MAGNIFICENT NEW ZEALAND GRAND DISCOVERY TOUR
Auckland, Kauri museum and forest, Bay of Islands, Cape Reinga, Waitomo Caves, Hobbiton, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch, Tekapo, Mt Cook, Oamaru, Dunedin, Catlins, (Stewart Island option), Te Anau, Milford Sound, (Doubtful Sound day or overnight cruise option) Queenstown, Wanaka, Glaciers, Punakaiki, Christchurch
This tour is flexible - join or leave anywhere en route provided a minimum of 2 consecutive nights are spent on tour.
Unsolicited comment from past clients:
I am pleased to report that all the arrangements you made were very satisfactory. Your system worked perfectly and we were met and transported at each place as stated in the itinerary. This was my third visit to New Zealand. I was on a 'big bus' conducted tour 3 years ago but paid nearly twice as much. Your tour was a far more pleasant experience. ((S.K. Scotland)
Just to let you know how much we enjoyed our holiday and considered it great value for money. We've travelled a lot over the past 20 years and going mostly in mini coaches was unique and suited us fine. We couldn't praise the drivers enough for their courtesy and overall driving skills. A great bunch of fellows. (B. and M. W. New Zealand)
Our New Zealand tour was spectacular and exceeded our expectations in all aspects. The drivers were very courteous and friendly and we developed real friendships with all of them. Our hotel accommodations were very nice and some were outstanding. In all regards it was a great success and our best ever vacation. (C.M. USA)
18 days excluding Northland.
Commence Auckland every tuesday year round with Auckland sightseeing wednesday. (Minimum 2 passengers required).
Day 1. Saturday. ARRIVE AUCKLAND.
Arrive Auckland and you will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
Day 2. Sunday. AUCKLAND. (B)
Enjoy a one and a half hour cruise this morning on beautiful Auckland Harbour. See the Westhaven Marina, cruise under the harbour bridge, pass the naval base and Devonport and enjoy a brief stop at the volcanic island of Rangitoto.
Tour the city this afternoon including the Domain and Rose Gardens, Auckland Museum with its amazing collection of Maori history, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Kelly Tarltons Sealife Aquarium and Antarctic Centre including the live penguins, city areas, Skytower for a panoramic view over the city, Albert Park, and University.
Day 3. Monday. AUCKLAND - KAURI MUSEUM AND FORESTS - BAY OF ISLANDS. (BL)
Depart Auckland 8.00am. Drive north over the harbour Bridge to the Otamatea Kauri and Early Settlers Museum, one of the best little museums in New Zealand. Learn of the importance of the kauri tree to the development of Northland and see the lifestyle of the early settlers. Continue through Ruawai 'kumara capital' of New Zealand, and Dargaville into the Waipoua kauri forest. Visit "Tane Mahuta" giant kauri tree - some 2000 years old. Enjoy the views of the Hokianga Harbour and sand dunes and a stopover at Opononi before visiting historic Rawene. See Clendon House (exterior) built in 1862. Also visit Te waimate Mission Station built as a model farm by the Missionaries in 1830 to teach maori to farm, and supply food for the station. It was the scene of the 2nd signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and where Charles Darwin enjoyed christmas with the missionaries in 1835. Continue to the Bay of Islands for 2 nights at Paihia Pacific Hotel or similar.
Please note: as travel to Cape Reinga is by special coach tomorrow your driver/guide will usually return to Auckland tonight and meet you again on completion of your cruise on wednesday.
Day 4. Tuesday. CAPE REINGA (BL)
You will be picked up by special coach for a full day excursion north through historic Keri Keri and the Puketi forest plus the beautiful Mangonui Harbour and Coopers Beach to Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand. Travel part way on the sands of Ninety Mile Beach. See the meeting of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean. Return to the Bay of Islands early evening. Lunch is included today.
FLY/ROAD TO CAPE REINGA: For a shorter day, a bigger experience, and fabulous scenery not seen from the ground transfer from your hotel to Kerikeri airport and fly north over Ninety Mile beach to land near Cape Reinga. Your special vehicle will be waiting for a 2.5 hour (approx) land tour to Te Paki stream and massive sand dunes on Ninety Mile beach, Cape Reinga light house, Tapotupotu Bay. Fly back to Keri Keri via the fabulous coastal scenery of Parengarenga Harbour, Great Exhibition Bay, Houhora Harbour, Karikari Peninsula, Whangaroa Harbour, Cavalli Islands and Bay of Islands. Return to Kerikeri airport and transfer back to you hotel. Departs twice daily in summer, once daily in winter - extra cost instead of coach $340 per adult. Total time from Paihia approximately 5 hours
Day 5. Wednesday. BAY OF ISLANDS - AUCKLAND (BL)
Enjoy a cruise around the beautiful Bay of Islands this morning to Cape Brett and pass through the 'hole in the rock' - weather permitting. Cruise past the islands and into secluded bays and enjoy a stopover on Urupukapuka Island - once home to author Zane Grey. Buffet lunch included on the island. Usually dolphins are to be seen during this cruise. Disembark in historic Russell for a tour of the town including a visit to Flagstaff Hill and the oldest church in New Zealand. Visit the Waitangi Treaty House where the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and the British Government was signed in 1840. Enjoy a tour with a local guide of the Treaty House and Meeting House with its fabulous carvings, and see the giant war canoe. Return to Auckland early evening.
Day 6. Thursday. AUCKLAND - WAITOMO - OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE - HOBBITON - ROTORUA (BL)
Depart Auckland 7.45am and drive south over the Bombay Hills and along the banks of the Waikato River to Visit Otorohanga Kiwi House to see our unique endangered native kiwi birds at feeding time, the ancient Tuatara reptile, and walk through the largest dome aviary in New Zealand to see our native Kereru (Wood Pigeon) Kakariki (Parrot), and other native birds
Continue to Waitomo Caves for a guided tour through the main limestone cave and cruise through the glowworm grotto. (45 minute tour)
Options - must be requested with your tour reservation.
1. Add Aranui Cave INSTEAD of lunch - 1 hour tour - no change in cost
2. Tour Ruakuri Cave instead of Glowworm Cave and Lunch 2 hour tour - no change in cost.
3. Small group experience (maximum 11 participants) in Footwhistle Cave among the limestone formations and get up close and personal with the myriad of glowworms as well as see ancient Moa bones from our extinct native birds and visit the bush tea house to sample unique tea from the Kawakawa tree, used by by Maori for healing purposes. (75 minute tour - no change in cost)
Continue to Roselands farm restaurant for a barbecue buffet lunch (except options 1 and 2 above) - beef, chicken, fish, salads, cake and coffeee plus a taste of kumara chips. Passengers on the shorter cave options above also have the opportunity to stroll through the gardens, and meet some of the farm animals.
Visit Lake Karapiro, home of New Zealand rowing, and the Karapiro hydro dam on the Waikato River, at 425 km this is New Zealand's longest river.
Continue to Hobbiton and the Shires Rest to join your guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie set, made famous by "Lord of the Rings, and "Hobbit" films. Drive through part of the picturesque 500 hectare (1,250 acre) sheep and cattle farm and your guide will escort you through the 10 acre Hobbiton site. See the Hobbit Holes, Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins home), Party Tree, Lake, The Mill, and the Green Dragon Inn, and learn how this Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth. Enjoy a cold drink from the Green Dragon Inn and continue to Rotorua.
Day 7. ROTORUA - WAIOTAPU - ROTORUA (BD)
Visit the Waiotapu thermal area to explore the coloured terraces and see Lady Knox geyser play. Return to Rotorua this morning for a guided tour of the te Puia thermal area to see bubbling mud pools, famed Pohutu geyser, and the maori darving and weaving school. Ride the Skyline gondola for a panoramic view over the lake and city with lunch and luge options - extra expense. This afternoon enjoy the Agrodome farm show to see sheep being shorn, a cow being milked, and sheep dogs working.
Free time to relax in the thermal waters of the Polynesian Spa if you wish - extra expense.
This evening enjoy an introduction to maori culture with a concert, and a hangi steam cooked dinner.
Day 8. Saturday. ROTORUA - TAUPO - WELLINGTON (B).
Drive to Taupo and visit the Aratiatia Rapids, Huka Falls, Honey Hive, bungy site (try if you wish), and Taupo lakefront. There is time for an optional exciting jet boat ride on the Waikato River to the Huka Falls if you wish. Continue to Wellington by scheduled coach. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
Day 9. Sunday. WELLINGTON (B)
Morning tour of the capital city includes the summit of Mt Victoria for a panormaic view over the city, south coast beaches, Botanic Gardens, Paliament Building, The Beehive, a ride on the cable car,and te Papa musuem. Free afternoon for your own explorations.
Option for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fans - extra cost $100 per person
Full day sightseeing includes Wellington's most famous sights from Mt Victoria, Parliament Buildings, and Weta workshop, home of the "Lord of the Rings", "Hobbit" and other great films. Also visit some of the film sites in Wellington including Weathertop, Dunharrow Plateau, Frodo Tree, Race to the Ferry, Shellob's Lair Rock, Helms Deep, Minas Tirith, River Anduin, Gardens of Isengard, Rivendell, Fords of Isen and much more. Picnic lunch included by the river at Rivendell!
Day 10. Monday. WELLINGTON - PICTON - MARLBOROUGH - BLENHEIM (B)
Transfer to the Interislander terminal for the 3 hour 30 minute cruise across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. You will be met on arrival and visit the "Edwin Fox" ship restoration project. The "Edwin Fox" is the oldest merchant ship, and 9th oldest ship overall, still in existence. Continue to Peter Jackson's KNIGHTS OF THE SKY World War 1 and DANGEROUS SKIES World War 2 exhibitions and visit the Marlborough Museum to discover Marlborough's 700 year old Maori and European history. Marlborough is a major centre of wine growing in New Zealand and visit a local winery with tasting included. Overnight in Blenheim.
Day 11. Tuesday. BLENHEIM - KAIKOURA - CHRISTCHURCH. (B)
Drive down the scenic coast to the charming seaside town of Kaikorua for a short tour and visit to the seal colony. You have time for an optional Whale Watch cruise or flight before joining the "Coastal Pacific" train or coach for the scenic ride down the Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch arriving early evening. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
Please note the Coastal Pacific train is expected to start operating again late 2018 or early 2019
Day 12. Wednesday. CHRISTCHURCH - MOUNT COOK (B)
Free time for your own explorations
Tour departs Christchurch City 11am, Christchurch airport 11.30am.
Drive across the fertile Canterbury Plains and over Burke's Pass to Lake Tekapo. See the sheep dog monument and Church of the Good Shepherd. Travel along the shores of Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Accommodation at the Hermitage in Mt Cook view rooms.Admission to the Sir Edmund Hillary centre is included.
For Lord of the Rings fans the "Edoras" tour by 4WD is a must. Depart Christchurch 9am and enjoy breathtaking alpine back country scenery, a short walk to stand on the summit of Edoras and see other lord of the Rings. A selection of Movie replicas is available fo photo use. Rejoin us late afternoon for the journey to Mt Cook. Extra cost $190.
Day 13. Thursday. MOUNT COOK - OAMARU - DUNEDIN (B)
Free time for alpine walks, visit the National Park headquarters, or take a ski plane or helicopter flight to land on the snows of the glaciers - extra expense and weather permitting.We highly recommend the cruise among the icebergs on the lake at the base of the Tasman Glacier.
Drive down the Waitaki River Valley with a visit to the Benmore Hydro dam, the historic centre of Oamaru, the Little Blue Penguin colony, and enjoy some beach time to explore the unique Moeraki Boulders before arriving Dunedin. Tour the city including historic Olveston Homestead, Dunedin Chinese Gardens, Knox Church, the Octagon, and the world's steepest street.
Day 14. Friday. DUNEDIN (B)
Enjoy a ride on the privately operated "Taieri Gorge" railway to Pukerangi and return. This afternoon tour the Otago Peninsula including Larnachs Castle, Royal Albatross Centre, and see the local wildlife including seals, and Yellow Eyed penguins.
Day 15. Saturday. DUNEDIN - CATLINS - INVERCARGILL (B)
Enjoy a scenic drive through the Catlins. one of New Zealand's most beautiful and unspoiled wilderness areas. See the wildlife, waterfalls,and beautiful coastal scenery and visit Nugget Point lighthouse and the petrified forest. Accommodation in Invercargill at the Kelvin Hotel or similar.
Day 16. Sunday. INVERCARGILL - TE ANAU (B) OPTIONAL STEWART ISLAND EXCURSION
Free time to explore or take an optional tour to Stewart Island
Stewart Island option: Transfer to Bluff near the bottom of the South Island and cruise to Stewart Island.Tour the town of Oban and enjoy a cruise on Patterson Inlet in a local boat with a visit to the nature sanctuary of Ulva island to meet some of the friendliest native birds in New Zealand before returning to Invercargill. Patterson inlet and Ulva Island tour operate November - April only.
Later in the day we drive to Te Anau for the night. Optional evening cruise across the lake to the Te Anau glowworm caves.
Day 17. Monday. TE ANAU-MILFORD SOUND- QUEENSTOWN (BL)
A day of magnificent scenery as we drive through the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys. Visit the Mirror Lakes and Roaring Chasm and drive through the Homer tunnel before we arrive in Milford Sound. Board your cruise to travel the length of Milford Sound under majestic Mitre Peak. See the seal colony and Bowen Falls before retracing our steps to Queenstown. A buffet lunch is included during your cruise.
CRUISE MAGNIFICENT DOUBTFUL SOUND
Option 1. Doubtful Sound instead of Milford sound. Day cruise across Lake Manapouri and drive over Wilmot Pass to cruise the length of Doubtful Sound before returning to Manapouri and Queenstown - extra cost $160
Option 2. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound - double delight! Enjoy Milford Sound with us on Monday and stay in Te Anau monday night. Enjoy a day cruise across Lake Manapouri and drive across Wilmot Pass for a cruise on Doubtful Sound tuesday rejoining us in Queenstown if you wish. Extra cost $290 per person.
Option 3. Doubtful Sound overnight cruise (1 September - 31 May only).
Option A. We will take you to Manapouri monday for your overnight cruise on magnificent Doubtful Sound returning to Queenstown tuesday evening.Extra cost 2 per cabin $390
Option B. Transfer from Invercargill to Manapouri sunday morning to join your overnight cruise returning to Manpouri and on to Queenstown monday. On some departures it may be possible to cruise Milford Sound also on monday after your cruise - extra cost $150
Day 18. Tuesday. QUEENSTOWN (B)
This morning visit Queenstown Hill for a panoramic view of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Continue to Lake Hayes, the bungy bridge, Gibbston valley winery, and the historic gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. Explore the town and ruins of the Chinese village.
The afternoon is free to enjoy this beautiful resort with many optional activities (extra expense) available. Ride the gondola to the Skyline restaurant and luge,enjoy an exciting (must do) jet boat ride on the Shotover River, bungy jump, white water raft, take a cruise on the historic steamer "Earnslaw" or whatever you wish. For Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans we recommend the tour to Glenorchy with stunning natural scenery and places where Isengard, Wizards Vale, Lothlorien Forest, Amon Hen, Misty Mountains, Ithilien, were filmed - extra expense $160
Day 19. Wednesday. QUEENSTOWN - WANAKA - FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER (B)
Drive through the Kawarau Gorge to Wanaka for a brief stop with admission to amazing Puzzling World included and continue through Makarora and over the Haast Pass into the rainforest and spectacular coastline of the West Coast. Visit Shipwreck beach, beautiful Lake Matheson, Franz Josef Glacier lookout, and arrive Franz Josef Glacier late afternoon. (Some tours may stay at Fox Glacier)
Day 20. Thursday. FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER - HOKITIKA (B)
Time for a helicopter or ski plane flight or heli hike on the glacier (extra expense and weather permitting) or bush walk. Drive north to Hokitika, setting for the Booker award winning novel "The Luminaries". Overnight Hokitika or Greymouth.
Optional fabulous White Heron tour November to early March including a 20 minute jetboat cruise on the Lake Okarito lagoon and a walk through the rainforest to the bird hide. We have 30-40 minutes here to see the White Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Little Shag and other birdlife. Extra cost $135
Day 21. Friday. HOKITIKA-PUNAKAIKI ROCKS-CHRISTCHURCH(B)
Visit the recreated gold mining village of Shantytown and after a short tour of Greymouth continue to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks in the Paparoa National Park. Explore the area before driving across spectacular Arthurs Pass and return across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch arriving Christchurch airport by 3pm and Christchurch City by 3.30pm.
Option to join the "Tranz Alpine express" for one of the most scenic train journeys in the world across the Southern Alps to Christchurch arriving late afternoon. You will be transferred back to your accommodation - extra cost including transfers $150. This option will miss the visit to Punakaiki rocks
Day 22. Saturday. CHRISTCHURCH DEPART (B)
You will be transferred to the airport for departure.
Tour cost per person
19 Days. Auckland to Queenstown. Days 1-19
2 per room $6,250. Single room $7,730. Triple room $5,600
15 Days. Auckland to Queenstown. Days 4-19
2 per room $5,200. Single room $6,440. Triple room $4,900
We are flexible!!
You are welcome to join us for part of the tour provided a minimum of 2 consecutive nights are on tour with us. For any combination not listed above please ask us.