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South Island Gourmet Tasting Trail
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Here’s What Your Amazing Holiday Could Look Like...
Explore Marlborough, New Zealand's largest wine-growing region, see the natural wonders of the Kaikoura coastline and visit the Lake Tekapo UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. And that's all before you've even made it to Queenstown, historic Dunedin or charming Christchurch!
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Christchurch
Christchurch is known as the ‘Garden City’ for its award-winning expanse of parks and gardens. Hire a bike or stroll through the botanic gardens through the north and south Hagley Parks for a lovely day out, take a leisurely punt ride down the picturesque Avon River, and head up to Summit Road for panoramic views over the city. While in the city, don’t miss a visit to the International Antarctic Centre, showcasing the grandeur of the Antarctic through sound and light shows and interactive exhibits. With an eclectic assortment of cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city, unique shopping malls and fascinating museums, art spaces, and tram and gondola rides, there is plenty to see and do.
Marlborough’s hot spot, Blenheim, is the thriving hub of the country’s largest wine-growing area, situated in the picturesque Wairau Valley. You can choose to join a guided tour or explore at your own pace where you can indulge in some of the world-famous sauvignon blanc from more than 30 cellar doors as you journey through the region. Explore the local markets where you can pick up fresh produce and artisan products that are locally-grown and created in the area. If you love seafood, you won’t be disappointed with delicious fresh seafood straight from the waters of Marlborough Sound that is served at many of the dining outlets. Head down to Marlborough Sounds, a short 20 minute drive, where you can explore some of the amazing waterways by kayak or cruise. History lovers will be captivated by WWI and WWII exhibits at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre with its rare collection of historical aircraft and memorabilia.
An easy from Blenheim is the natural wonder of Kaikoura. The waters off the rocky peninsula provide a rich habitat for marine life and seabirds. Catch a glimpse of the fun-loving dusky dolphins and watch fur seals rest on warm rocks after a big night of fishing. Kaikoura is famous for whale watching; it lies within the Southern Hemisphere Whale Sanctuary, and several species of whale can be sighted here during the year, predominantly the huge sperm whale. Take one of many day trips to explore marine life, choose from whale watching cruise, dolphin encounter watch or swim, boat-based seal swim or cruise to see the endangered albatross. Kaikoura is famous for its fresh, delicious seafood with the Māori translation of Kaikoura meaning ‘food of crayfish’. You must try the local crayfish and mussels with the most famous place to get this is Nins Bin, a food truck located by the beach. Order the garlicky-buttered crayfish, sit on the beach and listen to the sound of the waves on the shore as you tuck in.
4* The White Morph
As you make your way to Lake Tekapo, stop into the farming town of Ashburton to see the vintage railway, aviation and car museums or the beautiful Trotts Garden, selected as a garden of International Significance by The Royal Institute of Horticulture.
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. The town is located on the shores of the turquoise waters of the beautiful Lake Tekapo and faces north across the dramatic mountains of the Southern Alps. Visit the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, situated on the shores of the lake, built in 1935 and a popular spot for photos looking out to the Southern Alps over the lake. If you are lucky, you will see the natural Southern Lights, best seen between April and September, with a symphony of colour coming to life. You will find an array of activities, whether you are visiting in summer or winter. Take a dip in the hot pools, or relax and rejuvenate with a spa treatment all year round. In summer slide down the world’s largest inflatable slide, or in winter, slide across the ice skating rink and try your hand at snow tubing.
5* Peppers Bluewater Resort
As you make your way into Queenstown, enjoy the scenery from mountain ranges to lakeside vistas as the road winds its way around Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is New Zealand’s most prosperous resort town with an array of summer and winter activities to do from heart-racing jaw-dropping action, to soft-adventure, pure relaxation and exploring hidden gems surrounding the town. It is world-famous for its delicious food, amazing wine, and epic nightlife. With over 150 bars, restaurants and cafes, there is something for everyone. Head down to the lake’s edge for a picnic, or take a leisurely scenic cruise along Lake Wakatipu by a vintage steamship, TSS Earnslaw, and stop into Walter Peak High Country Farm for lunch. A must-do experience is to head to Fergburger, Queenstown’s iconic institution serving delicious burgers, or for a high end dinner, try one of Queenstown’s stylish restaurants, Botswana Butchery, with its lake-side location, roaring fire in winter and delectable cuisine. The area boasts some of the best wineries in the Central Otago region, with several wineries to explore including the popular Gibbston Valley with their underground wine cave. During the months of December to March, the region is full of colour with trees laden with cherries, apricots, nectarines and peaches. The best way to explore the wine region and ensure you stop at the best on offer is to join a guided tour. Finish your day soaking at the Onsen Hot Pools, open day or night.
5* Peppers Beacon Hotel
As you travel south east to Dunedin, pass through the Central Otago region stopping at the towns of Clyde and Cromwell. The relaxed tasting rooms and vineyard restaurants showcase fine wines, local fare and stunning scenery, best savoured on guided tours and cycle trails that take-in the other great sights of the region. If you are passing through on a Sunday, you will find the Cromwell Farmers & Craft Market, held each Sunday, offering local artisan cheeses and fresh produce. Dunedin, often referred to as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ is rich in Scottish heritage and is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s best preserved Victoria and Edwardian cities. Follow the Street Art Trail for a whimsical journey, or take a trip through history at one of the museums, such as Otago Museum, or Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. Visit Speights Brewery for a guided historic tour through the working brewery which has been operating since 1879, and enjoy a meal and a cold brew. A must-see is Larnach Castle, built in 1871, a well-restored Victorian grandeur, where you can tour its beautiful rooms and gardens, and if time permits, book ahead for high tea. Get out and explore the outskirts for the city. Take a picturesque journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway as it takes you through the Central Otago hinterland and into the deep and narrow Taieri Gorge, or visit the adjacent Otago Peninsula and see the albatross sanctuary inhabited by seals, sea lions, penguins and up to 20 other species of seabird.
Make an early start to visit the charming towns as you make your way to Christchurch. In Oamaru, you will find New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture, and as you continue north, stop to see the Te Ana Maori Rock Art centre at the seaside village of Timaru. A little further north is the town of Geraldine, where you can shop for arts & crafts, or visit famous Barkers of Geraldine, a store offering delicious jams, chutneys and syrups.
Spend your last night in Christchurch before making your way home.
Depart Christchurch and return to the UK
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