Aotearoa, (Māori for New Zealand) is a diverse country with a rich blend of cultures, fascinating geological landscapes and unique flora and fauna. The locals, known as Kiwis, enjoy a laid-back lifestyle and no-one is ever further than a few hours drive from a beach, a mountain or a lake. On this tour we discover a small paradise at the bottom of the world – where you will indulge in fine wine and food, meet indigenous Māori for in-depth cultural learning and witness stunning scenery from extinct volcanoes to hot springs and lush green pastures.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
On arrival at Auckland Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel located in the center of “the city of sails”. The afternoon will be yours for shopping or relaxing.
This evening we'll meet up for welcome cocktails at our hotel, The 5-Star Fable Hotel from 1928, and then take a short walk to Kingi Restaurant where you will dine under shimmering chandeliers on sustainably caught local fish and other sumptuous fare.
After breakfast we'll depart for a morning tour of the city, taking in the main sights before heading across the Harbour Bridge to iconic Chelsea Sugar. On an informative 25-minute tour of the factory, you will learn all about sugar, where it comes from and how it’s made and processed. Kiwis love to bake and there will be time to taste some popular items such as lamingtons in the Chelsea café. Driving back across the bridge, we'll admire the many yachts in the Westhaven Marina, one of the largest marinas in the Southern Hemisphere.
Time to freshen up back at the hotel before our exciting afternoon. By helicopter, we lift off for a scenic flight over the city, soaring above the Harbour Bridge, Devonport, Rangitoto, and across the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island. Then we'll enjoy a tasty lunch at Batch Vineyard situated strategically on a hill with fabulous views. Waiheke is just 40 mins by ferry from New Zealand’s largest city, but it’s a world away in landscape and lifestyle with a laidback vibe. Vineyards and olive groves cling to hillsides and sandy white beaches surround you. After lunch, we'll visit another vineyard for a tasting before catching the ferry back to the city.
Tonight we'll walk down to the viaduct where you can sit with a view of the Waitemata Harbour and enjoy a glass of wine and dinner at Bellini.
After an early breakfast, we begin our journey south to the Waikato. Upon arrival at the home of a local chef and interior designer, we experience a cooking demonstration with a Kiwi twist, followed by lunch served in a unique country setting.
Then we'll reach Cambridge by early afternoon. This charming town is known for its trees and champion stud horses, and was recently voted NZ’s Most Beautiful Town. We'll set up on a stroll past the village green and down the majestic tree-lined main street on a short orientation tour. Here you will find some lovely boutique shops as well as great restaurants and bars.
Dinner is reserved at the popular Italian-style Alpino this evening.
Rest will come easy after a busy day at the Hidden Lake Hotel complete with views of Te Koo Lake Reserve.
Rural Heartland Waikato
After your breakfast it's time to take a few hours to roam through the popular Hamilton Gardens. The Gardens tell the story of gardening through different civilizations via themed gardens. The gardens are an internationally renowned treasure which Hamilton is very proud of.
In the quintessential little town of Otorohanga you will have the opportunity to get up close to the Kiwi bird; learn about the habits of the brown Kiwi; walk through New Zealand’s largest free-flight dome aviary; and see this unique flightless bird up close. You will also witness the tuatara, a native reptile which predates dinosaurs.
It's just a short drive on to the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is endemic to New Zealand and as your guide takes you deep in to the cave you will observe thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light. You'll be delighted by an informative commentary on the caves' historical and geological significance plus will explore the cave via a magical boat ride. The glow will surely enlighten you!
Dinner will be on your own this evening. There are a number of eateries within a short walk of your hotel or why not dine at the restaurant at our hotel?
Middle Earth and Maori Culture
Today we'll be visiting two different worlds or realities. This morning we are traveling to Middle Earth. Even if you’re not a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan, a visit to Hobbiton is a truly amazing experience. Stroll through the lush pastures of The Shire on a guided movie-set tour, past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and on to the world-famous Green Dragon Inn where you'll sip on a complimentary beverage.
We'll stop for lunch and have some free time for shopping in the quirky village of Tirau where you'll come face to face with some corrugated characters.
This afternoon we've set up a special visit to Ōhinemutu Village where steaming vents, boiling hot pools of mud and water, and the natural beauty of Rotorua will be laid out before you. We'll walk through the village with a Māori guide and learn about the area’s cultural and historic significance including how the people continue to utilize the geothermal resources for daily cooking, bathing and heating. This tour includes entry into the magnificent St Faith’s Anglican Church.
The village is home to two traditional Māori meeting houses, and we will be invited into one. First we'll be briefed on the traditional Māori whakatau process (welcome ceremony) including the traditional call (karanga) which is followed by a speech (whaikorero) and chanting which acknowledges the deceased, the living and the spiritual sacredness of the occasion.
Tonight we have the pleasure of dining on a hangi meal cooked in a natural steam. During preparing and eating, your Maori hosts will share experiences about their life and you'll have an opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into the local way of life.
After your meal we'll meet and experience kapahaka (Māori performing arts action songs and their performers) for an intimate cultural experience that will be engaging, educational and interactive. Learn to use the poi in a rhythmical and geometric pattern which is mesmerizing when performed by the experts.
After a joyous day, we'll rest our heads at the Pullman Hotel.
Wairakei and Lake Taupo
After breakfast, we’ll set off for Wairakei arriving at the Aratiatia Dam in time to see the gates opening to watch thousands of liters of water as its released from the Dam creating a spectacular flow through a narrow gorge.
Sit back and relax as we cruise by boat upstream to the Huka Falls, learning along about local history, fauna and flora. Once at the Falls the boat gets up close enough for you to feel the spray on your face as you snap some photos.
Lunch will be at the Lava Glass Café followed by a glass blowing demonstration - a fascinating process. Afterwards you can visit the garden to see glass sculptures in different shapes and sizes brightening up the landscape.
While at the Wairakei Terraces, we'll take an easy scenic walk around a geothermal walkway, with hot water bubbling and geysers spurting over silica terraces amongst the bush. Then you can hop into your swimsuit and enjoy a hot soak in the healing and therapeutic pools.
On our way back to Rotorua, we'll drive via Lake Taupo for a brief stop. On a clear day the views across the lake to the mountains are breathtaking.
Once back in Rotorua, you'll have a free evening to dine at your leisure. Eat Street is just around the corner, offering plenty of choice or you may prefer to dine at the hotel.
Soak at the geothermal pools
Arriving at Tikitere, you will walk through clouds of geothermic steam and discover New Zealand’s most active geothermal reserve and mud spa, more commonly known as Hell's Gate. Māori warriors used to heal their battle-scarred bodies here and for the past 100 years it has been a mecca for visitors who find the nutrient-rich waters and mud excellent for rejuvenating skin and easing inflammation. Spend the morning soaking in the healing sulphur pool, exfoliate in the mud, stroll through the geothermal bushland coming away feeling refreshed.
This afternoon will be free and open for optional activities. Rotorua has plenty of choice from zip lining, walking or cycling in the forest; riding on a WWII amphibious craft; having a museum visit; exploring a 3D Trick Art Gallery and more.
After dinner at Atticus Finch, we'll visit the Redwood Forest for a night walk in the treetops on eco-suspended bridges and platforms. Massive trees are lit up by stupendous David Trubridge designed lanterns. It will surely be a magical experience to celebrate the end of our amazing trip.
Hell's Garden Geothermal Pools
Redwood Forest Nightlights
Optional afternoon activity
After breakfast, check out and depart for Auckland arriving by midday. If you are flying out today, please ensure your flight departs after 3pm.
Wes Bently said "Everywhere you turn in New Zealand, there’s something exciting to do. It’s the gem of the world. It’s so far away from the madness....It was just stunning."
Situated in "The City of Sails", The Fable Hotel will be your home while you are in Aukland. The luxurious hotel is close to quaint boutiques for unique souvenirs.
Hidden Lake Hotel has been designed for comfort and built to take advantage of its countryside setting. Sitting on the banks of Hidden Lake, you can enjoy a cup of coffee from your balcony.
The closest hotel to the geothermal pools, The Pullman Hotel will be your home while we explore this iconic location.
Marie grew up in a small farming community in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. Being a free-spirited adventurous type, it wasn’t long before she spread her wings and started roaming around her country, exploring “nooks & crannies”, meeting amazing people and forming life-long friendships. After many years working in the travel and tourism industry, Marie founded her own company Roam Travel Adventures, specializing in women only tours. She has carefully crafted this unique itinerary specially for GG2TW – a bespoke tour you will not find anywhere else on the market.
It's the most beautiful country in the world, according to almost anyone who’s ever been there.
New Zealand has it all! Big Cities, beaches, geothermal pools, mountains, lakes, an ancient indigenous culture and so much more!
A small group experience
Local New Zealand driver/guide – Marie Coles
Transportation in private air-conditioned 12-seater vehicle
Sightseeing entry and local guides as specified above
Accommodations at unique, 4-star or better hotels
All meals (except where indicated), including beer & wine with dinner.
Airport transfers on Day 1 and 8
A helicopter flight and a ferry ride
International airfare to Aukland
Additional wine, beer, and/or spirits beyond what’s offered at meals
All personal souvenirs
Travel Insurance (required)
The tour starts and ends in Aukland. You will find that most clients can arrive from US or further afield on Air New Zealand with flights direct to Auckland.
The trip officially starts on the afternoon of March 18th, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to New Zealand, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.