Exploring New Zealand

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19 days, from £3289
Shearings
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Description

Highlights
- Traverse the heart of the Southern Alps aboard the famous TranzAlpine train.
- Get to know a local New Zealand family during a memorable authentic experience of dinner and the choice of an overnight farm stay*.
- Enjoy a tasting and lunch at one of New Zealand's stunning wineries.
Take in the natural wonders of New Zealand with our exploring touring holiday. Learn about the fascinating Maori Culture, the history of New Zealand, sheep shearing and farming, while taking in the awe-inspiring natural scenic beauty. With cruises, guided tours, visits to national parks and a train journey, there really is so much to see and do.

Itinerary


 Day One - Two: Depart from Home

Our Door to Door UK Airport Transfer service takes you from your home to your UK departure airport for your flight. Your New Zealand adventure begins when you board your international flight. Day 2 is spent in flight.


 Day Three: Arrive Auckland

Your tour begins in Auckland, the 'City of Sails,' consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Auckland's Polynesian population instils into its chic atmosphere the vibrant feel of the Pacific Islands. Check in to the Rendezvous Grand Hotel Auckland for one night. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner. (D)


 Day Four: Auckland - Bay of Islands

Get to know the best of Auckland during a panoramic city tour featuring the America's Cup Village, the War Memorial, bustling Queen Street, the Auckland Harbour Bridge and spectacular views from the harbour-side. Next, depart Auckland and travel north to the Bay of Islands, your home for the next two nights. This sun-soaked region boasts more than 144 islands and warm waters with abundant marine life. Visit the Waitangi Treaty House where Maori and British leaders signed the 1840 treaty establishing New Zealand as a nation. (B,D)


 Day Five: Bay of Islands

Begin your day with a cruise through the bay's famous Hole in the Rock and view the Cape Brett Lighthouse Which stands nearly 500 feet above sea level at the edge of the Cape Brett Peninsula. The rest of the day is yours to independently explore Paihia - the quaint town known as 'the jewel of the Bay of Islands.' (B)


 Day Six: Bay of Islands - Matamata - Farm Stay

Leaving the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands behind, head to Matamata in the agricultural heartland of the North Island. This idyllic landscape inspired the producers of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films and is sure to inspire you when you visit Hobbiton, the only outdoor filming location still in existence, for a guided tour. Make yourself right at home this evening when a New Zealand farm family welcomes you into their household for the night! This is sure to be an unforgettable experience as you make new friends, learn about the customs of the 'Kiwis' and enjoy a home-cooked meal. (B,D)


 Day Seven: Rotorua

Today, find yourself amid the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua staying at the Rydges Hotel. With over one-third of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. This morning visit Te Puia, New Zealand's premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. The National Carving School and National Weaving School is located here, passing on age-old customs by teaching the tribal youth these traditional skills. Enjoy the chance to view the Kiwi bird and learn what is being done in an effort to remove this marvellous creature from the endangered species list. Next, meet the skilled carvers who work with pounamu, New Zealand greenstone, at a local jade factory. Tonight, experience an authentic Hangi dinner celebration where you learn about the warm-hearted Maoris and their lives before European colonists arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and since. Enjoy an immersive experience featuring authentic entertainment such as the poi dance and the famous 'Haka' war challenge. (B,D)


 Day Eight: Rotorua - Napier

Journey into the Hawke's Bay region. After arriving in the city of Napier, which boasts some of the greatest Art Deco architecture in the world, enjoy a guided tour and learn why Napier took on such an eclectic design style. A visit to the New Zealand Wine Centre, housed in its own historic Art Deco building, will showcase some of the region's renowned wines. Take advantage of time at leisure this afternoon to stroll along the oceanfront promenade and simply soak up the atmosphere. We stay at the Scenic Te Pania Hotel for one night. (B)


 Day Nine: Napier - Wellington

Travel through the rolling countryside of the North Island. The rural vistas and the rugged Rimutaka Range slowly give way to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. We stay at the Amora Hotel for two nights. (B,D)


 Day Ten: Wellington

During your panoramic sightseeing tour of Wellington, view the Beehive - New Zealand's Parliament, historic St. Paul's Church, and the Old Government Building - the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. Following the tour, visit the Te Papa Tongawera Museum, a fascinating centre dedicated to art, history and the Maori culture. (B)


 Day Eleven: Wellington - Picton - Christchurch

Board a ferry and sail across Cook Strait to experience what has been called 'the most beautiful ferry ride in the world.' Arrive in Picton on the South Island. Discover why the Marlborough area is one of the world's best wine regions when you tour a local winery. Later, arrive in the historic city of Christchurch. Devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, see firsthand how the 'Garden City' is recreating itself. We stay overnight in the Rendezvous Hotel. (B)


 Day Twelve: Christchurch - Franz Josef Glacier Region

Today, take in the marvellous snow-capped peaks and beautiful river gorges during your travels across the Southern Alps, winding your way past waterfalls and rugged mountains on the famous TranzAlpine Express for a truly inspiring trip through this glorious scenery. You'll end your day at the Franz Josef Glacier Region which offers travellers a rare opportunity to experience a living glacial landscape in a temperate environment. This evening is spent at the Scenic Franz Josef Glacier. (B,D)


 Day Thirteen: Franz Josef - Queenstown

Before departing Franz Josef, if the dynamic New Zealand weather cooperates, you may opt to see this beautiful glacier region from a bird's-eye-view during a flightseeing tour. En route to Queenstown, watch as the amazing landscape unfolds before your eyes as you pass through the rainforest, bordered by the Southern Alps and the twisting coastline. After crossing the Haast Pass, arrive in Queenstown, one of New Zealand's prettiest towns. We check in to the Rydges Lakeland Hotel for three nights. This evening, enjoy dinner at the Skyline Restaurant where you will enjoy spectacular views overlooking Queenstown, the Remarkable Mountains and mysterious Lake Wakatipu. (B,D)


 Day Fourteen: Queenstown

Enjoy a leisurely day of touring as you set off for the beautiful 19th century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Take time to explore its quaint, historic streets. The Central Otago region is where some of New Zealand's best wines are grown and produced. During a stop at a local winery, visit the underground storage cave - the largest in New Zealand - for a tasting of their award winning wine. Follow this unforgettable experience with lunch at the winery's fabulous restaurant. Later, return to Queenstown and enjoy some leisure time. (B,L)


 DayFifteen: Queenstown

A full day of leisure in Queenstown offers several options to enhance your dream trip. You may shop or people watch in the village. Or, join the optional 'Journey through Middle Earth' tour which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside showcasing many of the spots where The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. (B)


 Day Sixteen: Queenstown - Milford Sound -Te Anau

En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. You'll travel through ancient beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound you will see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away. Following your cruise, enjoy an overnight stay at the Distinction Hotel & Villas on the southern shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. (B,L)


 Day Seventeen: Te Anau - Dunedin

Travel to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of New Zealand. One of the earliest European settlements on the islands, Dunedin holds proudly to its Scottish heritage and traditions. Visit the Royal Albatross Centre, the only mainland breeding location in the world for these magnificent birds. Their epic wingspan can reach nearly 10 feet. We stay at the Southern Cross Hotel for two nights. (B,D)


 Day Eighteen: Dunedin

This morning, a panoramic drive will reveal Larnach Castle and Baldwin Street, the world's steepest public road. Later you may choose to embark on an optional trip on the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway. This line was begun in 1879 to serve the inland region of Otago and includes 10 tunnels and 35 bridges. (B)


 Day Nineteen: Dunedin - Mt. Cook Region

The Maori word for Mt. Cook is Aoraki, which means 'cloud piercer.' Journey through New Zealand's unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. This is where famed New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary honed his skills before conquering Everest. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps. We stay overnight at the Hermitage Hotel, Mount Cook. (B,D)


 Day Twenty: Mt. Cook - Christchurch

Today you return to Christchurch where you will watch a skilled New Zealand 'strong eye' sheep herding dog at work, followed by a sheep shearing demonstration. Get to know these New Zealand farmers over a home-cooked morning tea. We check in to the Rendezvous Hotel for our final evening. Later, enjoy some free time in Christchurch. Stroll the city's magnificent gardens or learn its more recent history at the Quake City exhibition at the Re:Start Mall. Tonight, visit the region's earliest home, Riccarton House, and enjoy a farewell dinner. (B,D)


 Day Twenty One: Christchurch - Depart for Home

Time to transfer t to the airport for the return flight to the UK. (B)


 Day Twenty Two: Arrive Home

Arrive back in the UK where we will greet you at the airport and transport you back home.