AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders
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 Wonders

Explore the dramatic South Island on this 9 day tour. Crossing the Southern Alps to the Wild West Coast and Franz Josef Glacier. Travel through Mt Aspiring National Park to Queenstown, the Alpine Resort town is renowned for its exciting activities and spectacular scenery. Enjoy a cruise on Milford Sound before crossing the rolling hills of Southland towards Dunedin, 'the Edinburgh of the South'. Through the Waitaki region and onto Mt Cook National Park and the magical high country of Mackenzie before returning to the garden city of Christchurch.
 

Tour summary and feature

Escorted coach tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,875 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 25 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

At a glance - AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders

Day 1: Arrive into Christchurch. Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

Day 2: Travel the spectacular Arthur's Pass via Tranz Alpine train before heading down the West Coast to arrive in Franz Josef Glacier. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (or similar)

Day 3: Take the Haast Pass road to see Lakes Hawea and Wanaka before ending your drive in Queenstown. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

Day 4: Experience the delights of this pristine alpine town on your free day. Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront (or similar)

Day 5: Leaving Queenstown, drive to the lakeside town of Te Anau then begin an awe-inspiring journey to Milford Sound. Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore Hotel (or similar)

Day 6: From Te Anau head South through rolling farmland to reach the rugged hills of Dunedin. Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (or similar)

Day 7: See the best of Dunedin then pass through Oamaru and the Mackenzie Basin to Omarama. Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel (or similar)

Day 8: See turquoise lakes Pukaki and Tekapo then cross the Canterbury plains to Christchurch. Accommodation: Hotel Ibis (or similar)

Day 9: Departs Christchurch today.

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 9 day tour starting in Christchurch

Day 1 - Arrive into Christchurch

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 1
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 - Travel the spectacular Arthur's Pass via Tranz Alpine train before heading down the West Coast to arrive in Franz Josef Glacier

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 2
Christchurch to Arthurs Pass by Tranz Alpine train then to Franz Josef

First up this morning you’ll board the Tranz Alpine Scenic Train, one of the top 6 train journeys in the world. This spectacular journey takes you across the Canterbury Plains and through the Southern Alps to Arthur’s Pass as it forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. Later, visit Hokitika, home of the native greenstone (jade) for a factory visit and jewellery demonstration. 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 3 - Take the Haast Pass road to see Lakes Hawea and Wanaka before ending your drive in Queenstown

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 3
Franz Josef to Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown

This morning, you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you will head out of Franz following an ancient greenstone trail. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers. Travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast to the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes. From here you will travel further into Central Otago and view Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows, followed by the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Hawea you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan. Stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. Later, 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. Then it’s on to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand!

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 4 - Experience the delights of this pristine alpine town on your free day

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 4
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 5 - Leaving Queenstown, drive to the lakeside town of Te Anau then begin an awe-inspiring journey to Milford Sound

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

From the beautiful sights of Queenstown, you will travel out to the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where 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. 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 these plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. After leaving Milford Sound, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Te Anau on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. 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 6 - From Te Anau head South through rolling farmland to reach the rugged hills of Dunedin

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 6
Te Anau to Dunedin and an afternoon to explore

You may want to take an early morning walk along the shoreline of the South Island's biggest lake, before you depart the township of Te Anau this morning. The heavily forested, rugged mountains of Fiordland National Park turn into rolling, grassy hills as you meander your way down to the city of Dunedin. Dunedin, also known as the Edinburgh of the South, 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. 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, 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 7 - See the best of Dunedin then pass through Oamaru and the Mackenzie Basin to Omarama

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 7
Dunedin to Oamaru and Omarama

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 own expense). Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university, Otago University. From Dunedin you will then travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and its famous white limestone buildings. Then you will journey along the Waitaki River, for a photo stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. The Waitaki River marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power.  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 8 - See turquoise lakes Pukaki and Tekapo then cross the Canterbury plains to Christchurch

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 8
Omarama to Lake Tekapo to Christchurch

You may want to take in Mount Cook National Park from the air this morning, 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). 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. This afternoon head through the South Canterbury country towns of Fairlie and Geraldine and out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.  Enjoy a city sights tour and see how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Pop into the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square, the temporary home of the ChristChurch Cathedral. It is the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard! Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Christchurch’s inner city.

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 - Departs Christchurch today

AAT Kings 9 Day Southern Wonders - Day 9
Farewell from Christchurch

Explore Christchurch at your leisure today and if required a transfer will deliver you to Christchurch airport for your onward journey.

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