Exploring New Zealand
|Exploring New Zealand
|Australia & The Pacific, New Zealand
From the steaming geothermal vents of Rotorua and the ice sheets and temperate rainforest of Franz Josef Glacier, to the genuine warmth of a home stay with a local family, experience all of New Zealands many facets on this unforgettable journey. Enjoy city tours of Auckland, Napier, Wellington and Dunedin. Spend two nights discovering the sun-soaked Bay of Islands. Stand in awe of the giant Kauri tree. Savor a leisurely three-night stay in Queenstown, one of New Zealands prettiest towns. Cruise Milford Sound in dramatic Fiordland. Delight in an overnight stay on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Sip wine at a regional vineyard in Otago. Explore the beautiful 19th-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Stay in Dunedin, a little slice of Scotland in the South Pacific. Overnight at the foot of massive Mt. Cook. Dine in a restored Christchurch mansion. Immerse yourself in the Maori culture. Witness the famous Haka war challenge, followed by a Hangi feast. Discover the many treasures of New Zealand.
Day 1: Depart from Home
Cross the International Dateline and begin the adventure of a lifetime by skipping a day ahead.
Day 2: Depart from Home
Cross the International Dateline and begin the adventure of a lifetime by skipping a day ahead.
Day 3: Auckland, New Zealand – Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Auckland, the City of Sails, consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Aucklands Polynesian population instills into its chic atmosphere the vibrant feel of the Pacific Islands. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.
Day 4: Auckland – Bay of Islands
Come to know the best of Auckland during a panoramic city tour featuring the Americas Cup Village, the War Memorial, bustling Queen Street, the Auckland Harbour Bridge and spectacular views from the harbourside. Next, depart Auckland and travel north to the Bay of Islands, your home for the next two nights. This sun-soaked region boasts more than 144 islands and warm waters with abundant marine life. Visit the Waitangi Treaty House where Maori and British leaders signed the 1840 treaty establishing New Zealand as a nation.
Day 5: Bay of Islands
We begin the day with a cruise through the bays famous Hole in the Rock and views of the Cape Brett Lighthouse which stands nearly 500 feet above sea level at the edge of the Cape Brett Peninsula. The rest of the day is yours to independently explore Paihia the quaint town known as the jewel of the Bay of Islands.
Day 6: Bay of Islands – Matakohe – Home Stay*
Leave the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands behind and head to Matakohe in the agricultural heartland of the North Island. Make a stop at the Kauri Museum where you will come to know the stories surrounding the giant kauri tree that can grow up to 50 feet wide, 170 feet tall and can live for 2,000 years. Discover how the early settlers used this abundant tree to build a life for themselves. Later, make yourself right at home when a New Zealand family welcomes you for the night!* This is sure to be an unforgettable experience as you make new friends, learn about the customs of the Kiwis and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Day 7: Rotorua
Today, find yourself amid the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. With over one-third of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. Visit Te Puia, New Zealand’s premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. The National Carving School and National Weaving School are located here, passing on age-old customs by teaching the tribal youth these traditional skills. Enjoy the chance to view the Kiwi bird and learn what is being done in an effort to remove this marvelous creature from the endangered species list. Tonight, experience an authentic Hangi dinner celebration where you learn about the warm-hearted Maoris and their lives before European colonists arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and since. Enjoy an immersive experience featuring authentic entertainment such as the poi dance and the famous Haka war challenge.
Day 8: Rotorua – Napier
Journey into the Hawke’s Bay region. After arriving in the city of Napier, which boasts some of the greatest Art Deco architecture in the world, enjoy a guided tour and learn why Napier took on such an eclectic design style. This afternoon, take advantage of time at leisure to stroll the oceanfront promenade and simply soak up the atmosphere.
Day 9: Napier – Wellington
Travel through the rolling countryside of the North Island. The rural vistas and the rugged Rimutaka Range slowly give way to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.
Day 10: Wellington
During your panoramic sightseeing tour of Wellington, view the Beehive, New Zealands Parliament; historic St. Pauls Church; and the Old Government Building the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. Following the tour, visit the Te Papa Tongawera Museum, a fascinating center dedicated to art, history and the Maori culture.
Day 11: Wellington – Picton – Christchurch
Board a ferry and sail across Cook Strait to experience what has been called the most beautiful ferry ride in the world. Arrive in Picton on the South Island. Continue on with a drive along the coast before arriving in the historic city of Christchurch. Devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, see firsthand how the Garden City is recreating itself.
Day 12: Christchurch – Franz Josef Glacier Region
All aboard! Take in the marvelous snowcapped peaks and beautiful river gorges during your travels across the Southern Alps, winding your way past waterfalls and rugged mountains on the famous TranzAlpine train for a truly inspiring trip through this glorious scenery. Next, meet the skilled carvers who work with West Coast pounamu New Zealand greenstone at a local jade factory. Youll end your day at the Franz Josef Glacier Region which offers travelers a rare opportunity to experience a living glacial landscape in a temperate environment.
Day 13: Franz Josef – Queenstown
Before departing Franz Josef if the dynamic New Zealand weather cooperates you may opt to see this beautiful glacier region from a birds-eye view during a flightseeing tour. En route to Queenstown, watch as the amazing landscape unfolds before your eyes as you pass through the rainforest, bordered by the Southern Alps and the twisting coastline. After crossing the Haast Pass, arrive in Queenstown, one of New Zealands prettiest towns.
Day 14: Queenstown
Enjoy a leisurely day of touring as we set off for the beautiful 19th-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Take time to explore its quaint, historic streets. The Central Otago region is where some of New Zealands best wines are grown and produced. During a stop at a local winery, visit the underground storage cave the largest in New Zealand for a tasting of their award-winning wine. Follow this unforgettable experience with lunch at the winerys fabulous restaurant. Later, return to Queenstown and enjoy some leisure time.
Day 15: Queenstown
A full day of leisure in Queenstown offers several options to enhance your dream trip. You may shop or people-watch in the village. Or, join the optional “Journey through Middle Earth” tour which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside showcasing many of the spots where The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed.
Day 16: Queenstown – Milford Sound – Te Anau
En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. Youll travel through ancient beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound you will see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away. Following your cruise, enjoy an overnight stay on the southern shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. Indulge in a special Taste of Fiordland dinner showcasing the bountiful local produce.
Day 17: Te Anau – Dunedin
Travel to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of New Zealand. One of the earliest European settlements on the islands, Dunedin holds proudly to its Scottish heritage and traditions. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre, the only mainland breeding location in the world for these magnificent birds. Their epic wingspan can reach nearly 10 feet!
Day 18: Dunedin
This morning’s panoramic drive reveals Larnach Castle as well as Baldwin Street, the worlds steepest public road. Later you may choose to embark on an optional trip on the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway; this line was begun in 1879 to serve the inland region of Otago and includes 10 tunnels and 35 bridges.
Day 19: Dunedin – Mt. Cook Region
The Maori word for Mt. Cook is Aoraki, which means cloud piercer. Journey through New Zealands unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. This is where famed New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary honed his skills before conquering Everest. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps.
Day 20: Mt. Cook – Christchurch
As you return to Christchurch this morning, pause to pay a visit to a working farm. Watch a skilled New Zealand strong eye sheep herding dog at work, followed by a sheep shearing demonstration. Get to know these New Zealand farmers over a home-cooked morning tea. Later, enjoy some free time to explore Christchurch on your own. Stroll the citys magnificent gardens or learn its more recent history at the Quake City exhibition at the Re:Start Mall. Tonight, visit the region’s earliest home, Riccarton House, and enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 21: Christchurch – Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close, leaving you with many pleasant memories of a wonderful trip.