New Zealand - Land of the Long White Cloud

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Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

Upon arrival into Auckland, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Relax and rest after a long flight before you meet the group at the welcome dinner and meeting.
Overnight in Auckland.

 

Day 2: Auckland Sites

After breakfast, we start our city tour with a visit to the volcanic cone of Mount Eden with extensive views of Auckland City and its surrouding area. We then make our way through the city's CBD (Central Business District) and continue with a drive along the waterfront of Tamaki Drive to Orakei and Mission Bay. We also pass through the suburb of Parnell, known as the "oldest suburb" in Auckland where buildings have been restored in the old colonial style.

Our visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum includes the unique Maori Court. After lunch we will return to the hotel via the Winter Gardens of the Auckland Domain where you will have the afternoon at leisure to continue to explore the city.
Dinner and overnight in Auckland.

 

Day 3: Waitomo & Ruakuri Caves, Rotorua

After breakfast, we depart for Waitomo Caves & Ruakuri Caves. Your guided tour takes you through over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery commencing with the impressive Cathedral with its amazing acoustics. We then proceed along a low, narrow passage to the Tomo, a deep limestone shaft where you can see other magnificent cave formations such as the Banquet Chamber, the Pipe Organ and the Catacombs. The highlight of the tour is an unrivalled boat trip through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto. The roof sparkles with the lights of glowworm larvae as you glide silently through the grotto while the tiny lights reflect off the water.

You will also visit the spectacular Ruakuri Caves. According to Maori legend, Ruakuri Cave (‘rua’ meaning den, and ‘kuri’ meaning dog) was first discovered 400-500 years ago by a young Maori hunting for birds and was attacked by wild dogs just outside the original cave entrance.

Enjoy a New Zealand style barbeque lunch while taking in the views of the Waitomo countryside. After lunch, we depart for Rotorua via Kihikihi, Cambridge & Tirau.
Dinner and overnight in Rotorua.

 

Day 4: Rotorua, Maori Feast

Today we have the opportunity to experience the wonders of Rotorua. We visit the Agrodome for a live show displaying aspects of New Zealand agriculture, including sheep shearing and sheep-dogs working. There are 19 different breeds of sheep here!

Based in Rotorua at Rainbow Springs, we visit the "Kiwi Encounter", a Kiwi conservation center. Here we can see the efforts being made to stop the extinction of New Zealand's national icon and see the Kiwis up close. From Rainbow Springs, we return to the hotel after lunch where you will have some free time before our late afternoon visit to Te Puia, Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve & Maori Arts & Crafts Centre.

Upon arrival at Te Puia, Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve & Maori Arts & Crafts Centre, you will be met by your Maori Guide for a tour of the Maori Pa (Village site) and the institute where young Maoris are taught the intricacies of traditional carving. From there, visit the geothermal thermal reserve to view the boiling mud pools & geysers.

Your tour continues by welcoming you onto the Whakarewarewa Marae with a traditional Powhiri (welcome) & Wero (challenge). Enjoy a concert of Maori songs & dance performances, including the fearsome haka & rhythmic poi dance. Afterwards, enjoy an authentic Maori hangi (buffet dinner), whereby a large pit is dug and a fire lit to heat stones in the pit. Well wrapped food is placed into the pit, covered with earth to trap the heat and gradually steamed to perfection. The meal is then lifted from the ground, ready for serving.
Overnight in Rotorua.

 

Day 5: Rotorua, Huka Falls, to Taupo

After breakfast, you can walk to the church at Ohinemutu for a quick visit to see a Maori Christ figure depicted walking on the waters of Lake Rotorua. We then travel to Waimangu Volcanic Valley which was created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera. Enjoy a sightseeing walk through the valley of craters, steaming cliffs, and lakes.

After lunch, there are walking and hiking options to choose from; easy walking (800m to 4km) options or advanced hiking (4km). Waimangu offers a range of easy ecology-focused walks through the craters of the beautiful Waimangu Volcanic Valley. The walks showcase a wide range of volcanic activity, native plants, birdlife, in one of the newest eco-systems in the world. There are a number of easy walks available. In each case, your walk will follow a predominantly downhill path. You can then take one of the courtesy shuttle buses back up the valley to the Waimangu Entrance.

From Waimangu, we continue to Taupo via the Huka Falls where we have the opportunity to walk alongside the Falls and Aratiatia Dam.

Dinner and overnight in Taupo.

 

Day 6: Tongaririo River Rafting, Wellington

After breakfast, we continue to Turangi and begin our white-water rafting adventure on the Tongaririo River. This area is only accessible by raft or kayak, so you will see plenty of spectacular unspoiled wilderness. We raft for about 3 hours, covering over 60 rapids. The rapids are Grade III which makes for an ideal adventure for both expert or first-time rafters.

After our rafting adventure we continue south past Tongaririo National Park and stop at the Waiouru National Army Museum. Situated as part of a living Army environment next to the Waiouru Army Base, it is a unique fortress-like building which resembles a castle with a moat. The Army Museum's galleries will help us learn the story of the New Zealand Army from the Land Wars in the 1800s, through WWI and WWII to peace-keeping and UN missions in the 21st century. We then travel to Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast.

After lunch we make our way to Wellington for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 7: Wellington Sites

After breakfast, enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Wellington along with a tour of the Parliament Buildings, including the “Beehive”, so called because of its unusual shape. We also visit Old St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the oldest wooden churches of New Zealand.

We then travel to the top of Mount Victoria which offers panoramic views of the city, the picturesque harbour, Cook Strait and even the South Island on a clear day. We visit the Botanic Gardens to see the Begonia House and Rose Gardens where you can view Victoria University from its gardens.

After lunch, we tour Te Papa Tongarewa – The Museum of New Zealand. Set on the magnificent Wellington waterfront, Te Papa brings to life the stories of people who live in New Zealand with stunning perspectives on the country's environment, history and culture.
Dinner and overnight in Wellington.

 

Day 8: Ferry to Picton, Nelson

Today, we take a ferry to Picton, through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. The sheltered waterways of these sounds meander for more than 600 miles and are full of secluded coves and pristine beaches. Transfer from Picton to Blenheim, the main town of the Marlborough Wine Region. Enjoy wine tasting in the tasting room and a two course lunch at one of the local vineyards.

After lunch, continue to Nelson. Enroute and time permitting, enjoy a short bush walk at the Pelorus Bridge scenic reserve.
Dinner and overnight in Nelson.

 

Day 9: Abel Tasman National Park - Kayak, Seals & Walking Tour

This morning, we make our way to Abel Tasman National Park, graced with magnificent beaches, unspoiled native forest and rocky headlands. The park was named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who anchored in Golden Bay over 350 years ago. He was the first European to explore the New Zealand coastline.

Upon arrival at the golden beach sands of Kaiteriteri Beach, your friendly, expert guide settles you into a stable, double kayak to begin your adventure where your guide will show you all the best, secret spots. Keep an eye out for the resident Blue Penguins and other sea birds along the coast and pause at a sheltered cove for a picnic lunch before returning to Kaiteriteri around midday where you say farewell to your guide and swap your kayak gear for walking shoes.

Join the Vista Cruise at Kaiteriteri to Tonga Island Marine Reserve, in the heart of the Park. Pause at Tonga Island to check out the antics at the resident Fur Seal Colony and disembark at the idyllic sheltered cove at Tonga Quarry, where relics of a historic granite quarry remain. You will be able to walk along the well-marked coastal track shaded by lush native forest to beautiful Bark Bay (7km) and take the high tide track around the Bark Bay inlet to Medland Beach, past waterfalls and panoramic coastal views. Rejoin the Vista Cruise at Medlands Beach for a relaxing return cruise, hugging the coastline. Transfer from Kaiteriteri back to Nelson via Motueka.
Dinner and overnight in Nelson.

 

Day 10: Golden Bay

Today we travel across the infamous Takaka Hill to arrive in Golden Bay. In this remote part of the region, we fill our day with interesting sightseeing including:

Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs - These are probably Golden Bay's most famous attraction, and its story and mysteries are fascinating. The springs are best known for the clarity of the water and the volume of water discharged. The horizontal visibility of the water in the springs has been measured at an average of 63 metres, second only to sub-glacial water in the Antarctic. The springs are also spiritually significant to the Māori people.

Wharariki Beach - Enjoy a 20 minute walk over rolling farm-land to Wharariki Beach, with its amazing sand dunes, caves and off-shore islands. At low tide, you can walk along the beach to the "Stone Bridge". Continue following the markers and you will come down to Cape Farewell. Keep an eye peeled for seals sunning themselves on the rocks below! From here you can extend your walk over the hilltop track to the Farewell Spit.

If time permits, on the return journey we'll stop to visit Marble Mountain. Gateway to Golden Bay, the Marble Mountain (Takaka Hill) safeguards the tranquillity and relaxed lifestyle of the local residents. The scenic drive winds its way through an almost surreal limestone landscape with superb views over Golden Bay and the Tasman Sea.

We will return late afternoon to Nelson for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 11: Nelson

Today is free at your leisure in Nelson and transportation will be provided for you to explore many of the local art galleries, stores, food markets & craft breweries in Nelson City.

We will regroup for lunch at a local cafe or restaurant.

Dinner and overnight in Nelson.

 

Day 12: Punakaiki

Today, we leave Nelson to travels the full length of the South Island’s West Coast. It is the most scenic drive in New Zealand and arguably one of the most scenic highway’s in the World. Nestled between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea, the West Coast of the South Island is an area in a spectacular and beautiful environment.

Teeming with abundant wildlife, rare kiwi and white heron (kotuku), seal colonies, the world's rarest penguins, dolphins and a variety of unique native alpine flora, this 375 mile long region (no wider than 44 miles at any point) serves as a time capsule, revealing what New Zealand might have looked like before humans arrived some 1000 years ago. With towering mountains, clear, clean rivers and lakes, vast Podocarp forests, temperate coastal forests, diverse wetlands, accessible glaciers, wild beaches and long captivating caves, the West Coast is a wonderland of natural features just waiting to be explored.

We journey into the fertile farmlands of pine forested hills around Murchison, passing through the mighty Buller Gorge which is the gateway to the West Coast as we make our way down this incredible coast. The mighty rollers from the Tasman Sea crash and thunder endlessly onto the rocky shore. Along the way, we have glimpses of Nikau Palms, the only Palm species native to New Zealand.

Overnight in Punakaiki.

 

Day 13: Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier

For the early risers, there is an opportunity to take a hike in the Paparoa National Park where we hike a section of the ‘Inland Pack Track’. Built in 1867 during the gold rush to avoid dangerous coastal travel, this track gives access to some of the finest features of Paparoa National Park. After an invigorating walk, we continue our journey along the spectacular West Coast through Greymouth and on to Hokitika where we visit a local Greenstone (Jade) factory before lunch.

After lunch, we visit Westcoast Treetop Walk just south of Hokitika. The walk itself is 1.2 kms long including the bush walk to the structure and takes approximately 40 min to 1 hour.

From Hokitika, we continue south passing through former milling towns and areas that have been worked over for alluvial gold. Continue through numerous small farming settlements, before the dense temperate rainforests envelope us, as we travel into the Waitangi Forest to arrive at Franz Josef Village, the first of the two small glacier villages. We take a short hike to the viewing area for Franz Josef Glacier before continuing over the rugged hill to Fox Glacier village.

Dinner and overnight in Fox Glacier.

 

Day 14: Mountains, Lakes & Glaciers, to Wanaka

We will travel out to Lake Matheson for a hike around this tranquil lake. We will pass through forests of red and white pine to Bruce Bay, an old gold mining settlement. Continue through attractive bush scenery until you pass tranquil Lakes Paringa and Moeraki, the haunt of the fabulous White Heron, to the township of Haast. From here, we drive through the Haast Pass Highway, viewing enroute Mount Brewster, towering 2423 metres and the Brewster Glacier. Descend 82 kms, past the Lake Hawea Dam, water storage for the Roxburgh Hydro Electric Station, before we journey to Wanaka.

Dinner and overnight in Wanaka.

 

Day 15: Queenstown

We leave Wanaka this morning and make a stop at the unusual Puzzling World. We then travel towards Queenstown with a stop in the quaint former Gold Mining town of Arrowtown where we have time to explore the town and have lunch.

We arrive in Queenstown by mid afternoon and you will have time at leisure to explore. Queenstown is nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu that was scooped out by glacial action thousands of years ago. It is a magnificent setting amid steep mountain ranges and pockets of native bush with the jagged peaks of the Remarkables Range rising from the lake.

Later this evening, we ascend Bob's Peak by cable car gondola to the Skyline Terminal to enjoy a buffet dinner with fine views overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. If you feel adventurous, take the opportunity to go luging.
Overnight in Queenstown.

 

Day 16: Te Anau, Milford Sound

We depart for Milford Sound following an early breakfast. Enroute, we travel through Te Anau along a scenic highway of massive peaks and bluffs, stopping for short bush walks if time allows. We skirt around Lake Wakatipu with the spectacular Remarkables towering above us.

Leaving Lake Wakatipu behind we enter rolling hill country dotted with deer and sheep farms to arrive in Te Anau, gateway to the Fiordland National Park.

Upon arrival at Milford Sound, enjoy a Nature Cruise of Milford Sound out to the Tasman Sea. On departing Milford, your vessel will cruise the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea exploring many points of interest along the way. View waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife with the experienced nature guide on board. After reaching the open sea, subject to weather and favourable conditions, the sails are hoisted for a period and enjoy your picnic lunch. The vessel returns to Milford Wharf by mid afternoon and we return to Queenstown.
Dinner and overnight in Queenstown.

 

Day 17: Queenstown - Shotover Jet Boat Ride

We depart mid-morning to the Shotover Jet river base. The Shotover Jet is an icon of Queenstown offering one of the most thrilling jetboat rides in the world. From the moment the accelerator first hits the floor, your adrenaline starts working overtime. Speed through river canyons as you experience the special manoeuvring of this vessel. The rock faces blur in your peripheral vision and the water sprays into myriads of white crystals with every turn. We return to Queenstown for lunch and you will have the afternoon at leisure.

In the evening, we board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw for a cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Sheep Station with the use of a private Saloon onboard the steamship. On arrival at Walter Peak, you will be escorted through the beautiful lakeside gardens to the gracious Colonel’s Homestead for your Farewell Dinner. Following the meal, guests have the option of a brief entertaining farm show or relaxing at the bar before returning onboard the TSS Earnslaw to Queenstown.
Overnight in Queenstown.

 

Day 18: Depart Queenstown

Today we depart, or join the Australia Extension.

 
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