Exploring New Zealand New Zealand's North & South Islands    *alt*

22 days
Collette Worldwide
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From the steaming geothermal vents of Rotorua and the ice sheets and temperate rainforest of Franz Josef Glacier, to the genuine warmth of a farm stay with a local family, experience all of New Zealand?s many facets on this unforgettable journey. Enjoy city tours of Auckland, Napier, Wellington and Dunedin. Explore the wineries of Marlborough. Experience the wild and stunning west coast in Punakaiki famous for the pancake rocks and blow holes. Stand in awe of the giant Kauri tree. Savor a leisurely three-night stay in Queenstown, one of New Zealand?s prettiest towns. Journey by cable car to Skyline restaurant for fantastic views of Queenstown! Cruise Milford Sound in dramatic Fiordland. Delight in an overnight stay on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Sip wine at a regional vineyard in Otago. Explore the beautiful 19th-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Stay in Dunedin, a little slice of Scotland in the South Pacific. Overnight at the foot of massive Mt. Cook. Dine in a restored Christchurch mansion. Immerse yourself in the Maori culture. Witness the famous Haka war challenge, followed by a Hangi feast. Discover the many treasures of New Zealand.

Activity level: 2

* Get to know a local New Zealand family during a memorable authentic experience of dinner and the choice of an overnight home stay.*
* Visit spectacular Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks.


 Day 1 Auckland, New Zealand - Tour Begins

Your tour opens in Auckland, the ?City of Sails,? consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Auckland?s Polynesian population instills into its chic atmosphere the vibrant feel of the Pacific Islands. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.

 Day 2 Auckland

This morning, a panoramic city tour introduces you to several iconic parts of Auckland including the America?s Cup Village, the War Memorial, and bustling Queen Street. Next, take to the water on a cruise of Waitemata Harbor with unparalleled views of the city skyline, Auckland Harbour Bridge, North Head and the historic naval base at Devonport, and Rangitoto Island, a young volcanic island. Returning to Auckland, enjoy time at leisure before dinner this evening.

 Day 3 Auckland

You are free today to explore this jewel of the Hauraki Gulf. Your Tour Manager will be on hand to help you make the most of your day in this seaside city.

 Day 4 Auckland - Matakohe - Home Stay*

Leave the vibrancy of Auckland behind and head to Matakohe in the heartland of the North Island. Make a stop at the Kauri Museum where you will come to know the stories surrounding the giant kauri tree that can live for 2,000 years. Discover how the early settlers used this abundant tree to build a life for themselves. Later, make yourself right at home when a New Zealand family welcomes you 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.

 Day 5 Rotorua

Today, find yourself amid the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. With over one-third of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. Visit Te Puia, New Zealand's premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. The National Carving School and National Weaving School are 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 marvelous creature from the endangered species list. 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.

 Day 6 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. This afternoon, take advantage of time at leisure to stroll the oceanfront promenade and simply soak up the atmosphere.

 Day 7 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.

 Day 8 Wellington

This morning we embark on a walking tour of Wellington. See 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 center dedicated to art, history and the Maori culture. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

 Day 9 Wellington - Picton - Blenheim, Marlborough

Board a ferry and sail across Cook Strait. This has been called ?the most beautiful ferry ride in the world.? Arrive in Picton on the South Island where you will have free time for lunch. Next, drive along the coast to the picturesque village of Havelock where you will have free time to enjoy the quaint colonial buildings in a town that bills itself as the ?green-lipped mussel capital of the world.? Upon arrival in Blenheim, relax at your hotel before heading to a local winery where you will see the vineyard, enjoy a tasting, and dine at the cellar door bistro.

 Day 10 Blenheim

The morning is yours to enjoy the town of Blenheim. Next, we continue our introduction to the world-famous wine region of Marlborough with a visit to another of the family-owned wineries in the region for a tasting and tour. The area is famous for its Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and late harvest Riesling wines, all of which you will taste today.

 Day 11 Blenheim - Punakaiki

Today we drive through the heart of the South Island and further along the rugged coast to Punakaiki. Stop and gaze in wonder at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes. Here columns of water shoot skyward from rocks that resemble giant stacks of hotcakes. Upon arrival at your hotel you will have free time to explore the area before dinner.

 Day 12 Punakaiki - Franz Josef Region

We continue our journey along the stunning coastline. Our destination is the glacially carved landscape of the Franz Josef Region. Along the way, make a stop in Hokitiki to meet the skilled carvers who work with the West Coast pounamu ? New Zealand greenstone ? at a local jade shop.

 Day 13 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 the country?s prettiest towns. Tonight is sure to be a highlight as you board the cable car for a ride up to the Skyline restaurant where you will enjoy dinner and fantastic views of Queenstown. After dinner this evening, the choice is yours! Take a seat at a cultural show; enjoy star gazing with a naturalist; or, if you are feeling more adventurous, give the luge a try!

 Day 14 Queenstown

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.

 Day 15 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.

 Day 16 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 on the southern shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. Indulge in a special ?Taste of Fiordland? dinner showcasing the bountiful local produce.

 Day 17 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!

 Day 18 Dunedin

This morning's panoramic drive reveals Larnach Castle as well as 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.

 Day 19 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.

 Day 20 Mt. Cook - Christchurch

As you travel to Christchurch this morning, pause to pay a visit to a working farm. 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-made morning tea. Later, enjoy some free time to explore Christchurch on your own. Stroll the city?s magnificent gardens or learn its more recent history at the Quake City exhibition at the Re:Start Mall.

 Day 21 Christchurch

This morning enjoy a short tour of Christchurch. Afterwards, you have free time to enjoy the sights on your own or perhaps join in an optional excursion. Tonight, visit the region's earliest home, Riccarton House, and enjoy a farewell dinner.

 Day 22 Christchurch - Tour Ends

Your adventure comes to a close, leaving you with many pleasant memories of a wonderful trip.

Tour Map