DC3 Vintage Air Safari - small group tour

From Christchurch to Christchurch
  • Canterbury & Upper South Island
  • Otago, Alpine & Deep South
  • Group
  • Cultural Experiences
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Tour Description

Come and experience a truly, unique piece of New Zealand’s aviation history as you tour the South Island, aboard a Douglas DC-3. This aircraft flew as part of the National Airways Corporation (NAC) from 1947-1978 when it formed the country’s regional domestic airline. The aircraft has returned to National Airways Corporation (NAC) colours in recognition of its long and extensive history with domestic flights in New Zealand.

The DC-3 is a dream way to travel, with wide doors and aisles, large ‘skyliner’ windows, comfortable seating, and great in-flight service options available. We bring to you the ultimate opportunity to join us for a 9 day, very special experience, touring through the South Island aboard this this classic aircraft.

Viva's Best Bits...

"This is a super unique journey of life time trip - exploring NZ in a Douglas DC-3.!" Tara, Team Viva

Not only do you take to the skies, but also to the seas! With an overnight cruise in remote Doubtful Sound

And its not all planes and aviation, there is plenty of time to experience the wildlife and sights of the south, including a visit to the blue penguins in Oamaru

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive into Christchurch and make your own way to the hotel. This evening you will enjoy dinner at the hotel and the opportunity to meet your fellow aviation enthusiasts and your tour guide.

Hotel: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 2
Christchurch Banks Peninsula - Ashburton - Oamaru

This morning after having breakfast at our hotel we are picked up by a coach and experience a morning Christchurch sightseeing tour, taking in the history, architecture and more recent rebuild of the Garden City. The tour of the city concludes at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. The Air Force Museum had its origins in the RNZAF Historical Centre, established at RNZAF Base Wigram in 1976. This was a small-scale, part-time venture, until 1981 when a formal Air Force Order established the RNZAF Museum as an official Air Force unit. The present Museum complex opened on 1 April 1987, as part of the RNZAF’s 50th anniversary celebrations. When base Wigram closed in 1995, the Museum remained. Today it is situated on 37 hectares of land and is accommodated in six buildings onsite with a total of approximately 5,000m2 of display area and 14,000m2 of storage and workshop space. Here you will experience a fully-guided, private tour and discover the work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in the Museum’s collections areas, as well learning more about the historic buildings. Following the tour is time for lunch at the Museum’s café (own expense).

This afternoon it’s time, as we board our DC-3, the fully restored “grand old lady” of the skies bound for Oamaru! The plan is to take the scenic route over Banks Peninsula (weather permitting). But first we touch down in Ashburton to visit the Ashburton Aviation Museum. This is one of the best aviation museums in New Zealand with an impressive collection of 40 different planes including a genuine GR3 Harrier Jump Jet. Ashburton was an Elementary Flying Training School, training pilots in Tiger Moths. The collection includes a DC3, Various Topdressers, RNZAF Aermacchi and A4 Skyhawk, some gliders and an impressive array of memorabilia. On arrival in Oamaru we are transferred to the Brydone Hotel where we are staying for the night. There will be time to refresh before we head out on a tour of the little Blue Penguins of Oamaru. Standing at just 30cm tall, the little blue penguins make up for every millimetre they lack in height with cuteness. They waddle ashore at dusk each day at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, but some also remain at home especially once eggs are laid and chicks are growing. Here we get to enjoy an evening viewing watching Oamaru’s cutest little residents waddling back to shore at dusk from a days’ fishing. We also learn about the research and conservation programme headed by one of New Zealand’s leading penguin experts at the visitor centre. Following this we return to our hotel for dinner.

Hotel: Brydone Hotel

Day 3
Oamaru Te Anau - Doubtful Sound

This morning we rise early, have breakfast at our hotel and transfer to the airport. Boarding our mighty aircraft we continue onto Manapouri, where we board a boat and take a short cruise across Lake Manapouri. A coach then takes us across Wilmot Pass, travelling on a sub-alpine road through dense rainforest. Arriving at Deep Cove we are met by our crew and the majestic Fiordland Navigator. Designed along the lines of a traditional scow, the Fiordland Navigator blends old world charm with modern comforts that include spacious viewing decks, a dining saloon with fully licensed bar and an observation lounge. This will be our accommodation tonight while we cruise Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is unspoiled, unmatched and unforgettable. So get ready to create some lifelong memories as the Fiordland Navigator takes you through the ultimate Doubtful Sound experience.

As we cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, knowledgeable nature guides provide commentary ensuring we miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter.

After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat – or to simply relax on board. For the adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming. All activities are weather dependent.

In the evening, you’ll enjoy a delicious three-course buffet dinner prepared by the on-board chef, savour some of the fine wines at the licensed bar and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.

Overnight: Fiordland Navigator

Day 4
Doubtful Sound Te Anau - Fiordland National Park

This morning we begin the day with a hearty cooked breakfast menu and get ready to enjoy the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fiord. Later this morning, you’ll return to Deep Cove, the trip back to Manapouri and many, many conversations telling friends just how amazing your trip was. On arrival in Manapouri we will be picked up by coach and transferred the short journey to Te Anau, where there is time for lunch and exploring this lakeside town (lunch own expense).

This afternoon, we experience a jet boating trip down the majestic trout filled Waiau River, to the serene Lake Manapouri, step foot into ancient beach forests and learn all about this unique location among Fiordland National Park.

The journey begins with a jet boat ride down the Waiau River, lined by ancient beech tree forest and featured in the opening scene from The Lord of the Rings. Get the inside-story on The Lord of the Rings filming locations, and the crazy logistics involved in filming. Cruise down the powerful, surging, Waiau River. Stop in some quiet and tranquil spots, to soak up the amazing surrounds, spot a few trout, and learn about the unique environment and fascinating history. As the trip continues, you find yourself out on the breath-taking Lake Manapouri. Surrounded by mountains that have been carved by snow and ice over centuries, experience a sense of wonderment as you gaze at the magnificent mountains and sit in awe of their sheer beauty.

We then return to shore and visit Fiordland Cinema to watch the short movie called Ata Whenua – Shadowland. This film gives you the opportunity to see Fiordland and it’s remote World Heritage Status wilderness that you would otherwise never see. Mysterious, evocative, exhilarating and utterly spectacular, filmed mostly from a helicopter across extremes of season, climate and terrain, it will take you on an unforgettable journey through one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on earth. This evening we enjoy dinner at our hotel.

Hotel: Distinction Luxmore

Day 5
Te Anau Milford Sound - Wanaka

We wake this morning and have breakfast at our hotel before being picked up and transferred to Te Anau airport and boarding our majestic DC-3. Today we depart Te Anau and fly via Milford Sound (subject to weather conditions) to Wanaka. Wanaka, is a resort town set on the southern end of Lake Wanaka, with beautiful views of snow capped mountains. It's the gateway to the Southern Alps' Mount Aspiring National Park, a wilderness of glaciers, beech forests and alpine lakes and is a buzzing little town to explore.

We begin with a visit to Warbirds and Wheels Museum which houses New Zealand’s best collection of luxury American Classic cars and Vintage vehicles. The museum showcases how classic cars, warbirds and people’s lives have changed through the major conflicts of the 20th century through to modern times. The attraction also boasts six fighter aircraft from World War 1, World War 2 through to the impressive SkyHawk and more modern jets. There is a display on local aviation legend Sir Tim Wallis, Ralph Watson Workshop and Grahame Sydney lithographs. There is also time for lunch at the café at the museum (own expense). Following the visit to the museum we transfer back into Wanaka, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore or relax at Edgewater Resort where we also enjoy dinner tonight.

Hotel: Edgewater Resort

Day 6

This morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the beautiful setting of our accommodation, before we head of on an Eco Lake Wanaka Cruise.

A 30 minute cruise across the lake takes us to this nature reserve island, situated in the middle of Lake Wanaka surrounded by stunning alpine vistas. Once on Mou Waho Island your eco guide points out the varied native plant and birdlife including the rare Buff Weka, a very inquisitive flightless bird, (extinct on mainland NZ since 1920). A one hour return guided bush walk is included, which takes you up to reveal the island’s secret – a serene lake right on top of the island! Unique and very photogenic. If walking isn’t your thing, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the birdlife at the beach and shelter at the island base with your own morning tea. You also get to plant a native tree as part of your eco-experience eco Wanaka has planted over 8000 trees on Mou Waho Island over their 14 years of operation. This is a unique opportunity to give back to this special island and New Zealand’s environment.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure to explore Wanaka, dinner is also at your leisure and choice in town (own expense).

Hotel: Edgewater Resort

Day 7
Wanaka Mt Cook National Park

This morning we have breakfast before setting off from our hotel to the airport and again boarding our DC-3. Today we are bound for Mount Cook in what should be a stunning flight with breath taking alpine views (weather permitting). Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock, with 19 peaks over 3,000 metres including New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook standing at 3,724 metres.

On arrival we are transferred to Mount Cook Village which sits amongst sky-scraping peaks, phenomenal glaciers, permanent snow and all beneath a stunning star-studded sky at night.

This afternoon can be at your leisure to explore or relax soaking in the beautiful alpine environment or you could opt to treat yourself to a scenic flight up the stunning Tasman Valley, fly in and hike or climb on a glacier in New Zealand's big mountain country, or experience the ultimate in alpine adventures with a World Exclusive tour. Enjoy the expansive icelands and breath-taking clean glaciers from the comfort of your luxurious helicopter or ski plane. These scenic tours sweep you over the best alpine views New Zealand has to offer. Flight lengths range from a 10 minute overview to 90 minutes of witnessing all the hidden gems of Aoraki Mt Cook and Westland National Park featuring two glacier landings. Tonight dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Hermitage Hotel (Premium Rooms)

Day 8
Mt Cook National Park Christchurch

After breakfast at our hotel this morning we get to experience the only tour of its kind in New Zealand, visiting one of the only accessible glacial lakes containing icebergs in the world.

Experience an amazing encounter with New Zealand's largest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. We will explore and learn about the ever-changing glacial landscape as you journey across the terminal lake. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the face of the glacier into the rapidly growing lake. Feel small as the lateral moraines rear up almost 200m, reminding us of the scale and greatness that the glacier has reached in previous times. A totally unique and special experience.

We then enjoy lunch at the hotel (own expense) before transferring to our majestic DC-3 and flying through the alps and over the Canterbury plains to Christchurch.

The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure before we meet again in the evening for a farewell Dinner and sharing our stories from this great aviation adventure.

Hotel: Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Day 9
Depart Christchurch

Breakfast at the hotel this morning as your tour concludes. An onward transfer can be arranged on request.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 Seven nights in centrally located accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 Daily breakfast
  • Included Copy 20 7 Dinners
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Air Safari on a DC3 aircraft
  • Included Copy 20 Fully escorted tour director
  • Included Copy 20 Overnight-cruise on Fiordland Navigator/Doubtful Sound
  • Included Copy 20 Sightseeing: Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Ashburton Aviation Museum
  • Included Copy 20 Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
  • Included Copy 20 Warbird and Wheels Museum Wanaka
  • Included Copy 20 Jet Boat Ride Te Anau
  • Included Copy 20 Lake Wanaka Cruise
  • Included Copy 20 Glacier Explorer excursion on Tasman Glacier
  • Included Copy 20 Luggage allowance of 15kg per person
  • Included Copy 20 Maximum 20 Pax. Minimum 12 Pax to operate.
Douglas DC-3


  • Included Air Safari on a DC3 aircraft - experience aviation history!
  • Included Overnight-cruise on Fiordland Navigator/Doubtful Sound
  • Included Plenty of aviation history - Air Force Museum of New Zealand and more
  • Included Fantastic experiences including Glacier Explorer excursion on Tasman Glacier
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9 days

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$7,143 USD

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including G.S.T

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