Hurunui/Hakataramea 2019

23-29 March 2019

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Double or twin share $2,835.00

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Single Accommodation $3,339.00

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Deposit to confirm booking $400.00

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This time based in the Hurunui, Mackenzie and Otago regions. Visit farming properties in the Hurunui and travel over scenic mountain passes – Lees, Danseys and Hakataramea.  Discover a property breeding rare Gypsy Vanner horses and visit an Otago family passionate about Canadian Eskimo sled dogs.

Day One

Saturday 23 March - Travelling to Blenheim

A leisurely start from all destinations today as we are transferred to Wellington and meet at the Interislander Ferry terminal for our mid-afternoon sailing across Cook Strait to Picton.

Upon reaching Picton we travel the short distance to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine region, where we settle into our accommodation before dining in at our hotel tonight.

Day Two

Sunday 24 March - Blenheim to Hanmer Springs

Making our way down the Pacific Coastal Highway

this morning, the picturesque town of Kaikoura is our lunch stop (own choice and cost) before we continue south and then turn inland to take the scenic Leader Valley route to a hill country property near Waiau. Woodchester Station is owned by David and Rebekah Kelly, and their property boasts several new geological formations as a result of the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake. We join local owner-operator Rick Stirling and his four-wheel drive coaches, to take a tour over the property. Finally, we make our way to Hanmer Springs, where we check in to our hotel, dining at a restaurant adjacent to our accommodation this evening.

Day Three

Monday 25 March - Montrose Station and Loch Leven Garden

Today we visit two properties in the local Amuri District, first making our way to Loch Leven Garden and nursery at Rotherham.

This two-acre garden features hedges and topiaries to give year-round structure and formality, and which the nursery specialises in. Local rocks are a feature and there is an abundance of roses, peonies, and perennials as well as a native area. Our host Doreen Dryden will provide us with morning tea before we move on to Montrose Station at Culverden. Montrose is a sheep and beef property run by Jo and Dave McKenzie in conjunction with Jo’s brother Ben Rutherford and his wife Jenny. We enjoy lunch here today provided by our hosts, before taking a tour of some of the property which provides a good mix of terrain running from extensive irrigated flats to steep hill country extending up to 1000m. We will also see the station’s beautiful 1913 homestead, currently undergoing restoration following substantial damage in the Kaikoura earthquake. We return to our hotel at Hanmer, with a run to the village arranged for those who want to enjoy a soak in the natural mineral waters of the thermal pools for which this area is so renowned. We dine out this evening at the Heritage Hotel in the village.

Day Four

Tuesday 26 March - Okuku Pass/Lees Valley, travelling to Methven

We continue our travels south today, turning off at Amberley to begin today’s adventure.

At Whiterock we visit Gypsy Royal, the only NZ breeders of the unusual Gypsy Vanner horse, a pretty black and white cob horse bred generations ago, as their name suggests by Gypsies, to tow their caravans. We will see the horses put through agility tests and riding displays plus have the opportunity to enjoy a wagon ride around the property. We also are able to look through a race car workshop where they build cars, and house hot rods and classic cars.

We enjoy a picnic lunch here before joining Rick and his 4WD vehicles again to make our way over the Okuku Pass, a back-country route traversing the Okuku Range. We then drop into the Lees Valley, a wide, grassy, agricultural plain surrounded by the Puketeraki Range. The route holds some fantastic scenery as we wind through 75 km of gravel roads including native forest, wild rivers, gorges, farmland, with the majority of the route exposed to the Southern Alps as a backdrop. At the village of Oxford, we join the Inland Scenic Route, crossing the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers at their spectacular gorges, and making our way to Methven, our destination today. Checking in to our hotel, there will be time to mingle in the guest lounge before we dine in tonight.

Day Five

Wednesday 27 March - Hakataramea Pass, travelling to Oamaru

Today our travels take us into the Mackenzie Country, travelling over the very scenic Hakataramea Pass, which traverses the Grampian Ranges into the Waitaki Valley.

With a morning cuppa at Fairlie, and our lunch stop at Tekapo (own choice and cost) we turn off at the quaintly named Dog Kennel Corner, and venture across the wide-open spaces of the Mackenzie Basin. Taking a short detour, we visit James Mackenzie’s monument at the foot of Mackenzie Pass - where Mackenzie passed in 1855 with his dog Friday and a thousand sheep he’d stolen from the Rhodes brothers’ Levels station near Timaru.

Crossing the eastern edge of the Mackenzie Basin, we then ascend the Hakataramea Pass. With golden clumps of tussock flanking the Grampian mountains, we climb to a height of 965 metres above sea level, before dropping down into the broad Hakataramea Valley where the scenery changes to ordered, rolling farmland. Finally, our travels take us down the broad valley of the Waitaki River, to our destination of Oamaru. We enjoy relaxed dining in-house this evening.

Day Six

Thursday 28 March - The Pig Root and Danseys Pass

We will be travelling in the four-wheel drive vehicles again today as we embark on another adventure that takes us in a big loop through amazing Otago landscapes.

Heading south we follow the coastline for a time, before turning inland at Palmerston to travel over the historic Pig Root into the wide-open basin of the Maniatoto. This morning we visit Real Dog Adventures near Ranfurly, breeders of Alaskan Malamutes, and the owners of the only three Canadian Eskimo dogs in NZ, which they breed, show, and work in harness. We enjoy an interactive tour of the kennels and workshop with their passionate owners Nigel and Rose, view harnessing and hooking up of the dogs and hear about life with these amazing dogs. After a cuppa we depart for the Danseys, passing through the historic gold town of Naseby on our way to Danseys Hotel, this evocative pub our lunch stop today. Located in the heart of a prosperous historic gold find, the hotel was built in 1862, with the original stonework constructed by a mason known as “Happy Bill”, whose remuneration was in beer; he received one pint for every schist boulder he shaped and laid.

Our journey this afternoon takes us over the Danseys Pass, named after William Heywood Dansey, a North Otago run holder who used the route to move stock. We wind our way through and over the Kakanui mountain range, at its highest point 920m above sea level, before we descend into the Waitaki Valley. On this side of the pass, we stop to visit Danseys Pass Lavender, a boutique lavender business producing oil and other cosmetics for sale, as well as a highly recommended lavender ice-cream. A walk around their lovely garden is also a must. The landscape changes dramatically as we enter the Waitaki Basin, a fascinating area dotted with ancient blocks of limestone and fossils and known by scientists as the Vanished World. if time permits we will stop to view the fossilised remains of an ancient whale. We have time to freshen up before dining out this evening at a local restaurant in a pleasant coastal setting.

Day Seven

Friday 29 March - Travelling to Christchurch and Flying Home

Travelling north to Christchurch this morning, we stop off at Caroline Bay in the seaside city of Timaru for a morning tea break and a leg stretch.

The exceptional Trevor Griffith Rose Garden and a pleasant coastal boardwalk through sand dunes are both worthy of a stroll. Re-boarding the coach we then make our way to Christchurch airport in time to check in and find a bite of lunch before we board our flight returning us to Wellington. Farewelling our fellow travellers at Wellington Airport, we will be met by transfer vehicles to return us to our hometowns.

The cost of the tour includes

  • Accomodation
  • 2-course or buffet dinners
  • Breakfasts
  • Morning teas on most travelling days
  • All coach travel
  • Interislander Ferry transfer, one way
  • Air New Zealand flight Christchurch to Wellington
  • Guided 4WD tours
  • Montrose Station - tour and lunch
  • Loch Leven Garden - garden entry and morning tea
  • Gypsy Royal Horse Stud and Car Collection - tour
  • Real Dog Adventures - kennel tour
  • Dansey’s Hotel - lunch

Departure Detail

Martinborough is beautiful, and well worth the day trip out of Wellington for the wine tour. The wines were great, as was the company. - Meg453, Trip Advisor