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CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR TOUR - New Zealand 12 days

 Day 1    Wednesday 23 December 2020    ARRIVE QUEENSTOWN    (D)

Today you will make your own arrangements to Queenstown. Tonight we will convene as a group in the hotel restaurant for dinner.
Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Hotel – 3 nights

Day 2    Thursday 24 December 2020    QUEENSTOWN SIGHTSEEING    (B)
After breakfast this morning we take to the waters for a cruise along Lake Wakatipu.  This 90 minute trip will take you across Lake Wakatipu right to the end of the lake, viewing stunning homes, rare birds and other birdlife, Historic Dam and Willow Islands and all the magnificent scenery of Queenstown from the water. After our cruise the remainder of your day is at leisure. Activities you may wish to do (at your own cost) are the Shotover Jet or enjoy a ride onboard the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. Dinner tonight is at your leisure.

Day 3    Friday 25 December 2020    CHRISTMAS LUNCH IN QUEENSTOWN    (BLD)
Merry Christmas! After enjoying a leisurely morning we ride the iconic Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak to enjoy a one-of-a-kind, celebratory Christmas Day Lunch in a festive atmosphere complete with Christmas crackers, cheery decorations and an appearance from Santa! Relax, take in the live music and entertainment and enjoy Queenstown’s most spectacular dining vista. After our delicious lunch the remainder of your day is to relax and enjoy the scenery. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.

Day 4    Saturday 26 December 2020    QUEENSTOWN TO TWIZEL (via Mount Cook)    (BD)
Today we depart Queenstown and travel north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge, past pretty Lake Dunstan and across the distinctive Central Otago countryside to the Lindis Pass.  Pass the small towns of Omarama and Twizel then see the canals that feed the huge Waitaki hydro electricity generation scheme.  Drive along the shores of Lake Pukaki into Mt Cook National Park. At the heart of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine region is Mt Cook, at 3754 metres the highest peak in Australasia.  Time here for a short walk or helicopter flight high into the spectacular Southern Alps (not included – extra cost).   We leave Mount Cook Village and retrace our journey along the shores of Lake Pukaki with its shimmering turquoise waters before arriving in the small town of Twizel for the overnight stay.  Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel – 1 night

Day 5    Sunday 27 December 2020    TWIZEL TO CHRISTCHURCH    (BD)
This morning we enjoy a uniquely Kiwi experience – making a Pavlova!   We visit a local home set on the shores of Lake Tekapo and learn the secrets of this our Kiwi dessert.   We then view the Church of the Good Shepherd and the famous bronze sculpture of Collie Dog before continuing our journey through the vast MacKenzie Country over Burkes Pass and on to the fertile Canterbury Plains before arriving in Christchurch.  On arrival in Christchurch we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. Highlights include the River Avon, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery; Bridge of Remembrance; the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial and the Spanish Mission-inspired New Regent Street.  Learn about the effects of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding.  We then travel to our accommodation where we will stay for the next few nights. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Elms Hotel, Christchurch – 7 nights

Day 6    Monday 28 December 2020    CHRISTCHURCH SIGHTS    (BD)
Following breakfast this morning we travel into Christchurch. We enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre on board a beautifully restored heritage tram. You can choose to disembark the tram at any stop throughout the day to explore the Christchurch CBD. Your driver will communicate with you what time he will meet you outside the Canterbury Museum to transfer you back to the hotel. Dinner tonight is in the hotel restaurant.

Day 7    Tuesday 29 December 2020    TRANZALPINE TO ARTHURS PASS    (BD)
This morning will be an early start as we prepare for our TranzAlpine Train journey to Arthur’s Pass. Climb aboard one of the world’s most famous train journeys, between Christchurch and Arthurs Pass. Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed Waimakariri River. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at every turn. You will be met at Arthurs Pass train station, where we continue sightseeing by road to view the 440 metre Otira Viaduct – one of the most notable environmental engineering achievements in New Zealand. We then turn back to Arthurs Pass where we have lunch and you have time to explore the village. Leaving Arthurs Pass we drive through the high alpine Porters Pass, back to Springfield, and Christchurch. Travelling this time by road you have a totally different view of the area you travelled by train this morning. On arrival back into Christchurch, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.

Day 8    Wednesday 30 December 2020    HANMER SPRINGS    (BD)
Boarding the coach after a leisurely breakfast we will travel to Hanmer Springs. Surrounded by mountains and forests with crisp alpine air and award winning natural thermal pools, the village of Hanmer Springs is a simply magical place. With vibrant boutique shopping, and an exciting array of adventure activities, world class cafes and restaurants, there is literally something to entertain everyone. The most popular attraction is Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa – a stunning complex of natural thermal pools. Some of you may choose to have a relaxing soak in the thermal pools (at own cost).  This afternoon we retrace our steps back to Christchurch stopping at a local winery on the way home to sample some of their product. Tonight we will enjoy a unique dinner experience on board the Christchurch Tram. Tonight’s dinner includes a welcome drink, starter, entree, main, dessert and tea or coffee.

Day 9    Thursday 31 December 2020    GARDEN VISITS    (BLD)
After breakfast today we enjoy a guided tour of Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where land was first set aside in 1849.  The first oak tree was planted in 1863 to mark the marriage of Edward VII and development has continued over the years, including a native New Zealand garden, the Cockayne garden of native alpine plants, the renowned central Rose Garden, extensive herbaceous borders, a floral conservatory and a fernery.  More recent additions include an alpine house and a house for bromeliads and orchids. Departing Christchurch our next garden visit is to Akaunui Historic House and Gardens.  The Akaunui garden was originally designed by Alfred Buxton, established over 100 years ago.  During the last 15 years major developments have taken place and the garden now covers 6 hectares and includes magnificent old trees (both native and exotic) and a wide variety of recently planted species.  There is a pond, a creek and a bog garden, a woodland garden with a large collection of rhododendrons and associated plants; formal and less formal gardens, many roses and a productive vegetable garden. The garden complements the imposing century old double storey brick homestead.  Today enjoy lunch at the Akaunui Homestead. On our return to Ashburton we visit Trott’s Gardens.  The woodland area was developed around a series of gently curving paths.  Later the water gardens were added and finally the English inspired formal gardens. We then retrace our steps back to Christchurch. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.

Day 10    Friday 1 January 2021    Christchurch Sightseeing    (BD)
Happy New Year!
After a leisurely breakfast this morning we visit the former RNZAF Base at Wigram, where the Air Force museum is now sited.  There are 28 fully restored aircraft on display including a Spitfire, flight  simulators for a Spitfire, Mosquito and a Skyhawk, and thousands of artefacts, photos and stories about famous aviators.  Here we will enjoy a guided tour of the museum. Discover their historic aircraft and hear captivating and moving stories of the men and women of the Air Force as we are guided through the Museum galleries. There will be time here for you to purchase your lunch from the on site café. This afternoon we will visit one of New Zealand’s best tourist attractions, the International Antarctic Centre which provides visitors of all ages an interactive, fun and exciting experience of Antarctica. You’ll experience snow and ice, a storm, learn about life in modern day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins!  Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.

Day 11    Saturday 2 January 2021    AKAROA    (BD)
Today we have a later start and travel to the historical seaside village of Akaroa. Time will be available in Akaroa for you to wander through the main street of the village andd purchase your lunch. On our return journey we visit the Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory. Barry’s Bay Cheese has been made the traditional way since 1895 and they have persevered with the original methods. We then travel through Gebbies Pass before dropping into the seaside port of Lyttleton. The Port is the major trade gateway to the South Island. Every day goods are loaded and unloaded which keep Canterbury moving. We then return to Christchurch via the Road Tunnel.  The Road Tunnel Opened in 1964 and saves 8 kilometres in distance between Lyttleton and Christchurch and avoids the hill climb. The tunnel gives direct access to wharves enabling transport direct from the ships side to warehouse or factory or vice versa. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.

Day 12    Sunday 3 January 2021    CHRISTCHURCH TO HOME CITIES    (B)
After breakfast this morning we say farewell to Christchurch as you fly back to your home city (own arrangements for flights).

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