New Zealand: Queenstown & Wine Country Pre-Voyage Extension
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.
Day 1 - Arrive Queenstown
Arrive in Queenstown and depart for the Skyline Gondola. We’ll ride up 450 meters to Bob’s Peak with its stunning panoramic views across Lake Wakatipu to the rugged Remarkables range beyond. Enjoy a late lunch at the aptly named Stratosfare Restaurant before checking into the Crowne Plaza Queenstown where you’ll have some time to rest and refresh. In the early evening, the culinary theme continues as we board the vintage steamer, TSS Earnslaw or ‘Lady of the Lake’, for a leisurely cruise on Lake Wakatipu. The old girl has been working the waters of Wakatipu for over 100 years and it’s a gracious way to reach our dinner spot on the opposite shore, Walter Peak Station. Walter Peak is one of New Zealand’s most famous sheep and cattle stations, and tonight you will get a chance to see a bit of high-country farm life, as well as enjoying a BBQ dinner at the farm’s homestead restaurant. At the end of the evening, the Earnslaw will be on hand to gently deliver you back to Queenstown. (L,D)
Day 2 - Queenstown & Milford
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for your full-day adventure. Depart Queenstown by private helicopter and head toward the west coast where you will land and meet locals who dive for your crayfish lunch right in front of you. After watching how they catch food and thrive on the rugged west coast, return to the helicopter, and track down the coastline into Milford, one of fourteen Fiords that makes up the beautiful Fiordland National Park. Touch down on an alpine setting for a celebratory glass of champagne. Return to Queenstown where you will be met by your local guide on a mountain top. Hike for 1.5-2 hours down into a beautiful high-country station with an old gold mining cottage where your chef will prepare your lunch and cook up your freshly caught crays. Your helicopter will return you to Queenstown after lunch. Spend the evening at your leisure in Queenstown. (B,L)
Day 3 - Arrowtown & Wine Tasting
After breakfast at the hotel, we head back in time to the 1860’s as we visit the nearby settlement of Arrowtown. Established in the heyday of the goldmining era, locals have firmly embraced the past and many of the shops, restaurants and homes look very much as they did back then. With a little extra help from the excellent Lakes District Museum, and a wander 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.
Leaping into modern days and the industry of our times—winemaking—we visit Gibbston Valley Wines for a tasting and lunch. Today the area is regarded as one of the top three regions in the world for Pinot Noir while other varieties have also won more than their fair share of awards. Return to the hotel in the mid-afternoon, then join your fellow embarking travelers in the early evening for a cocktail party and briefing on tomorrow’s events. Dinner is at your leisure tonight. (B,L)
Day 4 - Auckland to Milford Sound
After breakfast at the hotel, depart on a full day tour en route to Milford Sound where you’ll embark the National Geographic Orion in the later afternoon. (B)
Costs & What's Included