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Grand Tour of New Zealand

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You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
202420252026
21 days From £5,995 per person
4.5 stars(48 reviews)
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An extraordinary adventure in a culture-rich country

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: NZS24

About the tour

Discover the epic national parks, mountains and fjords of New Zealand's stunning North and South Islands. Travel on superb railways, visit fabulous wine estates, and experience the warm and welcoming Māori culture.

Unforgettable experiences

New Zealand Railways
New Zealand Railways
Journey on superb railways including the Northern Explorer, the Coastal Pacific and the TranzAlpine to Christchurch.
Marlborough Vineyard
Marlborough Vineyard
Indulge yourself at Wellington's chocolate factory and the fabulous wineries of the Marlborough region.
Cruise Lake Wakatipu
Cruise Lake Wakatipu
Cruise Lake Wakatipu on a vintage steamship before a private barbeque dinner.
Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook National Park
Spend the night in the awe-inspiring mountain scenery of Mount Cook National Park.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Singapore

We meet at London Heathrow and begin our flight to New Zealand, flying overnight to Singapore.

Day 2 - Singapore to Auckland

Arriving in Singapore, we join our connecting flight to Auckland.

Day 3 - Arrive in Auckland

We arrive in Auckland in the morning and check into our hotel. You're free for the rest of the day to settle in. You could relax at the hotel, or head into the city for your first taste of life in New Zealand. Maybe visit a local café or restaurant to sample 'Kiwi' cuisine, such as delicious seafood. Or try a traditional Māori dish, like hāngī - meat and vegetables, slow-cooked in an underground oven. Tonight you enjoy your first meal at the hotel.

Day 4 - Waitangi Treaty House

We travel north on today, through scenic farmland on our way to Paihia. On the way, we stop at the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves, magical underground caverns illuminated by these mysterious creatures. We stay in Paihia for two nights. Next, we continue to the Waitangi Treaty House, where, in 1840, the Māori and the British made a historic agreement that marked the birth of New Zealand as we know it.

Day 5 - Bay of Islands

We take to the waters, enjoying a cruise around the spectacular Bay of Islands to rugged Cape Brett. Relax and enjoy the sights enroute, including Cape Brett Lighthouse, Motukokako Island, and the famous Hole in the Rock. We drop anchor on Russell Island, the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand which also has a deep indigenous history. We have free time here before catching the local ferry back to Paihia.

Day 6 - Auckland

This morning we drive back to Auckland. Auckland is the country's largest city first inhabited by the Māori people in around 1350. Today it's a buzzing metropolis, with an exciting arts and culture scene.

We take a sightseeing tour, experiencing incredible coastal views from Bastion Point, before stopping at quaint Parnell Village, Auckland's oldest suburb. We continue to the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area where there's free time to explore at leisure. There's a great choice of places to eat and a number of museums and galleries to visit.

Day 7 - Glenbrook Vintage Railway

We take a nostalgic ride on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway today. This 1922 line transports us through the lush Bombay Hills at the boundary of the Auckland and Waikato regions. We wind through the Waikato Valley before arriving in Rotorua, the spiritual home of the Māori and our base for the next two nights. This afternoon, we visit Hamilton Gardens. A peaceful oasis on the banks of the Waikato River, the gardens are award-winning due to their tranquil beauty. Amongst the displays here is Te Parapara - New Zealand's first traditional Māori garden.

Day 8 - Rotorua and Māori culture experience

We take a morning sightseeing tour of Rotorua. We continue for a walk in the wondrous Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest, then head to the Blue and Green Lakes and Lake Tarawera. After an afternoon at leisure, we visit Te Puia for a guided tour and a Māori culture experience and are introduced to the geothermal activity in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Here we see boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces, hot springs and geysers including the famous Pohutu Geyser which erupts up to 30 metres high. We visit the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Māori are learning the traditional carving and weaving skills of their ancestors. We then enjoy a sumptuous buffet dinner including food from the hangi (traditional Māori method of cooking) and a performance of waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant) poi and haka. Our evening ends with hot chocolate and steamed pudding served in the geothermal valley, bathed in coloured light.

Day 9 - The Northern Explorer

Transferring to Hamilton across the Mamaku Mountain Ranges, we board the Northern Explorer for a rail journey through King Country. We soak up spectacular scenery from the panoramic windows, including the peaks of Tongariro National Park, the famous Raurimu Spiral - a railway spiral that allows the train to overcome a height of 139 metres - and the scenic Kapiti Coast.

Day 10 - Wellington

We get to know Wellington. The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, is a stunning and cosmopolitan harbour city that sits at the southernmost point of the North Island. We visit the wonderful Te Papa National Museum, meaning 'the Treasure Box' in Māori language, which offers an insight into all things New Zealand - from natural history and Māori culture to European immigration. After our visit to the museum, we continue to Wellington Botanical Gardens. Perched on the side of a hill, this is a lush oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and you have some free time to enjoy the surroundings before using your included cable car ticket to make the return journey to our hotel.

Day 11 - Blenheim and Marlborough wines

Today we take the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait, a stretch of ocean that serves as a passageway between New Zealand's North and South Islands. We arrive in Picton where we have a little free time to explore and grab lunch in one of the many waterfront cafés. We continue to Blenheim, where we spend the night. Blenheim is in the verdant Marlborough wine-growing region, and is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand. This afternoon we visit one of the excellent local wine estates for a wine tasting and a tour.

Day 12 - Blenheim and Christchurch

Enjoy a free morning in pretty Blenheim, before we join the Coastal Pacific Train for our journey to Christchurch. With incredible views of the Marlborough region and the farmlands of the North Canterbury Plains, we travel along a stretch of track where the ocean stretches out on one side and mountains rise towards the sky on the other. We arrive in Christchurch, where we spend the night.

Day 13 - Twizel

Leaving Christchurch, we continue by coach for a beautifully scenic journey to Twizel, in Mount Cook National Park. Our journey takes us through Fairlie, an attractive rural town, before crossing the mountainous Burkes Pass. We arrive in the lakeside town of Tekapo, where we visit the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd, which is set against a striking mountain backdrop on the shores of the lake. We also see Lake Pukaki, a beautiful alpine lake with striking, icy blue waters.

We arrive in Mount Cook National Park, a land of ice and rock, in the form of immense glaciers and soaring mountains, including the highest alpine peak in Australasia. We spend the night here in Twizel, a charming town nestled in stunning surroundings.

Day 14 - Te Anau

We leave Twizel and make our way to Te Anau. Known as the gateway to New Zealand's Fiordland - a gorgeous destination with many natural wonders.

Day 15 - Milford Sound

Our full-day excursion today starts with a drive through the world-acclaimed Fiordland National Park. One of New Zealand's most dramatic areas of natural beauty, this is a wild landscape of ancient fjords, towering forests, and craggy mountains. We make a scenic stop at Mirror Lakes, two deep blue lakes framed by a striking mountain backdrop, before continuing through the valleys. We arrive at Milford Sound, the most famous of the ancient glacier-carved fjords in this area. Here, lush rainforest valleys send waterfalls cascading over sheer granite cliffs to the sea below; an incredible sight to witness. We enjoy a peaceful cruise across the waters before our journey by road to Queenstown, a popular destination with more magnificent scenery.

Day 16 - Queenstown

After a free morning, we take a sightseeing tour of the area surrounding Queenstown. We visit historic Arrowtown, the site of a gold rush in the 1860s and a 'Lord of the Rings' filming location. We continue to the Gibbston Valley Winery, where we take a look around the cellars before a tasting of the local wines. Next, we board a vintage steamship, TSS Earnshaw, for a cruise across the stunning azure waters of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's longest lake. Mooring up at the Colonel's Homestead, we sit down to a BBQ dinner and watch a sheep shearing demonstration before our night-time return sailing.

Day 17 - Queenstown

You have a full day free to explore Queenstown at your own pace. Known as New Zealand's adventure capital, you could take the gondola up to Bob's peak, a towering ridge with great views across the town and for miles around. Or visit the tranquil Queenstown Gardens, a peaceful retreat from the busy town.

Day 18 - The Franz Josef Glacier

We travel by coach to the Franz Josef Glacier, on a scenic journey through Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell. We pause at Jones Family Fruit Stall, known for its excellent goods. There's free time here, maybe to buy some fresh produce, honey, preserves or gifts, or indulge in a delicious real fruit ice cream. You could also walk through the orchards and see the lovely rose and dahlia gardens. We continue, passing Lake Dunstan and Lake Wanaka before arriving in Franz Josef, also known as Waiau, a small town close to the Franz Josef Glacier. We stay here overnight, within sight of the dramatic glacier.

Day 19 - Hokitika and the TranzAlpine

we visit Hokitika, the centre for New Zealand jade. We look around the Hokitika Greenstone Factory, where the local stone is crafted into striking Māori-style jewellery and ornaments of modern and traditional design. We then head towards Greymouth, where there is free time to have lunch locally and explore the town's gold mining and jade-hunting past. It is also here that we board the TranzAlpine train for a highlight of our holiday. 

This rail journey takes us through New Zealand's scenic Southern Alps back to Christchurch. We travel across towering viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys, then across the fertile Canterbury Plains, and into the city of Christchurch. After being transferred to our hotel we enjoy a farewell dinner with our group.  

Day 20 - Christchurch to London

On our final day in New Zealand, we have a free morning to relax at our hotel, or to explore Christchurch independently. You could visit the International Antarctic Centre, where visitors can learn how explorers have survived in such harsh environs over the centuries, and see some indigenous blue penguins.

Later, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London Heathrow, via Singapore.

Day 21 - London

We arrive back in the UK and your holiday comes to an end.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland

Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland, Auckland

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Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim

Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Blenheim

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Rydges Latimer Christchurch, Christchurch

Rydges Latimer Christchurch, Christchurch

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Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, Franz Josef

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, Franz Josef

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Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge, Paihia

Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge, Paihia

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Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakeview, Queenstown

Copthorne Hotel Queenstown Lakeview, Queenstown

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Distinction Hotel Rotorua, Rotorua

Distinction Hotel Rotorua, Rotorua

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Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau

Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau

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Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel

Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel

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James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

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Trains

Glenbrook Vintage Railway
Northern Explorer
TranzAlpine

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Flight upgrades
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Extend your holiday

Singapore

Reviews

4.5 stars4.5 / 5 · 48 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (32)
  2. 4 stars
    (12)
  3. 3 stars
    (1)
  4. 2 stars
    (2)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

Bev

5 stars

Submitted 11/Apr

This was a full-on itinerary but worth the effort. We really experienced New Zealand in all its glory. The tour was well organised, the guides and Tour manager were excellent. We recommend Great Rail Journeys, this was our 9th holiday with them.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr William Mullin

5 stars

Submitted 11/Apr

Wonderful trip, well organised and numerous beautiful places visited. Tour guide and drivers made the trip even more special by taking us to exceptional viewpoints on the way. Fellow travellers were also a great bunch of people. This was our first trip with GRJ, it won't be our last.

Collected by Trustpilot

Paula Davis

4 stars

Submitted 7/Apr

Our first experience of Great Rail Journeys and we were not disappointed. A full on tour of a wonderful clean and friendly country, Excellent tour manager and tour drivers. Well planned itinerary, the only disappointment was we didn't get to see Christchurch due to the hotel being in the suburbs and late arrivals and early starts the next day. If you are travelling all those miles then you need to see most of the country which you managed to do for us. Would definitely recommend GRJ.

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Peter Harrison

5 stars

Submitted 6/Apr

A fantastic trip, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of New Zealand. A well organised tour with a great group of fellow travellers.

Collected by Trustpilot

Donald Kroll

5 stars

Submitted 14/Mar

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Collected by Trustpilot

Dean Miller

5 stars

Submitted 14/Mar

New Zealand is a wonderful place to visit. A lot to see. It was a well planned tour with a good tour leader.

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