Lake Tekapo is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps.
Group Stargazing Tour in the Southern Hemisphere Stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere: Starting your tour at Lake Tekapo’s lonely church at midnight, set out for Mount John Observatory, a few minutes away, listening to local tales. After a welcome orientation by your astrologist guides, soak in this unique experience amid the Gold Status Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Learning about myths and legends surrounding celestial objects across global cultures, marvel at the spectacular night skies. Notice the Southern Cross, the haze of Milky Way, and Southern Hemisphere’s unique Magellanic Clouds. Get a closer look at distant galaxies and their features, thanks to powerful astro-binoculars, and telescopes. Sipping on hot chocolate, watch the moonrise cast shadows of the dramatic landscape, and silhouettes of the Southern Alps around. Alternately, considering bad weather, enjoy virtual reality and high-resolution images of celestial wonders on a projection screen at the Astro Café indoors. Later, relax on floating hammocks in the hot pools under the stars to a background of ambient space music, before returning to town. (Time of Day: 2030/2330/0000 hrs depending on the season; Duration: 2 hrs; Shared Activity; Fitness level: Easy; Please note in case of bad weather, the tour will be moved to the cafe indoors).
Explore Tekapo and Mount Cook on Your Own Explore the magical lake Tekapo located in New Zealand’s South Island, one of the three lakes of the Mackenzie Basin. Depending on the season, you could choose from a variety of activities. Take a canoe out to the middle of the lake, go yachting or fishing in summer. Enjoy the ambiance of a winter wonderland when it snows, as you ski down the slopes of Roundhill Ski Resort or Mount Dobson. Alternately, sign up for adventure sports and later, head over to Tekapo Springs to relax in the hot pools. A little distance away lies the picturesque Mount Cook Village with the UNESCO-listed Aoraki, New Zealand’s highest peak located in the heart of Mount Cook National Park. Discover the beauty of the surroundings at your own pace by following the trails on foot or booking yourself a helicopter tour. End the day by stargazing at the nearby Mount John University of Canterbury Observatory. (Full Day; Self-explore Activity; No Guide; No Transfers; Fitness Level: Easy; Some activities like skiing are seasonal and won’t be available throughout the year; Please bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and sunglasses.)
Oamaru boasts the country’s oldest public gardens, renowned Victorian architecture and two penguin colonies. Oamaru, the largest town of the Waitaki District, has a rich history and proud heritage, enriched by the passionate and perhaps quirky locals.
Visit Blue Penguin Colony (Tickets Only) Don’t pass up the chance to meet the planet’s tiniest penguins on your Oamaru vacation. Plan a day out at your own pace at the Blue Penguin Colony, which is tucked among the rocky cliffs of the seaside town’s old harbor area. Head out to Oamaru’s historic waterfront after a leisurely breakfast and make your way to the popular Blue Penguin Colony. You’ll be sure to spot them during the breeding season, hatching eggs, raising their chicks or molting. Young families, in particular, will love the new children’s play area, where children can learn and discover the secret world of these unique penguin species. Enter a specially-designed viewing room with nesting boxes where you can watch them go about their daily routines, without disturbing the precious colony. Guides at the research and monitoring center are always ready to enlighten you with information. (Duration: 2 hrs; Time of Day: Morning; Self-explore Activity; No Guide; No Transfers; Entry Ticket included; Fitness level: Easy; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
Explore Oamaru and Moeraki Boulders on Your Own Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the North Otago Coast as you explore its famous attractions at your own pace. Head to historic Oamaru, the largest town of Waitaki district, known for its rich Victorian heritage. Stroll around the country’s oldest public gardens before you make your way to the town’s Victorian Precinct. Pop into the charming shops and galleries as you soak in the beauty of 19th century architecture. Stop by Whitestone City for an interactive experience of what the town was like during colonial times. You could enjoy lunch at your pick of fine restaurants and breweries in the area. Afterward, choose to head over to the penguin colony at the harbor nearby before driving down the scenic route to the famous Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach. Walk around these mysteriously spherical stones that lie scattered across the beach. Capture splendid images of the gorgeous landscape before you wind up your day and turn back. (Duration: Full Day; Self-explore Activity; No Guide; No Transfers; Entrance Fees & Meals are not included)
Dunedin, also known as the ‘Edinburgh of New Zealand’, is a charming city in Otago Harbor on the idyllic South Island.
Group Tour of Otago Peninsula Explore the rich natural and cultural history all around Dunedin on this exciting trip. Discover the volcanic Otago Peninsula that stands on the easternmost corner of town, leading down to the valley and Otago Harbour. Home to a great many flocks of water birds and waders, this unique hilly and oceanside landscape is perfect for bird sightings. Take photographs if you wish, before taking a wildlife cruise. Have fun spotting sea lions, fur seals, Little Blue Penguins and the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross on our planet. Visit the Larnach Castle, which stands on top of the peninsula. Built in the late 19th century, this is the country’s only castle and has recently been recognized as a national heritage building. Admire the spectacular views from the castle top, taking in the elegant architectural details, the sprawling grounds and gardens, as well as its fascinating history. Return to your hotel after sailing down the Otago Harbour on a leisurely cruise in the warm winter sun. (Time of the day: 1030 or 1130 hrs, depending on the season; Duration: 5 hrs; Shared Activity; Fitness level: Moderate; Please wear comfortable walking shoes).
Known as the gateway to Fiordland National Park, the picture perfect town of Te Anau is located amid spectacular glaciers, endangered birdlife, limestone cave, beech forests, and majestic mountains all within easy reach.
Group Day Cruise to Fiordland National Park and Overland Tour Set off from Te Anau and travel along the lake to your cruise. Keep your camera handy to capture the special moments along the Milford Road. Enjoy the spectacular views while you traverse the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. Pass under the mountains through the Homer Tunnel, a long passageway created through solid rock. Hop onboard the cruise at Milford Sound, which will take you down the length of the ford and into the Tasman sea. Over the course of the next two hours, listen to your captain’s animated and informative commentary as you travel; you will sail past rock walls scarred by glaciers, gorgeous waterfalls, and the majestic Mitre Peak towering at a height of 1,692 meters. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, savor a mouthwatering buffet lunch aboard the cruise. Finally, it’s time to get off the boat and drive back to Te Anau or Queenstown. (Duration: 6 hrs; Time of day: 1045/1245/1445 hrs; Shared Activity; Self-drive).
Queenstown is where adventure seekers head out to for a shot of adrenalin! The region’s dramatic landscape is wrapped around the scenic lakes, velvety mountains and valleys of the Southern Alps.
Group Tour: Dart River Jet Safari Your tour begins at the boarding point on the Dart River, where you can hop onto a uniquely designed jet boat to explore the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, just outside of Queenstown. Zoom past magnificent natural formations on the braided, turquoise blue, glacier-fed river systems, while soaking in the spectacular scenery around. Listening to stories of Māori expeditions, and your guide performing exciting river spins, head into the picturesque Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Disembarking shortly after, take a walk inside ancient beech tree forests on the heritage Greenstone Trail, and learn about the myriad native flora and fauna. Later, board a 4×4 coach to explore the scenic backcountry, especially several Middle Earth locations including the Paradise Valley campervan site, used as a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Finally, en route Glenorchy, enjoy beautiful vistas of snow-capped mountains and native forests along the banks of Lake Wakatipu. Drive past horse stables, cattle stations, and pristine homesteads, before dispersing. (Duration: Full Day; Time: 0800/ 1200/1230 hrs; Shared Activity; Fitness level: Moderate; Please bring sunscreen, and a warm layer of clothing, and wear comfortable shoes.)
Surrounded by dense rainforests, secret waterfalls, suspension bridges, and tartare tunnels with glow worms, Franz Josef is a treasure trove of natural wonders, making it an ideal base to enjoy numerous outdoor activities.
Group Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk Begin your walk on the one-way Bailey bridge, and set out into the lush Westland Tai Poutini National Park that protects the famous Franz Josef glacier. During this leisurely experience, hop across streams, traverse rocky river beds of the Waiho River, and soak in the rainforest surrounds to a background of birdsong. Take short breaks to admire native flora and fauna, and a few gushing waterfalls along the way. You can also catch glimpses of the glacier, and a few peaks of the Southern Alps in the distance. Heading up the valley, see other dramatic natural formations such as schist boulders, the Split-Apple rock, and the Champness rock, while your guide shares local Maori folklore, as well as facts about glaciology and the region’s natural history. Upon reaching the viewpoint, sip on hot drinks and gaze into the terminal face of the Franz Josef glacier, glistening against the lofty rock walls. Back at Franz Josef town, relax in the glacier hot pools. (Duration: 3 hrs; Time: 1015 or 1415 hrs; Shared Activity; Includes hiking gear and entry to glacier hot pools; Please note this tour does not take you onto the glacier).
The stretch of land comprising Greymouth, Punakaiki, and Westport, situated along the West Coast of South Island, is a treasure trove of natural resources.
Explore Pancake Rocks on Your Own Head out at your own pace to the scenic town of Punakaiki on this fascinating exploration of the famous Pancake Rocks. Make your way to Dolomite Point on the outskirts of town where you can see a cluster of naturally stacked limestone rocks that resemble pancakes! Stroll down the walkway to enjoy splendid views of these geological formations that are believed to have been formed 30 million years ago. Capture stunning images of seawater spurting out of several vertical blowholes at high tide before you wind up your walk. You could also head to nearby Truman Track that takes you through the subtropical forest to a vantage viewpoint over a scenic beach. After exploring to your heart’s content, you could browse the charming stores in town or enjoy refreshments at a local café before heading back to your hotel. (Duration: Full Day; Self-explore Activity; No Guide; No Transfers; Entrance Fees & Meals are not included)
A paradise for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, Nelson is blessed with breathtaking wooded hills, rocky headlands, and golden beaches.
Group Cruise to Abel Tasman and Tonga Island Enjoy a wonderful day cruising along the gorgeous Abel Tasman National Park. Get ready for an activity filled excursion of kayaking, swimming and bush walks, with a visit to the lovely Tonga Island Marine Reserve. After breakfast at your hotel, take an exclusive boat cruise to this beautiful nature reserve on the South Island. Spot penguin and seal colonies, schools of dolphins prancing in the crystal clear turquoise waters, and other marine life at Tonga Island, not to forget the spectacular beaches around the region. Relish an elegant luncheon spread aboard the exclusive cruise ship, washed down with refreshing local beer and some of New Zealand’s best wine. Enjoy kayaking and swimming, or trekking along the coast if you fancy a bit of adventure. (Duration: 6 hrs; Time of Day: 1000 hrs; Shared Activity; Meals included: Lunch, snacks and refreshments, including beer & wine; Fitness level: Moderate; Please share any food allergies in advance).
Sitting on a dramatic peninsula, Kaikōura boasts a superb location between the snow capped Kaikōura mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Get up close to whales, fur seals, and dolphins in the coastal waters, or enjoy birdwatching tours and sheep shearing shows.
Group Tour: Dolphins Spotting in Kaikoura Set sail into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Kaikoura to watch dolphins in their natural habitat. These friendly mammals can be found in the coastal waters of Kaikoura all year round. Settle down in a comfortable spot on the boat that has been designed to ensure optimum viewing conditions. Watch the friendly dolphins indulge in acrobatics antics as they jump out of the water. Keep your camera ready to capture some stunning images of these beautiful marine animals in all their glory from vantage points on the boat. Listen to your tour guide explain how it is possible to interact with the amiable water creatures through a unique language that is a combination of singing and dolphin-like noises. (Duration: 3.5 hrs; Time of Day: 0530/0830/1230 hrs (Nov 1-Jan 31), 0530/0900/1230 hrs (Mar 1–Apr 30), 0800/1230 hrs (May 1-Oct 31); Shared Activity; Fitness Level: Easy. Please note that tours are dependent on weather conditions and times vary with season.)
The quaint harborside town of Akaroa sits tucked into the heart of an ancient volcano. With its Gallic vibe, this charming town continues to hold on to its roots as the country’s first French settlement.
Drive yourself from Akaroa to Christchurch in your rental car (Duration: 2 hrs)
Drop off your rental car at Christchurch airport
Price & Inclusions
Option 1 From $ 4,390 /person
Option 2 From $ 5,390 /person
Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.
Accommodation in one double room for 17 days / 16 nights.
Meals as indicated
All activities as listed :
Tekapo: Group Stargazing Tour in the Southern Hemisphere
Tekapo: Explore Tekapo and Mount Cook on Your Own
Oamaru: Visit Blue Penguin Colony (Tickets Only)
Oamaru: Explore Oamaru and Moeraki Boulders on Your Own
Dunedin: Group Tour of Otago Peninsula
Te Anau: Group Day Cruise to Fiordland National Park and Overland Tour
Queenstown: Group Tour: Dart River Jet Safari
Franz Josef: Group Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
Punakaiki: Explore Pancake Rocks on Your Own
Nelson: Group Cruise to Abel Tasman and Tonga Island
Kaikoura: Group Tour: Dolphins Spotting in Kaikoura
Self-driven car during your journey as follows:
Vehicle Type: Compact Car for max. 4 guests: Toyota Corolla Hatch or similar (Automatic)
Pick-up: Christchurch City
Drop-off: Christchurch Airport
GPS navigation system (GPS units on continuous/ multi-island hire must be kept until the final return of the car)
One additional driver, if spouse/partner
Towing charges in the event of mechanical failure
For your rental car we book the best cover possible with the following services:
Standard Motor Vehicle Damage Waiver
Additionally, our preferred partner offers the following:
One way hire, in case car is hired for a minimum of 7 days
The general business terms apply
All airport and hotel transfers as indicated above
Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact, supporting you during your trip
On request: A printed set of your travel documents by post
Fees and taxes
Among other expenses, the following additional costs are not included for rental cars (to be made directly at the car rental shop with a credit card from a recognisable bank institution):
One-way fee of 57.50 NZD for hires less than 7 days
Minimum 100 NZD pre-authorization
Late ferry fee of 57.50 NZD for vehicle collection at ferry locations after 18:30 hrs
Smoke free policy: based on Avis 100% smoke-free policy a cleaning fee of 287.50 NZD applies, if the vehicle is returned and it smells of smoke.
Road user charges
Charges for late return of the vehicle
Charges for damage to or repair of the vehicle
Traffic and/or parking offence infringement fees
Special request delivery fees
Additional driver (included, if additional driver is spouse/partner)
14.95 NZD per baby seat per day or 74.75 NZD per month (baby seat to be provided at the time of booking)
14.38 NZD per ski/snowboard rack per day or 184 NZD per month
14.38 NZD per bike rack per day or 138 NZD per month
Optional: 6,90 NZD for roadside assistance per day (up to 10 NZD fuel delivery, key replacement in case of loss, flat tyre assistance, tyre replacement, flat battery assistance)
Optional: 11.50 NZD for roadside assistance PLUS per day (up to 10 NZD fuel delivery, key replacement in case of loss, flat tyre assistance, tyre replacement, flat battery, windscreen replacement free of charge)
Towing in case of an accident
Damage excess reduction
Restrictions to South and North Island roads apply. Rental cars are not permitted to drive on dangerous roads, e.g. Skippers Rd./ Ninety Mile Beach/ general unformed roads.
Rental cars cannot be taken from one island across to the other on Cook Strait Ferry Services. Failure to comply will result in a relocation fee of minimum 747.50 NZD.
Fuel (Please drop off the car with full tank. In case fuel needs to be added, the car rental company will charge you the amount for it)
Rental car trips do not include any entry fees or expenses for national parks or game reserves.
Tips, additional meals and personal expenses
Entrance fees, unless otherwise stated in the activity descriptions
Travel, health and cancellation insurance
International airfare (from your home country to your destination and return), unless specified under the trip inclusions above