Explore New Zealand’s lovely hidden treasures on one of our exciting new tours. Kicking off in the capital city with Weta Studios and Zealandia Ecosanctuary, we head north by luxury coach, visiting the beautiful vistas of Taranaki and the volcanic plateau. We’ll ride the brand new Sky Waka, NZ’s highest gondola, before popping into Napier for an Art Deco tour and some local winetasting. Hamilton Garden’s award-winning themed gardens are on the list, finishing in Auckland with an Asian cooking lesson. We’ll fly down to Dunedin to start our southern odyssey that includes Otago wildlife, a cruise on the Sounds, Queenstown, charming Arrowtown and a dolphin and wildlife experience in Akaroa Harbour. Everything's included – transport, accommodation, meals and a fun sociable group of like-minded travellers, all keen to experience the scenic beauty of New Zealand!
On arrival on Day 3, transfer to your hotel. After a welcome briefing, take a stroll to Courtney Place for a welcome dinner in the dining and entertainment hub of Wellington.
After breakfast head to Weta Workshop, the award-winning design studio that has created special effects for many blockbuster movies such as Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Our private tour will unlock some of the movie magic! Afterwards it's a short drive to the tranquil urban forests of Zealandia Ecosanctuary for lunch and some time to enjoy a scenic walk. The Ecosanctuary is home to a huge variety of native birds and you may even spot a tuatara in the wild! Dinner tonight will include a chance to taste some famous Wellington microbrewery beers.
Leaving Wellington, travel north along the west coast, stopping for a tour of the iconic Foxton Windmill, a full-size replica traditional 17th century Dutch flour mill. Our next stop will be the amazing Tawhiti Museum, widely acclaimed as the best private museum in the country. The creation of artist Nigel Ogle, the museum uses life size exhibits and minutely-detailed historical dioramas to present our heritage in a series of engaging displays. Enjoy lunch in the museum's Wind in the Willows-themed café and a tour of the museum. Later this afternoon, arrive at our accommodation in New Plymouth with time for a stroll along the impressive waterfront before dinner.
After breakfast this morning, take an optional bike ride along the beautiful coastal cycleway to Te Rewa Bridge to meet our coach. If you do not cycle, you can opt for a scenic waterfront walk at the Bridge, a New Plymouth landmark that is reminiscent of a whale skeleton or a breaking wave. Drive to the famous Pukeiti Gardens at the foot of Mt Taranaki, for lunch in the Founders Café and a tour of the rhododendrons and exotics garden. This afternoon, drive back to New Plymouth to visit the architecturally-stunning Govett-Brewster Gallery, that celebrates the extraordinary work of Len Lye, modernist filmmaker and kinetic artist.
Relax and enjoy a scenic drive through some of the most untouched parts of New Zealand. Our first stop will be for a unique lunch and alpaca experience at Nevelea Alpacas, nestled in the hills of the King Country on the adventure highway. Afterwards continue our scenic drive, with stops at Raurimu Spiral and Taumarunui, to the mountains at the heart of Tongariro National Park. Tonight, we will stay and dine close to the mountains.
This morning is at leisure before we head up the mountain for lunch. We’ll ascend Mt Ruapehu on the new Sky Waka, New Zealand’s largest gondola, enjoying the panoramic views of our three volcanoes. Lunch will be at the Knoll Ridge Chalet, New Zealand’s highest dining experience. This afternoon head to the National Trout Centre, a fascinating museum, aquarium and hatchery near Turangi. Dinner tonight will be in Taupo.
After breakfast take a scenic drive to Napier to enjoy an Art Deco Highlights Vintage Car Tour. Head to Havelock North for lunch at the picturesque Birdwoods Gallery with time to stroll their sculpture garden and enjoy a browse through their unique store. After checking into your hotel this afternoon, there will be time for a stroll around the pretty town of Havelock North. Dinner tonight will be at a stunning local winery.
This morning, after a scenic drive back to Taupo, take a walk along the magnificent Huka Falls, before heading to one of the best thermal reserves in New Zealand, Orakei Korako. Lunch will be at their lakefront café, followed by a short boat ride across the lake to explore the thermal park. This afternoon drive to Hamilton for our two night stay.
Explore the wonderful themed gardens at the award-winning Hamilton Gardens, including their recently completed surrealist garden. Lunch will be at New Zealand's premier tea plantation, Zealong Tea Estate in their luxuriously appointed restaurant. This afternoon will visit the 'enchanting village of Hobbiton' – one of the locations used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Dinner tonight is back in Hamilton.
Our last day of touring takes us up to Auckland, where we will stop at the tranquil Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, located in Flat Bush. Designed in the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty, the temple is one of Auckland's hidden gems. Head over to Half Moon Bay marina for lunch before we board our ferry to Auckland. After checking into our Auckland hotel, this evening enjoy a farewell dinner that we will all be cooking at Sachie's Kitchen, famous for their award-winning Asian cooking classes.
After breakfast, you will have the morning at leisure. After lunch, transfer to airport for your flight to Dunedin. On arrival transfer to your hotel, followed by a welcome briefing and dinner.
This morning, walk to the Lan Yuan Chinese Gardens for a guided tour of this culturally unique facility. Afterwards, head out to Larnach Castle to explore followed by lunch in the castle’s Ballroom Cafe. Tonight, on the Peninsula at dusk, you will bear witness to the brave little blue penguins coming ashore to find their nests - but not before a casual dinner along the dramatic waterfront of St Clair Beach.
Rise early, pack your overnight bag and drive towards Fiordland National Park, stopping briefly in Gore along the way. Depending on availability, your overnight cruise will either be in Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound. Both just as magnificent as the other! If Doubtful Sound, you will grab your picnic lunch before boarding a smaller boat which crosses the waters of Lake Manapouri. A coach will then head up and over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where you will board The Navigator. If Milford Sound, you will enjoy lunch in the small lakeside village of Te Anau before driving further into the National Park to meet your overnight vessel, the Milford Mariner. This evening after your activities on-board, a buffet dinner will be a served.
After breakfast, enjoy the rest of the morning exploring other parts of either Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound before returning to your respective starting point and driving to your lunch spot at the Five Rivers Café & Art Gallery. Later, continue the scenic journey along Lake Wakatipu to your luxurious accommodation for the next two nights. This evening, you will enjoy a dinner and a glass of wine produced from the area.
This morning, take an exciting 4WD safari tour through Skippers Canyon, visiting the famous suspension bridge, the original Skippers Township and a chance to try your luck panning for gold! Lunch today will be in Arrowtown at a café set in historic stables on the Village Green. You will also enjoy some free time to relax or explore Arrowtown's quaint shops and scenic walking trails. This evening, drive to Queenstown for a stroll along the stunning waterfront and have dinner in a popular Asian-fusion restaurant.
After breakfast this morning, re-live the Gold Rush and take a fascinating guided tour of the Lakes District Museum & Chinese Settlement in Arrowtown. You will then drive the scenic country roads, passing many vineyards along the way, to Bannockburn for a platter style lunch and wine tastings at dramatic Mt Difficulty. Later, continue driving to Lake Wanaka and check-in to your hotel. Enjoy dinner tonight in the Township and consider walking back to the hotel afterward along the serene lakefront.
This morning, you will meet your vessel on the Wanaka waterfront and cruise to Mou Waho Island for a challenging and guided nature walk. Here you can see first-hand results of conservation efforts including the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920) and the Mountain Stone Weta. After lunch back in Wanaka, drive to Mount Cook with a brief stop en-route at Omarama. Check-in to the famous Hermitage Hotel, located within the National Park itself, and enjoy dinner in one of their exclusive restaurants tonight.
After a hearty breakfast, join the Glacier Explorers tour which includes a moderate 40-minute alpine walk through the National Park, plus a boat ride amongst icebergs of all shapes and sizes, to view the Tasman Glacier ice face. Enjoy lunch back at the Hermitage, and afterward use your free time to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Museum and Digital Dome Planetarium within the hotel's complex. Dinner tonight will again be at the Hermitage.
Drive to Lake Tekapo for a stop at the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, Sheep Dog Memorial and the new suspension bridge over the glacier fed turquoise waters. Lunch will be a bit further down the road in Geraldine. Once arriving in your final destination of the tour, Christchurch, you will embark on a short city tour of the CBD and its iconic places both pre and post earthquake. Dinner will be on Victoria Street this evening.
Enjoy an early breakfast before driving along picturesque Banks Peninsula to the French colonial township of Akaroa, stopping briefly at Little River Café & Gallery on the way. In Akaroa, you will embark on a Dolphin & Nature Cruise like no other and hopefully see the world's smallest (and friendliest) Hector's dolphins. Lunch will be on the waterfront, followed by a walk through the quirky mosaic gardens at The Giant's House before returning to Christchurch. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner.
After breakfast, your tour ends. Transfer to Christchurch Airport for onward flights.
Places Visited: UK - Wellington (2N) - New Plymouth (2N) - Tongariro National Park (1N) - Taupo (1N) - Napier (1N) - Hamilton (2N) - Auckland (1N) - Dunedin (2N) - Fiordland National Park (1N) - Arrowtown (2N) - Wanaka (1N) - Mount Cook (2N) - Christchurch (2N) - UK
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