Gardens of the South Island
Join horticulturalist Elizabeth Swane for a tour of New Zealand’s South Island, from enchanting private gardens to the staggering grandeur of the natural landscape.
Wander through the meticulously manicured estates of Christchurch and marvel at the vibrant colours of Flaxmere Gardens as the glorious summer roses give way to brilliant autumnal hues. Uncover the dramatic ocean vistas and sublime ecology of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, before exploring the superb beauty of Queenstown’s natural landscapes, from the rugged Taieri Gorge to the alpine surroundings of Lake Wakatipu.
Revel in visits to some of the best private and botanical gardens of the South Island, and savour New Zealand’s most outstanding gourmet food and wines against a backdrop of beautiful landscapes.
Note: At time of publication (August 2019), most but not all garden visits were confirmed. Private owners, in particular, are reluctant to commit more than two to three months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.
Suggested afternoon arrival in Christchurch. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
This evening join Elizabeth and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing followed by dinner.
This morning, enjoy a coach tour of Christchurch, stopping by some of its most iconic sites, including the Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch Catholic Basilica, Margaret Mahy Playground and the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, and learn about the impact of the 2011 earthquakes on Christchurch’s architectural footprint. Finish the coach tour at the Botanic Gardens and pause to explore the verdant array of native and international flora.
After lunch, continue to Hagley Park and wander through the largest urban open space in Christchurch, characterised by its mature woodlands. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon before enjoying dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Begin the morning by transferring to Riccarton House, a grand Edwardian/Victorian homestead built in three stages between 1856 and 1900. Peruse the adjacent Farmers’ Market, widely acclaimed for the quality and diversity of its local produce, then take a guided tour of the main house and surrounding gardens.
In the early afternoon, visit Frensham Gardens, an English-style country garden which combines structured formal ‘rooms’ near the homestead with overflowing floral borders and an expansive woodland area. Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Start the day with a visit to Flaxmere Gardens, a NZ Garden of International Significance. Situated near the Southern Alps, this beautifully landscaped garden is framed by breathtaking mountain vistas, and heavily incorporates water features in the form of five terraced ponds.
After a light lunch, continue to Ohinetahi Gardens, another Garden of International Significance. Ohinetahi is also home to sculpture and woodland trails, and a 19th century homestead.
Check out of the hotel and transfer to Trott’s Garden, a Garden of International Significance, which specialises in roses, dahlias and deep perennial borders. Continue to Timaru, a port city south of Christchurch, and enjoy lunch at leisure before visiting the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden. This public garden, which features a range of heritage and modern blooms, was established to honour the collection of celebrated New Zealand rosarian, Trevor Griffiths.
From Timaru transfer by coach to Dunedin, the second largest city on the South Island, which is situated at the base of the Otago Peninsula and famous for its diverse ecology and deeply ingrained Scottish heritage. This evening enjoy dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
This morning visit the Royal Albatross Centre at Taiar oa Head, home to the largest flying birds alive today, and the only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross in the world. Continue to Hereweka Garden, a stunning ecological sanctuary which features a rare remnant of the ancient Rimu trees that once completely forested the Otago Peninsula and a glorious collection of perennial blossoms.
Enjoy lunch at leisure in the picturesque village of Portobello, before visiting Glenfalloch Garden. Here, wander amongst a profusion of floral blooms and exotic imports interspersed between native ferns and indigenous New Zealand varieties. Then continue to Larnach Castle and Gardens for a private guided tour of the lovingly restored Gothic Revival mansion and the surrounding grounds, before enjoying dinner in the castle’s dining area.
Start the day with a visit to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, which features a wide range of horticultural and botanical collections, including splashes of colourful florals and an extensive collection of indigenous species. A key aspect of the Dunedin Botanic Gardens collection is to cultivate and protect a wide variety of rare and endangered plant species from across New Zealand and around the world. Transfer to Olveston Historic Home and Garden for a guided tour of the authentically preserved historic house, extensive terraced gardens and magnificent conservatory. After lunch at a local restaurant, return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
This morning embark on a journey from Dunedin to Pukerangi via the Taieri Gorge Scenic Railway. Traverse this spectacular landscape and view scenery which is visible only by train, as well as learning about the construction of the railway by New Zealand’s early pioneers.
Arrive in Pukerangi and transfer to Wild Earth Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. This boutique, family-owned winery in Central Otago specialises in rich Pinot Noir and aromatic Pinot Gris, produced in the world’s southernmost wine-growing region. Continue to the hotel and check in, before enjoying the remainder of the evening at leisure.
This morning, visit the Queenstown Botanic Gardens. Wander amongst the pristine terraced gardens and admire the manicured lawns, wide variety of native and imported plants and elegant water feature, all surrounded by the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Continue to Chantecler Gardens and uncover the ecological diversity of this series of superbly landscaped spaces, including English, Formal, Tuscan, French, Oriental and Native gardens.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, before embarking on a gourmet dinner cruise on Lake Wakatipu.
Enjoy a morning at leisure before travelling north to central Otago to enjoy a tasting and lunch at Archangel Winery. The vineyard sits on two ancient glacial terraces in the Upper Clutha Valley, one of the southernmost wine-growing regions in the world.
After lunch visit a private garden in the Queenstown or Otago region. (Details to be confirmed in early 2020).
Return to Queenstown to spend the evening at leisure.
This morning enjoy a walking tour of Arrowtown, a delightful Gold Rush village nestled beneath the peaks of the Southern Alps on the banks of the Arrow River. Wander through the historic buildings which preserve Arrowtown’s rich heritage, including miners’ cottages, old churches and the Chinese settlement which was established by immigrants during the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s.
After a lunch at leisure transfer to Wild Dream Garden. Located on Lake Wakatipu, this rambling and rustic garden boasts water features, sculpture and 3,000 roses. Enjoy a tour of the house and garden before returning to Queenstown.
In the evening, join Elizabeth and fellow travellers for a special farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements, including flights and any additional accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Final payment due
20 December 2019
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.
Qantas/Air New Zealand
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for New Zealand.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located 4-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Talks and discussions with your tour leader, Elizabeth Swane
- One-way train from Dunedin to Pukerangi on the Taieri Gorge Scenic Railway
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, drinks, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Transfers on arrival and departure
- Airport porterage
Christchurch – Rendezvous Hotel****
Dunedin – Scenic Hotel Southern Cross****
Queenstown – Crowne Plaza****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.