Southern East Coast
Christchurch to Queenstown
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

Southern East Coast

Arrive into Christchurch, and spend the afternoon exploring the bustling city, or opt for a City Tour. On day two, you are transported to the quaint town of Oamaru, where you'll spend the afternoon exploring the charming Victorian culture and unique architecture before your evening experience at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, where you'll see the smallest penguins in the world. Next, you'll make your way to the city of Dunedin, also known for it's architecture and wildlife, and where you will join an ATV Wildlife Tour and hopefully encounter Spotted Shags, New Zealand Fur Seals, more little blue penguins, and possibly even the rare yellow-eyed Hoiho penguin. A second day in Dunedin sees you off on another wildlife pursuit, this time from the sea on a wildlife cruise out of the Otago Harbour, to Taiaroa Head, spotting majestic Albatross and stunning scenery. The following day, you'll arrive in adventure-capital Queenstown via a private transfer, where you'll have the afternoon to explore before heading up the scenic Skyline Gondola for a final dinner. The next morning, your journey comes to an end, with a private transfer to Queenstown Airport.

Tour special blurb

**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

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Tour summary and feature
Quick Itinerary Details

Independent tour (bus & coach)

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,955 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Queenstown

6 days/5 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 224 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

- Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation
- Private Transfer Queenstown Accommodation to Airport (LSQ)
4 breakfasts, 1 special dinner
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
Accommodation: Heritage Christchurch

Day 2: Oamaru Wildlife and Victorian Culture
Accommodation: The Old Confectionery Boutique Apartments

Day 3: Dunedin Discoveries
Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 4: Dunedin, City to Sea
Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 5: Dunedin to Queenstown and Skyline Dinner
Accommodation: Heritage Queenstown

Day 6: Haere rā – Depart from Queenstown

Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Southern East Coast - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch International Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore the city or easy way to see the sights or ride the historic trams across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral, that's right it is built of cardboard!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Discover Christchurch Afternoon Tour

A half day sightseeing tour of Christchurch highlighting both the damage to the city inflicted by several large earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the r...

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A half day sightseeing tour of Christchurch highlighting both the damage to the city inflicted by several large earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 and the rebuild which is currently in progress, together with the surviving beauty of the city and the historical landmarks. Experience the grand architecture, beautiful gardens and scenic viewpoints on a half-day city tour of Christchurch.
The tour commences in the central city of Christchurch and covers the area which was completely devastated by the Christchurch earthquakes in February 2011. The guide will explain both the history of the city and the effects of the earthquake. On leaving the inner city, the tour travels to Mona Vale a historic homestead and gardens. Then you will travel to the Sign of the Takahe, a historic building with a lookout providing spectacular views over the city, Canterbury Plains and to the Southern Alps. The tour then travels via the Port Hills and Lyttleton Harbour by way of the Sign of the Kiwi and Governors Bay to the Port of Lyttleton. The tour proceeds through the Lyttleton harbour tunnel to the seaside suburb of Sumner and cave rock before returning to the central city where the tour will conclude.

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Your accommodation: Heritage Christchurch

The Heritage Christchurch Hotel offers contemporary accommodation in the lovingly and safely restored Old Government Building. It is sited in a great location on Cathedral Square.
Southern East Coast - Day 2
Christchurch to Oamaru by Intercity Coach

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. Pass through the town of Timaru before arriving into Oamaru, most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony Premium Evening Viewing

Oamaru's Blue Penguins nest close to town under the cliffs along the Historic Harbour foreshore. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is just beyond the Victorian Heritage Precinct and you are within walking distance of the town centre, close to shops, restaurants and accommodation.
When penguins are on shore and have chosen to nest in the Blue Wing it is possible to see them within a couple of feet of you. At the appropriate times of the year you may see them incubating eggs or guarding the tiny chicks. You can watch the chicks as they wait for their daily meal to return with their parents.
You will be seated 2-3 metres from where the blue penguins arrive and cross into the colony. And be treated to an informative commentary by a trained guide. This Viewing is 1 and a half hours and includes the opportunity to enter the breeding colony on a boardwalk and walk among the blue penguin nesting burrows.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ NZ’s premier Steampunk experience is a museum and workshop situated in the historic Victorian precinct of Oamaru. It is crazy, quir...

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Steampunk HQ NZ’s premier Steampunk experience is a museum and workshop situated in the historic Victorian precinct of Oamaru. It is crazy, quirky and unique; unlike any other visitor attraction in this universe!
Outside of the imposing free-standing Oamaru stone building, "steampunk" engine SP001 greets visitors by belching flames, smoke and eyrie sounds; whilst inside, a museum of two large darkened rooms and a basement presents a theme of a dark post-apocalyptic vision of a future "as it might have been". You can find out more about Steampunk HQ including opening hours and pricing here.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whitestone Cheese Factory Guided Tour with Wine Pairing - suggested activity

Tours give guests a behind the scenes look at Whitestone's cheese making process, all the way from make to taste.  You will get to experienc...

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Tours give guests a behind the scenes look at Whitestone's cheese making process, all the way from make to taste.  You will get to experience a cheese tasting with wine pairing, informative talk and guided tour of our factory through the viewing galleries, plus walk away with a goody bag sample.

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Your accommodation: The Old Confectionery Boutique Apartments

Enjoy being centrally located in the heart of Oamaru with all attractions within walking distance, including the best restaurants and bars. The building was built in 1879 and has undergone a number of transformations during its lifetime. It provides comfortable and boutique accommodation, located 300 metres from the waterfront and historic precinct of Oamaru. 
Meals included: Breakfast
Southern East Coast - Day 3
Oamaru to Dunedin by InterCity Coach

The drive from Oamaru to Dunedin takes you along the Otago Coastline and some of the earliest inhabited places in New Zealand. Arriving into Dunedin you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon and city centre. A not to be missed building is the railway station, recently listed as one of the worlds top 100 building to see.

Argo ATV Wildlife Tour

The Otago Peninsula headland is arguably the most precious wildlife habitat in New Zealand and the farm owned by the Reid family is right on the forefront of this headland. Here, amidst truly spectacular scenery, the world's rarest penguins, Hoiho the yellow-eyed, the little blue penguins, the New Zealand fur seals and the Stewart Island Shags all live in harmony. Your tour begins at the reception area, 1 kilometre from the Natures Wonders entrance. Here your fully trained local guide explains safety procedures, then its off in the Argo for an exhilarating experience! First stop is the mythical "Maori's Footprint" location which offers panoramic views over the Otago Peninsula. During the nesting season you'll stop at a breeding colony of Cormorants (Spotted Shags) nestled on a rugged cliff face rising from the crashing Pacific Ocean waves below. Continuing on you arrive at a hide for a very close encounter with a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and their pups, who enjoy nothing more than basking on the rocks and swimming in the pools in front of you. From here a beach-front ride takes you to a covered track leading down to a purpose-built hide on Penguin Beach to view little blue penguins in their nests (in season) and spot the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin in their nest or on the beach. Your guide will provide interesting and informative commentary throughout the tour. You then return to the highest point on the farm, 201 metres above sea level from where you have spectacular 360 degree views of this beautiful peninsula.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour and Dinner

Speights Brewery was founded in 1876 and still occupies its original Dunedin site, with several of its buildings dating back to the late -1800's. Spei...

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Speights Brewery was founded in 1876 and still occupies its original Dunedin site, with several of its buildings dating back to the late -1800's. Speights has proudly kept its rich heritage and it is one of the last remaining 'gravity breweries' still operating in the world.
Take a 60 minute tour of this historic site which also includes a tasting session of six Speights beers. After the tour, sit down to a 2 course dinner at the Alehouse and enjoy the hearty fare of the south.

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Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.
Southern East Coast - Day 4
Wildlife Cruise with Monarch

Travel along the wonderful Otago Peninsula roads with local guide and enjoy an interactive commentary as you go. Hear stories of sea creatures and early settlers as you pass quaint little townships and rolling farmland. The boat will cruise out of the Otago Harbour, to Taiaroa Head. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the world’s only mainland nesting place of royal albatross. Watch as these huge birds glide in from the ocean and soar high above their hillside nest sites. Continuing back down the Otago Harbour, you’ll go past Careys Bay, a historic fishing village and then see the busy wharves of Port Chalmers. The boat will cruise through the Quarantine Islands and past the stunning bays, hills, farmland and forests that surround the harbour. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dunedin Botanic Gardens

The Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand's first botanic garden and is also a Garden of International Significance. It is home to more than 6,800 pla...

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The Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand's first botanic garden and is also a Garden of International Significance. It is home to more than 6,800 plant species and is spread across both rolling hills and flatlands. Wild native bellbirds, wood pigeons and tui can be heard on most days. The garden occupies 30.4 hectares in North Dunedin.  Its varying range of floriculture and horticultural includes roses, herbaceous and perennial borders, a rock garden, New Zealand native plants and four hectares of Rhododendron Dell. It also houses a New Zealand Native plant collection including cultivation of rare and endangered native plant species.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dunedin's museums - suggested activity

Otago MuseumDiscover rare objects, special exhibitions and a live butterfly rainforest experience at the Otago Museum. Through the galleries, you'll d...

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Otago Museum
Discover rare objects, special exhibitions and a live butterfly rainforest experience at the Otago Museum. Through the galleries, you'll discover the unique culture, heritage and wildlife of the Otago region. Highlights include the Tangata Whenua gallery which tells the story of the Southern Maori life and mythology. The Discovery World Tropical Forest is fun for young and old, you'll enter a rainforest filled with hundreds of beautiful butterflies. The special exhibitions are always fascinating and when you're ready for a break there's a great cafe to relax at. The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily, except Christmas Day.
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
Encounter history at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Learn about the people whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion, and transport shaped New Zealand's First Great City, Dunedin. In the galleries you can trace the fascinating journeys from the earliest settlers, Kai Tahu and their ancestors, to the most recent arrivals. The themed galleries weave the stories of past and present with future thinking, featuring interactive displays with stunning visuals and powerful narratives. Admission is free and the museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 4pm April to September, 10am to 5pm October to March and Thursdays until 8pm.

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Your accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Distinction Dunedin Hotel occupies the grand Chief Post Office built in the 1930’s. This art deco inspired building has recently been transformed into a 4 star hotel with elegant décor, set in the heart of the city.
Meals included: Breakfast
Southern East Coast - Day 5
Dunedin to Queenstown by InterCity Coach

Your coach trip today takes you through the Otago Goldfields of yesteryear. The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra were once booming gold rush towns, with populations many times more than their current small town image would imply. Alexandra and Roxburgh in more recent times have become well known for the delicious stone fruit that is grown here. 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. The Kawarau River carves a steep and rugged gorge through to Gibbston where some of the finest Pinot Noirs can be sampled. It's also the home of the world's first commercial bungy jumping operation at the historic Kawarau Suspension Bridge and a great viewing platform. Continuing through Lake Hayes you soon arrive into the bustling alpine adventure town of Queenstown.

Gondola and Buffet Dinner with Skyline Queenstown

With breathtaking views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the Skyline Complex is a must-do. Catch the fully enclosed gondola to the summit for a remarkable panorama of the city surrounds. Wander the outdoor viewing decks then enjoy a gourmet buffet meal in the Stratosphere Restaurant.

Your accommodation: Heritage Queenstown

At the Heritage Hotel Queenstown, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a postcard. Soak in the amazing view of the towering Remarkables mountain range rising from Lake Wakatipu from the comfort of the hotel. Crafted from centuries-old schist stone and cedar, this sophisticated Queenstown hotel is the perfect base to explore the adventure capital.
Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner
Southern East Coast - Day 6
Private Transfer Queenstown Accommodation to Airport (LSQ)

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Queenstown airport to meet your flight.

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Southern East Coast

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