Cottey College's New Zealand Tour 2017


About Us

Cameron and Amanda own and operate Absolute Aotearoa - a locally owned and operated Kiwi tour and charter coach company. We have been in operation for over 6 years and have over 20 years combined in the tourism industry.

13724.jpgAotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand which, when translated means "Land of the long white cloud" so as our name suggests, we are all about New Zealand.

We have been transporting many student and adult groups around New Zealand since 2010 and continue to love what we do! We take a Kiwi way with our groups, ensuring that we see as much as possible and enjoy every single day, whilst not rushing to get from point A to point B. What this means for you is many photo stops! Using a smaller vehicle also allows us to get into a few places in which the larger vehicles cannot. Our many stops also include supermarkets, where you are able to purchase food items needed for that day.

Tip - if you see any words you're not too familiar with, check out our Kiwi Slang page. If it's not there feel free to ask! Our Travel Tips may also be handy for you too.



DAY 1: Arrive Christchurch

Aririvng into Christchurch at 09.25am on NZ513, your driver Cameron will be waiting for you at the domestic arrival terminal. Once you have collected your bags he will lead you to the bus. It is a short trip into the city where you will evidently see The Rebuild of Christchurch is in full swing after the devastating 2011 earthquake, some of the historical buildings are being repaired and the Restart Mall is a hive of activity.  Take the time to stroll around the Botanical Gardens, visit the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ or take a ride on the city trams. Christchurch is slowly returning to what it was prior to 2011 - a bustling South Island city, with so much to do! Cameron will take you on a city tour, stop so you can all get some lunch and also stop at a supermarket so you are able to stock up on some snacks and food for dinner tonight if you would like to cook at the hostel. We will check into the accommodation at 2pm.


YHA Christchurch City

36 Hereford St, Christchurch

Ph: +64 3 379 9536

Included: Accommodation, City Tour



DAY 2: Christchurch - Punakaiki

7267.jpgToday we are heading over to Punakaiki, a very small village in the heart of the native New Zealand rainforest. We aim to leave at approximately 9am and we will make our way through Arthur's Pass as we travel from the East Coast to the West Coast of the South Island. Here you will find the scenery change quite dramatic, from flat farmlands with long straight roads, to mountainous, windy roads, surrounded in native New Zealand flora and fauna. 

We will stop in Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast for lunch and to gain our first glimpse of the rugged West Coast beach – the Tasman Sea. We will then make the short journey north to the Punakaiki Pancake Rock, a fantastic shortwalk around Pancake Rocks. Tonight we head to Te Nikau Retreat, a beautiful quiet location in amongst the NZ rainforest, checking in mid afternoon. This unique accommodation is always a favourite place with our groups! This evening you may want to take the short walk from the hostel down to the beach to watch the sunset while you sit on a black sand beach. 

Accommodation: Te Nikau Retreat

Harmount Place, Punakaiki

Ph: +64 3 731 1111

Included: Breakfast

Travel Distance: 4hours


 DAY 3: Punakaiki – Franz Josef

7272.jpgWe have an early start of 8am so we can ensure we arrive in Franz Josef in time for our fantastic acitivity this afternoon - a Heli-Hike!! We are heading south to Franz Josef – the largest glacier on the West Coast. The village of Franz Josef is very small, but also very busy! On the way we will be stopping in Hokitika where you will have time to visit Moutain Jade, the greenstone factory as well as grab something to eat as a late breakfast/early lunch - brunch!

We will arrive into Franz Josef for a check in time of 1.30pm as you will take a guided trip on the Franz Josef glacier, but as we are no longer able to access the glacier from the face, you will be taking a helicopter instead! Prepare yourself to climb over the ever-changing landscape, maybe through an ice tunnel or into an ice cave. Cameron will keep your belongings with the bus and once you have finished your trip he will come to collect you so you are able to check in at the hostel which will be at approx. 5.30 - 6pm.

Tonight you will be able to relax in the sauna at the hostel, or even take a night-time walk to see glow worms.


YHA Franz Josef

2-4 Cron Street, Franz Josef

Ph: +64 3 752 0754

Included: Breakfast, Heli-Hike

Travel Distance: 4hours


DAY 4: Franz Josef – Wanaka

This morning we will be leaving around 9am for a day of adventure, so make sure you have a packed lunch ready along with snacks as this trip is quite remote. We will make various stops along the way today, including a visit to Lake Matheson, also known as the Mirror Lake. Weather permitting, we can stop in at Fox Glacier which is Franz Josef’s neighbour and take the walk out to the face of the glacier. All going well, we hope to be able to make a special stop in Haast, where, if you like, you can try the nation's favourite delicacy, a Whitebait Fritter! Whitebait are highly sourced in New Zealand and the Curly Tree Whitebait Company make it their mission to serve as many fritters as possible! We need to cross our fingers that they have not sold out!

Tonight’s stop is at Wanaka, an up & coming small town set on the shores of Lake Wanaka. This is a favourite destination for many, with a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful views with a range of great pubs and restaurants where you may choose to dine for dinner.  We aim to check in around 6pm, but this is dependent on the walks that we do. 


YHA Wanaka Purple Cow

94 Brownston St, Wanaka

Ph: +64 3 443 1880

Included: Breakfast

Travel Distance: 5hours


DAY 5: Wanaka – Te Anau

We’ll continue to wind our way south today as we head down into Fiordland, a beautiful, largely untouched area of New Zealand, with a departure time of 9am. Te Anau is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders over the summer months and is a great location for the many who visit Fiordland for the multiple day hikes. We will arrive in time for you to visit the town and have lunch, after which we will check in at 2pm at the hostel. 

Once you are settled  in, it is time to explore the local area with a special visit in the afternoon to Punanga Manu o Te Anau – the Te Anau Bird Sancutary. Cameron will meet you outside the hostel at 3pm to take you to this location. Here you will see native bird species to New Zealand. The birds held in aviaries here have either been injured and cannot survive in the wild, or they have been involved in captive rearing programmes. The injured birds are rehabilitated and if possible, released back into the wild when they are strong enough. We will spend a couple of hours here exploring before it is time to head back into town where you can relax and get an early night as tomorrow will be a big day!


YHA Te Anau

29 Mokonui St, Te Anau

Ph: +64 3 249 7847

Included: Breakfast, Punanga Manu o Te Anau

Travel Distance: 4hours


DAY 6: Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown

23072.jpgToday we do have a long day in store, but it will be worth it! We head out to Milford Sound this morning, the only fiord accessible by road in New Zealand. 

We need to be on the bus and ready to go at 7am! 

Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Milford Sound is breathtaking in any weather. The fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards, some as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect. Here, we will be kayaking and taking in the awe inspiring views around us. 

Once we are done it is time to head for the Adventure Capital of New Zealand – Queenstown! It is a very long day, but well worth it! We will be arriving into Queenstown at 7pm. For a very easy dinner (and very well deserved after all of your exercise kayaking!) we recommend you visit Ferg Burger - a legend within itself and guaranteed to fill you up well - these burgers are HUGE and extremely popular.


YHA Queenstown Lakefront

88-90 Lake Esplanade, Queenstown

Ph: +64 3 442 8413

Included: Breakfast, Kayaking at Milford Sound

Travel Distance: 12hour day (including activity at Milford Sound)


DAY 7: Queenstown

It’s a free day in Queenstown today!

Accommodation: YHA Queenstown Lakefront

Included: Breakfast

Travel Distance: 0!


DAY 8: Queenstown – Mount Cook, Aoraki

As we leave Qu21497.jpgeenstown today at approximately 9am, we are also saying good bye to the West Coast as we make our way inland. We will make a few various stops along the way before arriving at Mount Cook Village. Mount Cook Village is right at the doorstep to New Zealand’s highest peak in the Southern Alps, Mt Cook. Also known as ‘Aoraki’ (our-ra-kee), she stands at 3,135metres tall and was essentially the training field for Sir Edmund Hillary – the first person in the world (along with his Sherpa Tenzing Norway), to conquer Mount Everest in 1953. This village is calm and peaceful and a sight to behold. Our check in will be mid afternoon. 


YHA Mt Cook

Cnr Bowen & Kitchener Dr, Mount Cook Village

Ph: +64 3 435 1820

Included: Breakfast

Travel Distance: 5 hours


DAY 9: Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo

8346.jpgIt is only a short drive this morning, so we may spend some time hiking this morning, perhaps the Hooker Valley Hike, before departing to Lake Tekapo. Our time of departure is dependent on this.

 Lake Tekapo has the most brilliant blue colouring that  you will ever see in a lake and the small village is humming with many people from all over the world who come to visit this beautiful place. This afternoon we will be horse riding, a gentle ride around local farm land with beautiful views of the area.


YHA Lake Tekapo

Simpson Lane, Lake Tekapo

Ph: +64 3 680 6857

Included: Breakfast, Horse Riding

Travel Distance: 2 hours


DAY 10: Lake Tekapo – Christchurch

Our final full day of travelling the South Island today, we will depart from the lake at 10am and head for Christchurch. A few stops will be made along the way, one at a favourite secret spot amongst many of our past travellers and definitely not to be missed – the driver will make sure that this is a stop that you all make! We will check back into YHA Christchurch around 2pm.

Late afternoon we will head to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for a guided tour around the reserve. Here you will be introduced to native species of New Zealand, such as the kiwi, tuatara, takahae, kea, kereru, falcon, gecko, weka and more! Willowbank is also the only reserve in the world where you can observe breeding pairs of the North Island brown kiwi outdoors - you guide will help you locate them.

Once our guided tour has ended, we will then visit Ko Tane, a living Maori Village. Here you will receive the official welcome - powhiri (poe-firi) - and become immersed in Maori culture. Tonight's dinner will be a traditonally cooked Hangi (hung-ee) - where your food will be cooked in an earth oven.



YHA Christchurch City

36 Hereford St, Christchurch

+64 3 379 9536

Included: Breakfast, Willobank Reserve, Ko Tane, Dinner

Travel Distance: 4 hours


DAY 11: Christchurch – USA

Today we need to check out of hostel by 10am. You may take a final walk around Christchurch City to collect any souvenirs or new favourite foods before we depart to the airport to bring our travels around the South Island of New Zealand to an end. We aim to leave Christchurch City for the airport at 1pm, where you will be departing on flight NZ513 to Auckland at 4.00pm. Here we will say ‘Ka Kite Ano’ (car key-tay ar-nor), see you later, and leave you with memories of New Zealand that we hope will inspire you and provide you with many great tales to tell.

Included: Breakfast

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