Join us for a three week Small Group Journey that will take you on an adventure like no other. Experience the breath taking scenery of snow-capped Alps, wander through lush tropical rainforests and relax on wide sandy beaches.
You will learn how this beautiful land has been shaped by ancient volcanoes and southern seas, by Maori warriors and colonial settlers. Friendly local guides will share their cultural, historical and ecological expertise; vineyard owners and farmers wives will extend a warm welcome to their own homes.
- For a once in a lifetime experience – take to the water and swim with dolphins
We start the day in Russell with a guided tour to learn about this pretty little town’s rip-roaring past, when drunken sailors earned it the name, ‘the hell hole of the Pacific’.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore the spectacular Bay of Islands.
- Learn about the history of Waitangi in the wonderful new museum and visitor centre.
A morning visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the treaty between Maori tribes and British settlers was signed in 1840.
Later we head south, driving through the lush farmland of Waikato to the Firth of Thames, where we stop to visit the Miranda Shorebird Centre.
- Take a walk to the marine reserve of Cathedral Cove
Visit Hot Water Beach, and dig yourself a hot pool to lie back and relax in.
We recommend lunch under the fruit trees at Colenso Café, where the chef may even share the secret of a pavlova with you!
In the afternoon, it is well worth putting on your trail shoes to walk to Cathedral Cove.
Tonight we share on the cooking duties enjoying a Kiwi Favourite – a BBQ dinner in the garden of our accommodation.
- Visit Rotorua Museum, housed in a former bath-house situated at the end of the croquet lawns of Government Gardens
Travel south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Rotorua, the centre of New Zealand’s geothermal activity and Maori heritage.
During our time in Rotorua we visit the excellent museum, and spend the afternoon at Te Puia, home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, a live Kiwi enclosure and the world-famous Pohutu Geyser.
- Experiencing an authentic Maori Hangi for our evening meal
This morning we walk through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, and hear about the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886 which destroyed the world-famous ‘Pink & White’ silica terraces.
Later, we’ll spend time at a local Marae to listen to ancient legends and learn about Maori lifestyles today.
- Enjoy a winery tour followed by dinner with a glass of wine, at the Mission Estate Winery
Today we head south, past Huka Falls to Lake Taupo. Across the lake we may see the mighty peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro (weather permitting).
We arrive in Napier mid-afternoon and take a guided walking tour of this fabulous Art Deco city.
- Learn more about the culture and history of New Zealand at Te Papa Museum
This morning we travel south through the Wairarapa to arrive in the country’s capital city Wellington.
Spend the afternoon sightseeing, and take the cable car up to the Kelburn lookout before walking back down through the Botanic Gardens and enjoying tea in the Lady Rosewood Garden.
- Stretching your legs along the banks of the Matai River on a section of the Centre of New Zealand Walkway.
We board the Interislander Ferry across the Cook Strait and through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton. On arrival, travel to the delightful town of Nelson, our base for two nights.
- Take to the water and kayak around the secluded bays and coves
Paradise found! Abel Tasman National Park is a mosaic of golden coves and turquoise lagoons sheltered by forested ranges to the south. We board a small cruiser for a day of exploration, with native wildlife a highlight of our scenery.
- Take a walk up to the base of the glacier – don’t forget your camera!
Today travel inland following the Buller River gorge, emerging at Westport for a short walk on the coastal path to Cape Foulwind where we may see fur seals, sooty shearwaters and blue penguins.
In the afternoon we reach Westland National Park, where ice meets rainforest at the foot of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. We base ourselves in laid-back Franz Josef township for ease of access to the slowly moving ‘river’ of ice.
- Enjoy a walk around the shores of Lake Wanaka and watch the sun set over the mountains
After a morning stroll around Lake Matheson, with its stunning reflections of the mountains we head up over the Haast Pass along the river road, deep into Mt Aspiring National Park.
Arriving at Wanaka there’s a choice of lakeside strolls with a stop to quench our thirst at the much photographed Cardrona Pub.
- Stretch your legs and take a walk on one of our favourite trails with wonderful views
This morning there is time to relax, you may wish to take a jet boat ride up the Matukituki River or take the opportunity to enjoy one of New Zealand’s best half day walks – The Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Trail.
Later we head to Te Anau, gateway to the magnificent Fiordland National Park
- Get close to Milford’s mystery on a fantastic cruise on the Sound
We take the coach into Milford Sound. A beautifully scenic route, with plenty of opportunities for photo taking. Enjoy a morning cruise out on the Sound followed by guided short walks with an experienced and knowledgeable nature guide.
- Take the skyline gondola up to the top of Bob’s peak to watch the sun set over Queesntown
Leaving Fiordland National Park behind, we take a short journey via Kingstown and Lake Wakitipu to Queenstown ‘Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere’ and our base for the next two nights.
- Take a river cruise in style aboard the TSS Earnslaw steamship
A day at leisure to relax or explore. Thrill-seekers may zip-line from Bob’s Peak, get drenched on a Shotover jet-boat ride or go white-water rafting.
Those seeking a more relaxed option may choose to discover Lake Wakatipu with a cruise on the classic steamship TSS Earnslaw up to Walter Peak Station.
- Take a farm tour and meet some of the animals
A beautiful drive along Lake Pukaki to The Hermitage, our starting point for a choice of easy walks along the Hooker Valley trail for a close up of the majestic Mount Cook.
Later, we drop you off in smaller groups at three or four farms around Ashburton, where your hosts will extend their hospitality to you to with a farm tour followed by a delicious home-cooked dinner and a cosy night’s stay.
- Take a trip on a punt down the River Avon to enjoy Hagley Park from the water
This most English of New Zealand cities suffered a succession of terrible earthquakes in 2011. Christchurch is reinventing itself with typical kiwi spirit and exciting new sights including the cardboard cathedral and RE:Start Shopping Mall in repurposed shipping containers. A guided tour will help you understand the present and future hopes for the city.
This is the final part of our journey together so tonight we relax over a farewell dinner that showcases the best of New Zealand food and wine.
Day 21 – Depart Christchurch
If you are leaving New Zealand today, after breakfast we transfer you to Christchurch Airport for your flight home. Alternatively we can extend you stay in Christchurch for a few days or arrange onward independent touring by car or TranzAlpine train. Either way, we must say farewell, and wave you off home with amazing memories of your time in New Zealand.
Tour date Price (£) Single supplement (£) Availability 15 February – 7 March 2018 6,350.00 1,850.00 FILLING UP Enquire now 15 March – 4 April 2018 6,350.00 1,850.00 FILLING UP Enquire now 12 April – May 2 2018 6,170.00 1,690.00 FILLING UP Enquire now Thursday, 10 May – 30 May 2018 5,590.00 1,550.00 PLACES Enquire now 7 June – 27 June 2018 5,590.00 1,550.00 PLACES Enquire now 18 October – 7 November 2018 6,500.00 1,995.00 PLACES Enquire now 15 November – 5 December 2018 6,500.00 1,955.00 PLACES Enquire now
Although New Zealand is one of the easiest countries to travel to, we realise that contemplating a long haul trip to the other side of the world can be daunting, so we’ve put together some essential information that you will need to know before you head off on your holiday.
We hope we’ve covered everything, but do give us a call if you have any other questions or queries or are unsure about any details.
New Zealand is made up of two Islands, The North Island and The South Island. The majority of the population live on the North Island.
The country has an incredibly varied landscape. You’ll find wide, sweeping coastlines, spectacular mountain ranges, tropical rainforest, steaming volcanos and stunning glacier regions. It truly has something for everyone, whether you’re seeking peace, quiet and relaxation, or the thrill and adrenaline rush of all the adventure it offers.
New Zealand also has 14 National Parks that showcase more than 30,000 square kilometres of wonderful nature and breathtaking scenery.
New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), making it one of the first countries in the world to welcome in each new day.
Like us here in the UK, New Zealand observes Daylight Saving, and so during their summer time (and our winter time) their clocks go forward one hour to GMT+13. Daylight saving begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday of the following April, when clocks are put back to GMT+12.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealands seasons are the opposite way around to ours, so December to February are their hottest months, and also the most expensive time to visit. June to September is the peak season for skiing in the ski resorts of Wanaka, Queenstown and Canterbury on the South Island, and the inbetween or ‘shoulder seasons’ often offer the best of both worlds, with better prices, more accommodation options and less tourists while still enjoying bright sunny days and warm weather.
Health and Insurance
We realise how difficult can be for our older travellers to find travel Insurance at a reasonable cost, and after a lot of research, are confident that our current partner Holiday Extras offer the best value for money insurance policies.
You don’t need any vaccinations to travel to New Zealand, and you will find doctors and health centres in every large town and city. Calling 111 will contact the emergency services from anywhere in the country.
It’s perfectly safe to drink the tap water in New Zealand, so there is no need to worry about needing to purchase bottled water when you are there.
Airport Hotels, Parking & Lounge Passes
Depending on the time of your flight you may wish to avoid an early morning start by checking into an Airport hotel. With our partner, Holiday Extras, we are able to offer a range of hotel options and parking arrangements. There are also a number of airport lounges you can book if there is considerable waiting time between your flights. These lounges offer a range of facilities from refreshments and drinks to showers and comfortable seating areas in a quiet environment.
Car hire companies often charge an excess for damage caused to the car whilst you’re behind the wheel even if it’s not your fault. This can be upwards of £1000 meaning if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll have to pay a contribution to cover the damage
To reduce this amount they offer what is called an Excess Insurance or Damage Waiver, typically around $25-$30.00 per day .If you’re following a two or three week itinerary, this can add up to around $ 600.00
However you can purchase an annual excess car hire insurance in the UK for a lot less.
Our suggestion is to contact an insurance company such as insurance4carhire.com, With them you’re able to reclaim the excess you’d have to pay in the unfortunate event of an accident or your car being stolen. You may also get more cover compared with waiving the excess at the car hire desk.
You do not need a visa to travel to New Zealand as a British Citizen or British passport holder (and you can stay for up to six months).
However you do require
- a passport that is valid for three months after you return from your holiday
- A return ticket home (or an onward ticket to another country that you are permitted to enter
- Adequate funds to support yourself while you are away – usually NZ$1000 per month per person
For Silver Fern travellers contemplating stopovers en route to New Zealand or integrating a New Zealand holiday with a longer worldwide tour, a visa may be required.
For example an Australian tourist visa is necessary for anyone entering the country other than those in transit. Similarly entrants to America should have arranged an ESTA. These can be applied for online or through the Travel Visa Company, one of our trade partners who charge for this service.
Currency and Credit Cards
The currency in New Zealand is the NZ Dollar. The exchange rate varies but as a general guide, there is NZ$2 / NZ$2.20 to every GBP£1.
You can use all major credit cards in New Zealand, and ATM’s are found as easily as they are in the UK, on most high streets, in shopping malls and in banks. You can also exchange foreign currency at banks, some hotels and bureau de change kiosks.
Do let your bank know you’ll be travelling before you leave home though to ensure that you’re able to use your card overseas.
What to pack
Holiday packing is always a challenge, especially when you’re going away for longer than a week or two, so we wrote a blog post offering our advice on how to pack for your New Zealand holiday – you can read it here. Remember to pack a good pair of sturdy walking boots if you’re planning to get out and explore some of the country on foot, and we recommend lightweight layers that you can add/remove depending on the weather.
Electronics and mobile devices
You can buy a prepaid Vodafone sim card at the airport or many of the local shop to put in your phone but its always worth checking with your mobile phone provider to see if they offer an overseas package before you leave home.
New Zealand electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts, and they use the same plug as in Australia, with two or three pins. You’ll need to use an adapter for all appliances, which can easily be purchased either in the UK before you travel or once you’re in New Zealand.
Wi-fi is widely available in most hotels and B&B’s and also in many cafes and eateries.
As far as possible we have endeavoured to make this information as accurate as possible, but we always recommend that you do make sure to double check things like Visa’s / Insurance etc before travel as changes do occur.
Colin and Maureen Smith
The Million Dollar cruise on Lake Wakatipu was absolutely brilliant – the guide was very knowledgeable and we would highly recommend this trip.
Our meal on the Mission Estate was one of the best meals of the holiday and the gardens at Hamilton were a real surprise.
But the main highlight has to have been the Milford Mariner overnight cruise – not the best of weather, we couldn’t get out on the kayaks – but a wonderful experience.
Chris and Joyce Brill
Very much enjoyed the superb Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa Museum, Wellington. Loved the jet boat trip on our day out to Arthur’s Pass and the caves at Charleston.
A wonderful holiday!