Welcome to Auckland! (Flights to arrive prior to 4pm). Your New Zealand tour kicks off in the City of Sails where you’ll meet your Travel Director and group for a Welcome Reception at Gusto at the Grand in your centrally located hotel. Feast on their Italian cuisine with a New Zealand flair such as made-in-house pastas and made-from-scratch risotto as you look forward to your New Zealand adventures.
Start your first full day in New Zealand getting lay of the land on a city sightseeing tour viewing the beautiful waterfront of Mission Bay, historic overlook of Bastion Point, and spacious gardens and sunken pool at the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial showing off views of Waitemata Harbour and the North Shore. Learn a bit of history visiting the Auckland Museum located on the dormant volcano Pukekawa, meaning 'hill of bitter memories' referring to tribal battles fought on the site until 1828. Then visit the stylish suburb of Parnell for a look in its shops, galleries, and maybe a treat in one of its chocolate cafes. With a free afternoon, relax, stroll the waterfront, or take an Optional scenic ferry trip outside the city to Rangitoto Island, the youngest volcano in New Zealand. You can climb this icon walking through lava fields to the highest point on the island where for even more stunning views of Auckland.
Travel out of the city today through the dramatic landscapes of Waikato on your way to the cultural capital of Rotorua. Your first stop is the tree-lined streets of Cambridge, a town known for its training grounds for thoroughbred racehorses and famous jockeys. Your next destination is Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua where you’ll join a Local Specialist for a tour of the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa. Learn about the work being done to save this rare native bird, get up close and see kiwi eggs being incubated, the hatching process, and even newly hatched kiwi chicks at this national leader in kiwi husbandry. This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience is not only fun but will give you fascinating insights into New Zealand’s national bird. This evening, journey into the forest to a time of warriors and ancient traditions as you Dive Into Culture at Tamaki Maori Village. You’ll appreciate learning about the traditions of this fascinating culture through a traditional welcome, before watching and joining in Poi and Haka dances. Top off the evening with an authentic Hangi (cooked underground) dinner of potatoes, carrots, lamb, beef, finished with New Zealand’s national dessert, Pavlova.
Get ready for a much-anticipated trip to the charming village of Hobbiton, the movie set of the now iconic The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies. Upon arrival, you’ll have breakfast at a movie site, feeling as though you’re right there in the film, before you set off on a guided tour through the 12-acre set. You’ll have plenty of time for photo opportunities in the Alexander family sheep farm, Hobbit Holes, and the Mill all the while learning from your guide how the movie was made, famous locations, and the sets’ artistic details. Whether you’re a Hobbit fan or a fan of gorgeous scenery, this tour surrounded by rolling green hills and lush landscape will be a delight for all travellers. After you’ve experienced the beauty of the countryside, return to Auckland for your flight to Queenstown, adventure capital of the world. Check into your hotel and ask your Travel Director for restaurants recommendations to get the best taste of the town.
Today you'll head through stunning landscapes along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the Devil's Staircase to Te Anau. At Mirror Lakes take to boardwalks through peaceful trees before watching the rushing water at the Chasm in the Cleddau Valley. Plunge through the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel towards Mitre Peak - named after its resemblance to a bishop’s mitre headdress - and Lady Bowen Falls before arriving at World Heritage listed national park, Milford Sound. Experience all its beauty on a scenic cruise past sheer cliffs, white-capped peaks, and waterfalls watching for dolphins, penguins, and seals. Learn how the area was formed by glaciers and take plenty of photos of the stunning sights before returning to Queenstown. The evening is free for you to stay in and relax or enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking Lake Wakatipu.
Rise and shine to your last day in Queenstown with plenty of choices on how to adventure. If you’re a wine lover, join an Optional Experience touring three premium boutique vineyards in the famous Otago region known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Or get a taste of country life cruising Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm for an authentic Kiwi Farming experience including a sheep shearing demonstration and gourmet barbecue lunch. Go from vineyard to barrel to glass on tours revealing the history of the region and finished with a platter lunch in a picturesque setting. You’ll meet up with your group this evening over a Regional Dinner in nearby historic Arrowtown at the Postmasters Cottage built in 1907. Hear the story of the cottage from being almost demolished by developers to its rescue and purchase by the passionate local community. The restored cottage has now been embellished with verandas and gardens for you to sit down to fresh, local food and wines matched with classic kiwi hospitality.
Today your New Zealand tour takes you to lovely Lake Tekapo travelling to Cromwell on the banks of Lake Dunstan. Visit Jones Family Fruit stall to stroll the orchard and enjoy the peaceful garden. Stop at the quaint, lakeside Church of the Good Shepherd welcomed by its friendly bronze sheepdog statue. As evening falls, you’re treated to a guided stargazing experience with a Local Specialist in the world-renowned UNESCO Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. See the famous Southern Cross, Magellanic Cloud, and Milky Way and getter a better look at these sparkling wonders with a powerful optical telescope. You'll conclude the day in a Stays With Stories accommodation at Peppers Bluewater Resort overlooking Lake Tekapo. In this area known for its dazzling night sky, there’s plenty to enjoy just stepping outside your room.
Get an early start to watch the sun rise over the lake or sleep in before heading north through South Canterbury on your way to Christchurch. You’ll make a stop in the sweet farming town of Geraldine, known for its boutique shops, farmers' market, and local treats. Enjoy a leisurely lunch in one of the cafés and check out the many unique galleries and stores, having a look in the Geraldine Historical Society Museum or their notable vintage car and machinery museum. If you get hungry, check out the original Bakers shop with local jams, condiments and sauces, or Talbots Forest Cheese for complimentary samples. There's plenty to see in this town surrounded by mountains and ancient native forest including the totara, kahikatea, and matai trees. It’s a charming farming community, and after a look around you’ll see why fishing, alpaca walking, and petting zoos are also popular in the area. You’ll arrive in Christchurch refreshed and ready to explore the Garden City.
Start your last full day of your travels touring the beautiful English city of Christchurch. Begin your tour of the Garden City at the Transitional Cathedral, the temporary home of the Christchurch Cathedral, in awe of its colourful stained-glass windows and sustainable cardboard construction that gives it the nickname “The Cardboard Cathedral.” See the city’s top sites including Canterbury Museum, Christchurch Earthquake Memorial, and Bridge of Remembrance. You’ll then Connect With Locals visiting the beautiful home and former horse stables of Tim and Isabelle Weston for a unique experience over a Be My Guest experience over morning tea, coffee, scones, and cake, learning about Isabelle’s father John Britten’s achievements building the Britten V1000 motorcycle right here in the Britten Stables’ garage. A big day leads to a big evening joining your Travel Director and travel mates for with a celebratory Farewell Dinner featuring produce from the Canterbury region.
Your adventure sadly comes to an end this morning. Before your transfer to Christchurch Airport, enjoy one last breakfast with your travel mates reflecting on your incredible travels through New Zealand (flights anytime).