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Historic Homes and Gardens 

An exclusive excursion with Anne and Beniamino

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Canterbury and Otago Tour 8 days (7 nights)
NZ$ 4,675pp (includes $609.78 GST)

On this tour, you will:

  • Travel in comfort to visit some fascinating historic homes and gardens with surprises along the way

  • Listen to expert guides recounting the intriguing histories of Victorian and Edwardian homesteads

        that have helped shape the social fabric of New Zealand

  • Learn about some of New Zealand’s most colourful characters and (possibly) encounter a few

        ghosts from the past

  • Stroll around some magnificent gardens featuring rhododendrons in all their Spring glory

  • Enjoy delicious refreshments in delightfully elegant settings and a fabulous Scottish dinner in the

        Edinburgh of the South

  • Have two nights’ accommodation with breakfast included (in Hororata District and in Oamaru)

  • Be picked up and dropped off at your accommodation in Christchurch and Dunedin central city

  • Receive individual care and attention from your hosts, who want you to enjoy yourself every step

        of the way, and you will MOST IMPORTANTLY have fun! 😊

Tour Outline


Start date: 30 October 2022 Christchurch

End date:    6 November 2022 Dunedin

On DAY 1 our first stop will be Rutherford’s Den at the Christchurch Arts Centre. While the father of nuclear physics, Ernest Lord Rutherford, did not actually live here, he spent countless hours in the late nineteenth century in the Clock Tower of what was then Canterbury College and later Canterbury University. Here we will see the recently restored Victorian lecture theatre complete with nineteenth century graffiti etched into its wooden benches and ponder (for a short time) what splitting the atom actually involved.

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We will then travel out of the central city to Kate Sheppard House Te Whare Waiutuutu, the former home of New Zealand’s pioneering suffragist. 


This charming eight room Kauri villa built for Kate Sheppard and her husband Walter in 1888 is where she spent crucial years of the campaign for women’s enfranchisement.

We will also step into the attractive garden, where Kate Sheppard received the news in 1893 that the vote for women had been won.

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In the afternoon, we will head across town to Ngaio Marsh House, where the famous author, painter, and doyenne of New Zealand theatre lived for 77 years. The house was built when Dame Ngaio was 10 years old and designed by a leading architect of the time, Samuel Hurst Seager. 

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Our guide for the visit knew Dame Ngaio well and through his eyes we will gain a real understanding of Dame Ngaio as a person and a deep appreciation of her life and work.

On DAY 2, we will travel over the Port Hills to the charming settlement of Governors Bay and on to Ohinetahi, the former home of renowned architect Sir Miles Warren. The property includes 1.25 hectares of garden, two art galleries, sculpture and woodland walks and the 19th Century homestead. The house contains many treasures collected by Sir Miles over the years and we will have the pleasure of visiting his library full of architectural books and drawings. The property was generously gifted to the nation in 2012 and it is now run by a charitable trust.

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After this visit, we will return to the city to our next destination, Riccarton House, a unique New Zealand heritage site comprising two historic buildings and an adjacent 12 hectare fully enclosed native bush reserve containing Kahikatea trees up to 600 years old.


After lunch in the splendid dining room, we will be guided through the elegantly furnished house formerly owned by generations of the Deans family and now reputed to be haunted by the ghost of the matriarch Jane Deans, whom we may or may not encounter!

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On DAY 3, we will leave Christchurch and travel to Hororata on the northwestern edge of the Canterbury Plains. Here we will first visit Terrace Station, the former home of 19th Century Prime Minister Sir John Hall. Dating from the mid-1850’s, the homestead is full of interesting memorabilia.

Sir John Hall was the parliamentary advocate for the Women’s Suffrage Movement and of course well known to the formidable Kate Sheppard. There is an extensive informal garden around the homestead with mass plantings of bulbs and woodland perennials and several fascinating buildings such as the Carriage House and Blacksmith’s Shop with a working forge.

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Not far away is our next stop, Cotons Cottage, built around 1864 by labourer Bentley Coton for himself and his wife Sarah. The house has been lovingly restored and furnished by the Hororata Historical Society and is now a cob house museum depicting what 19th Century life was like on many small holdings in rural Canterbury.

Lunch now beckons and we move on to Gunyah Country Estate, one of New Zealand’s grand old rural homesteads. The name “Gunyah,” the Australian Aboriginal word for “little hut or shelter” does not fairly describe this magnificent property, which was built in 1912 for the son of Sir John Hall, just down the road at Terrace Station. The homestead is furnished with Early New Zealand, English and European antiques and set in 30 acres of grounds, with gardens established by the daughter of T.H. Potts, one of New Zealand’s most renowned early botanists and conservationists.

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On DAY 4, following a good night’s rest and breakfast at a local resort, we will set off along the Inland Scenic Route, passing through Rakaia Gorge on the way to the charming town of Geraldine. On the way there will be plenty to see and we will stop off at Woodbury Gardens to see their magnificent rhododendrons.

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After lunch in Geraldine, we will travel eastward across the plains to the Craigmore Country Estate, home of the Elworthy family, generations of whom have farmed here since 1864. The 4,200-hectare farm supports sheep, deer and beef production using sustainable principles, minimizing chemical usage and carefully nourishing the soil. The gracious homestead was built in 1907. 


Craigmore Estate is also home to some spectacular Maori rock art created by the Waitaha people who hunted and lived in limestone shelters here 700 to 1000 years ago. Because of the significance of these charcoal drawings, in the late 1980s the Elworthy family arranged for QEII covenants to be put in place to protect the landscape and archaeological features on their property.

When we leave Craigmore, we will make our way via Timaru to Oamaru, where we will spend the night.

On DAY 5, our first stop will be breakfast at the award-winning restaurant Riverstone Kitchen, just out of Oamaru. While there, we may catch a glimpse of the eccentric limestone castle recently built by a local couple who have created their dream home, complete with moat.

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We will then return to Oamaru to visit Janet Frame House, the humble childhood home of New Zealand’s celebrated novelist. Janet lived here at 56 Eden Street from the age of six until she left Oamaru after completing her high school years at Waitaki Girls’ High School. She wrote of the joys and sorrow of her childhood years in her autobiography, subsequently made into a celebrated film, “An Angel at my Table.”

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Oamaru is of course well known for its Historic Precinct so we will have some free time there. The Victorian buildings made from locally quarried limestone are a testament to Oamaru’s boom era when it was an important port sending the first frozen meat exports around the world.

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The house is very much as it looked when the Frame family lived here, “with its mixture of facts and memories of truths” as the first lines of “To the Is-Land” describe it. The property is now owned and administered by the Janet Frame Eden Street Trust.

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Now the buildings are filled with galleries, antique and book shops, craftsmen, and places to eat a delicious lunch. Just watch out for the penny-farthing bicycles as you cross the road! We will then make our way south along State Highway 1 towards Dunedin. We will be sure to make a detour at the tiny fishing village of Moeraki and take a short walk along the beach to inspect the famous boulders which are protected in a scientific reserve. We will continue along the coast to Dunedin, which will be our home for the next three nights.

On DAY 6, our first day in Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South, we will be taken on a comprehensive guided tour of the city’s most famous historic sites.  We will see how the Scottish pioneers developed the city and how they and their descendants lived. We will see where they studied, shopped, and worshipped and where the less law-abiding were imprisoned. The city as we know it was established in 1848 by the Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland and its name is taken from the Scottish Gaelic “Dun Eideann” for Edinburgh.  A gold rush in the Otago province in the 1860’s was responsible for Dunedin becoming New Zealand’s largest and most prosperous city and so it boasts the oldest botanic gardens, the oldest university, some of the country’s finest historic homes and definitely the grandest railway station in the country.

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On DAY 7, we will visit stunning Larnach Castle on Otago Peninsula. Construction of this magnificent property for a prominent entrepreneur and politician William Larnach, began in 1871. It took two hundred workmen three years to build the shell and another twelve years for master craftsmen to embellish the interior. This property has been designated a New Zealand Landmark by Heritage New Zealand and fully deserves its status as one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions. 


The 14-hectare gardens surrounding Larnach Castle have been a labour of love for Margaret Barker and her family, who have owned the property since 1967. The 6-star gardens have been classified as a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

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After a picnic-style lunch in the Garden Marquee, we will return to the city. You will then have some free time so you can have a rest before we meet up for our very special Tour Dinner. Alternatively, you might want to use the time to visit one of Dunedin’s many splendid museums or the fabulous collection of Frances Hodgkins paintings at its renowned Art Gallery.

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In the evening, you will be collected in a taxi and taken to Dunedin’s only truly Scottish restaurant for an authentic and lavish 5 course dinner.

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On our final day of the tour, DAY 8, we will visit Olveston Historic Home in the morning. This beautifully presented Edwardian property in a hillside area of Dunedin was built in Jacobean style in 1906 for Dunedin businessman, collector and philanthropist David Theomin and his family. A relative, Charles Brasch, described his kinsman as “a jolly bouncy little man who liked a bit of swank perhaps but was kindly and quite without side.” The elegantly furnished house full of art and ceramics, was generously bequeathed to the city in 1966 by David Theomin’s daughter Dorothy.

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There will be time to stroll around the garden which has been designated by the New Zealand Gardens Trust as a Garden of National Significance. The garden boasts one acre of manicured lawns, a working kitchen garden and a mix of exotic and native planting. 

When we leave Olveston Historic Home around midday, we will drop you off at your accommodation in the city. This is where we will say goodbye and leave you to make whatever arrangements suit you best.

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Image of OTAGO Peninsula

Tour inclusions
  • All travel costs during the tour including de- luxe coach or minibus with a professional driver.

  • Complimentary transport daily to and from your accommodation in Christchurch and Dunedin CBD’s

  • Expert guides commentary at all locations included in the tour.

  • All house and garden entry fees

  • A Scottish-themed tour group dinner including wine at a specially chosen venue.

  • All lunches, except for Day 5 and Day 8

  • Two nights’ accommodation on the way to Dunedin, breakfasts included

Tour exclusions
  • Travel to Christchurch

  • Accommodation in Christchurch

  • Travel from Dunedin

  • Accommodation in Dunedin

  • Transport to and from your accommodation outside the CBD in Christchurch and Dunedin

  • All meals and beverages other than those included in the tour

  • Additional sightseeing or other activities not undertaken as part of the tour


We do not arrange travel insurance. Comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended.

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