900 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

9 days/8 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 29 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

At a glance - AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Spotlight

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch. Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

Day 2: Christchurch to Mt. Cook to Omarama. Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel (or similar)

Day 3: Omarama to Dunedin. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (or similar)

Day 4: Dunedin to Te Anau. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)

Day 5: Te Anau to Milford Sound and Queenstown. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

Day 6: Queenstown free day. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

Day 7: Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (or similar)

Day 8: Franz Josef to Christchurch. Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

Day 9: Depart Christchurch today.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 9 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 1
AAT Kings 9 day Southern Spotlight

The city of Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier and you take the world famous Tranz Alpine 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.

AAT Kings transfer to accommodation

On arrival into Christchurch from an international flight, you will be transferred to your tour hotel.

Welcome dinner

This evening, meet your fellow passengers and your Travel Director at a Welcome Reception at your hotel.

Your accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

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.

Day 2 - Christchurch to Mt. Cook to Omarama

AAT Kings 9 Day 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.

Your accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 - Omarama to Dunedin

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

Your day starts along the Waitaki River, and a photo stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. 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. 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, or a visit the Speights Brewery - a New Zealand institution. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4 - Dunedin to Te Anau

AAT Kings 9 Day 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.

Your accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)

The perfect base for all your Fiordland travel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable accommodation right in the heart of Te Anau.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Te Anau to Milford Sound and Queenstown

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

Today is a feast for the senses. You’ll be awe-struck by great sights from Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest, to Milford Sound, where you’ll cruise on the waters of this natural wonder. Amazing photo opportunities await you as you see rainforests, ancient glaciers, mountain ranges and the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel. Along the way you’ll see the Mirror Lake, Pop’s Lookout, Cleddau Valley, the Chasm, Mitre Peak, and Bowen Falls; travel along the Devil’s Staircase and the shores of Lake Wakatipu. An orientation tour, on arrival in Queenstown, skirting around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, takes you into the city centre. Tonight you may want to take a gondola up Bob’s Peak, and dine at the Skyline Restaurant, Stratosfare, (optional – at own expense) overlooking Queenstown – the ultimate way to end a highlight day!

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6 - Queenstown free day

AAT Kings 9 Day 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.

Your accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner

Day 7 - Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier

AAT Kings 9 Day 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.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 - Franz Josef to Christchurch

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 8
Franz Josef to Arthurs Pass then the Tranz Alpine 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.

Your accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

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.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9 - Depart Christchurch today

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Spotlight - Day 9
Christchurch final day and transfer to airport

Your tour arrangements conclude after breakfast today. A transfer will 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 to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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