20 Day North & South Islands
New Zealand's awesome landscapes, lush forests, amazing wildlife and pleasant climate make it a haven for many outdoor activities, and a great place to unwind. New Zealand society is diverse, sophisticated, and multicultural. The honesty, friendliness and openness of Kiwis will impress you. The great advantage of travelling around New Zealand is that all of its diverse physical, cultural, and artistic landscapes are so close to each other!
- Meet and Greet on arrival in New Zealand
- New Zealand Airport Transfers
- English/Foreign speaking guide depending on arrangements
- Quality hotel accommodation, twin/double rooms, (single rooms available with single supplement) all with private facilities
- Cooked Breakfasts (B) and Dinners (D) where indicated on the itinerary or to be included by arrangement.
- Tour admissions as per itinerary. (eg scenic boat cruises, cultural events). Please see itinerary for specifics.
- Touring in a modern air conditioned vehicle, type depending on arrangements
- Complimentary Travel Kit including travel vouchers, support documentation and a New Zealand Map.
20 DAY NORTH AND SOUTH ISLAND TOUR
Day 1 ARRIVE AUCKLAND
Welcome to New Zealand! You are met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 AUCKLAND SIGHTS
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of the 'City of Sails' includes the panoramic city and harbour views from Bastion Point; trendy Parnell Village; the lovely bays of the waterfront drive and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area. Also visit the Auckland Museum which gives an excellent introduction to the artistic legacy and cultures of the peoples of the Pacific; the monumental carvings, buildings, canoes and taonga (treasures) of the Maori; and the diversity of cultures which now combine to form the rich tapestry of race, nationality and creed which is modern New Zealand (self-guided tour). Next we visit Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium, where you will journey through 10 themed zones with over 30 live animal displays, and see over 80 different species. The Antarctic Encounter is home to New Zealand's only colony of Antarctic penguins, where you'll get up close to the majestic King and playful Gentoo penguins. Come face-to-face with huge sharks, giant stingrays, and thousands of other deep sea creatures from New Zealand and beyond. In the Seahorse Kingdom you'll find the world's only display of Spiny Sea Dragons.
Day 3 AUCKLAND - BAY OF ISLANDS
Departing Auckland we travel north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to first visit the Parry Kauri Park. Here we will view some fine examples of Giant Kauri Trees. Continuing we then visit the Matakohe Kauri Museum, at Otamatea. Here we gain an insight to the early New Zealand pioneer history, which helped form the New Zealand that we see today. Continuing our journey we reach Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where you'll take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House where New Zealand's history began.
Day 4 BAY OF ISLANDS
This morning board a luxury catamaran for a morning cruise to Cape Brett - enjoy a cruise out into the Bay meandering around the idyllic beaches of the islands that make this area so popular. Pass the Cape Brett Lighthouse and farther out see beautiful Motukokako Island and the famous Hole in the Rock. Hold your breath as the skipper skilfully navigates his way through the hole and into Grand Cathedral Cave (sea conditions permitting). On the return to Paihia pass several remote islands, fringed with golden sand beaches. After your cruise your afternoon is at your leisure. The Bay of Islands has so many options for you to discover - perhaps you could try your luck at deep-sea fishing, or take the plunge swimming with the dolphins or just take time out to relax within Paihia or Russell - New Zealand's first capital.
Day 5 BAY OF ISLANDS - ROTORUA
Today we travel south following the Twin Coast Discovery Highway to arrive in Auckland in time for lunch (own cost). We continue south crossing the Bombay Hills through the dairy rich Waikato countryside to the thermal wonderland of Rotorua, the Sulphur City. Rotorua has the most energetic thermal activity in the country with bubbling mud pools, gushing geysers, beautiful coloured hot springs and terrace formations created by mineral water. Rotorua also has a large Maori population whose cultural activities are interesting and accessible as will be witnessed tomorrow evening.
Day 6 ROTORUA
This morning we enjoy a relaxing guided walk through Rainbow Springs, a specialist garden featuring spring fed pools full of Rainbow & Brown Trout and New Zealand native flora and fauna including the iconic New Zealand Native Kiwi Bird. We also enjoy an exclusive guided tour of Te Puia. A guided tour of Te Puia combines a premier Maori culture experience with an introduction to the magnificent geothermal activity in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Whilst in the valley see the boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces, hot springs and geysers including the famous Pohutu Geyser which can erupt up to 30 metres high, depending on its mood. Visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori are learning the traditional carving and weaving skills of their ancestors. Further highlights of the tour include Rotowhio Marae and Te Aronui a Rua, the sacred meeting house of Rotowhio Marae. This evening you will be treated to a traditional Hangi (feast) and Maori Concert. We are transferred from our hotel to visit Tamaki Maori Village for a Cultural Experience and Hangi Dinner. Experience the warmth of the Maori people during an evening of ceremonial rituals, powerful cultural performance, storytelling & hangi feasting. Enter the pre-European Maori village, witness the earth being scraped carefully away from the hangi pit and enter their ancestral Meeting House to relax as their family entertain you with a powerful cultural performance before dining on the traditional hangi buffet dinner (Maori feast) cooked the traditional Maori way in an earth oven.
Day 7 ROTORUA - NAPIER
Departing Rotorua we travel via New Zealand's largest pine tree forests to Taupo. En-route, we make a visit to the Wairakei Geothermal Steam Field. This was a world-first, generating electricity by tapping a natural steam field then channelling the steam to a nearby power generation plant. Continuing we view the mighty Huka Falls. Huka in Maori translates to "snow" as the water here has the appearance of snow falling as it is forced along from Lake Taupo through the falls on its journey along the Waikato River. This afternoon we continue to the 'Fruit Bowl' of New Zealand, Hawkes Bay - Napier. Upon arrival in Napier we take a 1-hour guided Art Deco Walk. Take an entertaining look at the unique 1930s architecture as you wander through the streets with your local guide. En-route learn about the 1931 earthquake that destroyed the city, hear about the people that led the rebuild, and discover the unique Art Deco style of this unique city, known as the Art Deco capital of the world.
Day 8 NAPIER - WELLINGTON
Today we continue south to Wellington, New Zealand's capital and administrative centre built on the hills around a magnificent natural harbour. Upon arrival we take a city sightseeing tour including Parliament Buildings, the views from Mt Victoria and a visit to Te Papa -the National Museum of New Zealand - time to explore Te Papa independently to learn about the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.
Day 9 WELLINGTON - NELSON
Today begins as we cruise the Wellington Harbour out onto the Cook Strait on the Interislander Ferry and through New Zealand's only true sounds, the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound into Picton. The bustling port of Picton is the terminal for inter-island ferries, and gateway to the 'Mainland', the South Island's self-proclaimed nickname. Reboarding our coach we continue to tour through to Pelorous Bridge. Here we can walk through the Beech and Podocarp Forest as well as view the many sculptured boulders in the Pelorous River. We continue on to Nelson, a city known for its sunny climate, golden sand beaches, wineries, artists and craftspeople and three National Parks in close proximity.
Day 10 ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK CRUISE
Today we travel to Kaiteriteri, gateway to the picturesque Abel Tasman National Park to enjoy a scenic cruise along the coast. On show here we see stunning granite and marble formations, golden sandy beaches and crystal clear streams that join the ocean. Picnic lunch included. We return to central Nelson in the early afternoon.
Day 11 NELSON - CHRISTCHURCH
Passing Brightwater, the birth place of Lord Rutherford, the New Zealand science pioneer who split the atom, we travel through the Golden Downs Forest to Murchison through the Maruia Forest over the Lewis Pass then into Hanmer Springs. Time out here for lunch in this lovely alpine village (at own expense) before joining the upper reaches of the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch where we enjoy the sights of the 'Garden City' also known as "the most English city outside of England", en-route to our accommodation.
Day 12 CHRISTCHURCH - FRANZ JOSEF
From Christchurch we traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthurs Pass. From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the village of Arthurs Pass by our coach to continue our journey to the West Coast - or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south we tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. On arrival, time is available for optional scenic flights, before continuing onto our accommodation for the night.
Day 13 FRANZ JOSEF - QUEENSTOWN
Driving towards the southern end of the South Island's West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park we travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makaroa and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon we travel via Cromwell following the Kawarau Gorge Road into Queenstown.
Day 14 QUEENSTOWN
Today is at leisure. Queenstown has a plethora of optional sightseeing activities available from jet-boating on the thrilling Shotover Jet; a jet-boat excursion along the scenic and remote Dart River; winery tours to the premier Central Otago wineries; 4WD tours into unforgettable Skippers Canyon; scenic flights; fly-fishing or if you dare - bungy jumping or tandem sky-diving! Extra cost for optional sightseeing excursions.
This evening we take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel's Homestead.
Day 15 QUEENSTOWN - MILFORD SOUND - TE ANAU
Leaving Queenstown we skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau we reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound where we enjoy a scenic cruise of the Sound. The Sound is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound we return to Te Anau reaching our overnight accommodation.
Day 16 TE ANAU - DUNEDIN
Departing Te Anau we travel through some of New Zealand's most populated sheep country through to Lumsden and onto Gore before arriving in Dunedin - "the Edinburgh of the South". Upon arrival enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city which was established by settlers from the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in the 1840's. The city is set on hills at the head of a lovely harbour. The city is renowned for its educational facilities including Otago University, New Zealand's first university. See the University of Otago with its historic blue stone buildings on the banks of the Leith River. Travel through the CBD along George and Princes Streets and through the Octagon which features the historic Town Hall and St Pauls Anglican Cathedral and a statue of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Also see the Dunedin Railway Station - reputably New Zealand's most photographed building.
Day 17 DUNEDIN - OMARAMA
This morning we visit Olveston House - an impressive turn-of-the-century house that is still home to all the lavish furnishings and art collections that have been collected from all corners of the world. We continue to then take in the sights of this old Scottish City before travelling onto Oamaru where we have time to look at the 'White Stone City' where the old buildings have been constructed with local limestone. It was from Oamaru that New Zealand's first frozen meat was shipped in 1882 taking over three months to reach England, and thus began New Zealand's most important export industry. Travelling inland through Benmore and Otematata, through Sailors Cutting we arrive at Omarama.
Day 18 OMARAMA - CHRISTCHURCH
A day for spectacular sights. We head north to skirt the shore of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain. Time is available to enjoy an optional scenic flight over the ancient rivers of ice and the West Coast Glaciers (weather permitting - a highly recommended option). Travelling to Tekapo we see the magnificent blue waters of Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Collie dog, before travelling the vast Mackenzie Basin, over Burke's Pass through Fairlie, Geraldine, Ashburton and across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.
Day 19 AKAROA DAY TOUR
Depart the hotel by coach this morning to visit the beautiful unspoilt old French whaling depot of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula. Akaroa was settled by the French in an early attempt to colonise New Zealand and still retains a good deal of French character in its street names, boutique shops and cafes. This morning enjoy a cruise on Akaroa Harbour which is known for its wildlife including penguins, marine birdlife and the very rare Hector's Dolphins (smallest species in the world). Time out allows you to explore the delightful village with its cafes, art and craft shops and colonial style architecture and for lunch at your leisure. Later this afternoon we return to our Christchurch accommodation visiting a cheese factory en-route to sample the local produce.
Day 20 CHRISTCHURCH - HOME PORT
Farewell from New Zealand. After breakfast you will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch International Airport for your flight back home.