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Travel dates: 1 February 2022
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AAT Kings
9 Day AAT Kings Southern Spotlight 25/26

The 9-day Southern Spotlight tour explores the wonderful scenery of the South Island. The city of Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier and you take the world-famous TranzAlpine train from Arthurs Pass to Christchurch. With lots of opportunities to enjoy the many great optional tours and activities, this is the ideal tour for those wishing to see the best of the South Island at a relaxing pace.

Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch
Christchurch City Tram

Since its 2010/11 earthquakes, Christchurch has reinvented itself in more ways than one. Discover how if you choose to step back in time aboard the Christchurch Tram, linking some of the city’s most legendary attractions. It's time tonight to meet your travelling companions for a Welcome Reception.

Staying in:

  • Wyndham Garden (1 night)
Day 2 - Christchurch - Omarama
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
View of Lake Tekapo

On your city tour view the mind-bending Transitional Cathedral, made largely of cardboard, and Turanga, the gold-clad central library. From here, your outlook is the Canterbury Plains: the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd, snow-capped mountains and atmospheric towns. Your Indoor Dark Sky Astronomy Experience at Tekapo, hosted by passionate guides, will forever change the way you see the night sky. You'll see for yourself it may be one of the quietest spots on the planet, yet it has one of the busiest skies in the universe.

Staying in:

  • Heritage Gateway Hotel (1 night)
Day 3 - Omarama - Dunedin
Meals included: Breakfast
Dunedin Railway Station

If you’ve ever wanted to see New Zealand’s oldest public gardens, today you’re in luck. Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and limestone buildings, stands proud before you journey further south toward the Edinburgh of the South: Dunedin. It’s easy to while away the afternoon in the city’s atmospheric art-lined alleys. Or venture further afield to discover the wildlife that thrives in this pretty pocket of the country – fur seals and penguins among them. Thirsty? Visit Speight's Brewery, a New Zealand institution.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Dunedin City (1 night)
Day 4 - Dunedin - Te Anau
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
View of Te Anau Lake

Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry is everywhere you look, from the manicured grounds of Otago University to the city’s main George Street. Rolling green hills dotted with doe-eyed sheep are replaced by soaring mountains as you weave your way into Fiordland National Park and the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau. Soak up the serenity – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Staying in:

  • Distinction Luxmore Hotel (1 night)
Day 5 - Te Anau - Queenstown
Meals included: Breakfast
Milford Sound Cruise

From the moment you step outside today, nature rules. Your route through Fiordland National Park is an intoxicating union of beech forests, alluvial flats, meadows and mirror-like lakes. Gin-clear rivers carve the countryside, with all roads leading to your Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. Cruising this World Heritage listed expanse will give you goosebumps, a string of waterfalls creating a misty curtain across sheer escarpments. Look out for dolphins – they’re a common sight here.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort (1 night)
Day 6 - Queenstown Free Time
Meals included: Breakfast, Speciality Dinner
View of Queenstown

Take today at your own pace. Like things fast and furious? Feel the wind in your hair on the high-octane Skippers Jet, perhaps. There’s a reason why Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the country. Nature lover? Discover some of New Zealand’s feathered friends at a wildlife centre. Wherever you wander, make sure you’re back in time to glide across Lake Wakatipu aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue Highlight Dinner.

Staying in:

  • Copthorne Hotel and Resort (1 night)
Day 7 - Queenstown - Franz Josef/Waiau
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Road to Franz Josef

Try and keep count of today’s lakes. Leaving Lake Wakatipu behind, Arrowtown appears on the horizon. We know you’ll want to linger in the movie-set-like streets, lined with trees and character-filled boutiques. But Lake Dunstan awaits, as do its orchards. Pause to refuel on flavour-packed stone fruit. Then there’s Lake Hawea followed by Lake Wanaka, with its Instagrammable shoreline of poplars and willows. Over the Haast Pass to the town of Franz Josef, where, this afternoon you may choose to fly over Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere.

Staying in:

  • Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (1 night)
Day 8 - Franz Josef/Waiau - Christchurch
TranzAlpine Train at the Station

Swap snow for pounamu (native greenstone or jade) in Hokitika. In Māori tradition, it’s bad luck to buy this sacred stone for yourself; flutter your eyelids at your loved one. Just when you thought your adventure couldn’t get any better, you’ll aboard the TranzAlpine train bound for Christchurch, through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys.

Staying in:

  • Wyndham Garden (1 night)
Day 9 - Farewell from Christchurch
AAT Coach Crew

New Zealand’s South Island never fails to wow. We hope you find the words to describe this epic New Zealand tour to your family back home.