I had the pleasure experiencing 6 days of a 9-Day TranzAlpine Coach tour with Kirra Tours, of the South Island of New Zealand earlier in April this year. The tour departed Christchurch and I reluctantly left it in Queenstown.
I flew over with Air New Zealand and had the “works” package which means I had 1 checked suitcase, food and in flight entertainment. Honestly I know its only a 3 hour flight but having something to eat and being able to watch the latest release movies certainly made the time pass quickly.
As the tour was leaving early in the morning I arrived in Christchurch the afternoon before and filled in my afternoon by visiting the Antarctica Centre which is just across the road from the International airport. At the Centre you can learn about the blue penguins (all of which have been rescued and are unable to be returned to the wild due to various injuries). Whilst watching them being fed, I then experienced an Antarctic snow storm whilst wearing the latest style in rubber boots, a really thick parka, gloves, scarf and anything else warm I could lay my hands on. Plus I learnt about life in Antarctica and travel on an all terrain amphibious Hagglund vehicle.
We left Christchurch and drove south towards Omarama calling into the Mt Cook National Park where we could take part in the optional scenic flight over Mt Cook. It was breathtaking.
Other highlights of the tour were visiting the historic Olveston House & Larnach Castle, both in the “Scottish” city of Dunedin, where we had a fascinating guided tour through each property. Driving to the spectacular Milford Sound and spending a couple of hours cruising its length and marvelling at the sheer number of waterfalls and the seals. The exciting jet-boat ride on the Shotover River in Queenstown. Queenstown is one of those places that caters for all tastes, ranging from the adrenalin junkies (bungy jumping, canyon swing, whitewater rafting) to the more sedate activities of cruising on the lake and travelling on a steam train.
I have not been on a coach tour for at least 20 years and must admit I was a little apprehensive about the fact that I would have to conform to a strict timetable and wondered about the type of people who would be on the coach. I can honestly say I had a wonderful time, I met people from all over the world, the hotels were comfortable and very well located, food (there was too much of it) and the places we visited were an interesting mix of historical and breath taking scenery.
This coach tour like all coach tours gives you a taste of the country and then inspires you to revisit for a longer period.
So if you want a holiday where you can relax, socialise with others, drink wine and not have to worry about driving and navigating then I would highly recommend going on a Kirra Tours Coach tour.