Southeast Coastal Wildlife
6 days from Christchurch to Queenstown
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

Southeast Coastal Wildlife

Arrive into Christchurch, and spend the afternoon exploring all that this bustling city has on offer, including punting on the Avon River. On day two, explore the charming Victorian culture and unique architecture of the quaint town of Oamaru before your evening experience at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, where you'll see the smallest penguins in the world. Next, you'll make your way to the city of Dunedin, also known for its architecture and wildlife, where you will join an ATV Wildlife Tour and hopefully encounter Spotted Shags, New Zealand Fur Seals, more little blue penguins, and possibly even the rare yellow-eyed Hoiho penguin. A second day in Dunedin sees you off on another wildlife adventure, this time from the sea on a wildlife cruise out of the Otago Harbour, to Taiaroa Head, spotting majestic Albatross and the stunning scenery of the area. The following day, arrive in adventure-capital Queenstown via a private transfer, where you'll have the afternoon to explore before heading up the scenic Skyline Gondola for a final dinner. Your journey comes to an end the following morning with a private transfer to Queenstown Airport.

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**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$1,600 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Queenstown

6 days/5 nights


 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 27 times in the last 7 days

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twin share/double
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Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore the city or easy way to see the sights or ride the historic trams across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral, that's right it is built of cardboard!

Art in Christchurch - Suggested Activity

Christchurch is a city that's alive with everything art, from exhibitions and galleries, to street art all around the city. Take some time while you're here to explore what's on offer, starting with the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. This has something for everyone, where the art on display ranges from old masters to modern art. They also run regular events including talks, museum tours and film evenings. Make sure you also visit The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, which is a hub for arts, culture, education, creativity and entrepreneurship in Christchurch. This collection of heritage buildings are home to museums, as well as boutique art galleries, eateries, retailers and offices. Away from the more conventional galleries and exhibitions, there is all the street art to be seen around the city. With a vibrant and growing arts scene, Christchurch has earned a strong reputation as the home of street art. Exploration of the inner city reveals colourful artworks from a range of inspiring artists. Be sure to keep an eye out for the ever-evolving murals in the city too! Notable street art to check out includes the Riverside Mural, Rauora Park and it's Spray Cans, and the urban aesthetics of the YMCA building.

Punting on the Christchurch Avon River

Relax and enjoy the tranquil Christchurch Botanic Gardens as you are expertly guided along the Avon River on a classic punting tour. You will be set aboard a handcrafted flat-bottomed boat, poled along by your punter in Edwardian attire from the platform at the rear of the boat. You will enjoy the spectacular flora that the Garden City is famous for from a unique perspective amidst fresh air.

Your accommodation: Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments

Terra Vive Luxury Suites and Apartments offer luxury accommodation in the heart of Christchurch City. Situated within the beautiful tree-lined street of Bealey Avenue, Terra Vive is ideally located in close proximity to the shops, restaurants and cafes.

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Christchurch to Oamaru by Intercity Coach

Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains as you head South, State Highway 1 crosses many braided rivers that start their life as glacial melt water high in the Southern Alps. New Zealand's longest bridge at Rakaia crosses such an example. Pass through the town of Timaru before arriving into Oamaru, most famous for its buildings constructed with the unique locally quarried white stone.

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.


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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Whitestone Cheese Factory Guided Tour with Wine Pairing - suggested activity

Tours give guests a behind the scenes look at Whitestone's cheese making process, all the way from make to taste.  You will get to experience a cheese tasting with wine pairing, informative talk and guided tour of our factory through the viewing galleries, plus walk away with a goody bag sample.

Your accommodation: The Old Confectionery Boutique Apartments

Enjoy being centrally located in the heart of Oamaru with all attractions within walking distance, including the best restaurants and bars. The building was built in 1879 and has undergone a number of transformations during its lifetime. It provides comfortable and boutique accommodation, located 300 metres from the waterfront and historic precinct of Oamaru. 

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Oamaru to Dunedin by InterCity Coach

The drive from Oamaru to Dunedin takes you along the Otago Coastline and some of the earliest inhabited places in New Zealand. Arriving into Dunedin you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon and city centre. A not to be missed building is the railway station, recently listed as one of the worlds top 100 building to see.

Argo ATV Wildlife Tour

The Otago Peninsula headland is arguably the most precious wildlife habitat in New Zealand and the farm owned by the Reid family is right on the forefront of this headland. Here, amidst truly spectacular scenery, the world's rarest penguins, Hoiho the yellow-eyed, the little blue penguins, the New Zealand fur seals and the Stewart Island Shags all live in harmony. Your tour begins at the reception area, 1 kilometre from the Natures Wonders entrance. Here your fully trained local guide explains safety procedures, then its off in the Argo for an exhilarating experience! First stop is the mythical "Maori's Footprint" location which offers panoramic views over the Otago Peninsula. During the nesting season you'll stop at a breeding colony of Cormorants (Spotted Shags) nestled on a rugged cliff face rising from the crashing Pacific Ocean waves below. Continuing on you arrive at a hide for a very close encounter with a breeding colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and their pups, who enjoy nothing more than basking on the rocks and swimming in the pools in front of you. From here a beach-front ride takes you to a covered track leading down to a purpose-built hide on Penguin Beach to view little blue penguins in their nests (in season) and spot the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin in their nest or on the beach. Your guide will provide interesting and informative commentary throughout the tour. You then return to the highest point on the farm, 201 metres above sea level from where you have spectacular 360 degree views of this beautiful peninsula.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Speights Brewery Tour and Dinner

Speights Brewery was founded in 1876 and still occupies its original Dunedin site, with several of its buildings dating back to the late -1800's. Speights has proudly kept its rich heritage and it is one of the last remaining 'gravity breweries' still operating in the world.
Take a 60 minute tour of this historic site which also includes a tasting session of six Speights beers. After the tour, sit down to a 2 course dinner at the Alehouse and enjoy the hearty fare of the south.

Your accommodation: 858 on George Street

858 on George Street is an architecturally designed, multi-award winning motel complex, located on the main street of Dunedin City. Centrally located, this motel accommodation is within easy walking distance to the University of Otago, Otago Museum, Botanic Gardens, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin Hospital, Cafés, Restaurants and the city’s main retail centre.

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Wildlife Cruise with Monarch

Travel along the wonderful Otago Peninsula roads with local guide and enjoy an interactive commentary as you go. Hear stories of sea creatures and early settlers as you pass quaint little townships and rolling farmland. The boat will cruise out of the Otago Harbour, to Taiaroa Head. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the world’s only mainland nesting place of royal albatross. Watch as these huge birds glide in from the ocean and soar high above their hillside nest sites. Continuing back down the Otago Harbour, you’ll go past Careys Bay, a historic fishing village and then see the busy wharves of Port Chalmers. The boat will cruise through the Quarantine Islands and past the stunning bays, hills, farmland and forests that surround the harbour. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Dunedin Botanic Gardens

The Dunedin Botanic Garden is New Zealand's first botanic garden and is also a Garden of International Significance. It is home to more than 6,800 plant species and is spread across both rolling hills and flatlands. Wild native bellbirds, wood pigeons and tui can be heard on most days. The garden occupies 30.4 hectares in North Dunedin.  Its varying range of floriculture and horticultural includes roses, herbaceous and perennial borders, a rock garden, New Zealand native plants and four hectares of Rhododendron Dell. It also houses a New Zealand Native plant collection including cultivation of rare and endangered native plant species.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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: 858 on George Street

858 on George Street is an architecturally designed, multi-award winning motel complex, located on the main street of Dunedin City. Centrally located, this motel accommodation is within easy walking distance to the University of Otago, Otago Museum, Botanic Gardens, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin Hospital, Cafés, Restaurants and the city’s main retail centre.

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Dunedin to Queenstown by InterCity Coach

Your coach trip today takes you through the Otago Goldfields of yesteryear. The townships of Lawrence, Roxburgh and Alexandra were once booming gold rush towns, with populations many times more than their current small town image would imply. The road follows the South Island's longest river, the Clutha River, and at Clyde you will see one of the largest hydro power stations harnessing its energy. The Kawarau River then steers you away from the Clutha and carves a steep and rugged gorge through to the Gibbston Valley. Continuing through Lake Hayes you soon arrive into the bustling alpine adventure town of Queenstown.

Gondola and Buffet Dinner with Skyline Queenstown

With breathtaking views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the Skyline Complex is a must-do. Catch the fully enclosed gondola to the summit for a remarkable panorama of the city surrounds. Wander the outdoor viewing decks then enjoy a gourmet buffet meal in the Stratosphere Restaurant.

Your accommodation: Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort

Set against the breathtaking Remarkables Mountain Range and boasting immediate Lake Wakatipu frontage, Oaks Shores offers spacious Queenstown apartment-style accommodation in New Zealand’s most popular ski town.
Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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Private Transfer Queenstown Accommodation to Airport (LSQ)

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Queenstown airport to meet your flight.

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Southeast Coastal Wildlife
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