Haere mai! Welcome to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Touch down in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, which is the largest and one of the most vibrant cities in New Zealand. Located on the North Island, Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’, thanks to its two sparkling harbours. A multicultural centre for food, wine and shopping, Auckland is also home to a variety of verdant parklands and over 40 volcanoes.
Once you arrive in the city, travel to the hotel to check in, drop your bags in your room and refresh. Pick up a welcome letter from reception with some important information about the tour, before meeting your group for the first time and enjoying a delicious welcome dinner.
Say your goodbyes to the buzzing city of Auckland because, after breakfast, you’ll be travelling onward towards Waitomo, world-famous for its mystical glowworm caves. Waitomo has attracted immense audiences and notable explorers, including Sir David Attenborough. Board an exciting boat ride through Waitomo Caves, lit entirely by glowworms, and become immersed in this natural spectacle of light. Then, enjoy a walking tour of another incredible limestone cave, created over millions of years.
Continue your journey to Rotorua, which is considered the geothermal gem of New Zealand. Once you’re settled in, sit down for a delectable dinner before turning in for the night.
After a nourishing breakfast, start your day coasting around the edge of the shimmering Lake Rotorua. On arrival at the lookout point, bask in stunning views of the famous Mount Tarawera, formerly the home of a renowned collection of pink-and-white terraces, tragically destroyed in a volcano eruption. Travel onwards to explore the Buried Village of Te Wairoa, New Zealand’s most visited archaeological site. Here you’ll learn about the infamous 1886 eruption that buried the village.
In the afternoon, take a wander through Whakarewarewa Forest, where you’ll come across towering redwoods, magnificent Douglas firs and New Zealand’s native silver fern. Then, enjoy some free time to get to know Rotorua. Take a stroll around Kuirau Park and experience geothermal activity in the form of boiling mud pools and steaming lakes. Wander through the government gardens, take a moment for pampering at the Polynesian Spa or ride a gondola up to witness the incredible Rotorua skyline.
After breakfast, travel onward to the shores of Lake Aniwhenua in Murupara to experience what many would consider the heart of real New Zealand. Make your way to Kohutapu Lodge, owned and preserved by a dedicated Māori family, who is passionate about giving back to the local community. Embark on a guided tour of sacred Māori rock carvings in the area and witness the preparation of a traditional ground-cooked Hāngī meal at the lodge. Dine while learning about traditional Māori cooking and culture.
After lunch, the group will depart for Taupo, where you’re free to take in the sights of Huka Falls and adventure through the charming lakeside town.
This morning, the journey continues to the spectacular Hawke’s Bay region, home to Napier, which boasts some of the best wineries in the country. Stop off at Mission Estate Winery (New Zealand's oldest surviving winery) and enjoy a tasting before sitting down for a lunch of delicious dishes, stunning wines and the estate’s incredible ambience.
Afterwards, take a relaxed drive into the stunning coastal town of Napier, known for its array of spectacular and impeccably preserved Art Deco facades. Wander along the town’s verdant tree-lined promenade and perhaps you'll choose to dine at one of the iconic seafood restaurants overlooking the picturesque oceanfront (dinner at your own expense).
After breakfast in Napier, it's time to hit the road again and head onwards to Wellington. Along the way, stop off at Greytown, Wairarapa’s oldest town, for a wander through this beautiful village full of Victorian-era buildings and eclectic local boutiques. Next up is Wellington: a relaxed bohemian and cultural hub, home to some of the country’s best coffee. Located at the southwestern tip of the North Island, the city claims a cosy spot between the Cook Strait and Remutaka Range, and boasts a population of just over 200,000.
Spend your afternoon however you please in this stunning city. Admire incredible exhibits at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, relax in the flourishing Botanic Garden or take a spin on the Wellington Cable Car.
After breakfast, jump on a ferry across the Cook Strait to the South Island. If the weather permits, make your way up to the open-air deck to witness the magnificent Marlborough Sounds and maybe even spot some native wildlife.
Upon arrival in Picton, travel onwards to Nelson. In the evening, enjoy time at your leisure to explore the region and sample some of Nelson’s most delicious food and wine (dining at your own expense).
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in preparation for your free day in Nelson. Known as New Zealand’s sunshine capital, this small city packs a punch in the way of arts and culture. Make the most of your time amid the country’s renowned hop-growing region however you choose. You might embark on a tasty wine or beer tour, either on foot or by bike. Get to the heart of the area's natural beauty with a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park, home to golden sands and tranquil walking tracks, including a trail to the centre of New Zealand, which provides breathtaking views (additional costs apply).
Optional activities (additional costs apply):
- Abel Tasman cruise.
- Winery tour.
- Craft beer tour.
- Queen's Gardens botanical park.
- Centre of New Zealand hike.
Begin your relaxed morning drive to Blenheim after breakfast. Arrive at the spectacular vineyard of one of New Zealand’s best sauvignon blanc producers and stop for a delicious lunch among the vines.
Once you’re finished with lunch, set off further down the coast, enjoying the magnificent scenery and marine life spottings, if you’re lucky. Along this stretch, admire Kaikōura's rugged coastline, wonderful mountains and the rolling farmland of Canterbury. Roll into the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch, and enjoy a group dinner at the hotel as a perfect end to the day.
Following breakfast, hit the road once again and drive further south, down the east coast. Cruise through the township of Oamaru, which is home to some of New Zealand’s best-preserved heritage buildings. Next up, travel onward to the magical Moeraki Boulders, geological structures that began forming over 60 million years ago and now stand along the beach, appearing as if they’re physically guarding the foreshore.
Later on, the group will pull into Dunedin, with ample time to explore the unique, Scottish-influenced city.
Optional activities (additional costs apply):
- Speight’s Brewery tour.
- Dunedin Train Station.
- Yellow-eyed penguin tour.
Spend the morning strolling through the famous Larnach Castle of Dunedin, New Zealand's oldest castle. Admire the magnificent gardens and bask in incredible views of the verdant area. Jump back onboard the coach and travel onwards to Gore, where you'll stop off to learn about its colourful history of illicit whisky distilling at Hokonui Moonshine Museum. Hear stories of the Scottish settlers and their captivating tales of criminal pursuits, and finish with a unique tasting of Old Hokonui, made using the original recipe.
The day’s final stop is Te Anau: a gateway to Fiordland and Doubtful Sound. Enjoy an included dinner and an evening at leisure.
Optional activities (additional costs apply):
- Te Anau cave and glowworm exploration.
After breakfast, travel from Te Anau to Manapouri. Once you arrive, enjoy a leisurely cruise across the shimmering lake to West Arm, and then a short drive across Wilmot Pass. Stop to experience the lush Fiordland rainforest and bask in sparkling views of Doubtful Sound below. Here, you indulge in a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the majestic fiord.
As you board the modern catamaran at Deep Cove, prepare to be swept away by the breathtaking beauty that surrounds you. Towering mountains, stunning wildlife and cascading waterfalls create a truly immersive experience. Unlike crowded tourist destinations, Doubtful Sound offers a tranquil escape, with only a handful of boats on the water at a time. Embrace the peace and serenity as you soak in the sights and sounds of this hidden gem and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some local wildlife, including penguins and dolphins. Travel onwards to Queenstown, your home for the next two nights.
Take today to explore Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure paradise, home to an array of thrilling activities. Spend your day discovering the incredible beauty of the city as you please.
Optional Activities (additional costs apply):
- Shotover Jet boat ride.
- Skippers Canyon gold mining tour.
- Gondola to Bob’s Peak outlook with lunch at Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar.
- Bungy jumping at Queenstown Bungy Centre.
- Lake Wakatipu nature walk.
After breakfast, marvel at the scenery as you travel through Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town with a picturesque appeal and fascinating story. Travel onwards to Wanaka, one of New Zealand’s most popular and beautiful lakeside towns, with a magical mountain backdrop.
Make your way north towards the West Coast town of Haast. This UNESCO-listed site is home to the renowned Haast River, spectacular beaches and breathtaking lookouts. Here, you’ll enjoy a dinner with the group at the hotel.
After breakfast, make your way north along the coast to Westland Tai Poutini National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Stop off at Fox Glacier, with the option to join a gentle 2.6km walk around Lake Matheson. Bask in the glorious beauty and natural history of this region, which was shaped by dynamic glaciers and boasts lush rainforests and verdant mountains. Famous for crystal-clear views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, the lake is a serene spot for a stroll.
Later, arrive in Franz Josef, where you’ll spend a night surrounded by verdant rainforests and mountains, finishing the day with a delicious group dinner.
- Scenic flight over the glaciers (surcharges apply)
Depart Franz Josef after breakfast and make your way north to the creative town of Hokitika. Visit a greenstone and glass-blowing factory, where you can admire some of the region’s finest local art. Continue onwards to Greymouth, a town historically linked to jade hunting and gold mining. From here, board the exciting TranzAlpine train – considered one of the world’s best one-day train journeys. Let the spectacular forest vistas, rolling hills and snowcapped mountains take your breath away along this glorious scenic route.
Once your train journey is complete, travel to your comfortable hotel in Christchurch to enjoy a final group dinner.
After breakfast, wave farewell to the beauty of New Zealand as your tour comes to an end here in Christchurch.