NZ1 New Zealand

NEW SEARCH
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Auckland: City Tour; Waitomo Caves; Rotorua: Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve; Wellington: Te Papa Museum; Doubtful OR Milford Sound overnight cruise; Mt Cook scenic overflight

Full Itinerary


Day 1 Arrival in Auckland
Arrival in Auckland.

Located in the northern part of New Zealand, the cosmopolitan city of Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in the country. The geographical location of Auckland is such that it lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the southeast, the Manukau Harbour to the southwest, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and northwest. The region is also the site of Auckland Volcanic Field, comprising of around 50 volcanoes. This is perhaps the most vibrant and bustling city in New Zealand. Auckland is also the biggest Polynesian city in the world, a cultural influence reflected in many different aspects of city life.

Overnight in Auckland.
Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Auckland: City Tour
This morning we begin our tour of Auckland. Travelling via Auckland's 'Golden Mile' (Queen Street), our tour takes us through the university grounds past many of Auckland's historical buildings. We will make a stop at the Parnell Rose Garden before continuing to Parnell Village, the Central Business District, the Mission Bay area, Tamaki Drive, and the Harbour Bridge before our visit to the Auckland Museum. Three expansive levels tell the story of New Zealand's history, from emergence as a nation through the loss and suffering of war, to their uniquely ancient natural history and priceless Maori and Pacific treasures.

Today we will also enjoy a Fullers Harbour Cruise on the sparkling waters of Auckland's beautiful Waitemata Harbour. We learn about the city's best-loved landmarks with full commentary from the knowledgeable crew. The cruise includes a brief stopover at volcanic Rangitoto Island so you can get a small taste of its volcanic terrain.

Overnight in Auckland.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua
This morning as we depart from Auckland we will travel to the crest of Mt Eden and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the city. This dormant volcano, complete with crater, allows us to clearly view Auckland's setting between two harbours.

We leave the 'City of Sails' and travel south through the rich farmland of the Waikato region before arriving at the world-famous Waitomo Caves. Here we will experience a guided tour of the underground limestone caverns and glowworm caves. After this unique experience we continue on to Rotorua, an area of abundant geothermal activity. Rotorua is in the middle of what is called the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which runs from northeast to southwest across the North Island. The area has long been a popular spa area and the locals make use of the hot steam that rises to the surface for heating their homes, cooking, and building their own private hot pools.

This afternoon we will visit the Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Maori Arts and Crafts Center. Here we will discover boiling pools of mud and geysers that spout up to 30m (100 feet).

Tonight we will enjoy a Maori Hangi (feast) and cultural performance of song and dance.

Overnight in Rotorua.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Rotorua - Wellington
Today we follow the 'Thermal Explorer Highway' to the heart of the North Island. This highway takes us through some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand, along a path well-known for its geological wonders -- from huge limestone caves, to bubbling geothermal areas and volcanic plateaus.

We will view the Wairakei Steam Valley where the thermal energy is harnessed in the world's second largest geothermal power plant. We will see spectacular Huka Falls, located on the rushing Waikato River. We will also visit Lake Taupo, the water-filled crater of an ancient volcano. Surrounded by stunning volcanoes, bush clad mountains and a spectacular landscape; this is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere.

We then continue to travel south to Wellington. Our journey south takes us on the spectacular desert road along the edge of the World Heritage Site at Tongariro National Park. Established in 1887, Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. This is also a dual World Heritage area, a status that recognizes the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

Overnight in Wellington.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Wellington - Cook Strait Crossing - Blenheim
This morning we enjoy a city sightseeing tour, including a tour of the Parliament Buildings. We will also visit Te Papa, New Zealand's fantastic 'National Museum'. Here we will have a guided tour of the highlights from New Zealand's natural environment, art, and history.

This afternoon we will take the 3-hour journey across Cook Strait to the South Island. This journey is considered be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. Named after James Cook, the Cook Strait connects the Tasman Sea on the west with the South Pacific Ocean on the east. Upon our arrival in Picton we will continue our journey and travel through vineyards and wineries to Blenheim. Framed by mountains, this is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand.

Overnight in Blenheim.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Blenheim - Christchurch
Today we will enjoy a spectacular scenic journey between the mountains and the sea as we travel through the Marlborough region. This geographic region has a growing international reputation for it's white wine production.

We later arrive in the thriving seaside settlement of Kaikoura, an area offering unique whale and dolphin watching experiences. Several different species of whale can be seen off Kaikoura at different times of the year, but almost always the huge Sperm Whales. There is also a large and readily observed colony of Southern Fur Seals at the eastern edge of the town that we will visit.

We continue to travel between the Pacific Ocean and rugged Kaikoura Ranges to Christchurch, the 'Garden City'.

Overnight in Christchurch.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Christchurch - TranzAlpine Train - Franz Josef
This morning we will board the award-winning TranzAlpine Train, one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. Our route will take us across the vast patchwork farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and we will enjoy stunning scenery as we journey through spectacular gorges, river valleys and across the country's greatest mountain range, the magnificent Southern Alps.

After approximately 2.5 hours we will disembark at Arthurs Pass and continue to Hokitika by coach, a journey along the west coast and bringing us to the World Heritage-listed area of South West New Zealand (Te Wahipounamu). Shaped by millions of years of glacial movement, the fiords and coasts of South West New Zealand are outstandingly beautiful.

Hokitika was a gold rush town in the 1860s, and the countryside around Hokitika is dotted with historic sites related to its mining past. Today Hokitika is known for its arts and crafts produced by local artisans. After a break for lunch, we continue to Franz Josef. The magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gem of New Zealand's West Coast Glaciers.

Overnight at Franz Josef.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Franz Josef - Haast River Valley - Queenstown
Today we will view some truly magnificent scenery as we travel along the rugged west coast to Haast. Here we will experience a unique river safari, capturing breathtaking views of the massive glacier formed Haast River Valley, flanked by towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and dense temperate rainforest. The one hour trip through the mighty Haast River Valley allows us to journey into the heart of Te Wahipounamu -- the South West World Heritage Area and experience a close-up encounter with this untouched landscape and its remarkable natural features.

We then rejoin our coach and continue to Queenstown.

Overnight in Queenstown.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Queenstown: At Leisure
Today is a nicely timed free day. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is New Zealand's premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Queenstown has a compact and sophisticated downtown area tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, there are amazing views from everywhere.

You may choose just to relax, wander the streets, and soak up the atmosphere of the region. Or, you may wish to join one of the optional excursions available (booked locally), such as a lake cruise, wine tour, jet boating, or a local garden tour.

Overnight in Queenstown.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Queenstown - Doubtful Sound Cruise
We will depart Queenstown this morning and head toward beautiful Lake Manapouri. We cruise across the lake and then travel by road over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland’s densest rainforest and to view the colourful alpine moss gardens. We board the Fiordland Navigator at Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound.* There is plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views and to discover the hidden arms of Doubtful Sound. Fur seals and bottlenose dolphins are often seen and at times, rare penguins can be observed. There is also time for you to kayak around the shoreline or go exploring in the tender craft with our nature guide. As the shadows lengthen we'll drop anchor at a favourite mooring for the night. After the day's activities, we enjoy a delicious evening buffet meal in the spacious dining salon.

The Fiordland Navigator is purpose-built for cruising in the fiords. The vessel offers spacious viewing decks, a comfortable dining salon/fully licensed bar and observation lounge. Our trip features private cabins with twin side-by-side beds and en suite bathrooms.

NOTE: Please pack an overnight bag for the cruise. Your main baggage will be kept in storage.

* Occasionally, due to availability limitations or scheduled / unscheduled ship maintenance, we may include a cruise on Milford Sound.

Accommodation: Overnight on Fiordland Navigator
Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 11 Doubtful Sound - Te Anau - Dunedin
Our cruise continues this morning. The physical grandeur of towering peaks descending into moody waters, outstanding waterfalls from high-up ice-age valleys and fiords clad with ancient vegetation, create a powerful atmosphere of solitude and serenity.

We then disembark and proceed to Te Anau with time at leisure for lunch. We then continue across the South Island to the East Coast and the city of Dunedin, renowned as the 'Edinburgh of the South'.

Overnight in Dunedin.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Dunedin - Otago Peninsula Excursion - Dunedin
Today we will journey to the nearby Otago Peninsula. The Otago Peninsula, together with its 20 km long Otago Harbour, is the home of an abundance of magnificent and world famous wildlife. The Otago Peninsula is predominantly of volcanic origin, steep and, on the Pacific Ocean side, very rugged. The harbour side is relatively warm, sunny and sheltered.

Our scenic drive will take us past lush green pastures, small bays and inlets,sandy beaches, rugged hills, and volcanic landforms.

Overnight in Dunedin.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Dunedin - Mt. Cook
Today we journey north along the coast to view the unique Moeraki Beach boulders before turning inland and traveling towards New Zealand's highlands and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mt. Cook National Park. Along the way we'll stop at Oamaru, famous for its impressive streetscapes with many buildings constructed of local limestone.

Mount Cook Village is at the base of Mount Cook, probably the most spectacular national park in the country and one that rivals most scenery you'll see in the European Alps. The park, 680 sq km (270 square miles), contains more than 20 peaks over 3000 m (10,000 feet), including Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in Australasia. The Maoris called it Aoraki, 'the Cloud Piercer.' It also features the world's longest temperate-zone glacier, the Tasman.

After a few hours for some exploration -- possibly a leisurely walk to a glacier -- we continue to our hotel.

Overnight at Mt Cook.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Mt Cook - Christchurch
This morning we enjoy (weather permitting) a scenic flight-of-a-lifetime -- the "Grand Traverse" -- a spectacular scenic flight-seeing experience allowing you to explore the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. This 'flight-seeing' experience encompasses two World Heritage National Parks and 200 sq km of New Zealand's most memorable and spectacular scenery: Beautiful turquoise glacial lakes, golden tussock lands and braided river systems of the Mackenzie basin; remote High Country sheep stations, glacial valleys and landforms; the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park -- a magical world of permanent ice and snow.

The fixed wing aircraft ensures that every passenger has a window seat and all aircraft have wings-above to ensure optimum viewing below. Pilots provide a full and informative commentary.

We continue with a visit to Lake Tekapo, and then we leave the 'High Country' and cross the Rakaia River towards Christchurch.

Overnight in Christchurch.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Departure
Departure from Christchurch.

BON VOYAGE!
Meal plan: breakfast


NZ1 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION15 days

TOUR STARTAuckland

TOUR ENDChristchurch