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Day 1 - Welcome to Christchurch
Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand’s Garden City. Take some time to relax or explore independently. You may like to step back in time to a grand era of transport and relax on the Christchurch Tram as it takes you around the ‘must-see’ central attractions. The tram drivers provide a live commentary throughout the loop, identifying points of interest, historic architecture and the changes the city is under-going since the 2011 earthquake.
This evening, meet your fellow travelling companions and your AAT Kings Travel Director for a welcome reception at your hotel.
Hotel: Ibis Hotel Christchurch
Day 2 - Omarama
After a Christchurch city sights tour, head out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains to soak up some spectacular sightseeing. Sweeping views across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo framed by a backdrop of rugged hills and snow-capped mountains provide stunning alpine photography opportunities. You will visit the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd and stop for a quick photo with the bronze statue of a collie dog, the touching tribute to the sheepdogs which helped develop the Mackenzie Country.
You may want to take in Mount Cook National Park from the air this afternoon, on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (Optional Experience – at own expense).
Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie Country at Omarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Hotel: Heritage Gateway
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Day 3 - Dunedin
Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, which marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power. From the Waitaki Valley you will then travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and its famous white limestone buildings. As well as shipping limestone to the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for construction of their Town Halls and various churches, Oamaru locals made sure that their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid-late 1800’s had to offer.
This afternoon you will make your way down to the Southernmost New Zealand city, Dunedin. With the rest of your free afternoon, you may wish to take part in an Optional Experience to see more of the region. Take a Wildlife Cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speights Brewery – a New Zealand institution or ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway.
Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Dunedin’s inner city.
Hotel: Kingsgate Hotel
Day 4 - Milford Sound
Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go! After leaving Te Anau, you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where, as the name suggests, you can see the stunning mountain scenery perfectly reflected in the waters of the lakes. Then on to the Homer Tunnel, man’s attempt to master the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side of the tunnel, you are presented with one of the world’s most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley.
You will have a stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, and then it’s on to Milford Sound, where you will cruise the waters of this natural wonder. Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as they plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord for your magical overnight cruise on Milford Sound. (Overnight cruise does not operate 21 May – 15 September. During this period there will be a day cruise on Milford Sound and accommodation in Queenstown or Te Anau)
Hotel: Overnight Milford Sound Cruise
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Day 5 to 7 - Queenstown
This morning, depart for the township of Te Anau, on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on the South Island. Here you’ll explore the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves by boat with a Local Guide, before continuing to New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown for a relaxed 3 night stay. Make the most of the free time given here to explore this most picturesque of towns for your self. There are plenty of activities and sightseeing options on offer.
Hotel: Copthorne Lakefront, 3 nights
Day 8 - Franz Josef
This morning you will leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind, and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. On the way out of the Queenstown region, you will stop and visit the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. As you amble down the beautiful tree-lined avenues, past the 19th century wooden buildings, you will feel like you have stepped into a movie set.
From here you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan, where you will stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Dunstan, you will travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea, followed by Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows. Following an ancient greenstone trail, you will travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes, to the rainforest marvel of the wild West Coast. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers.
Our final destination for today is the extraordinary rivers of ice that make up Franz Josef Glacier. You may want to get up close and personal with the glaciers on a helicopter flight. Your flight will hover over the snow face and may land high up in the valley so that you can walk across the ice fall – subject to weather conditions (Optional Experience – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Hotel: Scenic Franz Josef Glacier
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Day 9 - Punakaiki
Today travel to the drift-wood strewn beaches of Hokitika. As well as being one of the few West Coast communities to embrace its coastal landscape, Hokitika struck it rich in the resource’s stakes. Here you will visit a pounamu factory (native greenstone or jade), for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Maori tradition says it is bad luck to buy pounamu for yourself, so if you fancy a trinket of your own, make sure you have someone there to purchase it for you.
Then, continue to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.
Tonight, we stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront. Enjoy dinner while watching the thundering surf at your doorstep
Hotel: Punakaiki Resort
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Day 10 to 11 - Nelson
Soak up the scenic wilderness of the Heritage Highway through the impressive Buller Gorge and the Kahurangi National Park before arriving in Nelson for a relaxed two night stay with free time to explore this beautiful coastal region.
Hotel: Rutherford, 2 nights
Day 12 to 13 - Wellington
This morning, travel to the pretty seaside fishing village of Picton where you will board the Interislander for a cruise across the Cook Strait, from the South Island to the North. Surprisingly it takes longer to cruise through the Queen Charlotte Sound and up the Tory Channel than it does to cross the open ocean of Cook Strait. You will meander through a maze of arms and inlets out of Picton. Once in Wellington enjoy a city tour including viewing New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings.
Spend the next day at leisure exploring the museums and alfresco lifestyle of the nation’s capital.
Hotel: Travelodge, 2 nights
Meals: 2 breakfasts and 1 dinner
Day 14 - Napier
Travel through the dairy farming land of Manawatu to Napier. In February 1931, Napier was levelled by earthquake and fire but was rebuilt in the depths of the Great Depression in just two years. Nowhere else in the world can you see such a concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s: Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical. You’ll hear the story of the earthquake that devastated Napier in 1931 and be introduced to the Art Deco style and hear stories of the characters involved in rebuilding this city. A Local Guide will accompany you on a walking tour.
Hotel: Scenic Te Pania
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 15 to 16 - Rotorua
Enjoy a leisurely start to our day before continuing our journey to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. Visit the spectacular Huka Falls, the only outlet of water from Lake Taupo and then it’s on to Rotorua. On arrival in Rotorua an orientation tour takes in views of Lake Rotorua.
Tonight, an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at the Tamaki Maori Village. Wander through the ancient forest village and learn about Maori art forms and traditions, followed by a concert featuring local performers. Experience an authentic Maori Hangi meal, steamed underground in the traditional way.
The following day is yours to enjoy and explore some the cultural and natural wonders of this fascinating thermal hub.
Hotel: Ibis Rotorua Hotel
Meals: 2 breakfasts and 1 Highlight Dinner
Day 17 - Auckland
Today you will follow the meandering trail of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, past the lush farmlands of the Waikato Region. As you journey over the Bombay Hills, the landscape changes from green, grassy meadowlands to the edges of suburbia. As you make your way into the heart of New Zealand’s largest city, you will stop at the Auckland War Memorial Museum for views across Auckland City and the Waitemata Harbour.
Hotel: VR Queen Street
Day 18 to 19 - Bay of Islands
Depart Auckland City travelling north over the Harbour Bridge and past the sprawling suburbs of the North Shore of Auckland. Our travels then take you through Northland’s lush farmland scenery before arriving into the beautiful Bay of Islands.
This afternoon discovers the stories, people and events that shaped the past, present and future of Aotearoa New Zealand at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. During your tour, you will view the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe, the historic Treaty House and carved Meeting House. Stand on the spot where New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was first signed in 1840.
Your second day here is free for you to relax on the shores of the region’s picture-perfect beaches or enjoy some of the many walking trails along the coastline.
Hotel: Copthorne Resort, 2 nights
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Day 20 - Auckland
Enjoy a leisurely morning in the Bay of Islands before you travel back to Auckland. Our journey south takes us to Whangarei, the northern-most city in New Zealand, where you can wander around the art galleries and through the marina in the Town Basin.
Enjoy a scenic drive through the Rodney District before arriving into Auckland late afternoon.
Celebrate your holiday at a farewell dinner with your Travel Director and new-found friends.
Meals: Breakfast and Farewell Dinner
Day 21 - Farewell from Auckland
Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Auckland Airport for your onward flight.
21 day Escorted Tour - from £3960
With flights from £4825
- Add extra nights in Christchurch or Auckland, before or after your tour
- Choose to fly Economy, Premium, Business or First Class
- Add a stopover to New Zealand in Sydney, Dubai or another destination
IF YOU HAVEN’T GOT SO LONG…
- Enjoy the above tour over 18 days, without the Bay of Islands, from £3425
Please speak with your Travel Consultant for details.