Tour Departs: 17 February 2021
Tour Length: 17 Days
❖ 1-night in Auckland with Welcome Dinner on the Viaduct
❖ Waitomo Caves Tour
❖ 2-nights Rotorua, including Duck Lake Tour & Mitai Maori Culture Dinner Experience
❖ 1-night Taupo, including Maori Carvings Lake Cruise
❖ 2-nights Tongariro National Park, including Tongariro Crossing Volcanic Scenic Flight & a day tour with Forgotten
❖ 2-nights Nelson, including lunch at Wither Hills Winery & a visit to The Brook Waimārama Sanctuary
❖ 1-night Hanmer Springs, including entrance to the world-famous thermal pools
❖ 1-night Lake Tekapo
❖ 1-night at The Hermitage Hotel, located in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, including Glacier Explorer tour
❖ 2-nights Wanaka, including nights Wanaka, including Jet Safari & 4WD tour
❖ 2-nights Queenstown, nights Gibbston Valley, Queenstown including TSS Earnslaw day trip & lunch
Twin/Double – per person NZD$8,750.00
Single Supplement NZD$2,300.00
WEDNESDAY 17 FEBRUARY ARRIVE AUCKLAND (D)
Arrive Auckland. On arrival you will be transferred to the tour hotel.
This afternoon is free until we meet up for our welcome dinner this evening.
THURSDAY 18 FEBRUARY AUCKLAND – ROTORUA (B,D)
We depart Auckland this morning and travel south to Rotorua. Enroute we stop at Waitomo where we enjoy a guided tour of The Glowworm Cave, the most famous of the Waitomo caves. Wander through the cave and marvel at its tallest chamber, the Cathedral, before we embark on a boat ride through the glow worm grotto. After our visit, there is time for lunch before we continue on to Rotorua, arriving late-afternoon. We check into our hotel and enjoy dinner together this evening.
FRIDAY 19 FEBRUARY ROTORUA (B,D)
A fun morning today as we join Rotorua Duck Tours on a “Tarawera & Lakes Eco-Tour”. Rotorua Duck Tours is the first, and still the only, company in New Zealand to provide the unique and exciting opportunity to explore a special part of our country in an authentic amphibious WWII landing craft. The Rotorua District is home to 18 stunning lakes, amazing natural landscapes and lush native bush. On our tour we will travel from the centre of town into a culturally, ecologically and historically significant area. Home to ancient Maori tribes our tour route takes us through the Tikitapu scenic reserve visiting 4 lakes and splashing down onto 3. We’ll learn about ancient Maori history, the establishment of tourism in the area, geothermal forces that shaped our land, agriculture, flora and fauna – the list goes on! This evening, we enter the world of Mitai, and learn about the history of this area which was once flourished in villages. See fierce warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe down the Wai-o-whiro stream. Be captivated by songs, dances and games in a rich powerful entertaining cultural concert, complete with the fiery “Haka” Maori war dance before enjoying an authentic hangi dinner.
SATURDAY 20 FEBRUARY ROTORUA – TAUPO (B,L)
Departing Rotorua after breakfast, we make the short drive to Taupo, located at the eastern end of Lake Taupo, the biggest lake in Australasia and formed by a volcanic explosion in AD 186. On a clear day the distant volcanic peaks of Mount Tongariro and Ngauruhoe and the snow-capped Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park provide a spectacular backdrop to the lake. On arrival, we stop to view New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction – Huka Falls. You’ll hear the Falls well before you see them – the sound of nearly a quarter of a million litres of water per second erupting from a natural gorge and thundering 11m into the Waikato River below is incredible – it’s hard to tear your gaze away from the endless, mesmerising torrent. This afternoon we join our boat, the Top Cat for a cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings, enjoying a light lunch on board. Towering 14 metres above the waters of Lake Taupo, the Maori Rock Carvings have become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the North Island. Taking four years to sculpt, the spectacular carving was completed in 1980 and has been visited by hundreds of thousands of people since. At the conclusion of the cruise, we check into our hotel and this evening is at leisure.
SUNDAY 21 FEBRUARY TAUPO – TONGARIRO NAT. PARK (B,D)
We check out of our hotel and before departing Taupo, we visit the funky L’Arte Café and Gallery, created by mother & daughter duo, Jo & Judi Brennan for morning tea. Jo runs the café and inspires a team of like-minded people to provide a delicious experience. Judi is the creative force behind the famous mosaic outdoor living room and the well-recognised ‘Alice’s Chair’ sculpture. Her unique works of art are all hand built in her studio on location. They are innovative, quirky, colourful, fun and sure to delight.
Departing Taupo, we make the relatively short drive to Chateau Airport – located at the intersection of the turn-off to Whakapapa Ski Area – where we enjoy a Tongariro Crossing Volcanic Scenic Flight. The Tongariro Crossing Volcanic Flight is a low-level flight climbing up to 6,500ft. During this 15-minute flight we will see the Te Maru Craters, the Blue and Emerald Lakes, The Red Crater and Tama Lakes. Plus, spectacular views of the fault line in the central plateau and of course the famous Tongariro Crossing (NB: The operation of the flight is subject to weather conditions).
We then make our way to our accommodation for the next two nights – Chateau Tongariro, located in the heart of the Tongariro National Park.
MONDAY 22 FEBRUARY TONGARIRO NAT PARK (FORGOTTEN RAILWAY) (B,L,D)
Today, we spend the day with Forgotten World Adventures, doing the The Rail River Run. Travelling along the first section of the Forgotten World Railway, between Okahukura & Tokorima, including the line’s longest tunnel (Tunnel 24 – 1.5km long); combined with a Jet Boat journey along the scenic Whanganui River, between Cherry Grove (Taumarunui) & Ohinepane. Enjoy the best of both worlds, encountering 10 tunnels and 20 bridges, as you travel 40km by rail and 23km by Jet Boat on the Whanganui River, a mixture of nostalgia and adrenaline. Lunch and afternoon tea are included today.
TUESDAY 23 FEBRUARY TONGARIRO NAT PARK – WELLINGTON (B,D)
A relatively long coach journey today as we make our way south to Wellington. We travel the Desert Road to Waiouru, down through Taihape (watch out for the gumboot!) and Bulls, before arriving in Palmerston North where we stop for lunch. Continuing on, we reach Wellington mid-afternoon and there is time to rest and relax prior to meeting up for dinner this evening.
WEDNESDAY 24 FEBRUARY WELLINGTON – PICTON FERRY – NELSON (B,L)
This morning, we check out of our hotel and join the Interislander ferry service across the Cook Strait to Picton. It is considered one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world and one of New Zealand’s most iconic experiences. On arrival in Picton, we join our coach and make our way to Blenheim where we enjoy lunch at the Wither Hills winery – they take their name from the landmark Wither Hills range that borders their vineyards. Continuing through to Nelson, we arrive late-afternoon where we check into our accommodation. The evening is at leisure.
THURSDAY 25 FEBRUARY NELSON (B,D)
Today we enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Nelson. See local attractions such as Queens Gardens, The Suter Art Gallery, Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith, Founders Heritage Park and more. There is time for lunch before we visit The Brook Waimārama Sanctuary in the afternoon. Introduced species have had a devastating impact on our native flora and fauna and an estimated 2,800 NZ native species are either threatened or endangered. Sanctuaries with fenced boundaries give us the chance to restore our native species and watch them thrive. We complete the most popular walk – the Loop Track (45 mins return) – which takes us alongside the stream and 19th Century waterworks. Walking through diverse secondary forest full of ferns and fruiting trees, bird numbers are steadily increasing as a result of the extensive predator trapping undertaken throughout the whole Sanctuary. We return to our hotel in the afternoon with time to rest & relax prior to dinner this evening.
FRIDAY 26 FEBRUARY NELSON – HANMER SPRINGS (B)
We depart Nelson after breakfast and travel to Hanmer Springs via St Arnaud. The small alpine village sits at the edge of Lake Rotoiti, providing an ideal base for people who plan to hike or fish in Nelson Lakes National Park. We continue our journey and arrive in Hanmer Springs early afternoon. The rest of the day is at your leisure – why not visit the famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. Every drop of thermal water is heated by Mother Nature and infused with minerals – a process that takes 173 years. Ease your aching muscles in the natural rock and Sulphur pools, while savouring the stunning backdrop.
SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY HANMER SPRINGS – LAKE TEKAPO (B,L,D)
This morning, we depart Hanmer Springs and travel via the Inland Scenic Highway, showcasing some of the best of what Canterbury has to offer. We enjoy lunch at the iconic Blue Pub in Methven before continuing on via Geraldine and Fairlie (with a stop at the famous bakery of course!) and reaching Lake Tekapo in the afternoon. Our accommodation for the evening is Peppers Bluewater Resort, overlooking the lake.
SUNDAY 28 FEBRUARY LAKE TEKAPO – MT COOK (B,D)
After breakfast, we journey through to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Enroute we view New Zealand Alpine Lavender, the largest organic lavender farm in the Southern Hemisphere. We arrive at our hotel for the night, The Hermitage. There is time for lunch prior to joining our mid-afternoon Glacier Explorer excursion, the only tour of its kind in New Zealand and one of the only accessible glacial lakes containing icebergs in the world. We board a bus which takes us on a pleasant trip to the Tasman Valley, followed by a 25-minute alpine walk through the National Park. Then we board our MAC boat and enjoy the ever-changing face of the Tasman Glacier terminal lake and its icebergs. There is time to rest & refresh this afternoon, prior to meeting for dinner this evening.
MONDAY 01 MARCH MT COOK – WANAKA (B,D)
Mid-morning, we depart the national park and travel via Twizel, Omarama and the dramatic Lindis Pass – an alpine area of tall, tussock covered mountains – reaching Wanaka just after lunch. Located in the spectacular alps of the South Island, New Zealand, visitors from around the world are drawn to the Wanaka region by its outstanding beauty. The stunning mountain and lakeside setting and proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Area, makes it the ultimate base for outdoor activities. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy before we meet up for dinner this evening at a local restaurant – stroll the streets and be inspired by galleries, stylish shops and be spoilt for choice with a great selection of cool cafes, craft breweries, award-winning wineries, and an artisan distillery.
TUESDAY 02 MARCH WANAKA (B)
After breakfast, we drive by coach to West Wanaka, passing Glendhu Bay to meet with the River Journeys team at the West Wanaka Bridge. Here we board a jet boat for a trip up the Matukituki River. Travel at speed over shallow braids, drift into turns and stop in deep pools to enjoy the magic landscape & hear stories of our land from your local guides. Return to the banks of the Matukituki River to enjoy morning tea, before then setting off on a 4WD safari, travelling the private back roads of West Wanaka Station, a 30,000-acre deer farm steeped in history and bordering the majestic snow-capped peaks and glaciers of Mt Aspiring National Park. At the conclusion of the tour, we return to Wanaka where you can enjoy lunch at the one of the many café’s lining the shores of Lake Wanaka. At 3.00pm we meet again for an afternoon cruise on Lake Wanaka. Relax in comfort as we cruise up the arm to Stevensons Island where we will make a beach landing. Our guide will take us ashore for a short hike (optional) to the summit to view the Minaret Peaks with some excellent photo opportunities. Return to Wanaka approx. 5.00pm. The evening is at leisure.
WEDNESDAY 03 MARCH WANAKA – QUEENSTOWN (B)
After a leisurely morning, we depart Wanaka and travel via the Crown Range Road to Queenstown, enjoying the spectacular scenery enroute. The road over the range is the highest main road in New Zealand, reaching an altitude of 1121 metres. We stop on the way at the Cardrona Whisky Distillery. Every aspect of Cardrona’s products is of the highest quality, from the pure Cardrona Valley alpine water, the rich malted barley, the foraged ingredients to the handpicked oak casks from Spain and America. Discover the secrets to Cardrona’s artisan spirits, see where the malt is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and matured before tasting the wares with a tutored spirit tasting! A short distance away is the iconic Cardrona Hotel; established in 1863 it is one of the oldest, most-photographed, and legendary hotels in New Zealand and one of only two remaining buildings from the Cardrona Valley gold rush era. Its’ rustic charm, dramatic mountain setting and rich history make it a must-see while in Central Otago. Once we have passed over the range, we make a detour to one of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand – Arrowtown. The town sits alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River and is just 20 minutes from Queenstown. Established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush, the settlement grew quickly as pioneers constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches, more than 60 of which can still be seen today. There is time to wander and enjoy lunch prior to continuing through to Queenstown, where we arrive mid afternoon.
THURSDAY 04 MARCH QUEENSTOWN (B,L,D)
This morning, we visit the Chantecler Gardens, a 40-acre property that includes 12 acres of mature gardens and nestled in the heart of the Wakitipu Basin. Then, at midday, we set off on a cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw across to Walter Peak High Country Farm (approx. 45-minutes) for lunch. Once at the lakeside Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, savour the delicious aromas as the chef has the best of local produce sizzling away on the grill. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak High Country Farm is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Its colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. An entertaining farm demonstration is also included, or you can explore the beautiful lakeside gardens. The rest of the afternoon is free prior to meeting for our final dinner together this evening.
FRIDAY 05 MARCH QUEENSTOWN – HOME (B)
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Bid your fellow tour members farewell today as you transfer to Queenstown airport to join your flight home.
Deposit of NZD$1,000.00 per person is due upon confirmation of the booking.
Final payment date: Monday 04 January 2021
Superior accommodation throughout Any meals and sightseeing tours not specifically mentioned
Meals as indicated in the itinerary Travel Insurance (assistance and advice will be offered)
First-Class air-conditioned coach transportation for all touring Items of a personal nature such as laundry, room service etc
Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
Baggage handling of one suitcase per person
Gratuities and tips to local guides, coach drivers and cruise staff
Fully escorted by a Maher Tours Leader (subject to minimum numbers)