The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).
From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.
From Picton you head south on state Highway 1 towards Blenheim which sits right at the heart of the New Zealand's largest wine producing region, Marlborough. Crossing the 'dry hills' of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals.
Today you will be met at Kaikoura railway station and transferred to your accommodation.
You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Kaikoura Shuttles and transported to your point of departure.
Experience New Zealand's only marine based whale watching company. Whale Watch Kaikoura offer a once-in-a-lifetime, up close encounter with the giant Sperm Whale. You are also likely to encounter New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and albatross. Depending on the season you may also see pilot, blue and southern right whales as well as migrating humpbacks. Often orcas can be spotted here and the world's smallest dolphin, the Hectors, occasionally make an appearance.
Cruise in style on modern catamarans, specifically designed for whale watching - Featuring large passenger cabins and outside viewing decks. Passenger numbers for each tour are kept below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.
The drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch continues to follow the spectacular coastline before heading inland and through North Canterbury's major wine region, the Waipara Valley. You are also introduced to the South Island's most numerous inhabitant, the sheep. Arriving into Christchurch City puts you close to the airport and the International Antarctic Centre and a visit is highly recommended.
A private transfer will meet you on arrival at Christchurch Train Station and drive you to your Christchurch accommodation.
A private transfer will collect you this morning and deliver you to Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.
Your early morning departure is rewarded with incredible scenery today onboard the TranzAlpine Scenic Train, considered one of the world's great train journeys. It travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through the lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the West Coast glaciers.
Your coach to Franz Josef Glacier departs from the Greymouth Railway Station. The journey to the Glaciers is southward through the lush bush covered landscape at the base of the Southern Alps. Travel down the West Coast enjoy the beautiful landscape of vast rainforests, gushing waterfalls and snow-capped mountains before arriving into the small village of Franz Josef.
From here you can explore the world famous Franz Josef Glacier.
You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Glacier Shuttles and taken on a short tour to view the glacier. Your shuttle vehicle will transfer you up the Franz Josef valley to the road end. Here you will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier from a viewing platform. Or enjoy one of the short walks available in this area. You will be returned to your accommodation by the Glacier Valley Shuttles.
Leave the small village of Franz Josef, access point to the world famous Franz Josef Glacier, and journey through the remote and rugged landscape of the West Coast. Cross over to the East Coast through the Haast Pass, the southernmost pass in the Southern Alps. On the other side, enjoy picture-postcard views of vibrant blue lakes like Lake Hawea, Lake Wanaka and Lake Dunstan as you make your way into scenic Queenstown, arriving in the late afternoon.