This tour has been postponed until Autumn 2023
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Come with me on this small group, bespoke tour for 10 fabulous days as we find the best the region has to offer and go off the beaten track to discover some of the hidden gems of Central Otago. You won’t find another tour like this one!
Queenstown • Clyde • Cromwell • Wanaka • Arrowtown • Glenorchy
If you listen to Newstalk ZB, you’ll have heard me on Sunday mornings for the past 10 years talking travel. These tours are for my readers and listeners who would love a holiday – and have me do all the organisation for you!
“I was fortunate to be part of Megan’s Central Otago trip. It was fantastic with the right balance of organised activities and free time. I love the relaxed style travelling with Megan which allows for flexibility to do your own thing if required. The accommodation was fantastic too. A great way to travel with a small group of people which makes for lots of fun while seeing great places. And a fantastic time of the year to travel with the beautiful autumn colours. This trip is highly recommended.” – Fiona 2021 (2nd time guest)
We did this wonderful itinerary in 2021 and it was so good we’re doing it again!
We’ll be wine tasting, eating out, pottering through old towns, ogling at stunning scenery, browsing markets and boutiques and we’ve thrown some wonderful surprises and delights in there too. There will be free time for you to enjoy the things you love too.
We will have our own driver and a luxury coach and will be staying at 4 and 5-star hotels and boutique accommodation that are within easy walking distance of the action.
This tour needs a minimum of 9 to go ahead and we’ll take a maximum of 14. It is fully refundable if Covid restrictions prohibit travelling, but we advise taking out insurance in case you need to cancel for other reasons.
A lovely testimonial:
“Thank you Megan for converting me to the world of small group touring, it was like travelling with a group of friends and family. Whether you are a couple, friends or solo traveller, I would highly recommend travelling with ‘Blogger at Large’. Bring on the next tour!” – Kerrie (who has just booked her 4th tour!)
Here’s the full itinerary!
Day 1 : Queenstown
Today we meet in Queenstown around 3pm and I will take us on a walking tour for those who wish, to get our bearings for places you want to come back to in your free time, plus all the many dining options and of course that beautiful lake. (We may stop in for a glass of wine somewhere to properly meet each other!)
Tonight we will enjoy a gorgeous welcome dinner at Botswana Butchery, included.
Day 2 : Glenorchy
Breakfast at the hotel is included then your morning is free to explore Queenstown, do a bit of shopping, walk through the gardens, take photos…
After lunch, we drive to Glenorchy. The drive is picturesque and lakeside for the most part. Heading deeper and deeper into Mt Aspiring National Park, you cannot help but feel you are in a special part of the world – Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit movies, Top of the Lake and countless other movies all were made in this remote and entrancing area.
Dinner is own arrangements.
Day 3 : Free day in Queenstown
This is a free day for you to choose from our extensive list of options, which will be provided with your registration form. Things like the Shotover Jet, Heli tours, Milford Sound day tour, Dart River Safari, Spa at the Sofitel, Gibbston Valley wineries… If there is something you are keen to do, let me know and I will do my best to organise it for you.
- Day tours to Milford Sound
• full day by coach
• heli options
- Scenic heli flight with snow landing
- Dart River Safaris – ¾ day tour
- Nomad Safaris – Safari of the Scenes (Queenstown/Arrowtown) – half day morning tour
- Nomad Safaris – quad biking
- Walter Peak and TSS Earnslaw visit (buffet lunch an option too)
- Gibbston Valley wineries
- Shotover Jet
Day 4 : Gondola and Arrowtown
About mid morning we will take the Skyline gondola 480m to the top of Bob’s Peak with stunning views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Those who dare can luge or paraglide, the rest of us can take photos (!)
We’ll have an amazing lunch at the Stratosphere buffet restaurant with the best views in town.
After lunch we’ll depart for Arrowtown and spend free time walking through this quaint old gold mining town and exploring the old Chinese settlement. Late this afternoon we have a treat in store in Arrowtown (I’m not telling!)
Dinner is own arrangements back in Queenstown (if you need it!)
Day 5 : Cardrona/Wanaka
Depart Queenstown for the scenic drive to Wanaka via the Cardona Hotel where you will have lunch today. This drive takes you through Gibbston Valley where a stop at the AJ Hackett Bungy Centre at Kawarau Bridge will be included. (Yes, there will be time for a jump or a zip line – but let me know so I can book it!)
The Cardrona Hotel was established in 1863 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels. It is one of only two remaining buildings from the Cardrona Valley gold rush era. In its hey-day Cardrona was a prosperous settlement and significant commercial hub for the area. During this period, the hotel – one of four in the township – offered accommodation, livery services and an accommodation stop for itinerant travellers. The historic hotel facade is representative of this now vanished town and is an important part of New Zealand’s history.
After lunch, we will visit the Cardrona Distillery for a gin and whiskey tasting. Led by Desiree Whitaker, who learned her craft from some of the world’s masters. Tasting at own cost.
Continue our drive over the Crowne Range with spectacular views (on a nice day) to arrive in Wanaka.
Dinner is own arrangements. We will head into town and find a restaurant together for those who wish.
Accommodation is at Edgewater Lake Wanaka for 2 nights including breakfast.
Day 6 : Wanaka
Visit the weird and wonderful Puzzling World, which has been messing with people’s heads since 1973, no matter what age, nationality, or experience!
Visit the Wanaka Lavender Farm to experience 20 acres of beautiful lavender fields, animals and display gardens.
This afternoon is free for optional activities in Wanaka. The town centre is also a gentle stroll around the edge of the lake to a fine collection of small, boutique art galleries, cafes and gift shops.
Optional activities today include Ridgeline 4WD Adventures, Lake Wanaka Cruises – Ruby Island Cruise and Photo Walk. (Cost additional)
Lunch/Dinner is own arrangements.
Day 7 : Wanaka & Clyde
Today we head to Cromwell with a ‘must do’ visit to Mrs Jones Orchard. A highlight for locals and international tourists alike, the fresh fruit grown at Mrs Jones Orchard is world-class and exported around the world. However, you will also be amazed at the range of other products available – including real fruit ice creams!
You then head into Cromwell Old Town to browse through the little shops and have a coffee overlooking the lake. Learn about local industry and how the entire town was moved to allow the necessary flooding for the Clyde Dam in the early 1990’s.
Once assembled again, your drive continues to Clyde. On arrival, check in to your accommodation and the rest of the evening is at your leisure.
Dinner is own arrangements, but we will likely dine together in one of the Clyde restaurants.
Accommodation : Olivers Central Otago Lodge and Stables for 3 nights
Day 8 : Central Otago Wineries
Today we’ll have a leisurely start over breakfast and head out to sample of Central Otago’s finest wineries including Domaine Thomson to taste the difference between their grapes grown in Burgundy and their grapes grown in Central Otago.
We’ll head to Mt Difficulty for lunch and a tasting with sweeping views over the Bannockburn valley and try my namesake, the roaring Meg (!!)
After lunch we’ll visit local artist Rachel Hirabayashi, award-winning artist where a visit to her studio will surprise and delight.
Dinner is own arrangements, and there are several places to try in Clyde. Of course, as with all my tours, if you’d like to join me you are welcome.
Day 9 : Clyde and the Maniototo
History tour of the gold fields of Naseby (with optional Ice Curling)
This is sometimes referred to Big Sky country. Elevated, tussock clad rolling plains surrounded by snow-capped mountain ranges that conjure up the quintessential image in our minds of what the South Island high country looks like. Graham Sydney, New Zealand’s pre-eminent landscape artist captures beautifully its vast and desolate magnificence in many of his works. It’s your chance to venture off the beat track and discover a land rich in pastoral and gold mining heritage.
Those booked on the Half Day Central Otago Rail Trail cycle experience will be dropped off at Omakau or Lauder for the start of their tour – optional tour, not included.
For the non-cyclist the history tours starts in the historic township of Ophir that once boasted a population of over 1000 during the height of the 1860’s gold rush, the restored Post & Telegraph Office is a classic example of colonial architecture.
The route then follows up into the Ida Valley skirting the Rock & Pillar range famous for its unusual limestone outcrops, a setting which featured heavily in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next stop is the home of Kiwi ingenuity and “number 8 wire technology”, Hayes Engineering Works, a beautifully preserved early 1900’s industrial enclave.
We head north east to St Bathans, a ghost town that had its heyday during the gold rush. The turquoise coloured man-made lake is testament to the folly that drove miners to move heaven and earth in pursuit of gold. All that remains of the once bustling town is the old Vulcan Hotel. The perfect lunch venue (lunch at own cost).
Naseby is only a 30-minute drive away and home to the Maniototo curling rink. We’ll be calling at Bonspiel and those who are keen can slide a stone or two. (Lunch at own cost)
There are several interesting photo stops on our return to Clyde, one of them being the Wedderburn railway siding, an iconic image rendered onto canvas by many an artist including Graham Sydney. We’ll visit St Bathan’s for a photo op too.
Tonight we have a beautiful farewell dinner in the Olivers hotel restaurant hosted by Rudi Bauer, Quartz Reef winemaker. A 3-course dinner with matched wines narrated by Mr Bauer.
Day 10 : Departure
After our final breakfast together we depart Clyde and make our way back to Queenstown. The driver will drop people off at the airport (for flights from about mid-day) or you may wish to return into Queenstown for your own arrangements.
Cost for this 10-day tour:
- Boutique hotel accommodation as per itinerary
- Meals as outlined – 9 x full breakfast, 3 x lunch, 2 x dinner
- Entry fees/activities as per itinerary
- Transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle with driver guide throughout
- Your host Megan Singleton
- Loads of fun and laughter guaranteed
Ts & Cs
Covid information: If for any reason this tour is cancelled or individuals from this tour must cancel due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, there will be no cancellation fees for the tour or individual persons and all your monies will be refunded. This includes, for example, if a guest is joining from Wellington and Wellington is placed into Level 3 or 4 lockdown, restricting travel.
However we do strongly recommend you take out insurance to cover other unforeseen circumstances that might prevent you from travelling, or should you need to leave the tour early for any reason. If you’d like you can get a free insurance quote from 1 Cover using my affiliate link >
Prior to 30 days of travel start date: No penalty or cancellation fee
Within 29-7 days of travel start date: $250.00 per person and any fees imposed by suppliers/hotels
Within 7-0 days of travel start date: 100% cancellation fee
Alcoholic beverages will be at your own expense at included meals.
This tour begins and ends in Queenstown, you’ll need to make your own way to the pick up point, to be confirmed. Queenstown Airport pick ups can be arranged.
We can also provide great deals on Queenstown hotels if you choose to stay on or arrive earlier.
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