We’ll explore both the North and the South Islands and discover the REAL New Zealand. These two unique islands offer distinct experiences, with the north hosting Auckland and the capital Wellington, and the south home to adventure hub Queenstown – birthplace of the bungee, and oh, those mountains! No matter where your journey takes you, you’ll be sure to learn about New Zealand’s Māoritanga (Maori culture) and it’s very proud heritage.
We suggest that you arrive a day earlier to get over any jetlag from the long flight to New Zealand. (Accommodations and meals for this extra day are at your expense). We’ll meet you at the airport and provide transport to your hotel. We recommend staying at the Fable Hotel in Auckland, the same hotel we’ll be in for the first two nights of the trip. If you’d like to take this option, just let us know and we will assist with arrangements.
Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city and is a multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture. It’s the perfect mix of city sophistication alongside a stunning natural playground. World-class shopping and dining experiences are never too far from beautiful scenery which includes harbors and islands, volcanic cones, native bush and black-sand beaches.
This afternoon, we’ll take an easy walking tour with your guide around the central business district and enjoy a welcome dinner (first round on us) at the revolving restaurant Orbit 360◦ on Sky Tower. Soaring high above Auckland, Orbit 360◦ is a truly iconic New Zealand brasserie offering its diners sensational views – and food to match. Situated at the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the dining room rotates once every hour, providing a truly unique kiwi-inspired menu that features the best local and seasonal produce with amazing 360-degree panoramas of the city, the Hauraki Gulf and beyond.
We’ll have breakfast at hotel, then our guide will take us for a morning tour of Auckland, the waterfront and the exclusive suburbs of Ponsonby to meet some NZ fashion designers. Or you can opt for the sailing experience and let the winds of Auckland blow those cobwebs away. Opportunity to sail on one of the America’s Cup sailing boats dating back to the 1990’s.
For lunch, we’ll board the local ferry to the picturesque island of Waiheke, followed by sightseeing and wine tasting at two different vineyards. Waiheke Island is a haven of organic vineyards, olive groves, beaches and local artists’ galleries. In landscape, lifestyle and experience, Waiheke is a world away.
This afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel and the evening is yours at leisure. We’re happy to provide suggestions for dinner tonight (not included).
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll check out and travel south (2.5 hrs.) to the green pastures of Waikato, the country’s richest farming region. We’ll stop at Waitomo to visit the limestone caves and marvel at thousands of glow worms as we glide gently downstream in an inflatable raft. Time at leisure for lunch (not included).
We’ll continue on to Rotorua, located in an active volcanic region complete with a landscape of crater lakes, hot springs, geysers and more. Upon arrival into Rotorua, we’ll have time to relax into the mineral hot pools overlooking the lake at Polynesian Spa’s Lake Spa Retreat.
This evening will feature a Maori Cultural show and traditional hangi dinner. In traditional hangi cooking, food such as fish and chicken, and root vegetables like kumara (sweet potato), are cooked in a pit dug in the ground. In today’s modern society, pork, mutton or lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included.
New Zealand has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting a unique mix of Māori and European culture. Today, New Zealand is home to more than 5 million people. We’ll learn more about how such cultural diversity came about in this fairly young country. Māori were the first inhabitants of New Zealand or Aotearoa, guided by Kupe the great navigator. Māori are the tangata whenua, or indigenous people of New Zealand. They came here more than 1,000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Today, one in seven New Zealanders identify as Māori. Their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.
We’ll experience Māori culture by visiting a marae, watching a carving or weaving demonstration, and learning about fascinating myths and legends from passionate Māori guides.
Tonight we’ll be staying at the Hotel Pullman Rotorua, situated in the heart of the city and moments away from the lakefront making it the perfect base. Here we will discover shooting geysers, bubbling mud, natural hot springs and magical forests.
Breakfast at our hotel.
This morning we’ll visit Te Puia. At the NZ Maori Arts & Crafts institute here we’ll learn about carving, weaving, fashion, jewelry and tattooing. There are also geysers and other geothermal wonders around the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, as well as a live Kiwi-bird display.
We’ll savor lunch at Pataka Kai Restaurant at Te Puia overlooking the geysers before departing to the airport for our flight to Wellington.
Air NZ flight departs Rotorua at 14:15 and arrives Wellington 15:30. Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington, New Zealand, was recently named “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet.
We’ll transfer to the city center with a panoramic tour of the capital on the way to our hotel, the InterContinental Wellington. This evening will be yours to explore Wellington at your leisure. This city is famous for the green lipped mussels served with frites.
We’ll have an early breakfast today at the hotel, then head to the ferry terminal for our journey to the South Island across Cook Straits, one of the world’s most scenic ferry routes. Sailing through Marlborough Sounds is particularly spectacular. The ferry departs at 09:00 – we get to walk on and walk off (our luggage will be transferred) – and arrives at 12:30pm into Picton.
When we get off the ferry, we’ll head straight to the Herzog winery for a wine tasting, followed by lunch at Harvest. Plus we’ll visit another winery with more wine tasting in the afternoon.
After we’ve had our fill we’ll head to Blenheim and check into the Chateau Marlborough. Chateau Marlborough has an onsite day spa, “Meraki”, located inside the hotel. The spa offers healing and relaxing body massages, advanced skin treatments and modern beauty therapies. (Bookings are essential)
The evening is yours to explore at leisure. Its an easy 2 minute walk to Blenheim’s town center.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll head to Kaikoura for a dolphin encounter cruise. Swimming with the dolphins is optional. (It’s amazing)! Lunch is on your own, but we recommend trying the local fish and chips or the crawfish this area is famous for.
This afternoon we’ll travel down to Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Known for it’s English heritage, Christchurch is also referred to as the “Garden City” because of its many beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets.
We’ll check-on to our hotel – Chateau on the Park – Christchurch – and enjoy some time to rest and relax before heading out to a nice local meal.
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll enjoy a local walking tour of the city. We’ll hear about the rebuilding of the city following the 2011 earthquake, and discover innovative new developments. Free time for lunch and shopping.
After lunch, we’ll head to the Christchurch airport for our flight to Queenstown. (Depart Christchurch at 14:30 pm arrive Queenstown 15:45 pm)
Queenstown sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges. It’s been dubbed “the Adventure Capital of the World” because of all the adrenaline-inducing activities available. The rest of the day is at leisure. We’ll be staying at the Hotel St. Moritz, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range. Dinner will be out on the town!
We’ll enjoy breakfast at hotel followed by a full day tour around Central Otago, one of the world’s most scenic wine regions at a latitude of 45° south. You’ll visit several wineries in the Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions, including a journey inside New Zealand’s largest wine cave. Lunch will be cooked in French Oak Pinot Noir barrels with a wine pairing.
Return to Queenstown and have an evening at leisure. Dinner not included tonight, but we will provide a fabulous list of suggested restaurants.
Breakfast at the hotel, then we’ll depart for Manapouri where we’ll go on a short cruise on the lake before continuing by coach through the dense rainforest of Wilmot Pass. Picnic lunch is included. At Doubtful Sound, we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for an extended cruise on a remote fjord. As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, you may encounter resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins, and appreciate the deep silence that this secluded location provides.
Return to Manapouri and to Queenstown in the afternoon.
It’s time for our last dinner together, for now. (First round on us). We will toast to new friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Breakfast at hotel, then we’ll head to Queenstown airport and fly to Auckland where you’ll connect with your international flight. Travel well – we shall surely exchange hugs and kisses as we say a fond farewell holding onto our new memories and new friends.
Everything stated in itinerary above including specified meals
A local driver-guide from arrival Auckland (day 1) until departure Queenstown (day 10)
Airport transfers and touring in a private vehicle (17 seater Mercedes Sprinter up to 13 passengers, or small coach above)
• Domestic Economy flights on Air New Zealand
Ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton – Interislander ferry
Accommodation in 4*/5* hotels – or best available (subject to availability)
Full breakfast at hotels
Meals where indicated + welcome drinks
Tasting New Zealand’s different wine regions (6 vineyards)
Return ferry to Waiheke Island
Maori cultural show
Guided tour of Te Puia – include the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute and Te Whakarewarewa thermal valley
Dolphin Encounter cruise in Kaikoura
Full day excursion to Doubtful Sound
All local taxes
International flights from your home country
Activities not included above, and those activities specified as “optional”
Meals not included above
Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is stated such “first round on us”
Tips (not compulsory in New Zealand)
Expenses of a personal nature – telephone calls, laundry, souvenirs, etc.
Trip Insurance (required)
Trip Medical Coverage (required)
The most beautiful country you've never been to
New Zealand is a welcoming, diverse country with a history of Māori, European, Pacific Island, and Asian immigration. This rich blend of cultures, combined with geologically fascinating landscapes and unique flora and fauna, make New Zealand an extraordinary country to explore.