New Zealand Explorer
New Zealand is the land of giants, with jaw-dropping scenery and dramatic landscapes around every corner. Each day on this three-week trip brings something new, exploring glaciers and volcanoes, sailing through fjords and discovering frontier towns with a thriving coffee culture. The active volcano on White Island is an exciting boat journey away, while the golden sandy bays of the Abel Tasman Park are perfect for coastal walks and sailing trips. It’s not all adventure though – no trip to New Zealand would be complete without sampling local wine in the tranquil vineyards.
Auckland – Visit Hobbiton – Bay of Plenty – Whakatane – Gisborne – Napier – Wellington – Picton – Abel Tasman National Park – Hokitika – Franz Josef – Fox Glacier – Wanaka – Cruise Doubtful Sound – Dunedin - Christchurch
• 13 nights accommodation
• American breakfast daily, 2 lunches, 5 dinners including a farewell dinner in Queenstown
• All transportation included during the trip
• Expert Tour Guide, Driver and local guides
- Visa or travel documents that may be needed
- Meals that are not shown
- Items of a personal nature
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DAY 1: AUCKLAND
Our journey begins in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and a thriving sporting and cultural centre that lies sprawled across a narrow isthmus between the harbours of Waitemata and Manukau. Popularly known as the City of Sails, Auckland is surrounded by volcanic peaks and blessed with a profusion of beaches and museums. The country's most cosmopolitan city, with a rich mix of European, Maori and Pacific Island influences, Auckland is the largest Polynesian city on the planet and on arrival today there's free time to enjoy the city or relax at the hotel.
DAY 2: WHAKATANE
This morning we take in the delights of Tamaki Drive and Mission Bay, during our tour of the city of Auckland. Departing in the late morning, our journey today takes us into the heart of North Island and the diverse landscapes of the Waikato region. We visit the Hobbiton movie set at Matamata where some of the original Hobbit holes from the Lord of The Rings still sit amongst the fertile hills that lie in the shadow of the Kaimai Ranges. We will discover the real Middle Earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata in a fascinating two and a half hour guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and can be seen as it appeared in the films. A knowledgeable guide will accompany us through the ten-acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, the Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed. We will then head to Whakatane, a seaside town in the sunny Bay of Plenty.
DAY 3: WHAKATANE
Enjoy your day at leisure. This evening we attend a traditional Te Po banquet, where we are treated to a ritual Maori welcome. We'll be introduced to the customs and traditions of the local Maori, as well as visiting the Marae (meeting house) before we have a feast prepared in a traditional hangi (underground oven). Normally fish, chicken and plenty of kumara (sweet potato) bake alongside cabbage and other root veg like pumpkin, a method of cooking that has been used by the Maori for thousands of years.
DAY 4: GISBORNE
The road from Whakatane to Gisborne takes us through the remote Waioeka Gorge, a stunning forest-lined road winding past clear rivers and native farmland. There are plenty of stops to visit en route, which will all depend on timings and weather. These might include checking out the views from the Tauranga Suspension Bridge or many of the other rest stops along the river, which all have tracks and paths to follow so that you can stretch your legs along the route. The hikes are easy and well marked, normally varying between 15 and 45 mins. We arrive at Gisborne in the afternoon, the first part of New Zealand to be sighted by James Cook's deckhand in 1769.
DAY 5: NAPIER
We'll continue in a southward direction, first past the coast, then over the hills and a gorge to Napier, one of the country's most famous grape-growing areas. En route we visit the vineyards of Hawke's Bay and enjoy an afternoon of fine wine, gourmet cheeses and a tour of two of the area's best wineries. Famed for its Chardonnays and superb reds, the area is home to over 80% of the country's Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes, and produces some of the richest and most exquisite wines in New Zealand. Our final destination for the day is the engaging town of Napier, lying on the southern edge of Hawke's Bay, whose unique collection of art deco buildings makes it one of the most popular attractions on North Island.
DAY 7: WELLINGTON
Our day begins with a sightseeing tour of Wellington. Take a scenic CABLE CAR ride, visit the beautiful BOTANIC GARDENS, see the famous Beehive and Parliament buildings, and enjoy 360-degree, panoramic views of the city and harbour from the top of Mount Victoria. You’ll also spend time at TE PAPA, the Museum of New Zealand. The remainder of the day is yours to explore on your own.
DAY 8: WELLINGTON – INTERISLANDER FERRY – PICTON – CHRISTCHURCH
This morning, board a FERRY and enjoy a scenic cruise across Cook Strait, connecting New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Continue to Christchurch for an orientation tour and overnight stay.
DAY 9: CHRISTCHURCH – TRANZALPINE TRAIN – ARTHUR’S PASS – FRANZ JOSEF
Today, travel on the scenic TRANZALPINE, one of the world’s great train journeys. From the comfort of first-class carriages, see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmlands, followed by the spectacular gorges and rivers of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthur’s Pass National Park. The train features large panoramic windows, an onboard café, and at-seat audio commentary. Spend the next two nights in the small town of Franz Josef, located at the base of the impressive Franz Josef Glacier.
DAY 10: FRANZ JOSEF
This morning, explore this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage area. Your GLACIER VALLEY WALK will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier’s path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier’s history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, after a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing face of the glacier. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You may opt to take a scenic flightseeing or helicopter tour, relax in one of the glacier hot pools, spend time at the West Coast Wildlife Centre, or pick up a picnic lunch and just take in the gorgeous scenery.
DAY 11: FRANZ JOSEF – QUEENSTOWN
Our journey today takes us along the coast and the Tasman Sea. Climb through rainforests and over Haast Pass to arrive in Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World.” Upon arrival, enjoy a tour and a tasting at a local WINERY. Tonight, why not enjoy dinner at one of Queenstown’s many restaurants or cafés and sample some of the region’s wines?
DAY 12: QUEENSTOWN - EXCURSION TO MILFORD SOUND
Today, travel into FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. During your CRUISE on the fiord, see cascading waterfalls, wildlife, and experience this pristine natural setting just as early Maori and European explorers did.
DAY 13: QUEENSTOWN
Enjoy a full day at leisure in one of New Zealand’s prettiest towns. Tour some of the sights used to film The Lord of the Rings trilogy, shop for souvenirs, or take a thrilling jetboat ride on the Dart River. This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner.
DAY 14: QUEENSTOWN
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.
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