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This Small Group Journey takes you to some of our favourite places and spaces in the North and South Islands, discovering fantastic coastlines and immersing you in Maori culture and history. Explore the geothermal wonders of Rotorua’s bubbling mud pools and boiling geysers and enjoy the stunning scenery of the Abel Tasman National Park with opportunities to swim in its turquoise lagoons.
Day 1 Auckland
After we meet and greet you, you are free to relax. The hotel is a great central base.
Day 2 Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula
Set off by sea across the Hauraki Gulf to the breath-taking Coromandel Peninsula. On landing, we take a trip on a narrow-gauge railway before heading east to reach Mercury Bay.
Day 3 Coromandel Peninsula
If the tide is right, scoop a ‘spa’ pool on Hot Water Beach, then walk to beautiful Cathedral Cove. Rejoin our vehicle to make for lovely Cooks Beach, named for the first European to land in New Zealand. From here, either catch the ferry to Whitianga and walk to our hotel OR travel back with your driver.
Day 4 Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
Head inland, pausing at the Okere River before arriving in Rotorua: not only New Zealand’s geothermal hot spot, but a thriving Maori centre. We receive a warm welcome at Te Puia, discover mud pools and steam vents, as well as the arts of weaving, carving and tattooing.
Day 5 Rotorua
A choice between:Waimangu Volcanic Valley – the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera was devastating, but created a new geothermal valley of boiling craters and jewel-coloured lakes for us to walk through.
Visit Middle Earth – Hobbiton™ This farmland film-set is a treat for Tolkien fans: our guide explains how it became The Shire™.
This evening we all visit a Maori village, receiving a formal welcome (powhiri) and discovering indigenous culture through dance and song, followed by a Hangi feast.
Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley – OR – experience Hobbiton™ Movie Set
Day 6 Rotorua to Napier
South to Lake Taupo and across the Tongariro plateau to Napier. How did this seaside town come to rival Miami for its Art Deco style? Our guided walk reveals all. Napier is also at the heart of North Island’s vineyards, and this evening’s treat is dinner at its oldest winery, Mission Estate.
Day 7 Napier to Wellington
Travel across the rural Wairarapa to windy Wellington, the seat of New Zealand’s Parliament. The Kelburn Lookout offers a great view, before we take the Cable Car down to visit Te Papa.
Day 8 Wellington to Nelson
Like HMS Endeavour 250 years before, we cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound to South Island. On disembarking, we pause in Marlborough for a wine-tasting at one of the country’s premier cellars. Our base for the next two nights is sunny Nelson.
Day 9 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.
Day 10 Nelson to Punakaiki
Few international visitors take this drive through Nelson Lakes National Park following the Buller River Gorge, but it is one of the most exciting in the world. When we reach the Tasman Sea, the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are yet another example of nature’s extraordinary force.
Day 11 Punakaiki to Fox Glacier
Heading ever closer to the Southern Alps we pause in the gold-miners’ town of Hokitika before arriving at Fox Glacier, a good base from which to marvel at ‘rivers of ice’. Weather permitting, optional trips (at own cost) include flights over and even onto the glaciers!
Day 12 Fox Glacier to Wanaka
We take the Haast River road deep into Mt Aspiring National Park. The atmosphere lightens as we reach Lake Wanaka, reflecting mountain peaks that in winter offer skiing, in summer hiking.
Day 13 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 14 Wanaka to Te Anau
Head over the Crown Ranges, beside Lake Wakatipu to Te Anau, the gateway of Fiordland. It is New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake (by volume), and the ideal base from which to visit Milford Sound.
Day 15 Te Anau to Milford Sound to Queenstown
Today’s journey is one of the most scenic you can make on four wheels! On arrival at Milford Sound we board a comfortable vessel to cruise past Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea: keep an eye open for seals and dolphins. Our return journey ends in Queenstown.
Day 16 Queenstown
Queenstown is New Zealand’s most famous adventure resort. Try white-water rafting and high-wire thrills, or relax on a classic steamship cruise (at own cost). The day and evening are yours to do as much or as little as you please.
Day 17 Queenstown to Mt Cook to Twizel
Today we approach the Southern Alps via the Approach the Southern Alps via the Kawarau Gorge and Central Otago, driving alongside Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook Village, the nearest vehicle access to awesome Aoraki Mt Cook.
Day 18 Twizel to Rural Canterbury
Visit a local lakeside home and learn the secrets of Pavlova and after a delicious morning break and photo-opp at Lake Tekapo, we traverse high country plains to Ashburton.
Choose a Rural Homestay: Local hosts open their homes to travellers (in small groups) before a home-cooked dinner. It’s a chance to spend time with real Kiwis on their home patch. OR a Local hotel: Dinner and overnight at a local hotel enables you to totally relax.
Day 19 Ashburton to Christchurch
Journey’s end is the garden city of Christchurch. Rebuilding after the 2010/11 ‘quakes, the city changes daily, but there are still punts on the River Avon and restored street trams clanging through historic streets. We enjoy both forms of transport today before sharing a farewell dinner.
Tour date Price (£) Single supplement (£) Availability 18 October – 6 November 2019 5,590 1,890 PLACES Enquire now 15 November – 4 December 2019 5,590 1,890 PLACES Enquire now 18 January – 6 February 2020 6,090 1,990 PLACES Enquire now 22 February – 12 March 2020 6,090 1,990 PLACES Enquire now 21 March – 9 April 2020 6,090 1,990 PLACES Enquire now 12 April – 1 May 2020 5,590 1,890 PLACES Enquire now 10 May – 29 May 2020 5,590 1,890 PLACES Enquire now 17 October – 5 November 2020 4,890 1,690 PLACES Enquire now 21 November – 10 December 2020 5,870 1,985 PLACES Enquire now
- Comfortable touring in 16-seater vehicle
- Services of our Driver-Guide and, where applicable, Local Experts
- 19 nights’ accommodation in quality Hotels
- 19 breakfasts
- 1 lunch
- 4 evening meals
- Sightseeing & entrance fees listed opposite under Experiences Included
- 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
- Enjoy true Kiwi hospitality with morning tea at a local home on the shores of Lake Tekapo
- Relax as you’re guided along Christchurch’s Avon River on an authentic Edwardian punt
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!