Golden Otago Tour
7 days from Queenstown to Christchurch
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

Golden Otago Tour

Travel through the rich history of the Otago Region, famous for it's early settlers Gold Rush and unique wildlife. The journey begins in Queenstown where you can enjoy the rush of Luge up the Skyline Gondola, learn about Historic Arrowtown during the Gold Rush era and board the TSS Earnslaw to set sail over to Walter Peak to enjoy dinner. The trip continues through to Dunedin, a city rich with history and wildlife. Take a trip back in time to Olverston House and explore the Peninsula where Dunedin's famous Albatross call home. Continuing North you will stop in Oamaru, known for its Steampunk aesthetic and Blue Penguin Colony. The final stop on your travels is Christchurch following the historic theme of this itinerary you can take a punt down the Avon River or catch the Tram around the city. 

Tour special blurb

**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

Tour summary and feature

Tour overview

Departs every day - flexible independent travel

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,595 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Queenstown, finishes in Christchurch

7 days/6 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 30 times in the last 7 days

price pp from
twin share/double
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Welcome to Queenstown

Renowned for its adrenaline inducing activities Queenstown is synonymous with adventure. Parked on the shores of Lake Wakatipu this small alpine town is nestled below soaring vistas of The Remarkables Mountain Range. While arguably the brightest gem in New Zealand’s crown, Queenstown offers far more than an action-packed getaway. Spend time on the Gibbston wine trail and end with a meal at Michelin star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant, Rata. Take a trip down memory lane on a 100 year old steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Soak in the scenery on your walk around the lake, or venture further afield into Fiordland National Park. Head over the hill to resort town Wanaka, or re-live scenes from Lord Of The Rings by four wheel drive. But - if you really do want that rush - head out on the Shotover Jet, dive off the Nevis Bungy, freefall on the Canyon swing or Zip line the Gondola. Just be sure it's done on an empty stomach  – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Gondola and 5 Luge Rides with Skyline Queenstown

In the heart of Queenstown, located 450 metres above town in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve is the Skyline Complex. A gondola ride to the summit makes for awe-inspiring views of the city surround. Arrive at the complex and wander the outside viewing decks for a picture perfect outlook. Then onto the Luge! The 1600 metre luge track offers an exhilarating journey through banked corners, tunnels and dippers.

Your accommodation: Ramada Hotel & Suites Queenstown Central

Ramada Hotel & Suites offers well-appointed apartment-style rooms located in the heart of Queenstown. Experience tranquillity all year round, overlooking the shores of Lake Wakatipu and within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area.

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Arrowtown and Around Sightseeing Tour

Discover Queenstown, Arrowtown and the surrounding regions amazing scenery with a local knowledgeable guide. Enjoy the region’s best sights and history on a small group guided tour leaving from Queenstown. Includes stops at a honey farm to taste premium Manuka Honey. Make the most of an amazing photo stop at Queenstown Hill for views over Lake Wakatipu, the Kawarau Bungy bridge, Lake Hayes and Lord of the Rings locations. There is free time to explore in Arrowtown and the Chinese Village.

TSS Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak including gourmet BBQ dinner and a farm tour

Enjoy a quintessential Kiwi experience, a delicious gourmet BBQ buffet meal and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting. Take in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and its surroundings as you cruise across the lake to the historic Walter Peak high country farm aboard the TSS Earnslaw Steamship.
Enjoy the ambience of the heart of the stately homestead while your Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant chef prepares a gourmet BBQ dinner. Your seasonal menu includes an extensive selection of local New Zealand produce, including succulent meats and a selection of delicious vegetables and salads. Complete your meal with your choice of delicious desserts, New Zealand cheeses, tea and coffee.
After dinner, watch the farm dogs in action with a sheep-herding demonstration and say hello to the other farm animals. Finally, cruise home under the southern stars and enjoy the fresh night air as the lights of Queenstown draw ever closer.

Your accommodation: Ramada Hotel & Suites Queenstown Central

Ramada Hotel & Suites offers well-appointed apartment-style rooms located in the heart of Queenstown. Experience tranquillity all year round, overlooking the shores of Lake Wakatipu and within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Queenstown to Dunedin by InterCity Coach

Enjoy this scenic coach trip across the magnificent Central Otago countryside to the Edinburgh of the South, Dunedin. Pass through Cromwell, Clyde, Alexandra,, Raes Junction and many more of the historic towns of the gold mining region.

Dunedin Chinese Garden

Dunedin’s Chinese Garden is in the traditional yualin styles and its design was based on gardens of the Jiangnan area.  The garden was built to lead you on a journey of understanding of culture, heritage and history.  The garden also has a Tea Shop where you can sample traditional Chinese teas and food, including steamed buns and dumplings.

Historic Olveston House Guided Tour

Olveston House is a special place. It offers visitors a glimpse of a lifestyle long gone that can never be recreated. Visitors feel very much like a guest in the family home as they move through the eighteen rooms open for viewing during the course of the one hour guided tour. There are few historic houses that can offer such originality and integrity as Olveston.

The house has only ever had one family in residence. Miss Dorothy Theomin, the sole surviving member of the family who built Olveston, died in 1966 and the property, complete with all its contents, was passed into the care of Dunedin City. Constructed between 1904 and 1906, the Neo-Jacobean style grace and grandeur of Olveston is distinguished by a wealth of decorative detail. The Theomin family decorated their home with irreplaceable artifacts and priceless treasures. Bronze, cloisonne and ivory from Japan and Chinese jade and ceramics reflect David Theomin's interest in decorative art from East Asia. In total, some 240 paintings and graphics grace the rooms.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides stylish inner city accommodation in the perfect location from which to explore Dunedin. Just a short walk to the Octagon, Railway Station, theatres, shops, and close to Otago University.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Wildlife Peninsula Encounter Tour Including Albatross Centre with Monarch

Join a local guide for a journey across the Otago Peninsula on the small group bus tour of Dunedin. Travel over the high road with postcard views of the harbour and coast. You'll travel past quaint communities and rural farms. Spot wading birds as your mini-bus explores around the inlets and the wetland eco-systems.
Your tour will visit a remote Otago Peninsula beach. A short walk from the mini-bus will provide dramatic views of rugged coastal cliffs, offshore islands and perhaps some huge sea lions. The trip continues to Taiaroa Head, home to the Royal Albatross Centre. You'll be taken up to a private viewing observatory for a special look at the northern royal albatross breeding colony. Watch as these majestic birds glide past on three-metre wingspans, or as they feed their chicks at the nest. Guests are also welcome to bring a pre-packed meal on tour with them. We recommend having a good sized lunch before the tour departs Dunedin.
The final stop is at a Yellow-eyed Penguin conservation reserve. Visit the on-site rehab centre before a tour of the reserve. You'll take trails through native bushland, walking through tunnels and trenches to different viewing hides scattered around the reserve. Watch as the world’s rarest penguin returns ashore and interacts around their nesting sites. The tour ends with a relaxed drive, following the harbour, back to Dunedin

Dunedin's museums - suggested activity

Otago Museum
Discover rare objects, special exhibitions and a live butterfly rainforest experience at the Otago Museum. Through the galleries, you'll discover the unique culture, heritage and wildlife of the Otago region. Highlights include the Tangata Whenua gallery which tells the story of the Southern Maori life and mythology. The Discovery World Tropical Forest is fun for young and old, you'll enter a rainforest filled with hundreds of beautiful butterflies. The special exhibitions are always fascinating and when you're ready for a break there's a great cafe to relax at. The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily, except Christmas Day.
Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
Encounter history at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. Learn about the people whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion, and transport shaped New Zealand's First Great City, Dunedin. In the galleries you can trace the fascinating journeys from the earliest settlers, Kai Tahu and their ancestors, to the most recent arrivals. The themed galleries weave the stories of past and present with future thinking, featuring interactive displays with stunning visuals and powerful narratives. Admission is free and the museum is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 4pm April to September, 10am to 5pm October to March and Thursdays until 8pm.

Your accommodation: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

The Scenic Hotel Southern Cross provides stylish inner city accommodation in the perfect location from which to explore Dunedin. Just a short walk to the Octagon, Railway Station, theatres, shops, and close to Otago University.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Oamaru's most significant feature is its abundance of whitestone buildings. This unique ‘Oamaru Stone' is quarried nearby, and many of the town's original buildings, including grain and wool stores, were built in an ornate style using the stone. In the old Harbour/Tyne Historic Precinct, many of these buildings still stand, and some are still used for their original purpose. They also now house curious shops, gift stores, restaurants, and a motoring museum. There is a great shopping scene, be sure to make time to stop into the numerous galleries, as well as iconic stores, and visit the wonderful world of Steampunk. Just a little along the harbor front a little blue penguin colony attracts visitors at dusk to watch as they return to their burrows and along the coastline yellow-eyed penguins can often be sighted.

Dunedin to Oamaru by InterCity Coach

The north drive follows the Otago coastline as you head from Dunedin to the historic town of Oamaru, famous for its buildings constructed with the locally quarried white stone and local little blue penguin colony.

Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ NZ’s premier Steampunk experience is a museum and workshop situated in the historic Victorian precinct of Oamaru. It is crazy, quirky and unique; unlike any other visitor attraction in this universe!
Outside of the imposing free-standing Oamaru stone building, "steampunk" engine SP001 greets visitors by belching flames, smoke and eyrie sounds; whilst inside, a museum of two large darkened rooms and a basement presents a theme of a dark post-apocalyptic vision of a future "as it might have been". You can find out more about Steampunk HQ including opening hours and pricing here.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony Premium Evening Viewing

Oamaru's Blue Penguins nest close to town under the cliffs along the Historic Harbour foreshore. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is just beyond the Victorian Heritage Precinct and you are within walking distance of the town centre, close to shops, restaurants and accommodation.
When penguins are on shore and have chosen to nest in the Blue Wing it is possible to see them within a couple of feet of you. At the appropriate times of the year you may see them incubating eggs or guarding the tiny chicks. You can watch the chicks as they wait for their daily meal to return with their parents.
You will be seated 2-3 metres from where the blue penguins arrive and cross into the colony. And be treated to an informative commentary by a trained guide. This Viewing is 1 and a half hours and includes the opportunity to enter the breeding colony on a boardwalk and walk among the blue penguin nesting burrows.

Your accommodation: Poshtel

This is not simply a place to sleep and eat before you move on to the next location. Designed by Carter Smith Architecture + Interiors, each room creates a distinct atmosphere all its own. Together they combine to create a myriad of interwoven stories, a collection of art and objects that provide guests with a truly unique NZ experience.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Oamaru to Christchurch by Intercity Coach

From Oamaru follow the coast to the port town of Timaru, then its across the vast Canterbury Plains. Further along you'll cross New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia where you can view some great examples of the South Island's famous braided rivers.


The largest metro area in the South Island, Christchurch is referred to as New Zealand's Garden City. Home to one of the biggest public parks in the country, Christchurch is also known as the gateway to the South Island. Boasting a plethora of activities both inside and outside the town centre, there is something here to suit every visitor.
One such attraction is the International Antarctic Centre, located at the International Airport. From here the bases in Antarctica are replenished and there are unique displays of what life is like in this chilly environment - including native little blue penguins.
You could also wish to visit Quake City for insight into the devastating Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, then take in the sights on a city tour. Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Explore the French settlement of Akaroa, tucked inside Banks Peninsula. An eclectic mix of British and French architecture, this seaside town has a whimsical charm and is the perfect place to escape.

Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

Experience three of Christchurch's iconic attractions in one day: the Christchurch Tram, Christchurch Gondola, and Punting on the Avon River. The historic tram is a delightful way to explore the evolving inner city, taking in the various sights with the hop-on hop-off pass and learning about the city from the live commentary. You'll also enjoy a bird's eye view of Christchurch and the Canterbury region including the distant peaks of the Southern Alps when you ride the gondola cableway to the top of the Port Hills in Heathcote Valley. Punting on the Avon River takes you through the city's green belt: a relaxing way to explore what is affectionately known as the 'Garden City'.

Your accommodation: Hotel Montreal

A true original, Hotel Montreal is a unique, luxury escape in the heart of Christchurch city. Hotel Montreal is often recognised for the five-star comfort and convenience it affords those passing through the Garden City.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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