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Thrifty Tours

Southern Beach Explorer

Begin your adventure in Christchurch. Famous for its heritage, you can explore this city by Tram, Punt, or Gondola! In the morning, board the Coastal Pacific Train for a scenic journey north to Kaikoura, renowned for its abundant marine life. Be sure to indulge in some fresh seafood while you're here! Next, get up close and personal with the coast and wildlife on a magical swimming encounter with dusky dolphins. You'll be taken out on the catamaran, and swim in the ocean with these magnificent mammals in their natural habitat. The following morning, you'll again board the Coastal Pacific Train for a shorter leg to Picton, home to the stunning Queen Charlotte Sound. Spend your first afternoon exploring this coastal city, or opt for a dolphin cruise in the Marlborough Sound. On day two in Picton, get ready for a full-day adventure with Wilderness Guides on a guided walk in Queen Charlotte Sound. Your informative local guide will talk about the European and Māori history of the area as well as provide detailed information on the birds and plants you encounter along the way. Next up is a coach ride to Nelson, known for its endless sunshine hours and beautiful mountain and ocean vistas. Spend the evening unwinding from your journey thus far, as the next day is a tour of the famous Abel Tasman National Park. During this tour, you will be strolling golden sand beaches, walking and exploring the natural wonderland of Abel Tasman National Park. You will enjoy stunning views and informative commentary on the Maori history and a rich variety of vegetation, birds, and aquatic life. The next day, your adventure draws to an end back to where you started in Christchurch. Spend your final evening here relaxing and soaking up all of the magical coastal experiences you've had, and even explore the Botanical Gardens. The following morning you are transported to the airport for departure. Haere rā!

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Tour summary and feature

Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Independent Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,830 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Christchurch, finishes in Christchurch

8 days/7 nights

Motels

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 30 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
- Private transfer Christchurch Domestic Airport to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station
- Private Transfer
- Private transfer Lichfield St stop to your accommodation
- Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport
2 lunches
Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Southern Beach Explorer - Day 1
Private transfer Christchurch Domestic Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.

Christchurch

The largest metro area in the South Island, Christchurch is referred to as New Zealand's Garden City. Home to one of the biggest public parks in the country, Christchurch is also known as the gateway to the South Island. Boasting a plethora of activities both inside and outside the town centre, there is something here to suit every visitor.
One such attraction is the International Antarctic Centre, located at the International Airport. From here the bases in Antarctica are replenished and there are unique displays of what life is like in this chilly environment - including native little blue penguins.
You could also wish to visit Quake City for insight into the devastating Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, then take in the sights on a city tour. Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. Explore the French settlement of Akaroa, tucked inside Banks Peninsula. An eclectic mix of British and French architecture, this seaside town has a whimsical charm and is the perfect place to escape.

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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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 2
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Train Station with Christchurch Touring

A private driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the Christchurch train station in time for your train journey.

Coastal Pacific Train: Christchurch to Kaikoura

The Coastal Pacific train journey travels between Christchurch, the South Island's largest city and the delightful port of Picton. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of your train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other. The Coastal Pacific travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges - one of them being New Zealand's only road-rail bridge. The Coastal Pacific includes an open-air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean and fresh sea air.
This leg of the journey crosses the wonderful North Canterbury countryside to the township of Kaikoura. Kaikoura offers dramatic landscape scenes of mountains meeting the sea. Kaikoura is world famous for its resident whale population and whale-watching tours. The more adventurous traveller might wish to get closer to marine life and swim with the dolphins.

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a breathtaking seaside town teeming with marine life and natural beauty. As you wander through this coastal paradise, you'll be enveloped by the fresh sea breeze and the sounds of the ocean. Begin your adventure by observing the lively fur seal colony at the tip of the peninsula. For an unforgettable experience, board a boat to go whale watching and marvel at the majestic whales that call these waters home year-round. If you're feeling adventurous, take the plunge and swim with the playful dusky dolphins in their natural habitat. For bird enthusiasts, Kaikoura offers the chance to get up close with the native albatross, an awe-inspiring sight. The town is rich with attractions and activities for every visitor. A walk around the Kaikoura Peninsula is a must, where you can explore tide pools teeming with marine life, observe sea creatures basking on the rocks, and watch seabirds soaring above. Be sure to keep a respectful distance from the sleeping sea lions you might encounter along the way. Ohau Point is another highlight, where you can watch fur seals frolic in their natural environment. To delve into Kaikoura's fascinating history, visit Fyffe House. This historic whaler's cottage offers a glimpse into the town's whaling past and its evolution over the years. No trip to Kaikoura is complete without sampling the local seafood. Renowned for having some of the best fish and chips in the country, Kaikoura's eateries serve fresh catches straight from the morning's haul, ensuring a delicious and authentic dining experience. If you need a break from the action, unwind at Lavendyl Lavender Farm. Stroll through the fragrant lavender fields, relax in the serene atmosphere, and browse the gift shop for a variety of lavender products. Kaikoura seamlessly blends adventure, history, and relaxation, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a unique and enriching experience.

Dolphin Encounter Swimming with the Dolphins

Experience a magical swimming encounter with dusky dolphins off the coast Kaikoura. You’ll be taken out in the catamaran and have the chance to swim in the water with these wild mammals in a completely natural environment. The dusky dolphin inhabits the waters around Kaikoura for most of the year - making it one of the only places in the world where dolphins can be encountered every day. It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information please see here.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 30 Minute Whale Watch Explorer with Wings over Whales Kaikoura

In a typical 30 minute flight you will see the majestic Sperm Whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 Dusky Dolphins cavorting with each other. On occasion, sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and the mighty Blue Whales. You may also spot Hectors, Risso's, Southern Right Whale Dolphins, and Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area. Gain an aerial perspective of this fantastic marine environment in a high-winged aircraft with optimal, unobstructed viewing.

Your accommodation: The White Morph, Kaikoura

Set on the Esplanade in Kaikōura, The White Morph enjoys commanding views of the ocean and mountains. Just a 10-minute walk into town, The White Morph has been beautifully placed so that you can take in the spectacular scenery of Kaikoura while enjoying the variety of attractions on offer.

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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 3
Coastal Pacific Train: Kaikoura to Picton

The Coastal Pacific train journey travels between the delightful port of Picton and Christchurch, the South Island's largest city. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of your train and the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline on the other.
One of the world's most scenic train journeys, the Coastal Pacific travels through 22 tunnels and crosses 175 bridges, one of them being New Zealand's only road-rail bridge. As on The TranzAlpine, The Coastal Pacific includes an open air viewing carriage where all your senses are awakened with the clean, fresh, sea air.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Motuara Island & Dolphin Cruise Marlborough Sounds with E-Ko Tours

Embark on a fully guided wildlife and dolphin cruise like no other. Travel from Picton through the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic journey to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary. The comfortable vessels and expert team take you on a conservation-focused, wildlife adventure for your soul. Expert commentary and fantastic viewing areas allow you to enjoy playful Hector’s, Common, Bottlenose, or Dusky Dolphins (90% encounter rate!). You will also see NZ fur seals and numerous seabirds before landing on Motuara Island for a 1-hour nature lover’s walk to remember – great for adults and kids alike.

Your accommodation: Harbour View Motel Picton

Spacious, self contained accommodation with views of the harbour and marina. Studio units each with its own private balcony, just minutes from the water's edge and a short stroll to town.

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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 4
Full Day Guided Walk in Queen Charlotte Sound with Wilderness Guides

If you are passing through Picton or Marlborough, this one day guided walk is an excellent outing into the Marlborough Sounds. For those that want the added value of having everything provided as well as the chance to learn about the history and wildlife of the Marlborough Sounds with one of the passionate and knowledgeable local guides, this is the perfect one day experience of the Queen Charlotte Track.

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information please see here.

Your accommodation: Harbour View Motel Picton

Spacious, self contained accommodation with views of the harbour and marina. Studio units each with its own private balcony, just minutes from the water's edge and a short stroll to town.
Meals included: Lunch

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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 5
Picton to Nelson by Intercity Coach

Board your coach in Picton and first travel south to Blenheim, the centre of the Marlborough wine region.  From Blenheim you'll pass the vast grape growing areas as you head west towards Renwick, then through the fertile valleys and onto the picturesque port town of Havelock. Continue through the Rai Valley and over the ranges before dropping to the coast and Tasman Bay. Follow the shore into the city of Nelson.

Explore Nelson City

The vibrant Nelson city centre offers an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops and along the waterfront, you will find many fine restaurants specialising in seafood to enjoy. Founded in 1841 by the New Zealand Company the region today still boasts many remarkable buildings from these early days, however it is its close proximity to Abel Tasman National Park that is one of Nelson's greatest advantages to visitors with its pristine waters, beautiful native bush and golden beaches making this an adventure seeker's paradise. Nelson is also famous for its art and crafts and you will find many local offerings - including the world-famous Hoglund Glassworks.

Private Transfer

Your accommodation: The Sails Motel

The Sails Nelson is located just 5 minutes walk from the Nelson City Centre and adjacent to all main routes. Each suite is tastefully and luxuriously furnished to the highest standard, providing you with the total package in comfort and style.

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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 6
Abel Tasman Water and Walk Tour with Wine, Art & Wilderness - Includes Lunch

During this tour you will be strolling golden sand beaches, walking and exploring natural wonderland of Abel Tasman National Park. You will enjoy stunning views and experience unique interpretation of this National Park.  Access is by water taxi to Medlands Beach and walking through an ever changing forest of silver fern, beech trees and Manuka & kanuka. This fully guided journey interprets the less obvious features as well as Maori history and the rich variety of vegetation, birds and aquatic life.

Your accommodation: The Sails Motel

The Sails Nelson is located just 5 minutes walk from the Nelson City Centre and adjacent to all main routes. Each suite is tastefully and luxuriously furnished to the highest standard, providing you with the total package in comfort and style.
Meals included: Lunch

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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 7
Nelson to Christchurch with Intercity via Blenheim

Board your coach in Nelson and cross the hills to the harbour town of Havelock. Continue through the Rai Valley and onto Renwick and the heart of the Marlborough wine region, Blenheim. From Blenheim you cross the 'dry hills' of the Marlborough ranges and head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the turquoise waters of the South Pacific Ocean and to the west the towering Kaikoura Ranges. Kaikoura Township is a bustling little place with many cafes, restaurants and shops but the main reason for visiting here is the wildlife. Arriving into Christchurch City puts you right in the heart of the regenerating city.

Private transfer Lichfield St stop to your accommodation

A private transfer will collect you from the coach stop and transfer you to your accommodation.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens tour

Established in 1863, Christchurch's 75-acre Botanic Gardens host the finest collection of exotic and indigenous plants to be found anywhere in New Zealand. Operating a continuous daily service, the Botanic Gardens Tour allows you to discover the natural beauty, history, and culture of this central city oasis while at the same time being taken around the gardens in all weather, comfort, and style. The professionally-guided tours allow you the flexibility of staying on the shuttles for the full circuit or alternatively, you can choose to ''hop on or hop off'' at any of the clearly-identified stops around the Gardens.

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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Southern Beach Explorer - Day 8
Private transfer accommodation to Christchurch Airport

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to Christchurch Airport in time for your departing flight.

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