Epic New Zealand Experience
Time on this tour to visit all of New Zealand's iconic destinations from Cape Reinga to Dunedin enjoying scenic adventures along the way. This tour takes you on cruises in the Bay of Islands and on Milford Sound, whalewatching, city sightseeing, thermal activity, limestone caves, bird watching and guided walks. It provides you with the opportunity for winetasting, coastal hiking, sea kayaking, jetboating, panning for gold, riding on steam trains, fishing, golf, swimming with dolphins, hot air ballooning and glacier hiking. This tour is a comprehensive look at the country with a great mix of all that New Zealand has to offer.
- 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.
Self Drive Rental Vehicle - Private Car & Driver/Guide (or a combination) - Group Tour
Day 1 - ARRIVE IN AUCKLAND; NEW ZEALAND
Arrive at Auckland International Airport where you will be met by our Auckland staff who will provide final touring documents and vouchers before being transferred to your Auckland city hotel. The balance of the day is free to rest and explore New Zealand's largest and most cosmopolitan city.
Day 2 - AUCKLAND SIGHTSEEING
Sightseeing by coach in Auckland today includes the views from Mt Eden, which is the tallest of the many extinct volcanic cones around which Auckland is sited, the Domain Gardens, quaint Parnell Village and Rose Gardens, the Waterfront Drive and Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter where a variety of undersea life can be seen including penguins in a special sub-zero enclosure.
Day 3 - AUCKLAND / BAY OF ISLANDS (241 KMS)
Morning drive north across the Harbour Bridge and through the North Shore. Pass lovely Orewa and Waiwera Beaches on the Pacific Ocean and drive on through undulating farmlands and across the Brynderwyn Hills to Whangarei. Whangarei is the largest centre in the Northland Region. From Whangarei continue north through Kawakawa to Paihia in the lovely Bay of Islands. In the afternoon visit the Waitangi Treaty House. It was here on 6 February 1840 that Maori and the British signed an historic Treaty, which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand. The carved Maori Meeting House in the grounds is an especially fine example of the woodcarving and weaving skills of the Maori people.
Day 4 - IN THE BAY OF ISLANDS
This morning cruise out among the islands of the lovely Bay of Islands to Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock. Dolphins and other sea life often seen on these cruises. On the return voyage stop at Otehei Bay on pretty Urupukapuka Island where there is the opportunity for a swim or walk and refreshments at the café. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 5 - BAY OF ISLANDS / AUCKLAND / TE AWAMUTU FARMSTAY (395 KMS)
This morning travel back to Auckland and in the afternoon continue south across the Bombay Hills through the Waikato Valley, which is a major dairying and horse breeding region to Te Awamutu. Here meet your farm hosts and travel home with them for the night. This opportunity to meet a friendly New Zealand family in their own home and have dinner with them will be a tour highlight.
Day 6 - TE AWAMUTU / WAITOMO / ROTORUA (225 KMS)
Farm breakfast then travel on south to Waitomo for a guided tour of the famous Waitomo Glow-worm Caves. In the afternoon continue through picturesque farming country and across the bush clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua. This evening enjoy a hangi dinner and concert of Maori song and dance including the famous Haka on a Marae.
Day 7 - ROTORUA SIGHTSEEING
Sightseeing in Rotorua today includes a guided tour of Te Puia - the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see the geysers and other interesting thermal activity and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young Maori are learning traditional carving and weaving skills, a visit to lovely Rainbow Springs to see trout and rare kiwi birds and the entertaining Agrodome sheep show.
Day 8 - ROTORUA / TAUPO / NAPIER (225 KMS)
This morning travel south through forests and farmlands to Taupo, which is a popular holiday resort and world renowned for its trout fishing. See the spectacular Huka Falls on the Waikato River and perhaps take an optional lake cruise. In the afternoon journey east across the Kaimanawa Ranges to the Hawkes Bay. This is an important sheep and cattle farming area with fruit and vegetables on the river flats. It is also one of New Zealand's top wine producing areas. Among the leading wineries are Mission, Estate, Vidals, Selini, Craggy Range, Kim Crawford, Esk Valley, Clearview and Church Road - several of these have restaurants where you may wish to dine.
Day 9 - NAPIER SIGHTSEEING
In 1931 Napier was devastated by a huge earthquake, and was rebuilt in an art deco style of architecture. Suggest this morning take an art deco guided walk of the city and visit the Museum. In the afternoon take a safari tour to the huge Gannet Sanctuary at Cape Kidnappers. This is the largest and most spectacular mainland nesting place of Gannets in the world with over 20,000 birds - members of the Booby family with distinctive black eye markings and a pale gold crown. Visitors to the colony will see adults and young nesting in serried rows. In the air birds swoop and dive as they bring back fish. On the ground the pairs preen and perform the dance of the gannets recognition ritual.
Day 10 - NAPIER / WELLINGTON (334 KMS)
From Napier it is a half-day drive south to Wellington travelling either via the Wairarapa Valley and Rimutaka Hill Road - or via the Manawatu Gorge and the Kapiti Coast. If you are interested in birds or wines suggest travel via the Wairarapa with stops at Mt Bruce Native Bird Sanctuary and the Martinborough Wine District. Alternatively travel via the Manawatu Gorge, Palmerston North and the Kapiti Coast for an optional stop at Southwards excellent vintage car museum at Paraparaumu.
Day 11 - IN WELLINGTON
Day at leisure to explore New Zealand's capital city. Suggest take the cable car to Kelburn and walk down through the Botanic Gardens to Parliament buildings and around the waterfront to Te Papa - the National Museum of New Zealand where there are some excellent exhibits and interactive displays. Another option is to visit the Karori Sanctuary which has been ring fenced from rodents, stoats, cats and other predators in an effort to allow rare and endangered native birds to inhabit the area in relative safety. There are also tours available to Lord of the Rings filming sites and to the Martinborough wineries.
Day 12 - WELLINGTON / PICTON (FERRY)/ BLENHEIM (29 KMS)
This morning take the ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton in the South Island. The last part of the cruise through the Marlborough Sounds is especially scenic. On arrival drive across the hill to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough Wine Region. This is New Zealand's top wine producing area with its wines winning awards around the world. Among the leading wineries are Grove Mill, Hunters, Alan Scott Estate, Shingle Peak, St Clair, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Montana. The afternoon at leisure for wine tasting. Some of these wineries have restaurants where you may wish to dine. Another option is to spend time exploring the lovely Marlborough Sounds or walking the Queen Charlotte Track from Picton.
Day 13 - BLENHEIM / NELSON (110 KMS)
This morning visit to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum. The Knights of the Sky exhibit here occupies 3,000 sq metres and is one of the world's largest collections of WW1 aircraft and rare memorabilia including a mix of dramatically staged static displays along with flyable aeroplanes. The collection is owned by a trust chaired by renowned Film Director - Peter Jackson (Oscar winner for the Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy). Afterwards travel across the top of the South Island to Nelson.
Day 14 - ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
This morning travel out to Kaiteriteri Beach for a day of exploring lovely Abel Tasman National Park. Cruise by launch through the Marine Reserve and up the coast past beautiful golden sand beaches to Tonga Island, site of a large seal colony. There are also a variety of sea birds to be seen. The boat goes as far as Totaranui. Passengers can choose to stay aboard the whole day or to disembark at any of the several stops along the way to relax on a beach and swim in the sea. The most popular activity though is to disembark at one of the bays such as Onetahuti and then walk back through the native rain forest to Bark Bay or from Bark Bay to Torrent Bay where the launch will collect you on its return trip to Kaiteriteri. (Note instead of hiking you can choose to go sea kayaking).
Day 15 - NELSON / PUNAKAIKI (277 KMS)
This morning visit the Wearable Arts Museum and Hoglund's Glass Blowing Studios. Then drive south down through the Golden Downs State Forest to Murchison and through the Buller Gorge to the West Coast. The scenery is splendid with high mountains and lush rainforest. There are some delightful picnic places along the way. Continue south through Inangahua Junction and follow the Buller River out to the coast. Time permitting you may want to see the Seal Colony at Cape Foulwind near Westport, before driving down the coast to Punakaiki to see the unusual pancake rocks. These unusual appearance of these rocks have been caused by wind and wave action on different rock strata.
Day 15 - PUNAKAIKAI / FRANZ JOSEF (230 KMS)
Drive south down the Tasman Sea coast to Greymouth, which is the largest centre on the West Coast. Time permitting suggest stop at Shantytown to try your hand at gold panning and visit a Greenstone Studio at Hokitika where a local jade stone is crafted into traditional and contemporary jewellery and ornaments. Continue through forests and farmlands to Franz Josef. The Franz Josef Glacier is a huge river of snow and ice that flows from vast snowfields high in the Alps almost to sea level. There are half and full day guided tours on to the ice and scenic flights with snow landings available.
Day 16 - FRANZ JOSEF / WANAKA (287KMS)
Morning free at Franz Josef for your choice of tours and activities. In the afternoon drive south through magnificent rainforests and past pretty bush fringed lakes and clear rushing rivers. At Haast turn inland and cross the Haast Pass through the Southern Alps. The alpine scenery is awesome. Descend past glacial Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Wanaka.
Day 17 - AT WANAKA
Located on the shores of a beautiful lake with a stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps, Wanaka is a popular resort town. Free day for your own choice of tours and activities. Among your options is a drive out to the Matukituki Valley, a lake cruise, mountain biking, golf, trout fishing or river rafting. A visit to Landsborough's Puzzling World to find your way out of the maze and to see some of the fascinating puzzles is a lot of fun. You may also like to take a hike to the top of nearby Mt Iron from where there are wonderful panoramic views across Lake Wanaka to Mt Aspiring and the Southern Alps. There are also scenic flights, and an interesting War birds collection of vintage warplanes at Wanaka Airport, along with a vintage car and toy collection.
Day 18 - WANAKA / QUEENSTOWN (116 KMS)
Travel on through the Central Otago farmlands and around Lake Dunstan to Cromwell which is an important fruit growing and wine making area. If you have an interest in wines recommend a visit to The Big Picture and some of the wineries in the Bannockburn area. From here pass through the rugged Kawarau Gorge into Queenstown.
Day 19 - IN QUEENSTOWN
Day at leisure for your own choice of tours and activities. There is plenty to do in this wonderful alpine resort. Suggest a cruise on the 1912 vintage lake steamer TSS Earnslaw or the thrill of a Shotover Jetboat ride. Another option is to drive out to Glenorchy for a popular Dart River Safari or a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track. Dine this evening at the Skyline Restaurant from where there are panoramic views across the lake and surrounding mountains. Access is by aerial gondola.
Day 20 - QUEENSTOWN / MILFORD SOUND (292 KMS)
Today drive around Lake Wakatipu and through Te Anau and into Fiordland National Park. The scenery is stunning with high mountains and deep valleys carved out by ice age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and cascading waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. Stop en route to view the Mirror Lakes and The Chasm. In the late afternoon board the MV Milford Mariner for an overnight adventure cruise on Milford Sound. Seals, penguins and dolphins are often seen in the clear waters of the fiord. Sea kayaks are available for guest use. Cabins have ensuite facilities. Dinner and breakfast served aboard. (Or you may instead chose to do the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound aboard the MV Fiordland Navigator).
Day 21 - MILFORD SOUND / DUNEDIN (408 KMS)
Breakfast aboard before disembarking and returning to Te Anau via the Cleddau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and lovely Eglinton Valley. From Te Anau it is a half day drive across the Southland and Otago countryside to Dunedin.
Day 22 - DUNEDIN SIGHTSEEING
Dunedin was originally settled by the Scots and retains a good deal of tartan character. Today drive out to the Otago Peninsula for a visit the Royal Albatross Colony -- the only mainland nesting place in the world for these magnificent seabirds. Continue on to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguins from especially constructed "hides". New Zealand's only castle is also located on the Peninsula. Another recommended option is the Taieri Gorge excursion train, which operates daily deep into the hills behind Dunedin following the trail of 19th century gold prospectors.
Day 23 - DUNEDIN / MT COOK (330 KMS)
This morning drive north across the hills and up the Pacific Coast. See the Moeraki Boulders on the beach and then drive inland up the Waitaki Valley past the Aviemore and Benmore hydro lakes Omarama and the Mackenzie Basin. Continue through Twizel and around glacially formed Lake Pukaki and into Mt Cook. There are 17 peaks above 10,000 ft in Mt Cook National Park. The scenery is spectacular. Time this afternoon to walk some of the shorter alpine trails near the hotel or for a scenic flight with glacier landing.
Day 24 - MT COOK GLACIER EXPLORER / CHRISTCHURCH (330 KMS)
This morning take a guided excursion to the Tasman Glacier. Includes a 30-minute walk and Mac Boat to explore Lake Tasman and the huge dripping ice face of New Zealand's largest glacier. View spectacular ice formations and walk on an iceberg. In the afternoon travel down from Mt Cook to Christchurch travelling via Lake Tekapo and crossing the sheep and crop farmlands of the Canterbury Plains.
Day 25 - IN CHRISTCHURCH
Day at leisure. There is a lot to see and do in and around Christchurch City. Suggest a stroll through the city centre to the Canterbury Arts Centre and the Museum. The Botanic Gardens and the gardens in Mona Vale estate are also well worth a visit, and the International Antarctic Centre is a "must see" for most visitors. New Zealand's native bird the kiwi and a variety of other wildlife can be seen at Willowbank and Wildlife cruises on Lyttelton harbour are another option. So too is some time exploring some of Canterbury Wineries and sampling some of the fine estate wines now produced here.
There are also half-day city tours and popular full day trips from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass by train, tours to Akaroa where the rare Hectors Dolphins can be seen. There is also the opportunity for sporting activities such as golfing, salmon fishing, jet boating, sea kayaking or hot air ballooning.
Day 26 - KAIKOURA WHALE WATCHING EXCURSION (365 KMS ROUND TRIP)
This morning travel north by coach up the Pacific Coast to Kaikoura for a whale watch cruise in a purpose built boat. The sea in this area is especially rich in nutrients, which attract a wide variety of sea life including Sperm Whales - the largest of all the toothed whales, which can be seen in these waters on 95% of days year round. There are also pods of playful Dusky Dolphins, seals, penguins and occasionally Orca can be seen. Lunch afterwards, then visit a seal colony where the fur seals may be viewed at close quarters. On the way back to Christchurch there will be a stop at one of the very good wineries in the Waipara Area where wine tasting has been arranged. (There is instead the option of a Swim with the Dolphins Tour or a Pelagic Birds Tour).
Day 27 - DEPART NEW ZEALAND
Day at leisure until transfer to Christchurch International Airport and check in for your flight.
NOTE: The overnight cruises on Milford and Doubtful Sounds do not operate over the winter months- so itineraries need be modified for day tripping only to these fiords.