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Our Rimu Small Group Journey focuses on the natural beauty of both North and South Islands, from the sea and sand of the Coromandel coast to the Ice Age awe of Milford Sound. Active sightseeing by boat and on foot, as well as on board our agile vehicle, enables us to discover warm springs, boiling mud, temperate rainforest and snowy peaks!
Day 1 Auckland
We meet your flight and transfer you to our hotel, after which you’re free to relax and explore: Sky City is a good place to orientate yourself.
Day 2 Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula
We cross the Hauraki Gulf by ferry, to land on the Coromandel’s west coast, taking a fun narrow-gauge railway trip, then a scenic drive to Whitianga on lovely Mercury Bay.
Day 3 Coromandel Peninsula
An energetic day, discovering this natural paradise on foot and by boat; the bubbling sands of Hot Water Beach and the rock formations of Cathedral Cove are highlights. We take a water taxi to Hahei to re-join our vehicle and head to Cooks Beach. From here, there’s a choice: catch a ferry ride to Whitianga and walk to our hotel, or travel back with our driver.
Day 4 Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
A change of scene indeed! Rotorua is the epicentre of New Zealand’s geothermal activity and its Maori heritage. Our walk around Te Puia with a private guide reveals bubbling mud, steaming pools, indigenous crafts and even timid kiwis!
Day 5 Rotorua
Today you have the choice of two excursions:
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: a must for Tolkien fans!
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.
Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley – OR – experience Hobbiton™ Movie Set
Day 6 Rotorua to Napier
Heading across the volcanic Tongariro Plateau we arrive on the sunny east coast, where the Art Deco town of Napier rivals Miami for its architecture: we learn why, during a walking tour with a local expert. This is also wine country, and tonight’s excellent dinner is hosted at New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate.
Day 7 Napier to Wellington
Today we head to breezy Wellington, taking in the panorama from the Kelburn Lookout before descending to sea level by cable car. No stay in the capital is complete without a visit to ‘our place of treasures’ as Te Papa translates from the Maori: this museum is world-class!
Day 8 Wellington to Nelson
When is a ferry journey a scenic cruise? When the Interislander crosses the Cook Strait and sails up Queen Charlotte Sound. We disembark at Picton then drive to Blenheim and taste some famous Marlborough wines, before our driver delivers us to Nelson. This cheerful arty town enjoys a sunny microclimate and is a great base for discovering ‘the top of the South’.
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
We travel through the little-known Nelson Lakes National Park to Lake Rotoiti and take the challenging Buller River Gorge, carved out of the forest by pioneers, to reach the rugged west coast. Punakaiki is renowned for its rock stacks and blow-holes shaped by the pounding Tasman Sea.
Day 11 Punakaiki to Fox Glacier
The frontier town of Hokitika is an attractive halt on the Great Coast Road before we reach glacier country, where Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier reach almost to sea level. Little Fox Village is our base and, weather permitting, there is the chance to fly over the ‘rivers of ice’ and even land in the snow (at own cost).
Day 12 Fox Glacier to Wanaka
After a photo-opp at mirror-like Lake Matheson we take the Haast Pass river road, deep into Mt Aspiring National Park. The atmosphere lightens as we reach lovely Lake Wanaka, reflecting peaks that in summer offer fine hiking; in winter superb skiing.
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
Fiordland awaits, and the scenic route takes us over the Crown Range via Arrowtown and down to Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau, the largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the South Island.
Day 15 Te Anau to Milford Sound to Queenstown
The climax of the tour is an epic journey through pristine Ice Age wilderness to majestic Milford Sound. On arrival, we board a comfortable small ship to cruise past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. Seals and dolphins may follow the boat as we eat our picnic lunch on board. Our drive back is through Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the Eglinton Valley then across the Southland farmlands and around spectacular Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown.
Day 16 Depart Queenstown
After breakfast we transfer you to the airport for your flight: Haere ra – farewell! Alternatively, extend your time in Queenstown or ask us to tailor-make onward travel.
Tour date Price (£) Single supplement (£) Availability 18 October – 2 November 2019 4,580 1,460 PLACES Enquire now 15 November – 30 November 2019 4,580 1,460 PLACES Enquire now 18 January – 6 February 2020 4,970 1,560 PLACES Enquire now 22 February – 8 March 2020 4,970 1,560 PLACES Enquire now 21 March- 5 April 2020 4,970 1,560 PLACES Enquire now 12 April – 27 April 2020 4,580 1,460 PLACES Enquire now 10 May – 24 May 2020 3,980 1,300 PLACES Enquire now 17 October – 1 November 2020 4,800 1,550 PLACES Enquire now 21 November – 6 December 2020 4,800 1,550 PLACES Enquire now
- Comfortable touring in 16-seater vehicle
- Services of our Driver-Guide and, where applicable, Local Experts
- 15 nights’ accommodation in quality Hotels
- 15 breakfasts
- 1 lunch
- 2 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
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!
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