22 days exploring North and South Island
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.
Meet the rest of your group and Tour Manager in Auckland, at the Grand Millennium Hotel. On arrival we check into our hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day to settle in at leisure. Tonight we enjoy dinner together.
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 Railroad, 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 Rainbow Springs Wildlife and Nature Park. 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 8 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 Coastal Pacific 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 11 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 Railroad 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 16 is at leisure, relaxing in Queenstown overlooked by Lake Wakatipu.
Traveling 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 allows us to view the glacier or to take a helicopter flight to the snowfield (payable locally).
We visit Hokitika, the center for New Zealand jade, before boarding the TranzAlpine train for Christchurch at the township of Arthur's Pass. On our last night we stay at the Quality Hotel Elms and enjoy a farewell dinner together.
On our final day in New Zealand we visit the International Antarctic Center, before transferring to the airport where you are free to catch your flight home.
For this tour, we recommend you arrive into Aukland Airport (airport code AKL), which is approximately 12 miles from your first hotel. Our recommended departure airport is Christchurch Airport (airport code CHC), which is approximately 4 miles from the from your final hotel.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; this is where you will meet your Tour Manager.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Fantastic rail experiences
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
22 days exploring North and South Island