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Explore the sandy beaches of the Coromandel coastline on North Island, and dip your toes in the azure waters of Abel Tasman National Park at ‘the top of the South’. Come with us deep into Fiordland National Park to cruise on iconic Milford Sound – one of the all-time ‘must do’ experiences on a trip to New Zealand.
Day 1 Auckland
We meet you on arrival at the airport, and take you to our recommended hotel. You are free to relax in the City of Sails.
Day 2 Auckland to Bay of Islands
Leaving the city behind, it does not take us long to find New Zealand’s natural beauty in the Kauri forest. Arriving in the Bay of Islands we step back in time at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, to 1840 when Maori tribes signed a treaty with the British settlers. We arrive in Russell by ferry, to stay at the oldest hotel in town.
Day 3 Bay of Islands
Today you have the choice of two excursions:
Discover the Far North, travelling along 90 Mile Beach to Cape Reinga where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean (lunch included).
Enjoy a Bay of Islands cruise. Dolphins often race the boat on our way to the Hole in the Rock (sea permitting). Returning to Russell, this option includes a walking tour with an expert on 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
Return to Auckland to tour the city sights: panoramic views from Bastion Point, trendy Parnell Village and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area. A guided tour of Auckland Museum reveals treasures of the Pacific peoples.
Day 5 Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula
How should we depart the City of Sails? By boat of course! Crossing the Hauraki Gulf to land on the Coromandel Peninsula we take a narrow-gauge railway to a superb viewpoint. Rejoining our vehicle, we head to the east coast and beautiful Mercury Bay.
Day 6 Coromandel Peninsula
A day exploring this paradise of golden beaches, turquoise seas and green forests, including Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and Cook’s Beach. At the end of the day you can choose either to take the ferry to Whitianga and return to the hotel on foot, or – if you have walked enough – return with our vehicle.
Day 7 Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
To Rotorua, famous not only as a geothermal hotspot, but as a centre for Maori culture. We enjoy a guided tour of Te Puia, where the arts of weaving, carving and tattooing are kept alive. We also see, smell and hear the extraordinary mud pools and steam vents!
Day 8 Rotorua
Your choice today is either:
Waimangu Volcanic Valley – A walk through an evolving landscape of boiling craters and jewel-coloured steaming lakes, then a cruise across Lake Rotomahana.
Hobbiton™ Movie Set – Step into Middle Earth on a memorable guided tour of the ‘set’ where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed.
This evening we all visit a Marae (Maori Village) to discover the culture of New Zealand’s indigenous people, and feast at a Hangi, with food cooked in the heat of the earth.
Day 9 Rotorua to Napier
Our drive across the volcanic plateau takes us from ‘Mordor’ to ‘Miami’. On the east coast, Napier is a contender for Miami’s Art Deco crown, and our local expert reveals all on an entertaining walking tour. This evening’s treat is dinner together at Mission Estate, the country’s oldest wine producer.
Day 10 Napier to Wellington
Travel through vineyards and orchards to Wellington. On arrival in the capital, we see the quirky ‘Beehive’ Parliament building, ride the Cable Car and visit Te Papa – one of the most creative museums in the world.
Day 11 Wellington to Nelson
As HMS Endeavour did 250 years ago, we cross the Cook Strait. Landing in South Island, we pause at Blenheim to taste sauvignon blanc, the grape synonymous with New Zealand wine. Then on to Nelson, which boasts a sunny microclimate and thriving arts scene.
Day 12 Abel Tasman National Park
The idyllic Abel Tasman National Park is best explored by boat and on foot. Sailing from Kaiteriteri, today offers a choice:
Scenic Cruise: 3-4 hours (no walking) – A morning cruise reveals golden sands and turquoise waters, returning to Nelson for a free afternoon.
Astrolabe Beaches & Bays (plus 2.5 hour walk) – After the Scenic Cruise, disembark at Apple Tree Bay for a self-guided walk (7 kms) to Anchorage Beach. Later transfer to Nelson.
Forest & Swing-Bridge (plus 4 hour walk) – After the Scenic Cruise, disembark at Medlands Beach for a self-guided hike (10.5 kms) that includes South Head lookout and Cleopatra’s Pool. Late transfer to Nelson.
Cruise the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park
Day 13 Nelson to Punakaiki
We travel through Nelson Lakes National Park pausing at Lake Rotoiti before taking the old gold miners’ Buller River road. Emerge onto the west coast at Punakaiki to see the stratified limestone stacks known as the Pancake Rocks.
Day 14 Punakaiki to Fox Glacier
Following the Great Coast Road through Hokitika and Franz Josef, we come to Fox Village. This is a good base from which to access the glaciers and one of the best options is a scenic helicopter flight (at own cost, weather permitting) which lands in a snow-bowl in the mountains!
Day 15 Fox Glacier to Wanaka
After a diversion to Lake Matheson, we turn towards the Southern Alps, penetrating Mt Aspiring National Park via the Haast Pass. South Islanders love the friendly township and beauty of Lake Wanaka, where we relax for two nights.
Day 16 Wanaka
Nature lovers may take a lake cruise to a conservation island with an eco-guide to discover native birds like the flightless Buff Weka or you can choose to enjoy a scenic 4WD adventure to a high country farm above the lake.
See native birds on a conservation island – OR – take a scenic 4WD adventure in Wanaka
Day 17 Wanaka to Te Anau
The journey south takes us to Arrowtown and alongside Lake Wakatipu to Te Anau. This little town on the shores of the lake is the best starting point for adventures in Fiordland and is a beautiful spot in its own right.
Day 18 Te Anau to Milford Sound to
Today’s drive is spectacular, winding through a landscape sculpted by Ice Age glaciers. Awe-inspiring Milford Sound opens onto the Tasman Sea, and our vessel cruises past Mitre Peak to the narrow mouth. The return by road to Queenstown is equally scenic.
Tour date Price (£) Single supplement (£) Availability 14 February – 2 March 2019 5,700 1,770 FILLING UP Enquire now 14 March – 30 March 2019 5,700 1,770 FILLING UP Enquire now 11 April – 27 April 2019 5,510 1,680 PLACES Enquire now 15 October – 31 October 2019 5,370 1,840 PLACES Enquire now 12 November – 28 November 2019 5,370 1,840 PLACES Enquire now 15 January – 31 January 2020 5,840 1,920 PLACES Enquire now 19 February – 6 March 2020 5,840 1,920 PLACES Enquire now 18th March – 3 April 2020 5,840 1,920 PLACES Enquire now 9th April – 25 April 2020 5,370 1,840 PLACES Enquire now 7 May – 25 May 2020 4,670 1,730 PLACES Enquire now 14th October – 30 October 2020 5,650 1,935 PLACES Enquire now 18th November – 4 December 2020 5,650 1,935 PLACES Enquire now
- Comfortable touring in 16-seater vehicle
- Services of our Driver-Guide and, where applicable, Local Experts
- 18 nights’ accommodation in quality Hotel
- 18 breakfasts
- 1 lunch
- 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
- Scenic Interislander Ferry journey across the Cook Strait
- Wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries
- Cruise the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park
- Visit world-famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki
- See native birds on a conservation island – OR – take a scenic 4WD adventure in Wanaka
- Explore the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown
- Cruise, with a picnic lunch, on the breath-taking Milford Sound
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!