With never more than 16 guests and the finest native-born guides, our original journey showcases the captivating landscapes and fine local wines and produce of the magnificent South Island. Delight in thrilling adventures by land and water, including an overnight cruise deep into Milford Sound, and retreat to our terrific boutique hotels.

Our prices start from

$ 5,999 LAND ONLY

10 Days • GUIDED • 18Meals

Operated Tour

The Details

  • 9 nights accommodation
  • Including boutique hotels and a private outside cabin aboard the Milford Mariner
  • Services of a trip leader
  • All on-tour transportation and related fees
  • All gratuities are included, except for your trip leader
  • Airport transfers (Restrictions apply)
  • 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners

Itinerary

Engaging Experiences These special places and experiences are considered tour highlights. Look for them in the daily itineraries.

Day 1 - Enjoy Your Free Extra Night In Queenstown

Hotel St. Moritz

Our guests arrive today and will be met at the airport and chauffeured to our hotel to enjoy their complimentary pre-tour overnight.

Day 2 - Enjoy Your Extra Day In Queenstown

Hotel St. Moritz

Breakfast, Dinner Included

Our guests have this entire day to do as they wish. Enjoy some independent exploration or take advantage of the idyllic Alpine setting of our luxury boutique hotel overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Our other guests will be arriving today. This evening, you'll all gather for a welcome drink and dinner.

Day 3 - Discover Middle Earth

Hotel St. Moritz

Breakfast, Lunch Included

This morning's excursion to Glenorchy finds you on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu in a region of towering mountain ranges and old beech forests. Setting out in comfortable and maneuverable 4WD vehicles with skilled professional drivers, you'll have ample time to take in these magnificent landscapes, including several sites that were featured in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Back in town, the Skyline Gondola will take you to the top of Bob's Peak, nearly 1,500 feet above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. This is the steepest cable car ascent in the Southern Hemisphere and offers breathtaking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peaks and, of course, Queenstown. After lunch on the Peak, a thrilling jetboat ride through the picturesque canyons of the Shotover River promises an unforgettable afternoon adventure.

Day 4 - In + Around Queenstown

Your cruise across Lake Wakatipu ends at a working high-country homestead where you'll see highly trained sheep dogs in action and enjoy a delightful lakeside dinner with fine New Zealand wine.

Hotel St. Moritz

Breakfast, Dinner Included

After breakfast, you'll spend this day exploring Queenstown and its surrounding countryside. At the Kiwi Bird Park this morning, you'll have a chance to observe and learn about some of New Zealand's indigenous wildlife including the Brown Kiwi, Tuatara Lizard, and the colorfully plumed Rainbow Lorikeet. Next up is historic Arrowtown. Founded in the heady days of the Gold Rush, this charming leafy town is nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. Take some time to stroll along Buckingham Street with its heritage buildings and old miners' cottages – many of them now home to inviting galleries, shops and cafes. Later this afternoon, you'll board the TSS Earnslaw, a turn-of-the-century steamer, for a cruise across beautiful Lake Wakatipu.

Day 5 - Cruising Milford Sound

Our expedition ship offers kayaks and a tender; anchoring in a sheltered cove, you'll be able to join our knowledgeable naturalists for a wonderfully intimate experience of Milford Sound's astounding natural beauty.

Milford Mariner (expedition ship)

Breakfast, Dinner Included

This morning's drive begins along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and takes you through the amazing Homer Tunnel that opened in 1953. Continue through the spectacular glacier-carved Eglington Valley into Fiordland National Park to embark your overnight cruise. As you journey the full length of Milford Sound, our ship's naturalists are on hand to explain the history and geology of the region and to answer your questions. You'll have plenty of time to take in the fjord's pristine waterfalls, rainforests and soaring mountain peaks - and with sharp eyes, you might observe seals and possibly even dolphins and penguins. Featuring two levels of open decks and comfortable public spaces with panoramic picture windows, the Mariner is designed to surround you with the beauty and sounds of nature! You're encouraged to take advantage of these inviting public areas as staterooms are small and simply furnished; there is a rectangular porthole so you won't miss a bit of the scenery even when you spend time in your cabin. Tonight after a delicious carvery buffet, you can relax in the company of your fellow passengers or hit the deck to observe the constellations of the Southern Sky.

Day 6 - Te Anau To Clyde

At the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary, you'll have a chance to encounter the rare, flightless Takahe - once thought to be extinct here on the South Island.

Oliver's Hotel

Breakfast, Lunch Included

After breakfast onboard the Mariner, we'll step off ship and travel to the Punanga Manu o Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. Set on the shores of Lake Te Anau, this is a terrific place to observe an abundant variety of indigenous birds that are otherwise difficult to see in their native wilderness habitats - including colorful forest parrots, warblers, paradise shelducks, fantails and bellbirds. We'll tour the Sanctuary and learn about their captive breeding and rehabilitation programs that aim to reintroduce healthy birds into the wilderness. After lunch in Te Anau, our afternoon sightseeing takes us into spectacular Kawarau Valley, home to the famous Bungy Bridge where two daring adventurers launched the worldwide bungee jumping craze in 1988. The day's journey ends at our inviting hotel, set on an authentic 19th-century homestead in historic Clyde.

Day 7 - Exploring Central Otago

Nuggets can still be found in the soil at the Goldfields Mining Center, and you might even try your luck with some gold panning!

Oliver's Hotel

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Included

With fruit orchards, waterways and rolling hills, Central Otago is one of New Zealand's loveliest and most bountiful agricultural areas. After breakfast, you'll begin your exploration at a lively farmers market in Cromwell, a charming and historic town founded more than 150 years ago. At one of the area's local orchards, you'll have a chance to sample some of the region's bounty. Then enjoy a guided tour, wine tasting and lunch at a nearby vineyard estate. In the mid-1800s, this region also witnessed New Zealand's first major gold rush and fortune seekers and adventurers poured into the region to dig for gold. This afternoon's tour at the Goldfields Mining Center immerses you in this colorful chapter of the island's history. You can follow paths along the Kawarau Gorge to the mine shafts that were excavated more than a century ago and see the land laid bare by ground sluicing. Enjoy a congenial dinner and another tranquil night in Clyde.

Day 8 - Onward To Mt. Cook

If there are clear skies tonight, the absence of ambient light makes the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve one of the best places to view the Southern Constellations.

Hermitage Hotel

Breakfast, Dinner Included

Departing Clyde this morning, our first stop of the day will be the Maori Point Vineyard. Against a lovely mountain backdrop, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the estate as we learn about the viticulture traditions of Central Otago, one of New Zealand's premier wine-producing areas. Paired with local products including dried fruits, nuts, pâté, artisanal cheese and freshly baked bread, we'll sample four of their award-winning wines including Pinot Noir and a dessert wine to finish. Then we'll continue through the Lindis Pass at an altitude of 3,800 feet and make our way through the Mackenzie Basin – a land of powder blue lakes and wide-open grasslands set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Arriving in the beautiful Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park, you'll check in to our comfortable hotel in time for an optional Mt. Cook flightseeing adventure - and the thrill of seeing New Zealand's highest peak from the air.

Day 9 - Across The Canterbury Plains To The Garden City

Toast your fellow travelers this evening with a glass of fine New Zealand wine and enjoy a final dinner of fresh locally-sourced fare.

The George

Breakfast, Dinner Included

After breakfast, you'll have some free time to enjoy the delightful setting of our hotel. A pleasant stroll on the landscaped grounds of the hotel or through the surrounding alpine meadows would offer a chance to take in the fresh mountain air and marvelous views of the soaring terrain. Later, you'll depart the National Park to journey over the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. With its lovely parks and handsome Gothic buildings, there's a delightful, very English ambiance to Christchurch. In contrast, the Cardboard Cathedral designed by Shigeru Ban in 2011 is a marvel of 21st-century architectural design and ingenuity, constructed of paper tubes, re-purposed shipping containers and a lightweight outer skin. Upon arrival, you'll set out to see the town's architectural landmarks and tour the Botanic Gardens - founded in 1863 with the planting of a single English oak tree. From this humble beginning, the garden has grown to encompass mature trees, expansive lawns and 10 different gardens set within a loop of the gently flowing Avon River.

Day 10 - Depart Christchurch

Breakfast Included

After breakfast, you'll be escorted to the airport for your onward journey.

2022 Tour Dates

January
9, 23
:
$6,499
|
February
5, 19
:
$6,499
|
March
8, 23
:
$6,499
|
April
5
:
$5,999
|
October
7
:
$5,999
|
31
:
$6,499
|

Pricing is per person, double occupancy, land and cruise only, based on April 5, 2022 travel date. Single supplement from $1,800. International airfare is additional. Call AAA for current airfare rates and availability. Save an extra $600 or more per couple ($300 or more solo) when you pay in full at booking. Ask about our pre-trip stay in Australia or our extension to New Zealand's North Island..

All this makes it AAA Vacations®

AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Complimentary pre-night, breakfast & transfer in Queenstown

Member Benefit: $115 per person savings

Best Price Guarantee

24/7 Member Care

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