Day 1 – Welcome to New Zealand
Meeting; Orientation Walk; Dinner
We’ll have our “Welcome to New Zealand” meeting mid-afternoon in our hotel in Auckland. After the meeting we’ll head out for an orientation walk of the neighborhood and then get to know each other better over dinner in a local restaurant.
Esplanade Hotel - Devonport (2N)
Day 2 – Auckland
Auckland Tour; Auckland Musuem
After breakfast we’ll head out to discover Auckland with a panoramic coach tour. Then a visit to the Auckland Museum to learn more about NZ’s history and Maori culture. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own explorations in the City of Sails.
Day 3 – Rotorua
Glow Worm Caves; Otorohanga
Today we drive south and begin with a visit to Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These limestone caves are home to thousands of luminescent larvae. We’ll learn all about their life cycles and eating habits and gaze in amazement at the creations of nature. Then we’ll head on to the neighboring town of Otorohanga, the self-proclaimed “Kiwiana” town, for a lunch stop. An afternoon drive brings us to Rotorua, our home for the next three nights.
Millennium Hotel (3N)
Day 4 – Rotorua
Wai O Tapu; Hangi
We start the day with a visit to Wai O Tapu geothermal wonderland. See the mudpools and eclectic range of natural colors in this other-worldly landscape. After lunch we’ll meet our local Maori guides and learn more about the first people to settle in New Zealand and how they live today. This evening we round off our Maori immersion experience with a musical performance and traditional Maori hangi meal.
Day 5 – Rotorua
Lord of the Rings fans prepare to yell “I’m going on an adventure!” This morning we visit Hobbiton; film set for Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy movies. We’ll return to Rotorua for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free – some may wish to join a trip down to Huka Falls and even ride on a Jet boat to them, others might want to soak in Rotorua’s thermal spa waters.
Day 6 – Rotorua to Christchurch/Oamaru
Flight; Oamaru; Blue Penguins
A morning flight takes us from Rotorua to Christchurch on the South Island (flight included). Then we’ll drive south across the Canterbury Plains, crossing New Zealand’s longest bridge over a braided river. After a lunch stop in Timaru we continue to the Victorian heritage town of Oamaru. This evening after dinner in the hotel we’ll see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment. We’ll observe as the Blue Penguins return from their day’s fishing and learn about conservation efforts from the colony guides.
Brydone Hotel (1N)
Day 7 – Queenstown
Moeraki Boulders; Wine Tasting
Today is a beautiful day for scenery as we head west to picturesque Queenstown. Our first stop is at Moeraki where large mysterious boulders line the beach. We then head inland to the heart of Central Otago Wine Region. Enjoy some friendly hospitality and a gourmet kiwi barbeque lunch at Ophir. Otago is the world’s most southerly wine region and we’ll discover what makes this the ideal place for Pinot Noir at a local winery. In the early evening we arrive in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.
Scenic Suites Hotel (3N)
Day 8 – Queenstown
The amazing scenery continues today as we make a day trip to Milford Sound. Stunning views greet us at every bend, all the way to the climax of Milford Sound itself. We’ll take various stops for photographs and short hikes along the way. At Milford Sound we enjoy a 2-hour nature cruise with commentary from a local guide. We cruise the full length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea, admiring waterfalls, rainforest, towering peaks, and wildlife. We’ll return to Queenstown in time for dinner and perhaps a beautiful sunset.
Day 9 – Queenstown
Today is a vacation from our vacation. You have the full day at leisure in Queenstown. There are plenty of options available, including cruising on an old steamboat on Lake Wakatipu, mountain biking, luge riding, or jet boating.
Day 10 – Franz Josef
Cardrona Distillery; Haast Pass
Leaving Queenstown, we make a short drive to the Cardrona Distillery. New Zealand’s newest distillery has only been operational since early 2016 but is already winning awards for its spirits. After a tour and tasting we will also enjoy lunch here. We then skirt the western side of Lake Hawea and climb gradually to Haast Pass. We’ll stop for short walks along the way and arrive in Franz Josef township in the early evening, where we’ll dine together.
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (2N)
Day 11 – Franz Josef
Lake Matheson; FJ Glacier walk
This morning is at leisure but keen hikers and photographers may wish to join a morning excursion to Lake Matheson to see this famous mirror-like lake. This afternoon our main activity is the Franz Josef Glacier Valley walk. We visit the valley with local guides which allows us access beyond the public barriers. We’ll learn how glaciers have shaped this remarkable landscape and about New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna.
Day 12 – Christchurch
Hokitika and Transalpine scenic train
Travelling up the west coast this morning we’ll arrive in the town of Hokitika, famous as a center for greenstone (jade) carving. We’ll enjoy an informative and entertaining greenstone carving demonstration with master carvers. At Greymouth we wave goodbye to our bus and driver and board the train to Christchurch. One of the world’s great train rides, we travel in comfort through chiseled alpine mountains while crossing deep gorges and ice-fed rivers. Lunch is served on board. We’ll arrive in Christchurch in the evening.
Rendezvous Hotel (2N)
Day 13 – Christchurch
Quake City; Dinner
This morning we start with a short walk to Quake City. This unique multi-sensory attraction informs, engages, and educates visitors about the region’s earthquakes. Your afternoon is free. Christchurch is known as the ‘Garden City’ due to its many parks and gardens. Tonight we’ll share memories of our tour and toast new friends at our final dinner together.
Day 14 – Tour Over After Breakfast
Christchurch Airport is easily reachable by public transport. Your guide will be on hand to offer onward travel advice and assist with airport transfers. We hope you enjoyed the ride!
[Itinerary details and hotels subject to change]
Accommodation: 13 nights; All breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 6 dinners
Full-time services of tour director and local driver/guides; All tips including drivers, guides, tour director, and tour meals
All entrances: Auckland City Museum, Maori hangi, Thermal Area visit, Waitomo Glow-worm caves, Hobbiton, Canterbury Museum, Quake City All excursions: Auckland City sightseeing, Milford Sound, Vineyard tour and wine tasting, Oamaru Penguin Colony, Cadrona Distillery tour and tasting, Moeraki Boulders, Franz Joseph Glacier Valley walk, Greenstone carving, Transalpine train, and more
Important exceptions: Tour members are responsible for the cost of drinks, free-time sightseeing & meals, shopping, items of a personal nature, international flights to/from the tour, and flight baggage overage fees. See our Terms and Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.