Classic New Zealand

17 days from £3,450 Enquire now


All our early 2020 Small Group Tours are now full, so we have added an extra date in April at a special price for all those of you who still want to travel with us before the Spring. The itinerary is below and give us a call to get you the best flight deal on 01636 813544.

Join us for a 17-day 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 rain forests 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 as you travel throughout Aotearoa – ‘the land of the long white cloud’.


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[tabby title=”Itinerary” open=”yes”]

Day 1 Auckland

Haere mai – welcome! Arrive into Auckland and spend the afternoon and evening getting to know the ‘City of Sails’.

Accommodation: MSocial, Auckland – 1 night
A contemporary hotel for the curious, the explorers and those who thrive on new experiences, MSocial hotel overlooks the vibrant Princes Wharf.

Day 2 Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula

Today we take to the water for a scenic cruise to the Coromandel Peninsula. The ferry heads out from Auckland Harbour into the Hauraki Gulf passing the volcanic Rangitoto Island on the way. Roughly half way through the journey we make a brief stop at Orapiu on Waiheke Island and then, after around two hours, disembark near the township of Coromandel. Whilst we are on the ferry our coach will travel empty to meet us and we then visit the Driving Creek Railway where we climb 120m on a narrow-gauge line to the Eyefull Tower for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and Hauraki Gulf back towards Auckland. We then drive east across the Peninsula through beautiful scenery and passing lovely beaches to reach the resort of Whitianga on Mercury Bay.

Accommodation: Oceans Resort, Whitianga – 2 nights
Nestled on the western shore of the beautiful Mercury Bay and only a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Buffalo Beach, you will find the relaxed luxury Whitianga Apartments of Oceans Resort in the heart of popular Whitianga. The resort is only a short stroll to the ferry and the picturesque marina, or wander through the town centre where you will find an abundance of cafés, restaurants and bars and boutique stores. Please note these are self-contained apartments and there is no restaurant onsite.

Day 3 Explore the Coromandel Peninsula

White cliffs and golden beaches, inviting turquoise waters and green forests are the colours of the Coromandel, with scarlet highlights courtesy of the flowers of Pohutukawa trees in summer, making this one of our favourite regions. Rightly famous is Hot Water Beach, where warm springs bubble up through the sand, and when the tide is right you can dig out your very own ‘spa’ pool for a wallow. This afternoon we walk down into Cathedral Cove – our efforts are rewarded with one of the most photogenic beaches in NZ, with water-worn rock formations sparkling against the blue-green of the Pacific. We depart Cathedral Cove by water taxi to Hahei where our coach driver will meet us to take us to Cooks Beach – named after Captain James Cook who sailed on the HMS Endeavour into Mercury Bay in 1769 – and famous for its long golden sandy beach which now a popular retreat for Kiwis during summer months. From Cooks Beach you may wish to catch the short ferry ride back to Whitianga and walk to our accommodation or stay with your driver and travel back by coach.

Day 4 Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua

We take the Pacific Coast Highway through the beachside towns of Whangamata and Tauranga in the beautiful Bay of Plenty before turning inland. En-route we visit a well-formed bushwalk with scenic lookouts over Okere River and its spectacular waterfalls. Rotorua is the epicentre not only of New Zealand’s geothermal activity but of Maori heritage, and no visit to Rotorua would be complete without including Te Puia, not only an active geothermal site, but the nation’s centre for indigenous arts and crafts and a Kiwi conservation project. At Te Puia, it’s part of their culture to welcome, guide, entertain you, and treat you like part of the family and we are treated to a private guide throughout our time at Te Puia.

Accommodation: Prince’s Gate Hotel, Rotorua – 2 nights
Originally built in the gold mining town of Waihi, in 1917 nail by nail and board by board, the hotel was dismantled and transferred by horse-drawn wagon to the Waihi Railway Station and the timber and fittings were duly taken by rail to Rotorua.

Day 5 Rotorua day of leisure

Today is at your leisure. Your Optional Touring Booklet will give you plenty of options on how to spend your time. As a special treat to yourself why not head to an enriching cultural experience with a special evening by visiting Tamaki Maori Village for a traditional Hangi (feast) and Maori Concert (extra cost).

Day 6 Rotorua to Napier

Today we head south, past Huka Falls to the vast Lake Taupo – more inland sea than lake, though its fresh waters teem with trout. Across the lake – weather permitting – we should see the mighty peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro rear their heads.

Napier is one of the world’s most complete examples of Art Deco architecture, second (arguably) only to Miami Beach. And yet this joyful seaside town had a tragic birth, being virtually levelled by fierce fires that followed the devastating 1931 earthquake. With typical Kiwi spirit Napier was rebuilt in just two years in the most up-to-date style of the time, which today we call Art Deco. This afternoon our local guide brings history and architecture alive with entertaining stories as we discover Napier on foot.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Te Pania, Napier
Hawke’s Bay is one of the first places in the world to see the light each day. The hotel enjoys a premium waterfront location on Napier’s Marine Parade and is a short stroll from the main art deco style street.

Day 7 Napier to Wellington

This morning we travel through vineyards and orchards, through the bush-clad ranges of the Wairarapa, which has an off-the-beaten-track charm that belies its proximity to New Zealand’s capital, and into Wellington. Full of artists, writers and film-makers – the most famous of whom is Sir Peter Jackson – Wellington has a lively arts scene and café culture. On arrival into Wellington we drive past New Zealand’s magnificent Parliament Buildings and the iconic ‘Beehive’, the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Government. From the Kelburn lookout we take the Wellington Cable Car down into the central business and shopping precinct then visit Te Papa – one of the most exciting museums in the world, featuring New Zealand insights – the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.

Accommodation: James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington
Located in the heart of Wellington the hotel is minutes from the Cable Car, Parliament, and Lambton Quay’s shopping district.

Day 8 Wellington to Nelson

Our day commences with the Interislander ferry journey crossing Cook Strait on a journey of 3½ hours that’s often accompanied by dolphins riding the bow wave, before entering Queen Charlotte Sound and disembarking in Picton. From here we travel the short distance to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine country. What better way to enjoy this region famous for its Sauvignon Blanc than with wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries? From Marlborough we cross to the Nelson district where this corner of South Island is blessed with a sunny microclimate which has long been a draw to artists and adventurers alike, many of them settling in the delightful town of Nelson, our base for two nights. With a wide range of eateries in central Nelson, you are free to make your own choice for dinner.

Accommodation: Heritage Rutherford Hotel – 2 nights
The hotel boasts a prime spot only minutes’ walk from Nelson’s landmark cathedral and main shopping district (including just a block away from Jens Hansen Goldsmiths, creators of the ring in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy).

Day 9 Nelson day of leisure

Today is at your leisure. We highly recommend taking an optional tour and cruise of Abel Tasman National Park. Travel to Kaiteriteri, to board a small cruiser for a morning of exploration of New Zealand’s smallest National Park. View world-famous Split Apple Rock, New Zealand Fur Seals, golden sands and the turquoise waters of Anchorage, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Awaroa and Totaranui Beach before returning to Kaiteriteri. Enjoy a comprehensive commentary from the on-board guide and watch the comings and goings of the park (extra cost).

Day 10 Nelson to Punakaiki

Today we head south to the Nelson Lakes National Park – an enchanting alpine landscape of rugged peaks, forests and stunning glacial lakes and the beginning of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps. We stop at the small village of Saint Arnaud on the shores of Lake Rotoiti – where according to Maori mythology the lakes of Rotoroa and Rotoiti were created by the great chief Rakaihaitu digging holes with his ko (digging stick). One hole became Lake Rotoroa (large waters) and the other became Lake Rotoiti (small waters).

Turning inland we follow the Buller River Gorge: its Maori name of Kawitiri describes the power of ‘water flowing swiftly’. This is one of the world’s best but least-known scenic drives, carved out of the forest by 19th century prospectors, it follows the deep river gorge, often crossing it on single-track bridges. We emerge from the forest then the road hugs the coastline south to the small settlement of Punakaiki on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. Punakaiki is renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and blowholes. These stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature. Time this evening for a walk along the wild west coast beach near our hotel.

Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki – 1 night
This hotel is two minutes’ walk from the beach, situated in Paparoa National Park just 300 meters from the magnificent Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

Day 11 Punakaiki to Fox Glacier

Today we continue our journey south along the Great Coast Road which stretching south from Westport to Greymouth was recently voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet. We pass through historic small towns before reaching Hokitika which with the pounamu (greenstone) rich Arahura River entering the sea just north of the town, features galleries specialising in pounamu jewellery and art works. We stretch our legs at scenic Lake Kaniere then again at the dramatic Hokitika Gorge where the blue/green waters pass through the rugged rocks.

Continue south through forests and farmland, with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to Franz Josef then on to the small remote village of Fox. The huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps almost to sea level which is unusual in a temperate climate. Weather permitting, an optional helicopter ride with a snow landing is a terrific way to experience the sheer grandeur of these West Coast glaciers (extra cost).

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier – 1 night
Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier hotel is situated in one of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful environments – nestled beneath the towering Southern Alps on the stunning West Coast of New Zealand.

Day 12 Fox Glacier to Wanaka

Ensure you have your camera for our visit to nearby Lake Matheson for a morning stroll and where, when conditions are right, perfectly mirrors beautiful Mount Cook in its still waters. This land is the heart of Te Wahipounamu – the place of the greenstone – explored by generations of Maori but penetrated by Europeans only 150 years ago. We head up over the Haast Pass along the river road, which took more than 40 years to complete, travelling beside the icy river and deep into Mt Aspiring National Park. The atmosphere lightens as we reach lovely Lake Wanaka, reflecting the mountain peaks that in winter offer superb skiing, and the pretty resort town of Wanaka.

Accommodation: Edgewater Resort, Wanaka – 2 nights
The hotel is in a fantastic location, directly on the shores of beautiful Lake Wanaka.

Day 13 Wanaka day of leisure

Today is at your leisure. We highly recommend a few different excursions (extra cost) to choose from or just relax in the village of Lake Wanaka. A few options for your consideration:

Recommended Optional Tour – Eco Tour
Today join a passionate local eco-guide as you depart Wanaka by boat and quickly leave civilization behind as you cruise across the lake to a predator-free island. The walking track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native vegetation filled with very vocal birdlife to the top to the “island’s secret”- a lake on top of the island with small islands in it! Unique and very photogenic, the echo of birdsong here is astounding. Carrying on a little further you come to the very top of the island and have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and the Arethusa Pool below. This is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the panorama. The flightless Buff Weka often join visitors on the island; this rare flightless bird has been extinct on Mainland NZ since 1920.

Recommended Optional Tour – 4WD Adventure
Experience New Zealand’s most authentic 4WD adventure – the perfect mix of incredible scenery, history, heritage and farming life. Explore remote and seldom travelled back roads of an authentic New Zealand High Country farm overlooking sparkling Lake Wanaka. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, glaciers and wild river valleys you’ll see farm animals including Red Deer, cattle and sheep up close and in their natural environment. Visit historical sites and experience what life was like for Wanaka’s first farmers. With two optional walks, through pristine alpine meadows and ancient lakeside forests, this journey offers an unique insight into Wanaka’s rich history, heritage, modern-day farming life and breath-taking scenery. This afternoon is at your leisure to relax or enjoy your own choice of activities.

Day 14 Wanaka to Te Anau

Today we depart Wanaka with our first stop at the much photographed Cardrona Pub before we continue on to historic Arrowtown – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of small town heritage buildings that stretches into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miner’s cottages. The buildings in this lovely precinct now house shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants – a perfect spot for lunch today, before continuing out journey via the road pinned between the base of the Remarkables mountain range and spectacular Lake Wakatipu before we leave the lake and continue south through the glacial formed valley that is now farmland. Pass through small farming towns before reaching Lake Te Anau the largest freshwater lake in the South Island and the gateway to Fiordland National Park.

Afternoon and evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Te Anau – 1 night
The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Te Anau’s town shopping centre and a short stroll from Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake.

Day 15 Te Anau to Milford Sound to Queenstown

The road journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences you can have on four wheels. Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and leaping waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest and we make short stops as we journey along this spectacular remote road.

Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is breathtaking in any weather. We board a comfortable vessel for a cruise past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. Cliffs rise vertically from the inky waters and waterfalls cascade downwards. Keep an eye peeled for seals and dolphins which are often seen in the waters of the fiord. A boxed picnic lunch is served onboard. Following the cruise, we retrace our journey back to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley then across the Southland farmlands and around spectacular Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown – the ‘Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere’. Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the Queenstown region create the perfect backdrop for a visit full of adventure, exploration or relaxation.

Accommodation: Scenic Suites Queenstown – 2 nights
Scenic Suites Queenstown provides one of the most sought after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic views of the Southern Alps.

Day 16 Queenstown day of leisure

Today is at leisure. Visit the Remarkable’s or Coronet Peak. Experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover or Kawerau Rivers. Perhaps a scenic 4 wheel drive excursion through Skippers Canyon, it’s up to you. This evening you may choose to take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station to dine at the Colonel’s Homestead (extra cost).

Day 17 Depart Queenstown

If you are leaving New Zealand today, after breakfast we transfer you to Queenstown Airport for your flight home. Alternatively we can extend you stay in Queenstown for a few days or arrange onward independent touring by car. Either way, we must say farewell, and wave you off home with amazing memories of your time in New Zealand.

[tabby title=”Prices & availability”]

Tour datePrice (£)Single supplement (£)Availability 
25 April – 11 May 20203,4501,375PLACESEnquire now

[tabby title=”What’s included?”]

What’s included?

  • Comfortable touring in 16-seater vehicle
  • Services of our Driver-Guide and, where applicable, Local Experts
  • 16 nights’ accommodation in quality Hotels
  • 16 breakfasts
  • 1 lunch


[tabby title=”Know before you go”]

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.

The Geography

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 volcanoes 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.

Time Difference

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.

The Seasons

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand's 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 in between 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.

Buy Insurance

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.

Book your Hotel, Parking or Lounge Access

Car Insurance

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.

Visa Requirements

From 1 October 2019 you will need a Visa to travel to New Zealand as a British citizen or British Passport Holder. We are still awaiting final details from the New Zealand Immigration Department regarding this requirement.

All Silver Fern travellers will be advised by our office as to the nature of this process, prior to their travel to New Zealand.

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.

Visit Travel Visa Company website

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.