This tour is conducted at a medium-fast pace. Some long travel days may be required to complete this itinerary and you will typically spend two nights at each destination, with some one night stays required. This trip includes a mix of sightseeing and free time to explore at your own pace. You will be required to move about unassisted, including getting on and off vehicles, walking up and down stairs and some activities will be conducted on uneven or steep terrain. You will be required to handle your own luggage.
This tour is fully escorted by an expert English-speaking guide who will accompany you throughout the tour.
These tours are our proudest creations. They have been crafted for Inspiring Vacations travellers exclusively, with personal and unique experiences in mind. You will travel with between 10-26 other guests depending on your selected tour. Enjoy features such as hand-picked accommodation, a sampling of the region’s best culinary delights, and a range of optional activities to choose from to best suit your travel style.
✓ Travel with AAT Kings ✓ Quality accommodation ✓ Travel in luxury coach ✓ Experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide ✓ Airport Transfers (see flight information below)
Join our community to download the itinerary Join Now
Let Us Inspire You
Travelling with Inspiring Vacations allows you to explore the wonders of the world in a variety of different ways. We have partnered with a worldwide network of local travel experts to bring you culturally unique and delightfully unforgettable travel experiences. Whether it is meandering through narrow canyons by rail, cruising the idyllic waters of the Mediterranean or touring through the backroads of provincial towns, Inspiring Vacations trips offer amazing value and will leave you inspired.
Day 1 Christchurch
Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm and you will be transferred from the airport to your Christchurch hotel. After check-in, you can head out and explore Christchurch. Step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax as the Christchurch Tram 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 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.
This evening, meet your fellow travellers and your AAT Kings Travel Director at a welcome reception at your hotel.
Ibis Hotel Christchurch or Similar
Day 2 Christchurch Omarama
This morning you may wish to take a brief walk around the city centre and Cathedral Square before departure. See how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and 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! 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 view the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd and 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.
Heritage Gateway Hotel or Similar
Day 3 Omarama 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 ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway.
Scenic Hotel Dunedin City or Similar
Day 4 Dunedin Te Anau
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. 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 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.
This afternoon travel through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land. New Zealand is internationally known for its sheep farming, and these are sights many visitors to this country recognise as typically ‘New Zealand’.
You are sure to find the perfect sheep photo here! As your journey 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 Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Distinction Luxmore Hotel or Similar
Day 5 Te Anau 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.
Copthorne Hotel and Resort or Similar
Day 6 Queenstown
Explore exciting Queenstown your way! 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 or visit our native birds at Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park.
Your AAT Kings 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 98 Queenstown, join in a vintage sing-along or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.
Copthorne Hotel and Resort or Similar
Day 7 Queenstown 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. 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 – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or Similar
Day 8 Franz Josef Christchurch
If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 15, 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. From Hokitika, you will travel inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass. Here you will board the TranzAlpine train 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 AAT Kings Travel Director and Driver, and your new-found friends for a Farewell Dinner.
Ibis Hotel Christchurch or Similar
Day 9 Christchurch
Your AAT Kings New Zealand holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. Your flights can depart any time today, and you will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight.
Travel with AAT Kings
Travel in luxury coach
Experienced Travel Director and Driver Guide
Airport Transfers (see flight information below)
How to Book & Payments
Deposit & Payments
Please follow the 'book now' prompts to view the deposit amount
A second installment will be due 28 days after your initial deposit of 30% per person
You will then be invoiced for final payment 120 days prior to departure
'Sign Up' first by entering your email and creating a password
Then select the red 'Book now' tab of the tour you have selected
Select your Departure Date, Number of Passengers, Room Configuration, any Upgrade Options, and enter any Special Requests
Click the red ‘Proceed to Secure Checkout' tab
Enter your credit card or PayPal details to secure your deposit/payment. You may also pay via BPAY (not available within 70 days of departure)
Once your order is complete, you will be prompted to complete a Booking Form so that we can fulfil your booking
Your booking is on request and will be confirmed by Inspiring Vacations once all components of your package have been secured with our partners, please see below for further information
Booking On Request:
Your Inspiring Vacations package is made up of multiple components and travel partners. Once your booking is made and passenger details form submitted, we will begin to confirm all of your arrangements. Please note, this process can take several business days to complete.
Once all elements have been confirmed we will send you an email confirmation, if we are unable to confirm we will provide you with alternative dates or offer a full refund of your deposit or re-credit your account if a travel credit was used.
Please DO NOT book any additional services, such as flights, until we have confirmed your Inspiring Vacations package in writing. Inspiring Vacations will not be liable for any fees or charges incurred to change or cancel components not booked by Inspiring Vacations should your selected package be unavailable.
A message from the supplier:
The health and safety of our guests, our suppliers and our team members is our highest priority. Therefore, from 01 December 2021, AAT Kings in Australia and New Zealand will require all eligible travellers and customer facing team members, be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This requirement will apply to all AAT Kings Guided Holidays.
COVID-19 Due to COVID there maybe disruptions to standard operating schedules of particular components of this itinerary. Should a component be effected a substitute will be confirmed prior to departure.
Fitness Requirements While the tour itinerary should give you some guidance and overview to the expected requirements, to determine if this tour is right for you we categorise each of our tours in terms of their intensity. These guidelines are to ensure that each tour group is conducted as expected and to ensure the overall satisfaction of all Inspiring Vacations customers.
As a general rule, porterage is not included, therefore at all times you are expected to handle your own luggage where help may not be available.
Accommodation The accommodation listed is subject to change. Any changes will be of an equal or higher standard.
Single Supplement Please follow the 'book now' prompts and select 1 passenger to view the single supplement cost
Triple Share Not Available
Travel Insurance Travel insurance is required to protect yourself against the unexpected.
Tour Documentation Final documentation including, e-tickets and hotel details, will be provided approximately 30 days prior to travel.
Group Size Group size varies from package to package. Depending on the services provided, the group size might range from private 2 person experiences up to coaches of 50 people depending on your selected holiday.
Children Children must share a room with parents at all times and are charged the same price as adults.