Your tour kicks off in the Scotland of the South! In and around Dunedin there is much to see and explore. In the morning your Dunedin city tour could include sights such as the historic railway building, university campus buildings and the Otago Museum. In the afternoon you will take a tour out to a penguin colony to view yellow-eyed penguins, the world’s rarest (included activity). Following this, head down the road to the albatross colony on the peninsula to view these magnificent huge birds up close. In the evening there is the option to visit the historic Speights Brewery for a tour, some sampling of one of New Zealand’s most iconic beers and a delicious kiwi meal (not included).
Today you drive south to The Catlins, a rugged wild landscape featuring fossilised forest, waterfalls, numerous walks and Curio Bay where there is the chance to spot dolphins. Another popular attraction at the Catlins is Nugget Point, The Scenic Reserve provides the wonders of nature all around you from remarkable 360 degree sensational views. This walk is an easy, slightly uphill walk from the car park to the lighthouse – 20 minutes return. Spend the night in the stunning Curio Bay.
The morning is free to further explore The Catlins. Perhaps stop at Slope Point, the southernmost place on the South Island, or take a walk at Surat Bay where sea lions are frequently seen frolicking in the waves. From here you drive through the heart of rural Southland through Invercargill to Bluff, where you board the ferry to cross the Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island. The rest of the afternoon is free to take a nature walk, explore some hidden spots on the island or simply relax and absorb the atmosphere. Tonight you will get the opportunity to see our native kiwi bird on a twilight guided tour (included activity). This tour is the best chance to see the endangered nocturnal bird in its natural surroundings. The trip includes a boat journey to a remote part of the island and a guided walk with a local expert.
Today you will experience Stewart Island’s smaller neighbouring island; Ulva Island, to enjoy a half-day discovering native flora and fauna and birdlife. On this predator-free reserve, view ancient podocarp trees, lush tree ferns, delicate ground ferns, mosses and orchids. Learn about practical and medicinal uses of trees and plants while listening out for kaka, the exquisite notes of the bellbird and the wonderfully varied calls of the Tui. Watch lime-green parakeet flying amongst the treetops. Glimpse rare saddleback and yellowhead and try to spot New Zealand’s smallest bird; the rifleman. Continue on and take lunch at Sydney Cove, enjoy coastal views and birdsong intermingled with the sound of breaking waves. Watch the antics of the cheeky weka; a flightless bird. This trip is about 4 hours in duration. Tonight you can relax and further enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Stewart Island.
Today your tour takes you back across to the mainland to Invercargill and through the small communities of Winton, Lumsden and Athol. Skirting your way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography and you will be amazed by the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the most famous backdrops for Lord of the Rings. You will arrive in Queenstown where you can drive out to the head of Lake Wakatipu and experience the breath-taking scenery of the Glenorchy area. Surrounded by magnificent snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, ancient beech forests and at the edge of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks, the frontier town of Glenorchy has provided the backdrop for many films, including The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
The first part of your drive takes you through the scenic Kawarau Gorge. Further down the road, you could stop in the town of Cromwell to visit one of our favourite orchards to sample fresh fruit, real fruit ice cream and New Zealand Manuka Honey. Worth stopping at on the way also is Clyde, a town with a real wild-west feel to it that at the peak of the gold rush was home to thousands of miners from all over the world. It is also where one of New Zealand’s largest open-faced hydraulic power stations is located. From here, heading through the pastures of Otago you will experience ‘the south at its best’ driving through picturesque little villages such as St Bathans where there is a beautiful lake crafted from an old gold-mine. Marvel at the carved limestone cliffs and perhaps take a dip or enjoy a beer at the historic pub. Your final part of the drive takes you back to Dunedin, “Scotland of the South,” where your tour concludes!
“I never would have seen and done all that stuff had I not signed up for a guided tour. Highly recommend.”
Anne Marvin – USA, June 2017