Posted February 7th, 2013, 12:44 AM
I realise the OP has already completed their trip, but for anyone else interested, we did the trans alpine (trans scenic) tour from the Solstice in early Jan 2013 - the one which includes the sheep farm. We loved it. You first take a coach to the outskirts of Christchurch (this takes quite a while - probably close to 2 hours, but the scenery on the Banks Peninsular is quite breathtaking). The train trip up to Arthur's Pass is also lovely. Apart from the beautiful landscape, they serve you nice scones and tea or coffee, and then juice and champagne. There is an open carriage at both front and back of the train from where you can stand to take photos if you wish. You get off the train at Arthur's Pass and board the same bus (which has driven to meet you) to go down via another route. Apparently we were supposed to stop at The Cave Stream in the National Park, but didn't have time.
Lunch was at the Homebush Station. Unfortunately the homestead itself was destroyed in the earthquake but there are several historic outbuildings in which they displayed museum type pieces and had a little shop. Lunch (buffet style including wine) was in a very nice marquee. After lunch, there was a shearing demonstration and also a sheep dog demonstration for those who were interested. We were a bit rushed here, so didn't have the opportunity to look through the outbuildings as I would have liked. We continued back to Akaroa, stopping for a photo stop at the Hilltop Tavern and, like a few of the other ship's tours that day, we were at least half an hour late returning. A very tiring day, but well worth the effort. I believe there were at least six groups doing this tour and half of them did the reverse of what we did (ie went to the sheep farm first)