Highlights include Auckland, Bay of Islands, Ninety Mile Beach, Tongariro National Park, Wellington, Franz Josef Glacier Region, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Mt. Cook, Christchurch and more.|
Day #1 1 and
Day #2 Depart from Home - Board your flight to begin your amazing New Zealand adventure, losing a full day as you travel across the International Dateline.
Day #3 Auckland, New Zealand - Tour Begins - Your journey through New Zealand’s awe-inspiring landscapes begins in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” which stretches over a narrow isthmus between the glistening waters of the Waitemata and Manukau harbours. This energetic city blends Polynesian culture with Maori heritage. On its diverse canvas, you can find the most vibrant urban atmosphere as well as the tranquility of the coast. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner in this enchanting city.
Day #4 Auckland - Bay of Islands - This morning a panoramic city tour of Auckland showcases the city’s highlights including America’s Cup Village, Queen Street and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, plus it offers you breathtaking views from the summit of Mount Eden, a dormant volcano. In the afternoon, travel north to the Bay of Islands, a beautiful maritime region comprised of 144 islands and bays and famous for big-game fishing. This evening enjoy dinner followed by a show in which drama, music and dance fuse together in a tapestry of storytelling that illustrates how the Maori and European cultures came to settle in New Zealand and eventually signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
Day #5 Bay of Islands - All aboard! This morning, step onto a catamaran called the “Dolphin Seeker” where you can watch bottlenose and common dolphins race alongside your boat and play in the bow waves. Then, this afternoon, visit the Waitangi Treaty House where in 1844 Maori and British leaders signed a treaty that resulted in New Zealand’s nationhood. The remainder of your day is free for you to truly explore this historic site which overlooks the Bay of Islands.
Day #6 Bay of Islands - Enjoy an entire day at leisure to explore the best of this spectacular region on your own. You may choose to travel to stunning Cape Reinga, the most northerly point in New Zealand and Ninety Mile Beach, go on a legendary fishing trip, rent a kayak and paddle the famous waters, or slide effortlessly along them on one of the many sail boats that dot the seas. The choice is yours!
Day #7 Bay of Islands - Tongariro National Park - Depart for Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park, as well as a World Heritage area in recognition of its outstanding natural and cultural features. There are a number of Maori religious sites within the park. Several of the mountain summits are tapu, a word describing a highly sacred site. The Chateau Tongariro sits nestled in the shadow of three towering active volcanoes, at the very foot of the majestic and sacred Mount Ruapehu. This evening take in the glow of chandeliers, the clink of wine glasses, and service that is second-to-none during your superb Pacific-Rim dining experience in The Ruapehu Room, the signature restaurant of the Chateau.
Day #8 Tongariro National Park - Today is at leisure to explore one of nature’s finest playgrounds which is set amongst the world’s finest wild trout fishing and at the doorstep of ‘New Zealand’s best one day walk’ - the acclaimed Tongariro Crossing. Perhaps you will choose to take a half-day guided walking tour to Taranaki Falls. Tumbling over the edge of a large lava flow which erupted from Ruapehu 15,000 years ago, these falls plunge into a boulder-ringed pool and are a spectacular reward at the end of your walk.
Day #9 Tongariro National Park - Napier - Travel east, arriving in the city of Napier. Rebuilt in the 1930s after a devastating earthquake, Napier boasts some of the greatest art deco architecture in the world. Enjoy an art deco tour of this great city with its unique Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright. Bounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the ideal setting for your end of day experience. This evening’s winery visit and dinner will help you to discover the flavors of the region.
Day #10 Napier - This morning you visit Silky Oak Chocolate Factory, a family-run business. Learn the chocolate making process and indulge in a delicious chocolate tasting. Next, explore the museum, an amazing timeline of chocolate history from its beginnings some 3,000 years ago through the present. Later, visit one of the local wineries and enjoy a wine tasting experience.
Day #11 Napier - Wellington - Today you’ll be traveling south through the rolling countryside of the North Island to New Zealand’s capital city. In Wellington you can step outside and breathe in the amazing scenery of surrounding hills, rugged coastline and one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. This afternoon enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of Wellington viewing the Beehive, New Zealand’s Parliament, historic St. Paul’s Church and the government building which is the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere.
Day #12 Wellington - Picton - Nelson - Get set to relax on a picturesque three hour ferry journey to Picton, a pretty waterfront town on New Zealand’s South Island. Here you’ll experience the beauty of the eastern coastline. This afternoon, tour Nelson’s vineyards and taste a variety of wines that will bring the flavor of this town to life!
Day #13 Nelson - Abel Tasman - Nelson - This morning you travel to Abel Tasman. While you are sure to see plenty of sea kayakers and maybe an occasional skydiver, you’ll enjoy a more relaxed and scenic cruise along the coast of the Abel Tasman National Park, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and authentic parks. Enjoy some time at leisure for shopping before traveling back to Nelson.
Day #14 Nelson - Franz Josef Glacier Region - After breakfast, your journey takes you into the heart of New Zealand’s South Island. Throughout this fantastic cross-country voyage, you and your fellow passengers will marvel at the rugged snowcapped peaks and deep river gorges that unfold as you wind your way to New Zealand’s spectacular west coast. Mother Nature may put on a show during your visit to the Pancake Rocks, an area of heavily eroded limestone where the sea bursts though a number of vertical blowholes during high tides. Arrive in the breathtaking Franz Josef Glacier Region this evening. This region is unique because there is nowhere else in the world where you will find glaciers in such close proximity to temperate climates.
Day #15 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 views as you travel the twisting coastline. This is a picturesque area 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 prettiest towns. Enjoy a gondola ride to dinner at the Skyline Restaurant which overlooks Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the mountains.
Day #16 Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown - Today you will travel through beech forest into the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley via the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. Enjoy a cruise on the spectacular fjord of Milford Sound, a natural wonder of world fame. Following your cruise you will return to Queenstown. You may opt to return via a short optional flight (weather permitting) for spectacular views of the Southern Alps.
Day #17 Queenstown - Spend the day at leisure in this charming South Island town. Fans of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy may want to experience the optional “Safari of the Rings” adventure where you will travel the region chosen to reflect the middle-earth of Tolkien’s imagination. Following the “Safari of the Rings” tour your option continues with lunch at a local winery with a wine tasting.
Day #18 Queenstown - Mt. Cook National Park - New Zealand’s picturesque countryside continues to unfold en route to Arrowtown, a short ride from Queenstown. Along the way you will learn about the 19th century gold rush that put Arrowtown on the map. En route, enjoy a stop at a local fruit stand to gain an inside look at the produce of New Zealand. Later today you will arrive at Mt. Cook National Park where you may take nature walks or, if weather permits, enjoy an optional flightseeing tour to the top of the rugged mountain range.
Day #19 Mt. Cook - Christchurch - Drive away from the Southern Alps which line the western side of New Zealand's South Island en route to the beautiful English city of Christchurch. Located on the Avon River, Christchurch is considered to be “the most English city outside of England.” Before arriving in Christchurch, visit a Canterbury farmyard to learn first-hand how this New Zealand family farm operates during a sheep shearing and herding demonstration.
Day #20 Christchurch - This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour along the Avon River and view magnificent gardens, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, and the downtown park district. Next, enjoy a guided walking tour of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens followed by high tea at the Curator’s House. The Curator's House continues to possess the charming architecture of a historic cottage. After refreshments, you may choose to continue to stroll the lovely English gardens where, on a sunny day, you'll see people enjoying the flowers, relaxing and reading books, and on the river you'll see kayaks, punts and canoes. This evening enjoy a delicious 4 course farewell dinner as you travel along in a beautifully restored tram car following the loop around central Christchurch.
Day #21 Christchurch - Tour Ends - Your tour ends today in Christchurch.