The perfect 2 day tour of the South Island - begin in Wellington before travelling across the Cook Strait to journey down the east coast. Stop in Kaikoura and head out for a magical whale-watching tour before continuing south. Finish up your exciting 2 days in the beautiful garden city of Christchurch.
Departs every day - flexible independent travel
This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,380 per person (twin share, low season)
Starts in Auckland, finishes in Christchurch
3 days/2 nights
Viewed 95 times in the last 7 days
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Straddling two natural harbours, New Zealand's 'City of Sails' is the country's largest. Encircled by wine regions, native bush, rainforests and beaches - this urban paradise is also known for its world-class shopping, designer boutiques and gourmet cuisine. Dotted with volcanoes and ringed by islands, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the suburbs of Parnell and Ponsonby with their upmarket galleries, back-alley wine bars, and trendy eateries or wander up high High St or Vulcan Lane to snag a boutique bargain. Venture further afield to the rural community of Clevedon to experience the delights of the country and make time to explore one of over 800 regional parks with deserted beaches, waterfalls and forest walks.
What makes Auckland so special is its vibrant cultural melting pot, a diversity reflected in the cuisine, festivals, art and music. Auckland has always attracted many people of many different cultures. By the 1890s, the city was very cosmopolitan with people from Europe, China and India making this place their home. This theme continued throughout the 20th century, particularly in the 1950s when the post-World War II baby boom boosted the population. A significant number of indigenous Maori moved to the city, followed by pacific islanders in the late 1960s. European immigrants from places such as Hungary, Yugoslavia and Holland began what is now a thriving and diverse food culture. Today, Auckland is the world's largest Polynesian city. Resident Aucklanders come from all around the world, just over half of its residents are of European descent, 11% are Maori, 13% are of Pacific Island descent and there is a growing Asian population of around 12%.
Great Journeys New Zealand's Scenic Plus carriage provides comfort and vast panoramic views as you journey through the heart of the North Island, travelling between Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, to Wellington, New Zealand's arts and culture capital. Along the way, you pass the Central North Island ski towns of National Park and Ohakune. You also see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world-famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges - all from panoramic windows or open-air viewing decks. Scenic Plus offers an all-inclusive experience and the dedicated Scenic Plus carriage features large panoramic windows giving sweeping views of the magnificent North Island. The Observation Carriage includes a mix of seating including lounge-style seating. The lounge-style seating is arranged at the very rear of this glass-backed carriage enabling you to enjoy a totally unique Northern Explorer experience.
Your accommodation: Bella Vista WellingtonBella Vista Wellington is just 5 minutes walk from local beaches and the beautiful waters of Evans Bay. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Wellington CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.
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.
Your accommodation: The White Morph, KaikouraSet on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.
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.
You will be met at your accommodation by a representative from Kaikoura Shuttles and transported to your point of departure.
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.
Your accommodation: Bella Vista ChristchurchBella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.