New Zealand offers some of the most diverse and breathtaking terrain of a country its size. Here Nature's bounty has almost overdone it. From countless sandy beaches, to snow-capped peaks, to deeply cut fjords, to steaming geothermal springs, this two-island nation presents stunning photo opportunities every step of the way on your incredible 19-day journey.
Day #1 1 and
Day #2 Depart from Home - Today, your New Zealand adventure begins when you board your trans Pacific flight. Crossing the International Dateline en route, you skip a day ahead.
Day #3 Auckland, New Zealand - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Auckland has the highest Polynesian population in the world, imbuing the vibrant cultures from many Pacific islands into its chic atmosphere. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.
Day #4 Auckland - Get to know the best of Auckland during a panoramic city tour featuring America’s Cup Village, the War Memorial, vibrant Queen Street, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and spectacular views from the top of Mt. Eden, one of 53 dormant volcanoes throughout the area. The remainder of the day is at leisure for you to enjoy the city. Perhaps visit one of the city’s amazing museums or galleries, or just enjoy some of the wonderful shopping that is available in the city.
Day #5 Auckland - Bay of Islands - Leave the city and travel north to the Bay of Islands, your home for the next two nights. This Maritime region boasts more than 144 islands, warm bays, a colorful history and abundant marine life. Visit the Waitangi National Trust & Treaty House. It was on these lush grounds that Maori and British leaders signed the 1844 treaty establishing New Zealand’s nationhood.
Day #6 Bay of Islands - Begin your day with a cruise through the bay’s famous Hole in the Rock and view 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 explore Paihia – the quaint town known as “the jewel of the Bay of Islands” – at leisure.
Day #7 Bay of Islands - Rotorua - Today you’ll head to the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. One-third of Rotorua’s population has Maori roots dating back to their arrival in New Zealand over 1,000 years ago, making this city a thriving cultural center. Make yourself right at home this evening when a New Zealand family welcomes you into their home for dinner and a home stay*! This is sure to be an unforgettable experience as you make new friends, learn about the customs of the “Kiwi’s” and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Day #8 Rotorua - This morning visit Te Puia, New Zealand's premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. You'll be truly amazed by the landscape of erupting geysers, bubbling mud pools and other geothermal wonders! Here, the Maori keep their customs alive by teaching the tribal youth the skills of traditional carving, weaving and dancing. Take part in an interactive demonstration on the art of weaving and the importance of the Maori dress. You will also view the Kiwi bird and learn what New Zealanders are doing to try to remove the Kiwi from the endangered species list. New Zealand’s farming traditions are illuminated with a visit to the Agrodome where you will see a sheep-shearing demonstration. Meet the skilled carvers who work with pounamu, a New Zealand jade, at a local jade factory. Tonight you will experience a traditional Maori welcome and Hangi meal followed by an authentic evening of Maori entertainment.
Day #9 Rotorua - Wellington - Journey south through the rolling countryside of the North Island, dotted with white sheep grazing, making your way to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city.
Day #10 Wellington - During your panoramic sightseeing tour of Wellington, view the Beehive, New Zealand’s Parliament, historic St. Paul’s Church, and the government building - the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. Following the tour you will visit the Te Papa Tongawera Museum, a fascinating center dedicated to art, history and the Maori culture.
Day #11 Wellington - Picton - Christchurch - Climb aboard a ferry and sail across Cook Strait to experience what Wine Spectator called “the most beautiful ferry ride in the world.” Arrive in Picton, on the South Island. Discover why the Marlborough region is one of the world’s best wine regions when you tour a local winery. Later, arrive in picturesque Christchurch, situated on the Avon River and considered “the most English city outside of England.”
Day #12 Christchurch - Franz Josef Glacier Region - All aboard! The Tranz Alpine train whisks you away on a journey past farmlands, through the deep gorges of the Waimakariri River valley and into the rugged snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps, as you wind your way to New Zealand’s spectacular west coast. Arrive in the breathtaking Franz Josef Glacier Region this evening. There is nowhere else in the world where you will find glaciers in such close proximity to temperate climates.
Day #13 Franz Josef - Queenstown - Enjoy a picture stop of the famous Franz Josef glacier before leaving the South Island’s lush west coast. Take in the stunning scenery as you pass through rainforest surrounded by the Southern Alps. You’ll enjoy beautiful ocean vistas as you travel the twisting coastline. This picturesque route is comprised of one lane bridges, green glacial lakes, thundering waterfalls and dramatic landscape changes. After crossing the Haast Pass, arrive in Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s most gorgeous towns. Enjoy a memorable dinner at the Skyline Restaurant overlooking Queenstown, the Remarkable Mountains and Lake Wakatipu.
Day #14 Queenstown - This morning travel to historic Arrowtown, a gold rush town set on the picturesque Arrow River. More than 60 restored buildings date back to the 19th century in this town lined with boutiques and cafés. Stroll along Main Street where you’ll discover a wealth of New Zealand handcrafts. This afternoon, venture into New Zealand’s largest underground wine cave for a tasting at an award-winning wine producer in the Central Otago region. This charming boutique winery houses a stunning selection of fine wines to quench your palate. This unforgettable experience is followed by lunch at the winery’s fabulous restaurant. Later, return to Queenstown and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.
Day #15 Queenstown - Today is yours to discover Queenstown at your leisure. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Queenstown is not only an adventure center, but offers excellent shopping and dining. Perhaps you’ll opt to take off for “Middle Earth” and experience the “Safari of the Rings” adventure, exploring the scenery where Tolkien’s beloved stories were brought to life in the film trilogy.
Day #16 Queenstown - Milford Sound - Te Anau - Your ride to Milford Sound is lined with unforgettable beauty, taking you through beech forest into Hollyford Valley’s rugged grandeur and through the Homer Tunnel. Arriving at mesmerizing Milford Sound, sail away on a leisurely cruise that brings you through the deep fjord, surrounded by sheer mountains rising almost six thousand feet from the water’s surface. Enjoy an overnight on the southern shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island.
Day #17 Te Anau - Mt. Cook Region - The Maori word for Mt. Cook is Aoraki, which means “cloud piercer.” Journey through New Zealand’s unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. This is where New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary honed his mountaineering skills before attempting Everest. Explore the park up-close during a nature walk. Maybe you’ll choose to partake in an optional flightseeing tour (weather permitting) to witness breathtaking aerial views of Mt. Cook and the glaciers.
Day #18 Mt. Cook - Christchurch - Travel back to Christchurch this morning and visit a family farm in Canterbury. See the workings of the farm including a sheep shearing demonstration, herding, and learn firsthand how this New Zealand family farm operates. A sightseeing tour of the city features the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, the downtown park district and stunning Victorian-style buildings. The remainder of the day is yours to explore this quaint city, named for the college at Oxford University, and exuding a decidedly English feel. Stroll through the gardens, wander through the shops or simply relax.
Day #19 Christchurch - Spend your day at leisure in beautiful Christchurch. Tonight, celebrate the amazing sights you have seen and the new friendships forged as you dine in a restored mansion - once the homestead of the first family to settle in Christchurch.
Day #20 Christchurch - Auckland - Nadi, Fiji - Today you will arrive in the beautiful tropical paradise of Fiji. Fijians are warm and friendly, with a welcoming, vibrant South Pacific culture. The expansive sandy beaches and clear ocean waters draw visitors from around the world.
Day #21 Fiji - Your day is free to relax and enjoy your surroundings. An optional island tour is offered. Enjoy a lovely dinner this evening.
Day #22 Fiji - Tour Ends - Today your tour ends in Fiji.