Explore the South Island
New Zealand is renowned for its kaleidoscope of scenic marvels, and nowhere is this more prevalent than the farthest reaches of the country’s South Island. Staggering beauty and heart-pumping thrills await in the town of Queenstown, which is also known for its Hobbits—much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area. Renowned for adventure sports—it’s famously the home of bungy jumping—it’s also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards, historic mining towns, and spectacular Fjordland National Park.
Note: On select voyage departure dates this may run as either a pre- or post-voyage extension. Please call for details.
Arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Transfer to our hotel and enjoy lunch before we take the Skyline Gondola and ride 1,500 feet up to Bob’s Peak, with its stunning panoramic view across Lake Wakatipu, to The Remarkables mountain range. We return to our hotel and have the rest of the evening at leisure. (L)
After breakfast, more adventure awaits. Fetch your own lunch from the sea and share it on the mountain. We board a helicopter from Queenstown to the west coast, where we meet local fishermen who dive for crayfish and show you how they survive on this rugged coast.
Continue by helicopter to Milford Sound, one of fourteen fjords that make up the beautiful Fjordland National Park area, before touching down in an alpine setting for a glass of champagne and a toast to the amazing views. Return to Queenstown, where we land high atop a mountain and are met by local guides, who lead a 1.5- to 2-hour hike down to an old gold mining cottage. Here your chef will prepare lunch—and cook up your freshly caught crayfish. Return via helicopter to Queenstown. (B,L)
After breakfast, we head back to the 1860’s on a visit to the settlement of Arrowtown. Established in the heyday of the goldmining days, locals have firmly embraced the past, and many of the shops, restaurants, and homes look as they did back then. With a little help from the excellent Lakes District Museum and a stroll through the partially restored Chinese gold miner’s settlement, it is possible to evoke a feeling of what life might have been like for those hardy pioneers.
Taking a leap into modern days and the industry of our times—winemaking—we visit Gibbston Valley Winery for a tasting and lunch in the popular restaurant. Today the area is regarded as one of the top three regions in the world for Pinot Noir.
The culinary theme continues this evening as we board the vintage steamer, TSS Earnslaw for a leisurely cruise on Lake Wakatipu. Sailing the waters of Wakatipu for over 100 years, the ship is a gracious way to reach our dinner spot: Walter Peak Station, one of New Zealand’s most famous sheep and cattle stations. Tonight you will have the chance to experience high-country farm life, as well as enjoy a barbecue dinner at the farm’s homestead restaurant. The Earnslaw will deliver us back to Queenstown for our last night at the hotel. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and make our way to Dunedin, known as the Edinburgh of the South. Our travels today take us through small New Zealand towns and beautiful rock formations as we make our way to Alexandra and Cromwell. We stop at Wild Earth for an early lunch—a unique experience in the outdoor cooking category, utilizing oak Pinot Noir wine barrels to steam, bake, grill, and smoke a delicious array of fresh New Zealand cuisine, paired with Central Otago wine in a beautiful setting.
Continue to Dunedin where we have a guided overview of the city, which boasts many fine Edwardian stone buildings, including the stunning railway station and the law courts. Embark our ship, National Geographic Endurance. (B,L,D)
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