New Zealand’s North & South Islands
March 1-17, 2022
TUE, March 1 * Arrive in Auckland, Free Afternoon, Tour Orientation, Sky Tower, Welcome Dinner at The Sugar Club Restaurant Meals: D
You will be welcomed to New Zealand at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Take the afternoon to rest, relax at the hotel or take a walk in Auckland on your own. We will be staying at a centrally located hotel close to the downtown area and waterfront. That evening, we’ll meet for a Tour Orientation in the hotel to learn more details and to meet your fellow travlers. Then we’ll walk to Auckland’s Sky Tower and view the ‘City of Sails’. We’ll enjoy a welcome dinner at the exclusive Sugar Club Restaurant in Sky Tower while taking in the expansive views of Auckland.
WED, March 2 * Auckland: City Overview, America’s Cup Sailing, Free Evening Meals: B, L
After breakfast, we’ll take in the sights of Auckland on a city tour which will include a visit to one of Auckland’s inner city beaches, Mission Bay. We’ll visit Mt. Eden, a wonderful viewpoint and one of Auckland’s most famous volcanic craters. Our guide will take us to one of his favorite spots that boasts great views of Rangitoto Island the Coromandel Peninsula. We’ll enjoy lunch in Mission Bay. In the afternoon, we’ll set sail on an America’s Cup yacht in the Hauraki Gulf and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Auckland’s coastline. You will feel like a true sailor with this experience. The evening will be free to enjoy at leisure.
THUR, March 3 * Waiheke Island: Winery Tour, Lunch at Mudbrick Vineyards Meals: B, L
This morning, we’ll ferry out to Waiheke Island to visit some of its stunning wineries. We’ll enjoy winery tours of several Waiheke wineries and indulge in lunch at Mudbrick Vineyard boasting beautiful views, gardens, superb cuisine and fantastic wines. Later in the afternoon, we’ll have the opportunity to taste Australian olives and local artisan foods. Return to Auckland will be in the evening.
FRI, March 4 * Auckland to Whitianga: The Coromandel Peninsula, Driving Creek Railway & Kauri Tree Forest, Walk Along Buffalo Beach • Meals: B, L
South we go headed for the Coromandel – a peninsula made up of spectacular beaches. Our drive will follow the coastal route to the town of Coromandel where we’ll have lunch. Then, we’ll take a trip on The Driving Creek Railway – New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge bush and mountain railway with its own wildlife sanctuary and working pottery studio. En route to Whitianga, we’ll stop at the stunning Waiau Falls and Waiau Karui Grove to see the huge ancient kauri trees up close. Once in Whitianga, the early evening will be to relax on your own at Buffalo Beach, take a walk along the shore and look for seashells.
SAT, March 5 * Boat Ride to Cathedral Cove with Snorkeling, Picnic Lunch, Hot Water Beach, Free Evening • Meals: B, L
This morning we’ll take a glass-bottom boat ride through a marine reserve to the stunning Cathedral Cove – the scenic caves known for their limestone formations. We’ll likely see Marblefish, Butterfish and Red Moki. Look for dolphins, seals and little blue penguins that frequent this area. Those guests that would like to snorkel can do so from the boat. After the cruise, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on Hahei Beach. From there, we’ll visit the famous Hot Water Beach. This is one of the only beaches in the world where thermal water is found underneath the sand. The water in some places can be as hot as 150 degrees. You can dig your own thermal pool in the sand and bathe in its waters. This evening, we’ll return to Whitianga where the evening will be at leisure.
Today, we’ll leave the Coromandel Peninsula and head to Rotorua. En route, we’ll stop to tour Hobbiton and Shire’s Rest where the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies were filmed. From Hobbiton, we’ll drive to Rotorua, a hot spot for Māori culture and geothermal activity. We’ll visit Kairau Park, a collection of hot springs and mud pools. We’ll view the stunning government gardens near the lakefront. Tonight is at leisure and perhaps a good time to have a relaxing soak at Polynesian Spa (optional: not included).
MON, March 7 * Kahukiwi Luxury 4WD Māori Culture Tour, Te Puia Mud Pools, Māori Weaving School & Kiwi House, Māori Hangi Dinner • Meals: B, D This morning, we’ll head out for a guided Māori culture tour by 4WD vehicle into the heart and home of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe. Our guide will unravel the true story of the Māori people during this scenic off-the-beaten-path experience. Afterward, we’ll walk the Te Puia mud pools and geysers, stop at the Maori Weaving School and the Kiwi House to observe New Zealand’s national birds. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a traditional Maori dinner (hangi) with a cultural performance.
TUE, March 8 * Rotorua to Wellington: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Huka Falls, Lake Taupo, Picnic Lunch, Arrive Wellington • Meals: B, L,D
We’ll leave Rotorua today and head south toward the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tongariro National Park. Our first stop is Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – an area of stunning geothermal activity. Wai-O-Tapu has been active for over 150,000 years. As you enter the site, there are a series of colorful deep craters and at the bottom is ferociously boiling water that gives the impression of looking at the raw material of the planet. We’ll see colorful pools, including Artist’s Palette, Champagne Pool and the bright-green Devil’s Bath. Then, onward to the mind-blowing Huka Falls and Lake Taupo – New Zealand’s largest lake. We’ll find a spot for a picnic lunch. The final destination is Wellington.
WED, March 9 * Wellington City Tour, Te Papa Museum; Free Time; dinner at Logan Brown Restaurant
Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. It was recently named ‘the coolest little capital of the world’. It has a pulsing cultural scene, museums, a promenade, sandy beaches, a compact city center and wonderful restaurants. We’ll take a city tour in the morning to see the highlights of Wellington. The afternoon will include a tour of the Te Papa Museum – New Zealand’s National Museum. It’s one of the best interactive museums in the world. This evening, we’ll enjoy dinner at Logan Brown Restaurant
THUR, March 10 * Wellington to Abel Tasman: Ferry from North to South Island, Martinborough Wine Tour & Lunch, Arrival in Kaiteriteri, Free Evening Meals: B, L
Today, we’ll say goodbye to North Island and ferry through Cook Strait and Marlborough Sounds to South Island. The northern coast of South Island is simply breathtaking and we’ll take it all in on the ferry ride! Upon arrival in Picton, we’ll head south to see the beautiful Marlborough wine region. This region produces much of New Zealand’s wines, the majority of which is sauvignon blanc. We’ll have lunch at Rock Ferry Winery and also enjoy a tasting at beautiful Cloudy Bay Vineyards. Afterward, we’ll head to the beachfront town of Kaiteriteri at the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. The evening will be at leisure to relax, take a walk along the beach and enjoy the tranquility of this pristine coastline.
FRI, March 11 * Cruising, Sea Kayaking and Hiking in Abel Tasman National Park, Free Evening Meals: B, L, D
Today, we’ll explore the best of Abel Tasman. We’ll embark on a stunning 1/2 day excursion in the marine reserve. Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest national park and is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush and spectacular scenery. Enjoy a day of a combination of cruising, kayaking (1 hour) and hiking. Relax with a swim and lunch on the beach. See playful inhabitants – dolphins, fur seals, penguins and sea birds. Dinner will be at leisure at our resort overlooking the ocean.
SAT, March 12 * Abel Tasman to Franz Josef Glacier via Coast Road: Nature Walks (seal colony, Pancake Rocks & blowholes), Hokitika Greenstone Gallery, Ross, Free Evening • Meals: B, D
Today, we will drive south on Coast Road along the western side of South Island. This drive was voted the most spectacular coastal drive in New Zealand. We can stop for short nature walks along the way. We’ll visit Cape Foulwind Seal Colony overlooking the Tasman Sea. We’ll stop at Pancake Rocks and Blowholes to explore the limestone landscape of the rock formations and the surge pools. We’ll then head further south through the majestic rainforest of the west coast. We’ll stop in Hokitika to visit the greenstone/pounamu (NZ jade) gallery where we can view locals carve necklaces and sculptures from this precious stone. We’ll journey on and stop in Ross, an old gold mining village. Our destination is Franz Josef Glacier. It is one of only three places in the world where one can view a glacier with a side-by-side rainforest. The evening will be at leisure.
SUN, March 13* Franz Josef to Lake Wanaka: Haast Pass, Lake Matheson, Views of Mt. Cook, Nature Walks, Dinner at Kika Restaurant Meals: B, D
Some of the most dramatic scenery in New Zealand is the drive over Haast Pass to Wanaka. En route, we’ll visit Lake Matheson, otherwise known as ‘Mirror Lake’ where, on a clear day, it is possible to see the reflection of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt. Cook (elevation 12,316’). We’ll take a hike around Haast Pass where we can see waterfalls and trout in the deep blue colored pools. Our guide will take us to favorite spots along the drive which passes the coastline, mountain terrain and lakefront. We’ll stay in Wanaka, one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday spots. In the evening, we’ll dine at a best-loved restaurant in Wanaka, Kika.
MON, March 14 * Lake Wanaka to Te Anau: Explore Lake Wanaka, Crown Range, Arrowtown, Amisfield Winery Lunch, Glow Worm Caves • Meals: B, L
This morning, we’ll have time to walk up to a favorite lookout spot with views of Lake Wanaka, Aspiring National Park and the Clutha River. Then, our tour south goes to Arrowtown over the Crown Range – New Zealand’s highest highway. Arrowtown was one of New Zealand’s most important towns during the gold rush of Central Otago the 1860’s. We can browse the preserved Chinese gold mining village or wander the boutiques in town. From Arrowtown, we’ll drive to Amisfield Winery where we’ll enjoy a 3-course lunch. In the later afternoon, we’ll arrive at Te Anau – the gateway to Fiordlands National Park. That evening, we’ll take a boat ride across Lake Te Anau to view the shimmering light of thousands of luminous glow worms in a 12,000-year-old grotto.
TUES, March 15 * Fiordland National Park/Milford Sound Cruise, Nature Walks • Meals: B, L, D
Be prepared for one of the jewels of the New Zealand landscape! The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most spectacular in the world. En route, you will see spectacular valleys, breathtaking mountains and fiords. We will take a boat cruise in the fiords taking in the pristine waterfalls and towering mountains that plunge into the Tasman Sea. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and the Fiordland Crested Penguin. On the drive back to Te Anau, there will be opportunities for short nature walks along the way. In the evening, we’ll enjoy the fine Fiordland cuisine in Te Anau.
WED, March 16 * Te Anau to Queenstown: Arrive Queenstown, Free Afternoon & Farewell Dinner • Meals: B, D
This morning, we’ll head to Queenstown, New Zealand’s ‘adventure capital of the world’. Skirting our way around Lake Wakatipu makes for some stunning photography of the Remarkables Mountain Range, one of the backdrops in the Lord of the Rings. Once in Queenstown, the afternoon will be free to explore on your own, relax or take an excursion on your own. Tonight, we will share a Farewell Dinner at the famous Flame Bar & Grill in Queenstown.
THUR, March 17 * Departure from Queenstown •
Today, you will be transferred to the Queenstown airport for your flight home. We trust this will be a country you have fallen in love with!
IMPORTANT LINKS: New Zealand’s North & South Islands