The Best of New Zealand and the Bay of Islands
- Days 1-2 London, Auckland - London Heathrow Airport flight to Auckland via Hong Kong or Los Angeles.
- Day 3 Auckland, Christchurch - Haere Mai Welcome. Having travelled through several time zones we arrive in Auckland where we connect with our onward flight to Christchurch. On arrival our coach transfers you to the hotel for the next two nights. This is an ideal spot for exploring “The Garden City”.
- Day 4 Christchurch - Christchurch, largest city in the South Island, is the gateway to the magnifi cent Southern Alps and lakes and today we leave you free to enjoy this charming city. Sweeping through the entire city is the gently flowing Avon, and the centre for leisure activity is Hagley Park, which contains the colourful Botanical Gardens, renowned for their collection of exotic and native plants. A stroll down the city mall towards the river and Bridge of Remembrance takes in some of the best shopping territory. Further afield, a cable car ride reveals panoramic views of Lyttelton Harbour and Canterbury Plains.
- Day 5 Christchurch, Dunedin - Leaving Christchurch we travel south to Dunedin, elegant in its splendid hill and harbour setting. Known as the “Edinburgh of the South”, because of the strong Scottish influence in the area, Dunedin is home to New Zealand’s only kilt shop and produces the country’s whisky. This evening there is a grand Scottish-style dinner at our hotel, the Scenic Hotel Southern Cross.
- Day 6 Dunedin, Te Anau - Leaving this charming city, with its seven hills reminiscent of Rome and century-old bluestone University building, we travel across rich Southland plains through Gore, the country music capital of New Zealand, before arriving at the gateway to Fiordland National Park. The Fiordland National Park is one of the largest in the world, known for its spectacular waterfalls, dense native forest and rare birds. Its importance is acknowledged by its status as a World Heritage Park. Our stay tonight is at the Distinction Te Anau Hotel in the delightful lakeside township of Te Anau.
- Day 7 Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown - We drive along the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys, the thick bush and alpine aspect providing one of the most rewarding journeys in the country, to Milford Sound, commanded by spectacular Mitre Peak. This majestic area was described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world”. A launch cruise with buffet lunch takes us along the fiord, out to the open sea and back again, where we may catch a glimpse of seals and dolphins frolicking in their natural habitat. An impressive drive skirting Lake Wakatipu, which means ‘the lake that breathes’, the only land-locked lake in the world with its own tide, brings us to Queenstown and your hotel, the Crowne Plaza.
- Day 8 Queenstown - Queenstown, dominated by the majestic Remarkables, is the most sophisticated resort in New Zealand. This stunning landscape is a favourite with winter skiers and all who love the great outdoors. This is a wonderful place to relax as well as to walk and savour the purity of the air. This evening we take a cruise aboard the beautiful vintage TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu to the highcountry sheep station of Walter Peak where you will dine in the elegant Colonel’s Homestead.
- Day 9 Queenstown, Mount Cook - This morning we visit Gibbston’s Winery before we journey into the heart of the Southern Alps where we have our first glimpse of Mount Cook, known as “Cloud Piercer” by the Maori, towering 3,754 metres above sea level. The Tasman Glacier, nudging one side of Mount Cook, is one of the longest glaciers outside the Himalayas. This evening we stay in this classic alpine region at the Hermitage Hotel, where dinner is included.
- Day 10 Mount Cook, Christchurch - Leaving the majestic Mount Cook, following breakfast, we skirt the glacial blue waters of Lake Pukaki. We pass Lake Tekapo, before crossing Burke’s Pass to Fairlie and the gentle green countryside in which nestles the village of Geraldine. Our hotel this evening is the Holiday Inn City Centre, Christchurch.
- Day 11 Christchurch, Wellington - North across the plains to the coastal town of Kaikoura, famous for its crayfish. At Picton we leave the South Island and steam across the spectacular Cook Strait on the comfortable inter-island ferry. Wellington Harbour offers our first view of the capital city. On disembarking we are transferred to the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, our base for the next two nights.
- Day 12 Wellington - We take a short orientation tour of the city, which is often compared with San Francisco. Wellington has its own cable car ascending the precipitous hillside. Visitors generally agree that the harbour is the most beautiful in the country. The remainder of the day is at leisure and there are several attractions that are worthy of exploration, none more so than New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa. Free to enter and located on the waterfront in a purpose built, architecturally beautiful building, the museum showcases the history of New Zealand in many visually stunning and thought provoking ways.
- Day 13 Wellington, Taupo - We travel north this morning over the Desert Road - in this case the “desert” has been caused by the effects of volcanic ash - before reaching the charming lakeside town of Taupo, on the shores of New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake. You will see and hear the thunder of Huka Falls before visiting the thermal areas and boiling mud pools of the Craters of the Moon. This evening we stay at the delightful Bayview Wairakei Resort.
- Day 14 Rotorua - Today we visit Wai-O-Tapu, the most colourful and diverse of thermal reserves with its Primrose Terraces and Champagne Pool after which we continue to see the Lady Knox geyser erupting. We continue to one of the jewels of the country, Rotorua, endowed with its awe-inspiring geothermal activity, crystal clear waters of Lake Rotorua and lush forests. On arrival we check into the Holiday Inn, Rotorua, where this evening we enjoy an authentic Maori concert and traditional 'hangi' feast.
- Day 15 Rotorua - This morning we visit Rainbow Springs, one of the world's most magnificent trout and wildlife habitats and here you have a chance to see the rare flightless bird, the kiwi. We continue to the Agrodome for an interesting farm show, where the skills of mustering, shearing, milking and the use of sheep dogs are demonstrated, and later we visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. You are free this afternoon to make your own discoveries of Rotorua and perhaps wander through the beautiful garden area dominated by the splendid Bath House, a sophisticated spa centre or perhaps relax in the Polynesian Pools, Rotorua's Hot Springs set in a garden by Lake Rotorua.
- Day 16 Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Auckland - We travel to the Waitomo Caves and take a boat along the underground river to see the glow worms, spectacular in the darkness of the grotto. The glow worm light shines as a blue/green colour and the hungrier the glow worm, the more brightly it glows. We travel on via the dairy centre of Hamilton to Auckland, which lies between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours. The well situated Crowne Plaza Hotel is our base for the next three nights.
- Day 17 Auckland - Today we will introduce you to ‘The City of Sails’, the largest and brightest metropolis in New Zealand. Our city tour will highlight the heart of the city, including the founder of Auckland, Captain Hobson, who decided upon the location of the city due to its strategic setting, Old Customhouse, the shoppers’ delight of Lower Queen Street, otherwise known as the ‘Golden Mile’ and Parliament Street. Remainder of the day is at leisure to further explore this fascinating city.
- Day 18 Auckland - Today you are free to enjoy the many sights and delights that Auckland has to offer. Surrounded by waterways, with two beautiful harbours and an intriguing coastline, the city offers relaxation along with the bustling atmosphere of a thriving metropolis. A combination of culture, art, history and shops, this city will not fail to delight.
- Day 19 Auckland, Bay of Islands - Crossing the harbour bridge spanning the delightful Waitemata Harbour this morning, we can look back at Auckland's famous landmark Rangitoto Island before heading to Northland, the birthplace of the Nation. We drive along the west coast passing sleepy harbourside hamlets and see the native forests, home of huge ancient kauri trees. We visit the Kauri Museum, where the history of the kauri and a magnificent collection of produce can be seen. The Waipoua Forest is home to the mature kauri trees, the largest of which “Tane Mahuta” (Lord of the Forest) stands 30 metres tall. We then visit Waitangi Treaty House, where the historic signing between Maori and British formed the nation of New Zealand in 1840. Our visit includes a guided tour of Waitangi. Late afternoon we arrive at the Copthorne Resort, our base for the next three nights. Dinner is in our hotel this evening.
- Day 20 Bay Of Islands - Following breakfast this morning we embark on a delightful cruise around the bay to see Cape Brett lighthouse and view an area for game fishing where there may be a close encounter with a seal, dolphin or whale. We also cruise into the grand Cathedral Cave and through the “Hole in the Rock”. Later we transfer back to the hotel where the remainder of the day is at leisure. This evening we enjoy a live theatre production on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which showcases the history of the Maori people from the first Maori chief to discover New Zealand through to the present day. The moving performance utilises live drama, together with excellent sound and lighting effects to create an entertaining and educational experience.
- Day 21 Bay Of Islands - The charm of this region is the solitude and outstanding scenic beauty and today, after breakfast you are free to visit historic Russell, the country's first capital, or perhaps join a launch cruise to see where Captain Cook first anchored on his voyage of discovery. The sand dunes and hillocks of shells along Ninety Mile Beach have also captivated the hearts of visitors and today you are free to make your own discoveries.
- Day 22 Bay Of Islands - Breakfast is included this morning before leaving the Bay of Islands behind as we head south along the Hibiscus Coast and transfer to Auckland Airport for our scheduled flight to Hong Kong or Los Angeles where there is a short transit before boarding your direct scheduled flight to London Heathrow.
- Day 23 London - Arrival at London Heathrow Airport where our staff will greet you and transfer you to Titan's transport for your journey home to your own front door.
23 days from £3995 per person
Please quote ref tt12
IMPORTANT TOUR INFORMATION
Please note: Departures between November 2011 and April 2012 follow a different itinerary on days 3-5 & 10-11, while central Christchurch recovers from the February 2011 earthquake. In summary you will fl y into Dunedin on day 3 where you will stay for 3 nights, with an included wildlife cruise and a day at leisure. On day 10 our 2011 group will stay overnight in Blenheim and will visit a winery on the morning of day 11 before taking the ferry to Wellington. January-April 2012 groups will spend the night of day 10 in Christchurch at a hotel outside the central district. Please call for the full itinerary.
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