Discover the South Island's immense natural beauty and historic landmarks by driving through unspoiled parkland, exploring gold-rush towns, and riding a gondola to the top of one of the highest peaks.
Day 1 - March 3rd, 2014 - Milford Sound - Queenstown
After tendering from the ship to Milford Wharf, you will begin driving south through the magnificent Fiordland National Park, a pristine wonderland of fiord, rainforest, mountain, and lake environments. Established in 1952, it supports an enormously diverse range of flora and fauna, but few human settlements because of the park's isolation and rugged terrain.
If the weather permits, you will stop for photos at the park's chasm and mirror lakes. Upon reaching the Kingsgate Hotel in the town of Anau, you will have lunch while taking in the natural scenery.
Continuing on, you will drive through more spectacular raw wilderness, where nature truly reigns supreme. Expect gorgeous views around every corner, especially along the coast of Lake Wakatipu, the longest lake in New Zealand. It is so beautiful and unspoiled that it has been used as a backdrop in several movies, including "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Upon arriving in Arrowtown, you will enjoy some free time to explore this former gold-mining town. Gold was discovered here in 1861, and nearly 70 buildings still remain from that era. The streets are lined with galleries, cafés and shops well worth your attention.
A different view of the region awaits you in Queenstown, where you will ride the Skyline gondola to the top of majestic Bob's Peak, which soars nearly 1,500 feet above the city. If it's a clear day, you can see for miles, far beyond Queenstown and onto the aptly named Remarkable Mountains. In time, you will descend and check into your hotel for the evening.
Day 2 - March 4th, 2014 - Queenstown - Dunedin
After breakfast at the hotel, you will depart for Dunedin. En route, you will stop at the Kawarau Bridge Center, where A.J. Hackett began the world's first commercial bungy operation in 1988. Ever since, daredevils have been leaping off the 120-foot Old Kawarau Bridge with bungy cords tethered to their feet. If the timing is right, you may see some of the thrill-seekers jump towards the rushing water below, screaming excitedly on the way down.
Your drive will then continue along the Kawarau River to Cromwell before turning south to Alexandra, another town born in the gold-rush era. Alexandra's flourishing vineyards and orchards, which produce top-quality wines and fruits such as apricots, cherries and peaches, drives much of the economy now.
Following lunch at the Packing Shed restaurant, which actually was a former fruit-packing shed, you will continue driving south toward Dunedin. The first settlers from the British Isles arrived in here in 1847 and before long, buoyed by the discovery of gold, Dunedin became one of the wealthiest most populous areas in New Zealand. You will see some of the city's landmarks on the way to Port Chalmers, where you will re-join the ship.
Overland Program Step by Step:
Please note: The order of sites visited may vary to avoid congestion. The times indicated are only approximate, given here for general reference purposes, and subject to change.
8:00am Disembark from the ship and transfer to Milford Sound Wharf
8:30am Join the tour coach and depart for Te Anau
12:00pm Arrive in Te Anau for lunch
1:00pm Depart from Te Anau
3:15pm Visit Arrowtown
4:00pm Depart Arrowtown for Queenstown
4:30pm Ride the Skyline gondola ride to the top of Bob's Peak
5:45pm Arrive at the hotel in Queenstown
Evening and dinner on own
Overnight stay at the Novotel Lakeside or similar
Breakfast at the hotel
9:30am Depart for the Kawarau Bridge Center
10:30am Depart from the Kawarau Bridge Center
11:45am Lunch at the Packing Shed restaurant in Alexandra
1:00pm Depart for Dunedin
4:15pm Arrive in Dunedin
5:00pm Arrive at Port Chalmers and re-join the ship
Expected Weather: New Zealand's seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. The warmest months are December, January and February, while the coldest are in June, July and August. Regardless, on any given day, the weather and temperature can change unexpectedly and sometimes dramatically. You should be prepared for that possibility, particularly if you will be engaging in outdoor activities.
What to Bring: Dress is informal and relaxed. Smart casual clothes are acceptable at most restaurants and nightspots. In summer, bring a jacket and sweater in case the weather turns cooler or you visit higher altitudes. Expect some rain so also include a light rainproof jacket or coat. If visiting between May and September, pack warm winter garments and layer your clothing.
Currency: New Zealand's unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2; notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centers. All major credit cards can be used in New Zealand. Travelers Cheques are accepted at hotels, banks and some stores. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in malls. International credit cards and ATM cards will work if they have a four-digit PIN encoded. Banks are open from 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
Electricity: Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts, 50 hertz. Most hotels and motels provide 110-volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. Power outlets only accept angled two- or three-pin Type I plugs (same as in Australia), depending on whether they are grounded.
Luggage: One suitcase per person
Documents and Visa Requirements:
Please refer to the New Zealand Immigration web site http://www.immigration.govt.nz/
Alternatively, for visa-free countries, see http://glossary.immigration.govt.nz/visafreecountries.htm
Accommodation: One-night stay at the Novotel Lakeside or similar in Queenstown.
If similar hotels are required due to unforeseen circumstances, they will be of equal ratings and standards.
" Accommodations for one night
" One breakfast and two lunches. Lunches include a choice of two glasses of house wine, local beer, soft drinks, bottled water, tea, or coffee.
" Skyline gondola ride to Bob's Peak
" Launch tender from the ship to the Milford Wharf
" All transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees as per the program as well as the services of an experienced English speaking driver-guide
Any meals and drinks not specified above, gratuities to the drivers and guides, and hotel incidentals.
Please note: Land programs that encompass multiple days ashore customarily include extensive and prolonged activity, while those of shorter durations typically have more moderate activity levels. However, each program varies and participants should be prepared to negotiate a mixture of surfaces which may include: inclines, cobblestones, sand, and gravel or natural paths. There may also be a need to climb steps or stairs on occasion. Guests who utilize a wheelchair and those with mobility concerns are advised to check with the cruise line in advance to see if any portion of the tour program may not be considered suitable for their individual situation. Weather appropriate clothing; hats; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are generally recommended.