Our South Island CENTRAL Scenic Tour features the snow capped Southern Alps, turquoise glacial lakes, and the immense dark sky of Mackenzie Country, as well as Central Otago’s tussock and schist landscapes and pioneering history.
The hallmark of PureTrails New Zealand’s tours continues with our South Island Scenic Tour series, with small group travel (up to 14 people); off the beaten track locations; very well organised meals and logistics; interaction with local communities; and perhaps most importantly, one of our fantastic friendly guides to look after you on the tour and make sure you have the best experience ever!
Our scenic tours feature a combination of travel to beautifully scenic locations, visiting local sights of interest and museums, short (10-20min unguided) walks, wine tasting and other fun activities such as scenic boat rides. There is no cycling on our scenic tours.
South Island ‘CENTRAL: alps, tussock & schist’ Scenic Tour Highlights
- Journey through the magical South Island landscapes of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago
- Learn about Maori Astronomy at the Tekapo Dark Sky Observatory and absorb the scenery while soaking in the hot pools or walking up Mt John
- Visit Aoraki Mt Cook, explore the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum, and take in the majestic peaks on a short walk or optional scenic flight
- Explore buildings and villages of the gold-mining pioneers in Central Otago as well as the modern day galleries and boutiques
- Meet a 4th generation farming family and tour their high country station
- Try your hand at the ancient sport of curling at Naseby
- Taste local Central Otago wines
- Opt to do a high speed lap at the internationally renowned Highlands Motorsport Facility
- Get off the beaten track at Queenstown on either the Dart River Safari or Gold Heritage 4WD tour
Day 1 Christchurch – Twizel
We depart Christchurch for the drive south through the Mackenzie Country, stopping off to explore the small towns of Fairlie and Burkes Pass along the way. At Lake Tekapo absorb the brilliant turquoise coloured glacial lake and snow covered Southern Alps while soaking in the hot pools, or perhaps on a walk to Mt John. Or you may wish to have a go at ice skating! Learn about the significance of the southern night sky to Maori on the Dark Sky Experience. We then head across the Mackenzie Basin to the town of Twizel and our accommodation for the next two evenings.
Day 2 Twizel (Aoraki/Mt Cook)
Today we head to the Mt Cook village at the base of the magnificent Aoraki Mt Cook. Explore the history of the region at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. Take in the grandeur of the majestic peaks of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park on a walk, or perhaps on an optional scenic flight. We then return to our Twizel accommodation. In the evening there is the opportunity to take a night time star tour to fully appreciate the clarity of the amazing southern night sky.
Day 3 Twizel – Wedderburn
We travel over the Lindis Pass and into Central Otago. Explore the small towns of our pioneering forebears, who came to this area in the 1860’s in search for gold, and later to farm. We visit a number sites of historical interest including Ophir Post Office and Hayes Engineering Works. Stay in cosy cottages nestled beneath the Ida Range at the wee settlement of Wedderburn in the Maniototo. Meet our accommodation hosts Stu & Lorraine Duncan over afternoon tea, and enjoy a tour around their 4th generation high country cattle, sheep and venison station. Get an insight into modern day farming and the rural lifestyle.
Day 4 Wedderburn – Clyde
This morning we visit the historic gold-mining town of Naseby where you can have a go at curling, the ancient Scottish sport. Walk around the amazing white clay sluicings and Blue Lake at St Bathan’s. We head to Alexandra where there is the opportunity to visit the Central Stories Museum and walk up the famed ‘Alexandra Clock’ on the hillside overlooking the town. In Clyde browse the many art galleries and boutiques before settling into our accommodation in the Historic Precinct of Clyde.
Day 5 Clyde – Arrowtown
We head to Cromwell where you have the opportunity to visit Highlands Motorsport Park and partake in a range of adrenalin charged motoring experiences! Alternatively you may wish spend some time exploring the gold mining sluicings on a scenic walk and the Cromwell Historic Precinct. We then head through the Kawarau Gorge, visiting a few vineyards and cellar doors on our way to Arrowtown. Settle into our accommodation for the next two evenings.
Day 6 Arrowtown (Dart River/Skippers)
We have a relaxing morning exploring the Arrowtown precinct and Chinese Village before embarking on an awesome Queenstown adventure. You have the choice of either heading to Glenorchy for the Dart River Safari, a wilderness jet boat ride up the braided, glacier-fed Dart River and a guided walk through magical beech forest, or alternatively a Gold Heritage 4WD tour to Skippers Canyon, voted by British Automobile as one of the 25 most scenic roads in the world, high above the Shotover River. We regroup in the evening to share our adventures and enjoy a final dinner together.
Day 7 Arrowtown – Christchurch
After breakfast your guide will head back to Christchurch. You are welcome to return to Christchurch with our vehicle or alternatively finish your trip with us in Arrowtown for onward travel or flights out of Queenstown Airport.
11 May 2020
6 Jul 2020
24 Aug 2020
What’s included in the tour package?
- 6 nights double/twin share ensuite accommodation
- 6 evening meals; 1 lunch; 6 continental breakfasts (indicated by B/L/D in the itinerary)
- Tekapo Dark Sky Experience astro tour
- Sir Edmund Hillary Museum entry
- Wedderburn farm tour
- Curling have a go session
- Dart River Safari OR Gold Heritage 4WD tour
- the services of a tour leader
- all transport from/to Christchurch
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%
Not included in the tour package:
Our Guiding Team
Customer Service/Tour Leader (Founder and Managing Director)
Hilary is at the helm of 'mission control', and is often the person who answers your call or email, although is now spending more time out and about on tours. After travelling the world for several years and working in tourism on her big 'OE', Hilary came home and fell in love with NZ once again and in particular, the South Island. With a love of the outdoors and marketing background she teamed up with her mother to form 'PureTrails'. Hilary enjoys photography, cycling, walking, gardening, and being a mum to Josie & Sullivan.
Tour Leader/Operations Support (since 2008; Director)
John grew up in the town of Wanganui, where in his school days, he helped build the famed 'Wanganui High School Tramping Club Hut' on Mount Ruapehu. John retired from a career as a Property Valuer and Agricultural consultant where he practised for many years in Western Australia and Tauranga. John has travelled, walked and cycled extensively abroad and now enjoys introducing our visitors to favourite parts of NZ. Other hobbies include cycling, bridge, gardening & horse racing (don't get him started on the latter!)