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This Small Group Journey takes in the stunning sights of the North Island starting with a journey to the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands. Extraordinary Rotorua, with its steaming geysers and hot mud is a must. Further south you’ll visit the Art Deco town of Napier and enjoy the wonderful wines of the Hawke’s Bay region before arriving in Wellington, ‘the coolest little capital in the world’.
Day 1 Auckland
Haere mai – welcome! We greet you on arrival and take you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax, perhaps taking in the views from the top of the Sky Tower.
Day 2 Auckland to Bay of Islands
We leave by the Harbour Bridge and break our journey at Reed Memorial Park to discover a remnant of ancient Kauri forest from an elevated walkway. The Bay of Islands is the historic birthplace of New Zealand, and at Waitangi we learn of the 1840 Treaty between Maori tribes and British settlers; visit the carved meeting house, the new museum and admire a war canoe (waka). After our visit, we take a ferry to the seaside village of Russell to stay at its oldest hotel.
Day 3 Bay of Islands
Today each traveller has a choice between two excursions:
Discover the Far North – Journey along ‘90 Mile Beach’ to Cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea collides with the Pacific. Includes a visit to Puketi Kauri forest and lunch.
Cruise to the Hole in the Rock – It is common to see dolphins race beside our boat as we cruise towards Cape Brett Lighthouse and (conditions permitting) thread a course through the Hole in the Rock. Return to Russell to meet a guide for an insight into the town’s rip-roaring past!
Journey along 90-mile Beach – OR – take a dolphin and Hole in the Rock cruise
Day 4 Bay of Islands to Auckland
Head south along the coast and arrive in cosmopolitan Auckland for a city tour that takes in panoramic views from Bastion Point, trendy Parnell Village and vibrant Viaduct Harbour, plus impressive Auckland Museum – a treasure-house of Pacific artefacts.
Day 5 Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula
Wave goodbye to the City of Sails as we depart by boat across the Hauraki Gulf. When we land on the west coast of the Coromandel, Driving Creek’s narrow gauge railway takes us up 120 metres for a fine view over the Gulf. Then it’s back on our vehicle to head for Mercury Bay, our base for two nights.
Day 6 Coromandel Peninsula
A natural paradise! The springs on Hot Water Beach bubble up through the sand so that, if the tide is right, you may dig out your own warm wallow. After, a walk to Cathedral Cove is rewarded by one of the most photogenic spots in New Zealand. We leave by water taxi to Hahei, where our driver waits to take us to Cooks Beach, named after Captain James Cook, and from here you can choose to hop on the ferry back to Whitianga then walk to the hotel, or travel back with our driver.
Day 7 Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
We take the Pacific Coast Highway before turning inland for a bush walk with views over Okere River Falls. Then Rotorua: the epicentre of geothermal activity and Maori heritage! Te Puia is a unique reserve of bubbling mud and spouting geysers and the national centre for Maori arts and crafts. Hospitality (manaakitanga) is a cornerstone of Te Puia’s Maori guardians, so we have a private guide.
Day 8 Rotorua
Today you have a choice between:
Waimangu Volcanic Valley – the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera was devastating for the land and its people, but created a new valley that is still evolving. Walk beside boiling craters and jewel-coloured lakes; take a boat across Lake Rotomahana and hear the story of Guide Sophia.
Visit Middle Earth – Hobbiton™, the actual set which featured in Sir Peter Jackson’s films is a treat for Tolkien fans. Our guide reveals how this farm became The Shire™ and you can see the Party Tree, visit Bag End and have a pint in the Green Dragon!
This evening we take everyone to a Maori village where we receive a formal welcome (powhiri) including the hongi, the sharing of breath. Delve into Maori culture past and present through storytelling, dance and song, followed by a Hangi (a feast cooked in the natural heat of the earth).
Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley – OR – experience Hobbiton™ Movie Set
Day 9 Rotorua to Napier
Journey via Huka Falls and Lake Taupo across volcanic Tongariro National Park to the east coast. From the destruction of an earthquake, seaside Napier rose like a phoenix in the 1930s to become the southern hemisphere’s Miami – an Art Deco jewel.
Our expert-led walking tour reveals how! This is also wine country, and this evening’s treat is dinner at New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate, where we eat in the restored seminary buildings.
Day 10 Napier to Wellington
Travel through Hawke’s Bay vineyards and orchards to the capital city. On arrival, see the quirky ‘Beehive’ Parliament building, and from the Kelburn Lookout take a Cable Car back down to visit the world-renowned Te Papa museum, which showcases the shaping of New Zealand, the cultures of its diverse peoples, its wildlife and contemporary culture.
Tour date Price (£) Single supplement (£) Availability 15 October – 25 October 2019 3,110 1030 PLACES Enquire now 12 November – 22 November 2019 3,110 1030 PLACES Enquire now 15 January – 25 January 2020 3,380 1,070 PLACES Enquire now 19 February – 29 February 2020 3,380 1,070 PLACES Enquire now 18 March – 28 March 2020 3,380 1,070 PLACES Enquire now 9 April – 19 April 2020 3,110 1,030 PLACES Enquire now 7 May – 17 May 2020 2,700 880 PLACES Enquire now 14 October – 24 October 2020 3,270 1,085 PLACES Enquire now 18 November – 28 November 2020 3,270 1,085 PLACES Enquire now
- Comfortable touring in 16-seater vehicle
- Services of our Driver-Guide and, where applicable, Local Experts
- 10 nights’ accommodation in quality Hotels
- 10 breakfasts
- 2 evening meals
- Sightseeing & entrance fees listed opposite under Experiences Included
- Entry to Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Journey along 90-mile Beach – OR – take a dolphin and Hole in the Rock cruise
- A scenic cruise from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula
- Narrow-gauge railway journey through native Coromandel bush
- Visit Hot Water Beach and photogenic Cathedral Cove
- A private guide around a geothermal valley with geysers, mud pools and hot springs
- Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley – OR – experience Hobbiton™ Movie Set
- Delve into Maori life and enjoy a powerful cultural performance and feast
- Enjoy a wine tasting and evening meal at Mission Estate in Napier
- Travel on Wellington’s famous Cable Car and visit Te Papa museum
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. Lounge Pass offer 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!