New Zealand Uncovered
From 03/01/2023 to 13/04/2023
1 Welcome Reception.
2 Be My Guests.
2 Regional Dinners.
1 Farewell Dinner.
First class travel Highlights.
An expert Travel Director and professional Driver.
Cherry-picked hotels, all tried and trusted.
All porterage and restaurant gratuities.
Breakfast daily and up to half of your evening meals.
Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras.
All land transport shown.
All transfers shown.
Luxury air-conditioned coach with Wi-Fi in most countries or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys).
Optional Experiences and free time.
Itinerary / more information
Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland Welcome to Auckland, the "City of Sails," and a beautiful jumping off point for your 17-day New Zealand tour (flights to arrive prior to 4pm). You'll meet your Travel Director and travel mates over a Welcome Reception of beer and wine. Then get the city scoop from your Travel Director, learning about its rich Maori history and melting pot of cultures over dinner at Eight in your hotel. This interactive restaurant is named for its eight kitchens where you can pick your cuisine among international options from sushi and fresh oysters to Indian curry and Italian pasta.
Day 2 - Sights of Auckland, City of Sails Your perfect start to your time in this this seafaring city, begin your day diving into Auckland's maritime history over an exclusive America's Cup tour at the New Zealand Maritime Museum with a Local Specialist before it opens to the public. Now that you've got your first taste, learn even more your beautiful surrounds on a sightseeing tour from the heart of the city at the Auckland Waterfront. Continue to Mission Bay, historic Bastion Point, and the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial keeping your camera at hand to capture the Auckland skyline, North Shore, and Waitemata Harbour. Then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on your own. Why not take a stroll down Queen Street to Viaduct Harbour's main shopping precinct and enjoy a glass of New Zealand's crisp Sauvignon Blanc? Or, venture outside of the city on an optional trip on a ferry to Rangitoto Island, the youngest volcano in New Zealand. If you're looking for more the views of the city, you'll find it aboard the ferry as well as climbing this icon walking through lava fields to the highest point on the island.
Day 3 - Tauranga, on the Bay of Plenty Leave Auckland behind and journey into the countryside where you'll Connect With Locals and discover New Zealand's horse racing traditions over an exclusive family style Be My Guest lunch in the Red Barn at the home of Lance and Bridgette O'Sullivan on their working dairy farm. Over your farm to table lunch prepared by the onsite chef, learn about Lance's career as a famous jockey and get a feel for farm life as your invited to roll up your sleeves and make your own butter - butter churners, tiny mason jars and all! After a tasty morning, you have a free afternoon to explore Mount Mauao in the Bay of Plenty. Walk up winding paths to the extinct namesake volcano or relax on the main beach, this glorious stretch of golden sand has been voted the best in the country. You have the perfect spot to take it all in on your Stays With Stories accommodations at Trinity Wharf.
Day 4 - Rotorua, Centre of Maori Culture Go all kiwi this morning on a visit to Kiwifruit Country in Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of New Zealand. You'll tour this family-owned 60-hectare working orchard to learn about the seasonal production cycle, how it's grown, and finally harvesting and exporting the fruit. Top off your visit trying fresh kiwifruit and even kiwifruit ice cream. Continue to Rotorua before venturing to Te Puia to see the streaming hot springs of Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, the first of your two Dive Into Culture Experiences. Tonight, interactive and sensory, you'll be welcomed by a powerful 'Powhiri' ceremony before learning the Poi and Haka dances (you can even have a try yourself) before enjoying an authentic Hangi (cooked underground) dinner and live music under the stars at Te Pa Tu Maori Experience.
Day 5 - Experience Rotorua for Yourself Up and at 'em this morning - you have a full day to explore Rotorua's natural beauty as you like. You could delve into the fantasy of Hobbiton with a tour of the sights featured in the Lord of the Rings movies and the sprawling natural landscapes that made the movies so famous. Take an ancient forest zipline adventure, immersing yourself in fun adventure zipping through the trees while learning about New Zealand's conservation efforts and flora and fauna. Or enjoy a dazzling guided tour through the lofty chambers of the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Grotto as you descend an illuminated staircase to caverns lit by sparkling blue and green glowworms. Looking for a dose of history while adventuring over land and water? Explore Rotorua and its lakes in an amphibious WWII-era Duck. These unique-looking vehicles used during the war will visit three of Rotorua's most stunning lakes, with splashdowns, while sharing fascinating commentary of the gorgeous scenery. However you choose to spend your time in the cultural capital, you will not be disappointed.
Day 6 - Wellington the Cool Capital Say haere ra (goodbye) to Rotorua this morning and journey through pine forests and farmland to the turquoise torrent of rapids known as Huka Falls where you'll watch the Waikato River rush into pool 11 metres below from the footbridge above. The road ahead unfolds into panoramic views of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake and the heart of the North Island. The stunningly blue fresh water of the lake is home to geothermal valleys with hot springs, alpine deserts, and some of the best trout fishing in the world. Get out and stretch your legs exploring its town centre and walking along the shoreline. You'll continue south over the volcanic Central Plateau to Taihape - a quirky town known for its yearly gumboot throwing competition since 1985. Take a photo in front of the massive metal boot before getting into the in the spirit of it and join in a friendly gumboot throwing game on the lawn with the group. From country to city, on arrival in Wellington, you'll have the evening free exploring its laneways, street art, and music or one of its many eclectic restaurants.
Day 7 - Blenheim Gateway to the Wine Regions An easy start to your day means there's time to explore Welly, as the locals call it, on your own. Don't miss an opportunity to view the unusual Beehive building which houses New Zealand's government. Later, Dive Into Culture at the waterfront Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, exploring the culture and heritage of the New Zealand people with exhibits featuring artworks, traditional dress, and photography. You'll also celebrate New Zealand's natural environment in interactive exhibits where science meets nature highlighting the unique wildlife, volcanic land, and efforts to protect the environment. Your journey through New Zealand continues as we take a ferry - camera in hand - across the dark blue-green waters of Cook Strait into the tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound to the town of Picton, the gateway to Marlborough wine country. Arriving in Blenheim, our home for the night, in time for a sightseeing tour. Marlborough is known for not only wine, but it's abundance of seafood. Tonight, you'll try some regional favourites no doubt washed down with some of the region's celebrated Sauvignon Blanc.
Day 8 - To Innovative Christchurch Rise and shine leaving vineyards views behind for a full day in New Zealand's whale watching capital, Kaikoura. It's up to your how you spend it: relaxing in the cute coastal town watching the waves crash on the shore or seeing the Sperm Whales from above on an optional scenic flight or helicopter ride. From your window seat, enjoy unobstructed bird's eye views of the whales, some reaching 18 metres long, as well as dolphins, below. It's a great way to see this stretch of New Zealand, from its magnificent wildlife to the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Ranges and the Kaikoura Peninsula. Then join your group and travel along the Pacific coast and across the Canterbury Plains to your home for the night in Christchurch. Check into your hotel by Cathedral Square in the heart of the city. The evening is free for you get to know Christchurch as you like, and you're only a short walk from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, and Cashel Mall. Wherever you choose to explore, you'll see how after the devastating 2011 earthquake the city is being rebuilt, revitalized, and drawing visitors from around the world.
Day 9 - Through Breathtaking Scenery to Twizel Kick off a big day of sightseeing day touring the sites of Christchurch including the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Earthquake Memorial, Bridge of Remembrance, and streets lined with bars, cafes, and riverside markets. Then it's off to the country stopping in the quaint farming town of Geraldine for lunch in one of its caf?s and perhaps Talbots Forest Cheese for complimentary samples. You'll travel over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains bound for the home of farmers Angie and Stan Taylor on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Connect With Locals over a Be My Guest afternoon tea and scones, and hear the Taylors' insights into a lifetime of farming including Stan's sheep farming stories. Enjoy real New Zealand hospitality as Angie invites you into her kitchen as she prepares the New Zealand specialty dessert, Pavlova. Watch and learn her special recipe and enjoy this favourite treat. Your sweet tooth satisfied, continue your journey stopping at the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd before arriving in your destination in Twizel. This cute town and popular holiday destination is the perfect place end the day. Pulling into the hotel, kick back and enjoy classic New Zealand cuisine overlooking the garden before another day of exploration.
Day 10 - Dunedin, City of Scottish Heritage Begin your journey to New Zealand's southernmost city traveling along the Waitaki River to the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. Step out to have a look at the rushing waters before traveling to the township of Oamaru. This quirky town of tree-lined streets, white limestone buildings, and 19th century architecture is known for its Victorian style. Feel like you're stepping back in time browsing shops and galleries of traditional crafts, and refresh with a morning tea. Get ready for a change of scene in your next destination of Scottish-inspired Dunedin. You have the rest of the day free to stroll the streets of this vibrant university town and "mini-Edinburgh." Or, explore more of the area taking an Optional Experience wildlife cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visiting the famous Speight's Brewery, or touring New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. Recap the day's adventures with your travel mates over dinner at the Scenic Southern Cross hotel. In the heart of Dunedin and blocks from the waterfront, here you'll feast on fresh seafood or a specialty from the butcher's block.
Day 11 - Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland Today you'll head out of Dunedin through farmlands to Te Anau. Your first stop is Gore, a hot spot for art lovers, country music fans, and all who appreciate nature and simple rural charm. Learn its history of secret whiskey production during the prohibition era and its current claim to fame hosting the Tussock Country Music Festival. After soaking in the quirks of Gore, journey through sheep-filled farming land into forested, rugged mountains winding your way up into the Fiordland National Park and the South Island's largest lake to Te Anau. Get up close to the islands on a jet boat ride down the Waiau River to Lake Manapouri, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER(R) Experience. Find a quiet moment in one of its many tranquil spots, spot a few trout, and learn about the unique environment and fascinating history knowing that your cruise contribution helps Pomona Island Charitable Trust's conservation efforts to restore the largest inland island in New Zealand to its natural state where native birds can thrive. After dinner at the Distinction Hotel, the evening is yours to stay in or explore the fascinating, glittering glowworm caves.
Day 12 - Queenstown, Adventure Playground Today you're bound for New Zealand's adventure capital with a drive of stunning scenery along the way. Begin journeying through Fiordland National Park past native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats, and meadows. Stop at Mirror Lakes to stroll the boardwalks and watch the reflection of mountain scenery shimmering in the water. Then continue through Homer Tunnel, an attempt to tame the sheer rocky ranges, emerging in the Cleddau Valley. This dramatic alpine drive takes you down to the Chasm where you'll stop to see the roaring Cleddau River carve its way through rock. Take your exploration to water as you cruise the tranquil waters of the Milford Sound/Piopiotahi filled will plenty of photo ops - and maybe a dolphin or two. See the breathtaking sites of Bowen and Stirling Falls plummeting from hanging valleys into the sea and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak rising from the deep waters of the fiord. After a spectacular afternoon on Milford Sound, you'll arrive in adventure-lovers Queenstown at your picturesque hotel on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Day 13 - Queenstown Free Time, Your Time Discover for yourself why Queenstown has earned its reputation as New Zealand's adventure capital with a full day to explore. You could join an Optional Experience riding the adrenaline pumping Shotover Jet or tour through Skippers Canyon. After a big day of adventure, it's time to Dive Into Culture on an evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand's oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Here at the Colonel's Homestead, you'll feast on a gourmet barbecue dinner piled high with ribs and fresh vegetables before an entertaining after-dinner farm show - sheep shearing and all - offering a glimpse into high-country farm life. After you've seen the sheep dogs in action and gotten a feel for life on the homestead, cruise back to Queenstown, joining in a chorus or dancing across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.
Day 14 - Franz Josef, Untamed Natural Wilderness Leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind and begin your adventure through Central Otago and out to Westland. Stop in the restored gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown strolling its tree-lined avenues and 19th-century wooden buildings, feeling as if you're in a movie set. Then journey to Cromwell on the sparkling shores of Lake Dunstan to stop at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town's juicy stone fruit including apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums. More gorgeous lakes call as you travel further into Central Otago to take in the vivid blue waters and willow-lined shoreline of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. Follow an ancient greenstone trail, cross Haast Pass, and exchange the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes for the rainforests of the wild West Coast. Here in the "wild west" you'll be in awe of the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt. Hooker, flanked on three sides by massive glaciers. Your destination, and worth the journey, is the famous Franz Josef Glacier/Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, where you'll have an opportunity to take an Optional helicopter flight for views you'll never forget.
Day 15 - Punakaiki, Home to a Coastal Forest Sleep in or take the morning to explore the small but lively Franz Josef/Waiau village - perhaps visiting the West Coast Wildlife Centre to see kiwi birds - before venturing to Hokitika, home of the native jade greenstone. At the family-owned Greenstone Factory you'll join a Local Specialist to learn how jade is carved, its significance, and watch a jewellery demonstration as talented artisans turn local stone into beautiful pieces you'll want to take home. From natural jewellery to natural surroundings, you're off to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Stand at the edge of the water and take in these eroded limestone foundations - they really do look like pancakes! - which began forming 30 million years ago. Imagine the water and wind forming this pancake-like stack of limestone but be sure to listen closely. When you hear a "whoosh" of water, you can be sure a burst of sea spray is coming through the blowholes. After a spectacular day, spend the night at the eco-friendly, waterfront Ocean View Retreat dining on seafood and local specialties with wine and views of the thundering surf just steps away.
Day 16 - All Aboard the TranzAlpine It's your last full day in New Zealand and it's a big one full of local tastes and sights. Travel to Greymouth's Monteith's Brewery where a Local Specialist will share the heritage and rich stories of this national icon since 1868. You'll get to taste ever-changing and innovative brews like summer ale and crushed pear cider before enjoying a pub-style lunch. Now that you've wet your whistle, board the famous TranzAlpine train to Christchurch on one of the world's most scenic train trips through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges, and river valleys. This 223-kilometre journey across the South Island along the Waimakariri River and across the Southern Alps is a grand finale to the landscapes you've come to love. Celebrate the highlights of your trip joining your Travel Director and new friends for a Farewell Dinner showcasing food from the Canterbury region.
Day 17 - Farewell Christchurch Sadly all good things must come to an end as your New Zealand tour concludes this morning after breakfast. After a fond farewell, you'll be transferred by to Christchurch Airport (flights anytime). Sightseeing Highlights Explore a jade carving centre in Hokitika, and a brewery in Greymouth with a Local Specialist Discover Auckland, Blenheim, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin Visit a kiwifruit orchard in Te Puke, Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley in Rotorua, and Te Papa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington View the Southern Alps from the TranzAlpine train Scenic Cruise on the Cook Strait, Lake Wakatipu, and Milford Sound Connect with Locals Retired champion jockey Lance O'Sullivan and his wife Bridgette are your hosts for a Be My Guest lunch on their dairy farm in the North Island. Stays With Stories This hotel is owned by a local family whose dream it was to highlight the spectacular beauty and spirit of the Tauranga harbour. Dive into Culture Visit Whakarewarewa Living Village for insights into the lives of the Maori community and their special bond they share with their country, Aotearoa. Dive Into Culture Immerse yourself in Maori traditions at a fun and entertaining evening, including a cultural performance and traditional Hangi meal at Te Pa Tu Maori Experience. Dive into Culture Delve into New Zealand's national identity, exploring an expansive collection related to this country's culture and history at Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand. MAKE TRAVEL MATTER(R) Help restore and conserve Pomona and Rona Islands as sanctuaries for native plants and animals. Dive Into Culture Get up close to farming on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the New Zealand high country.
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