22 days exploring North and South Island
The Award Winning Leader in Escorted Worldwide Rail Holidays
Enthralling scenery and breathtaking views are found at every turn in the 'Youngest Country on Earth'. Discover steaming geysers, picturesque mountains, bottomless fjords and lush forests on this tour showcasing the beauty of New Zealand's North and South Islands.
Departing from London we fly via Singapore to Auckland, arriving mid-morning on Day 3 and transferring to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure before we enjoy dinner together tonight.
Today we travel northwards through scenic farmland to Paihia, located in the truly magnificent Bay of Islands. Here we visit the Waitangi Treaty House, where in 1840 Maori and British people reached an historic agreement which effectively marked the birth of New Zealand.
After a leisurely morning, we enjoy a cruise around the bay, passing golden beaches. Later we continue up to the rugged Cape Brett and make a stop on Russell Island. Known in the 1800s ominously as the 'Hell Hole of the Pacific, it was a bustling base for whalers and seamen.
This morning we drive south back to Auckland, the country's largest city, known as the 'City of Sails' for the number of yachts that take to the waters around it. The city dates back to around 1350, when it was inhabited by the Maori people, but little recorded history survives before January 1832 when Joseph Brooks Weller bought the area that is now Auckland. Auckland is also the largest in New Zealand, being home to around 30% of the population of the whole country. We explore Auckland on a sightseeing tour, taking in the Hauraki Gulf and the volcanic islands that are characteristic of this beautiful area. We then visit the iconic Auckland War Memorial Museum.
This morning we take a trip on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, which opened in 1922 and ran for 45 years before closing in 1967. Today, the line is operated by steam enthusiasts, and caters to around 30,000 tourists every season. We then travel across the Bombay Hills, through Waikato Valley to Rotorua, the Maoris spiritual home. We visit the Rotorua Museum, which gives an insight into the region's history and culture. We spend two nights in Rotorua at the Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua.
We visit Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) to see the Lady Knox Geyser volcano. Here we marvel at the rainbow-coloured pools and former mud volcano, where you can hear the unique sound of erupting, boiling mud.
Transferring to Hamilton, we take the Northern Explorer train for a journey through King Country. We view the spectacular scenery from panoramic windows including the peaks of Tongariro National Park, Mount Ruapehu and stunning river gorges. On Day 10 we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Wellington. We drive along pretty Oriental Bay to Mount Victoria for stunning views and see the Parliament Buildings.
Today we take the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island. On arrival in Picton we board the TranzCoastal train for a scenic journey to Christchurch via Blenheim, the Marlborough wine region and down the Pacific Coast through Kaikoura.
We cross Canterbury Plains through Timaru and Oamaru, stopping at Moeraki to see the mysterious spherical boulders scattered on the beach. We check in at the Scenic Hotel for two nights. On Day 13 your morning is free to explore Dunedin. In the afternoon we follow the trail of 19th century gold miners to the gold fields of Central Otago on the Taieri Gorge Railway in carriages dating back to the 1920s.
Today we travel to Te Anau, nestled by the serene waters of Lake Te Anau, the second longest lake in New Zealand. We cruise across the lake for a guided tour of the Te Anau Caves, with their subterranean limestone caverns and magical glow worm grotto.
We travel into the Fiordland National Park for a cruise on stunning Milford Sound. Lush rainforests cling precariously to the fiord's cliffs and the cruise takes us past magnificent waterfalls and out to the Tasman Sea. We enjoy a buffet lunch on board the ship.
This morning we travel to Queenstown, a popular destination loved by outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the magnificent surrounding scenery. Here we enjoy a ride on the Skyline Gondola, which offers a wonderful panorama.
Today we enjoy a sightseeing tour, driving across Shotover River to historic Arrowtown, the site of a major gold rush in the 1860s and a 'Lord of the Rings' film location. We continue to Gibbston Valley Winery for a tour of the cellars and wine tasting. Day 18 is at leisure, relaxing in Queenstown overlooked by Lake Wakatipu.
Travelling past Lake Wanaka, we descend to the Haast River. Continuing through the native rainforest by coach, we pass Fox Glacier before reaching the Franz Josef Glacier. An overnight stay and dinner at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier or Quality Hotel Elms allows us to view the glacier or to take a helicopter flight to the snowfield (payable locally).
We visit Hokitika, the centre for New Zealand jade, before boarding our TranzAlpine train bound for Christchurch, at the township of Arthur's Pass. On arrival we take a guided tour of the city, spending our last night at the Sudima Hotel and enjoying a farewell dinner together.
On our final day in New Zealand we visit the International Antarctic Centre, before transferring to the airport for our flight home, which lands in London mid-morning on Day 22.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Fantastic rail experiences
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
22 days exploring North and South Island