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Thrifty Tours

Dark Sky Detour

Take the day to explore Christchurch and some of the city's highlights. The next morning depart early and head for one of the worlds only Dark Sky reserves, The Mackenzie Basin. Upon arriving unwind and relax at Tekapo Springs in hot pools that overlook the beautiful mountain vista. Once the sun sets embark on your journey to the stars with Dark Sky Project and see first hand what makes this basin world famous. Rest up, and get ready to hit the road again as you depart for Queenstown. In Queenstown you will take a journey back in time before jumping aboard the KJet and experiencing what makes Queenstown the Adventure Capital. Be sure to jump aboard the Skyline Gondola to embrace in some magical views over the township!

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**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

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Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Independent Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,805 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

4 days/3 nights

Motels

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 76 times in the last 7 days

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Detailed Itinerary
Dark Sky Detour - Day 1
Welcome to Christchurch City

Christchurch New Zealand's garden city is steadily being transformed into a vibrant urban destination. Encompassing a large green belt, it is known for its wide tree lined avenues and lush gardens. A great way to explore the city or easy way to see the sights or ride the historic trams across town to the renowned botanic gardens and the unique cardboard Transitional Cathedral, that's right it is built of cardboard!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Christchurch Triple Pass - Tram, Punting and Gondola

Experience three of Christchurch's iconic attractions in one day: the Christchurch Tram, Christchurch Gondola, and Punting on the Avon River. The historic tram is a delightful way to explore the evolving inner city, taking in the various sights with the hop-on hop-off pass and learning about the city from the live commentary. You'll also enjoy a bird's eye view of Christchurch and the Canterbury region including the distant peaks of the Southern Alps when you ride the gondola cableway to the top of the Port Hills in Heathcote Valley. Punting on the Avon River takes you through the city's green belt: a relaxing way to explore what is affectionately known as the 'Garden City'.

Your accommodation: Bella Vista Christchurch

Bella Vista Motel Christchurch offers a great range of comfortable modern units with excellent facilities. Enjoy the convenience of being located in close proximity to the Christchurch CBD, shops, entertainment and other activities.

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Dark Sky Detour - Day 2
Christchurch to Lake Tekapo with GreatSights

Today you head into the heart of the South Island, crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route, before heading into Mackenzie country. Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo is New Zealand's highest large lake and its incredible turquoise colour astounds many visitors. The amazing colour of the water is created by the fine rock particles that are suspended in the glacier fed waters and these reflect the light. One of the most popular landmarks in this region is the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Tekapo Springs Hot Pools

Tekapo Springs offers three adjoining main Hot Pools for you to sit back, relax and enjoy yourself while looking out to the beautiful Two Thumb range and stunning Lake Tekapo. Pool temperatures range from forty degrees celsius to thirty-six degrees celsius and each pool offers something different - massage jets to assist in taking away any aches and pains and fountains to splash under.

Dark Sky Project Summit Experience

Earth and Sky Stargazing tour departs nightly from the office in the Lake Tekapo township. Travel to the Mt John observatory high above the village where you will explore features of the majestic Southern Sky. Earth and Sky provide the equipment and the guidance, all you need to bring are keen eyes, warm clothes and a desire to see, learn, and experience.
Navigating your way through the Southern Sky using various telescopes and the naked eye, you will see amazing sights such as our own Milky Way Galaxy, the Southern Cross, Alpha-Centauri - our closest neighbouring star at only 4.3 light years away, and Sirius - the brightest star in our sky.
Behold and learn about our closest neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, which grace our night sky along with constellations such as Orion the Hunter and Scorpius.
You may also have the opportunity to see star clusters like the beautiful Jewel Box; awe inspiring planets; nebulae, immense clouds of gas and dust; and distant galaxies which test the limits of human imagination.

Your accommodation: Lake Tekapo Village Motel

Lake Tekapo Village Motel is conveniently located in the Lake Tekapo Village Centre, with dining, shopping and services all within easy walking distance. The closeness to amenities and superb views will make your stay very special.

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Dark Sky Detour - Day 3
Lake Tekapo to Queenstown by Intercity Coach

Leaving Lake Tekapo and the Mackenzie high country you descend through Burkes Pass and into rich farmland. Twizel, just south of Mt. Cook National Park was the location of many Lord of the Rings movie scenes and a little further on is Omarama. Crossing the Lindis Pass this is one of New Zealands highest roads with the summit reaching 971 metres, you pass from the Mackenzie Basin and into Central Otago. The next major town is Cromwell, a major fruit growing region, which sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge. Follow the sheer cliffs of the Kawarau Gorge towards Queenstown and Gibbston, one of New Zealand's premier wine growing regions. Approaching Queenstown the impressive Remarkables mountain range come into view and then beautiful Lake Wakatipu as you head towards the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola Ride

Hop aboard the Skyline Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere! From which you can take in the awe-inspiring views of this spectacular landscape. Sit back and relax as you enjoy panoramic views of The Remarkables, Walter Peak, Cecil Peak, Coronet Peak and the magnificent Lake Wakatipu.

Time Tripper Cinematic Experience

Queenstown’s only underwater experience takes you on a journey through time and legend beginning many millions of years ago. Your time travel pilot will guide you back 90 million years, through the time of the dinosaurs, take you to when New Zealand was formed, fly you deep into the earth when the Southern Alps were created and through the glacier that carved out Lake Wakatipu. Ending in present-day Queenstown, you then experience adventure activities you can do – all from the comfort of your rumbling seat!
You then experience 10 – 15 minutes of underwater viewing where you can feed the famous diving ducks, slinky eels and rainbow & brown trout that lie beneath.

KJet Queenstown 1 hour Jet Boat Ride

Enjoy an exhilarating 60 minute adventure as you speed across Lake Wakatipu to the deep turquoise waters of the Kawarau River then onto the narrow shallow braided waters of the gold rich Shotover River, it's an unforgettable journey. Throughout your adventure you'll be surrounded by spectacular alpine scenery as the powerful twin engine jet boat takes you on this thrilling ride, with the odd 360 degree spin thrown in for good measure.

Your accommodation: Blue Peaks Lodge

Blue Peaks Lodge offers well equipped self contained rooms with a fantastic location overlooking Queenstown and is just an easy five minutes walk to the Queenstown lakefront.

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Dark Sky Detour - Day 4
Queenstown to Christchurch via Mt Cook with Gray Line

Depart Queenstown in the morning passing the fruit growing area of Cromwell towards the dramatic Lindis Pass that links Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. The pass crosses a saddle between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers at an altitude of 971 metres above sea level. You will continue towards Omarama, which is a favorite place of glider pilots and sometimes known as 'place of light'. You will continue towards Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park in the Southern Alps. Mt Cook is New Zealand's tallest mountain. You will have a free time to explore Mount Cook Village or you can take a sightseeing flight (at your own expense) enabling you experience some of the most dramatic alpine and glacier scenery. After then, you will continue towards beautiful Lake Tekapo, where you can see the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd as it stands in solitude next to the vibrant blue waters. After visiting Tekapo, you will travel through the lush farmland of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

 

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Mar 9, 2024
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