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Otago Heritage Tour

Monday 29 April 2024 - Sunday 5 May 2024


Explore the richly historic and scenic Otago region, from its former gold rush towns to its alpine mountains and gorges, then across to the city streets, wild coasts, and heritage architecture of Dunedin, all with knowledgeable local guides. Highlights include a vintage steamer cruise on Lake Wakatipu, a 4WD tour to abandoned mining towns, lunches at a number of historic hotels and a guided walking tour of Dunedin as well as a truly memorable formal farewell dinner at a perfectly preserved Edwardian home, Olveston house.


  • Our tour commences today at 9.15 am with our flight from Wellington to Queenstown.
  • After arrival in Queenstown, at10.40 am we will have a brief orientation tour then make our way to the waterfront for lunch at leisure.
  • This afternoon we meet Richard our local guide for a private guided walking tour of Queenstown to explore the buildings and characters of this historic town on a 90minute walk, learn all about the fascinating people who built this town during the early 1800’s.
  • We make our way to our accommodation and check in.
  • Dinner tonight will be in the hotel restaurant.
    Accommodation: Millennium Queenstown

Day 2: TUE 30 April – QUEENSTOWN

  • This morning we embark on a thrilling half-day 4WD tour, which takes us to Macetown, a ghost-town from the goldrush era in the 1860’s. Now only accessible by off-road vehicle, there are 25 river crossings (each way) and the road winds from river level to high above the Arrow Gorge. See what remains of the settler’s houses as well as machinery and implements that were left behind when the town was abandoned. We follow the miners’ old wagon trail and explore the historic gold-mining town of Macetown. Long-since deserted after the gold rush, Macetown has now been transformed into a Department of Conservation reserve.
  • Upon returning to Queenstown around midday, the remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore Queenstown.
  • Tonight, we cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board the coal-fired vintage steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Station for a delicious BBQ buffet dinner enjoyed at the Colonel’s Homestead. The TSS Earnslaw has been lovingly maintained since 1912 and is an iconic piece of Queenstown’s history. Take time to explore the vessel, view the engine room, and study the historic displays of the steamship’s former life.
    Accommodation: Millennium Queenstown


  • Departing from Queenstown this morning, we travel to historic Arrowtown – a quaint town away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, with plenty of shops and historic remains from the Gold Rush days.
  • We join a local guide for a walking tour of the Chinese Settlement area, Historic Arrowtown Gaol (jail), St Patrick’s Church & Mary MacKillop’s cottage and hear many interesting stories along the way, the tour concludes with an included visit to the Arrowtown Museum.  The museum houses a fascinating collection of tools and artefacts used by the miners in the gold rush era, and one of the best presentations of pioneer relics held anywhere within the country. In the vault of what was an 1860’s bank are stored thousands of priceless exhibits: gold pans, shovels, maps, clothing, weaponry and even a gold nugget or two – a living, breathing peep into the past.
  • From Arrowtown we journey to Cromwell, with a brief stop to view the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, a bridge over a canyon that in 1880 pushed design limits to the maximum; a century later it became the birthplace of bungy-jumping, pushing courage to the maximum.
  • We stop in the mining settlement of Bannockburn to enjoy lunch at the Bannockburn Hotel. Bannockburn was a successful mining settlement that managed to avoid becoming a ghost town after most of the gold was gone. Buildings from the early times remain today, including a beautiful hotel, a post office, Stewart’s store and a number of family homes.
  • Adjacent to the town is the Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve. This reserve offers a chance to explore an intriguing landscape created from 1865 to 1910 by brave and determined fortune-seekers in their search for gold. Our Local Guide Terry will show us evidence of water races, dams, tunnels and shafts, as well as crumbling mud-brick and stone buildings in the old orchards at Stewart Town.
  • From here we travel to Cromwell, located the shores of Lake Dunstan. Cromwell’s history stretches back to the gold rush days of the 1800’s. This history is best experienced in
    ‘Old Cromwell Town’, a mix of original and reconstructed buildings from the old main street of the 1860’s gold-town of Cromwell. We take time to wander through this heritage area and have a walk along the lakeshore before checking in to our accommodation.
  • We enjoy dinner tonight in the impressive hotel restaurant.
    Accommodation: Marsden Lake Resort Central Otago

Day 4: THU 2 May – CLYDE – DUNEDIN

  • This morning we travel to Clyde to view the Clyde Dam. The largest concrete gravity dam in New Zealand, Clyde Dam is an impressive structure leveraging the energy of the Clutha River. The large hydroelectric dam was built between 1979 and 1992. At times during construction the dam employed a workforce of over 1200 people.
  • From Clyde, we travel to Ophir Post Office, built in 1886 to serve a thriving goldfields town. Since the 1890s it has been managed by women. In 1976 the Post Office was taken over by Heritage New Zealand and restored, and still operates postal services for three hours each weekday morning. Its interior remains largely unchanged from the time of its construction.]
  • We continue on to St Bathans. This tiny town of about 10 permanent residents was once a place of incredible riches as the Otago Gold Rush swept through this region in the mid-late-1800’s. Once a thriving boomtown and home to around 2,000 miners, we see that some of the buildings remain standing today, and it’s easy to imagine how the town looked during the gold rush era.
  • We’ll enjoy lunch at the iconic Vulcan Hotel built in1882, a fine example of mud-brick construction. Across from the Vulcan is Blue Lake which was created by extensive mining activity. The surrounding rocks give the water an astonishing blue colour which is offset by surrounding columns of white quartz tailings.
  • We make a stop at Oturehua Gilchist Store. This historic building in the centre of Oturehua town is one of the best known stores in Central Otago. Built in 1899 this store is a rare delight for any nostalgia enthusiast, merging the old and the new. The shelves boast display memorabilia such as the original telephone exchange, an antique bacon slicer, tinned coffee and food from the late 1800’s.
  • We continue on to Dunedin, passing through the small towns and settlements of Middlemarch and Clarks Junction.  Arriving at our hotel in Dunedin – the 1937 former Chief Post Office that has been transformed into an elegant 41/2 star luxury hotel, located in the rejuvenated and vibrant Warehouse Precinct in the heart of the city.
  • Dine in the hotel restaurant this evening.
    Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 5: FRI 3 May – DUNEDIN

  • Dunedin was one New Zealand’s largest and wealthiest city, an important hub of commerce and trade. During those prosperous times, a great metropolitan centre of grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings was constructed, taking inspiration from the style, street names and layout of Edinburgh in Scotland. Most of those early buildings remain today and it’s said that Dunedin has the finest collection of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the southern hemisphere.
  • This morning we embark on a 2-hour guided walking tour of Dunedin City, viewing key sites and buildings including: The Octagon, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Exchange, and Dunedin Railway Station, to name a few. Highlights also include street art and repurposed heritage buildings. Our guide will give us insights into the city’s heritage architecture.
  • After our guided walk, we travel out towards Port Chalmers, and have lunch at Carey’s Bay Historical Hotel. The hotel dates back to 1874 and is one of the most popular pubs in Dunedin, located just outside Port Chalmers. There will also be time to explore the Port Chalmers township, Dunedin’s historic harbour village. There are an eclectic mix of galleries, vintage clothing, book, and collectables stores and other independent businesses, many housed in original historic buildings that give an insight into how the Otago harbourside once was. We also stop in at Flagstaff Lookout, located above the hum and beeping of the container terminal. Flagstaff Lookout offers panoramic views from Otago Peninsula’s Taiaroa Head, Aramoana at the harbour mouth, to the- historic Scott Memorial high on the hill on the other side of town. We retrace our steps back to Dunedin in the late afternoon.
  • Evening at leisure.
    Accommodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 6: SAT 4 May – DUNEDIN

  • This morning we visit Toitū Otago Settlers Museum – a museum of social history dedicated to telling the story of the people of Dunedin and the surrounding area, whose character, culture, technology, art, fashion and transport shaped New Zealand’s first great city. A variety of galleries feature interactive displays and powerful narratives tracing the human history of the area, from the earliest settlers to the most recent arrivals. Opened in1908, the museum is housed in the original Edwardian galleries, an Art Deco former New Zealand Rail building New Zealand Rail Road Transport Building and a modern entrance foyer complete with train engine.
  • Spend the afternoon at leisure.
  • This evening be prepared for an incredible night as we dine in Dunedin’s finest historic home Olveston House. The house was completed in 1907 and was a masterpiece of modernity in the Edwardian era, featuring central heating, an in-house telephone system and even heated towel rails. Olveston has been carefully preserved and now offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of a privileged family in the early 1900’s and the rich historical heritage of Dunedin. The 35-room mansion is furnished with artworks, antiques, furniture and artefacts from all around the world. Tonight we are treated to a Pianist plying the 1906 Steinway grand piano in the drawing room pre-dinner, followed by a delicious 3 course meal with wine paring, all hosted by the Olveston Butler with a tour of the house in between main and desert course. This will be a night to remember.
    Accomodation: Distinction Dunedin Hotel

Day 7: SUN 5 May – DUNEDIN

  • This morning we head to the small town of Lawrence, situated 92-km south-west of Dunedin and is nestled in the rolling hills of the Clutha region. During the gold rush and sawmilling eras, the whole district rattled with the sound of diggers and wagon trains as trade routes were established through the plains and across the Clutha River. The discovery of gold at Gabriel’s Gully near Lawrence by Gabriel Read in May 1861 led to the Central Otago gold rush. While gold had been found in Otago before, this rush was beyond expectation, with the population of the gold field rising from almost nothing to- around 11,500 within a year, twice that of Dunedin at the time.
  • While in Lawrence a local guide will join our group and take us back through time of the history of the Lawrence town centre, with facts and stories provided to inspire your imagination and minds-eye to see what Victorian style Lawrence was like during the gold rush and the decades after.
  • Afterwards enjoy a lunch at a local café before departing in the early afternoon. We travel through Waipori before joining onto State Highway 87, then we arrive at Dunedin Airport for your flight home.
  • Our tour concludes with our flight from Dunedin home to Wellington.
    Flight departs Dunedin at 5.25 pm, arrive Wellington at 6.40 pm.


  • Air NZ flights from Wellington – Queenstown and from Dunedin – Wellington
  • Meet & Greet at Queenstown airport
  • Comfortable transport in modern air conditioned coach
  • Escorted by Claudia Moir – NZ Travel Brokers (from Queenstown airport to Dunedin airport)
  • 2 nights at the Millennium Hotel Queenstown in a superior room
  • 1 night at Marsden Lake resort Central Otago in a superior studio
  • 3 nights at Distinction Dunedin Hotel in a studio room
  • Private guided walking tour of Queenstown
  • Half day 4WD tour to Macetown
  • Cruise onboard the TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Station
  • Guided walking tour of Arrowtown including a visit to Arrowtown museum
  • Local guided tour of Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve
  • Visit of the Ophir post office, a Heritage NZ listed building, the Vulcan Hotel in St. Bathans and the Oturehua Gilchrist Store.
  • Guided walking tour of Dunedin city
  • Visit of the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum
  • Visit to Olveston House including a special formal dinner for our group
  • Guided tour of Lawrence, a town rich in heritage, nestled in the rolling hills of the Clutha region
  • Meals included: 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners (including a special 3-course meal with wine pairing and pianist at Olveston House)

Price per person: $4,590 (twin share) including flights from/to Wellington
Single supplement: $870 if you wish to have your own room.
Price is based on a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 24 participants.

A $1,000 deposit payment per person is required at time of booking to secure your space on this tour. The balance payment is required 60 days prior to departure (by 28th February). Payments are non-refundable within 60 days of departure. If cancelled between 120 days and 60 days prior to departure means a loss of the deposit payment. The deposit payment is refundable up to 120 days prior to departure (30th December) minus a service fee of $100 per person. Deposit protection insurance is highly recommended, please ask Claudia for a quote.

To book contact:
Claudia Moir – NZ Travel Brokers Mangawhai
phone: 09-431 5899 mobile: 021-431 589
email: [email protected]
Trading as a member of NZ Travel Brokers Ltd, TAANZ Bonded & IATA Accredited, Level 7, 1 – 19 Fitzherbert Avenue, Palmerston North 4410


Monday 29 April 2024
Sunday 5 May 2024


Friends of Te Papa in association with Claudia Moir – NZ Travel Broker Mangawai
09 431 5899


Otago, New Zealand