Catlins and Stewart Island
Door to Door Pick Up, All Transport, Accommodation, Activities, Travel Insurance and Meals as listed
While you are in the South Island, why not extend your holiday? Stewart Island makes it 10 days away or really go big! Make it a 19 Day South Island Sojourn by further adding on The Southern Scenic – Ask us about this!
DAY ONE D
This morning we fly to Christchurch. Upon arrival, a local guide will be met who will give us an en-route tour of the Christchurch Rebuild before taking us to our centrally located hotel. Our earlier bus tour may inspire the afternoon’s activities where you are free to roam and take in the highlights of the city’s regeneration and vibrant post-earthquake renaissance. An idea may be to visit the exhibitions of the Canterbury Museum and Christchurch Art Gallery. Another option may be to take a moment to stroll through nearby Hagley Park, the botanical gardens and along the Avon River. You could also go shopping in the new Christchurch Crossing. Once done, head back on foot or by bus to the hotel for dinner.
DAY TWO B, L, D
After breakfast, it’s all aboard the coach for our ultimate destination of Oamaru – the largest town in North Otago and home to some beautiful Victorian architecture. But first, we’ll be stopping for morning tea and a visual treat at Lushingtons Gardens, Gifts and Café in Ashburton before heading to gather for a sumptuous lunch in the picturesque South Canterbury foothills. The quintessential Kiwi dining experience at Harlau House Café features locally sourced food, fresh seasonal vegetables and warm hospitality. After lunch, we are in for something extra special. Owners Dot and Neil Smith created Riverstone Castle on the outskirts of Oamaru to fulfil their dream fantasy. The castle includes a moat, a tower and even a dungeon. One of a kind and full of surprises, this impressive fortress is unforgettable. From here, we’ll head into Oamaru and get settled at our accommodation, where we will dine before our trip out tonight to view the famous blue penguin colony. We will be witnessing the world’s smallest penguin in its natural environment at a rock quarry at the head of the harbour. Watch as these aquatic, flightless birds arrive home from their days fishing and marvel at the experience of this magical event.
DAY THREE B, L, D
Today is all about time travel starting with a trip back to the 1880s and the crazy, quirky Steampunk HQ experience. Set within Oamaru’s old Grain Elevator building. The museum is a surreal dive into an altered universe of gadgets, bizarre machinery, pipes & gas cylinders, skeletal sculptures, flickering lights and even a full-scale train engine that billows smoke and spit fire. Late morning there will be time to explore the town’s Victorian Quarter before heading off to take in the Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach. Large spherical concretions, these fascinating formations are said to have been growing for over 60 million years, with the largest ones reaching over 2 meters wide. More ancient boulders are found at Kataki Beach with the geologically interesting Shag Point, another wild and beautiful stop-off point where we’re likely to catch sight of seals and penguins if we’re lucky. We'll enjoy some lunch along the way before arriving at our final destination for the day. Today, our final destination is Dunedin, where we’ll be staying at the Distinction Hotel, the former Chief Post Office.
DAY FOUR B, L, D
David Attenborough has described this morning’s destination as “a unique and extraordinary place” that “every visitor to Dunedin should see”. The Royal Albatross Centre houses the only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross in the world. These graceful and majestic birds and their nesting and chick-rearing habits have been thrilling visitors since 1983 when they opened to the public. After our very own guided tour, there’s time for a cuppa at the Toroa Café and an opportunity to secure a souvenir from the gift shop to remind us of our time here. Sticking to the royal theme - straighten your crowns, folks – we are heading now to Larnach Castle & Gardens on the Otago Peninsula. A rich history dating back to 1871 when merchant baron and politician William Larnach began building the castle, the estate is magnificently set amidst exquisite grounds ascribed to a Garden of International Significance. The current owners have spent decades painstakingly restoring, conserving, and assembling collections so that visitors can appreciate the breathtaking garden spectacle and stunning artistry held within this national treasure. We will have lunch at the Larnach Ballroom Café here before moving on to another unique time capsule - Olveston House. The Theomin family gifted this authentic and original historic home to Dunedin City Council in 1967. The tour also includes the family’s motor car – a 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer. Back to the hotel and dinner at the Parcels Restaurant again tonight.
DAY FIVE B, MT, L, D
Good Walking shoes required today. Our journey covers the scenic route from Dunedin to Invercargill, diverting through the famous Catlins Forest Park region to encounter arguably the most pristine coast in New Zealand. A stop in Balclutha for morning tea along the way. Have your walking shoes at the ready because we’re going to visit the iconic landform of Nugget Point, say hello to the lighthouse and later marvel at the splendour of the tiered 20-metre-high Purakaunui Falls – the most photographed waterfall in the country. This region is home to many seabirds, including penguins, gannets and royal spoonbills and is also the habitat for a large breeding colony of fur seals. A late lunch at the award-winning Whistling Frog café in Papatowai will be a yummy stopover in a pretty setting. From here, we get a chance to learn more about the local history during our visit to the Waikawa Museum and Information Centre. It will be worth stopping next to the spectacular Curio Bay to stretch our legs. It’s home to a colony of rare, yellow-eyed penguins, a pod of Hector’s Dolphins, and when the tide goes out, a 180-million-year-old Jurassic fossil forest revealed. First lit on the 1st January 1884, the Waipapa Point lighthouse has been a popular location with photographers seeking the perfect shot and flanked by golden beaches, often the spot for sleeping sea lions. We’ll be stopping and then heading to New Zealand’s southernmost city, Invercargill, for the night. Accommodation is at the Ascot Park Hotel.
DAY SIX B, D
We will take our time today and have a look around Invercargill and embark on a local tour called Discover Riverton – Heritage and Scenic Tour. We will enjoy a personal outing to the lovely seaside town of Riverton, locally called the Riviera of the South. Highlights are Te Hikoi Southern Journey Museum and Heritage Centre, Paua Shell Factory, Historic Houses, Mores Scenic Reserve Lookout, Howell’s Point. After a lovely lunch at a local Restaurant, we will return to Invercargill for some free time in town to check out the local shopping scene, before returning our to the Hotel.
DAY SEVEN B, D
You may want to have some sea legs medication if suffer from motion sickness from the boat. This morning we make our way to Bluff for our ferry crossing to Stewart Island. On arrival, we will book into accommodation then the time is yours to have lunch at the Southsea’s Hotel or the quirky French Cafe. We will gather in the afternoon to board the bus for an informative tour of the village and surrounding bays, including the unique flora and fauna of Lee Bay, the beautiful Horseshoe Bay and Observation Rock. Keep your eyes peeled for the Rakiura Grey Ghost or even a Kiwi mooching along one of the secluded beaches. Returning to the South Seas Hotel, we will have time to take in a short, hard case movie called a “Dogs Tail” which is a local dog’s perspective of life on Stewart Island. Then it’s time for a drink with the locals followed by a yummy meal of Blue Cod perhaps. Optional evening island road exploration, Virginian Whitetail Deer & Kiwi spotting.
DAY EIGHT B, L, D
Enjoy some free time after breakfast for a wander on nearby short walk tracks and or spend a moment to look through the brand new Rakiura Museum located right beside the DOC Information Centre. Later that morning, we will Discover Stewart Island from the water on a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. The journey will showcase some of Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery with its hidden coves and unspoilt beaches. You will hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as we pass various landmarks. Our guide is passionate about the area, providing informative commentary and will be more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals and penguins – we see many of them around this area. Paterson Inlet is home to the renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island, and we’ll stop there for a 45-minute guided walk. The island is home to Weka (native wooden), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellow heads, amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s unique plant species. A regular highlight is to encounter an inquisitive Weka on the beach. For the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet, relax onboard our modern catamaran and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to base. Optional evening island road exploration, Whitetail Deer & Kiwi spotting.
DAY NINE B, MT, D
You may want to have some sea legs medication if suffer from motion sickness from the boat. After breakfast, we board the ferry for the 1hr crossing back to Bluff. Once we land and meet our local guide, we then travel to a café for morning tea before departing on our exploration of Bluff, Invercargill, and its surroundings, taking in some of the historical points of interest of the country towns and their people. A full-day tour, stopping for lunch along the way to explore the new huge Transport World, returning to our accommodation mid-afternoon to relax and meet for our last dinner together.
DAY TEN B
Sadly, we bid farewell to our newfound southern friends today. We will be making our way to the airport before flying back up the country to our homes.
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Next Tour Date
Sun, 05th of Mar 2023