Natural New Zealand

Helicopter excursions and swimming with dolphins are only the start of this adventure.

Country Information

New Zealand

Natural New Zealand Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

New Zealand


(Interest Type(s))

Romantic Getaways

,

Sustainable Travel

,

Adventure Travel

,

Family Travel


(Tour Length)

16 Days


Tour Highlights

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  • Explore the casual capital city of Auckland and its surroundings, including a bird’s eye view of the city, its harbor and outlying islands from the Sky Tower, one of the tallest building in the southern hemisphere
  • Discover the magnificent Bay of Islands with its wealth of handsome landscapes, rich marine wildlife and townships steeped in colonial history
  • Delve into all that nature has to offer in this island nation from its magnificent mountains to black sand beaches
  • Choose your own level of adventure –  hike the dramatic coastlines, swim with dolphins, golf at championship courses, sky dive, fly high in a hot air balloon, heli-surf, and more
  • Set your own pace in your rental car as you explore the best New Zealand has to offer

Day 1:  Arrive Auckland, New Zealand
Upon arrival in Auckland, you are welcomed by a representative, who will present you with your New Zealand documentation and transfer you to your accommodation.  On the North Island, Auckland, the ‘City of Sails,’ is known for boating and casual, outdoor lifestyle.  It is routinely voted one of the best lifestyle cities in the world.  On the shores of the Waitemata Harbour, the city encompasses marine reserves, great beaches and black sand surf.  As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland has a diverse ethnic mix providing a myriad of cultural experiences, reflected in the Pacific atmosphere and cuisine.  Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour Auckland - Double/Twin Luxury Room (B)

Day 2:  Auckland
This morning, explore Auckland’s West Coast with a private car and driver.  A scenic drive takes you across the Harbour Bridge across Waitemata Harbour to the North Shore.  You will enjoy expansive views of the city’s beaches and Hauraki Gulf.  Continue on to the West Coast with its black-sand beaches and cool ocean breezes.  Visit Muriwai Beach and see this unique coastal landscape with its rugged surf pounded cliffs.  View nesting sites of one of the world’s largest sea birds, the gannet.  Travel to the Kumeu area, New Zealand’s most concentrated wine-making region.  The wines produced here have a distinct Mediterranean flavor.  Many of the vineyards you see on the sunny slopes footing the dramatic Waitakere Ranges were settled by Dalmation migrants.  You can if you choose an optional lunch and wine tasting at a local vineyard amid rolling vineyards and fields.  On your return to Auckland, enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city, its harbor and outlying islands from the Sky Tower, which soars an incredible 328 meters/1076 feet above Auckland.  One of the tallest buildings in the southern hemisphere, it has two observation decks including a glass lift and floor panels, and multi lingual audio guides.  Return to your accommodation later this afternoon.  Time permitting, there is a host of optional activities including sailing aboard a America’s Cup yacht, taking a ferry from downtown to Waiheke Island, or looking at the fascinating traditional Maori culture and meet local artists.  Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour Auckland - Double/Twin Luxury Room (B)

Day 3:  Auckland/Bay of Islands
This morning you will be met at your accommodation by private car and driver, who transfers you to the city depot where you pick up your full-size, automatic rental vehicle which includes daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  Drive to your accommodation in the Bay of Islands (approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes drive), an area of great scenic beauty, rich marine wildlife and historic townships.  Cavalli Beach House Retreat - Double/Twin Ocean Suite (B,D)  

Day 4:  Bay of Islands
Today is at leisure to pursue your own interests.  Optional activities include a private boat charter, a cruise to swim with the dolphins; game fishing (seasonal); a cruise to Cape Brett and the famous “Hole in the Rock,” a visit to some of the most noted historic sites in the area, diving at the Poor Knights Islands and golf at the renowned Kauri Cliffs.  You can also opt for a scenic flight to Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand, and generally considered the meeting place between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east.  The West Coast is full of unique places to explore such as the Kauri forest, Whangaroa Harbour, Doubtless Bay and the famous Ninety Mile Beach.  Cavalli Beach House Retreat - Double/Twin Ocean Suite (B,D)

Day 5:  Bay of Islands/Taupo
This morning, you drive to Kerkeri Airport, where you will return your rental vehicle prior to connecting with your onward flight to Taupo, known for its excellent trout fishing.  On arrival at Taupo, you will pick up your next full-size, automatic rental vehicle including daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  Drive to your accommodation.   Acacia Cliffs Lodge - Double/Twin Lake View Room (B)

Day 6:  Taupo
Today is yours to do as you please.  Cruise on Lake Taupo, largest lake in the country with the opportunity for trout fishing or a round.  Golf at Wairakei or Kinloch International courses.  Wairakei is a ‘must-experience’ for all casual and serious golfers.  Opt for a guided fly-fishing excursion by helicopter or 4x4 vehicle.  Take a scenic helicopter flight over Mt. Tarawera and White Island.  Visit Taupo thermal pools or Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park.  Walk nature trails around spectacular Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids or do a day-long trek on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.  Take a Jet boat ride on the Waikato River or visit sacred Maori rock carvings by kayak or boat trip.  Acacia Cliffs Lodge - Double/Twin Lake View Room (B)

Day 7:  Taupo / Nelson
This morning, return your vehicle to Taupo Airport and catch your onward flight to Nelson, where you will collect your full-size, automatic rental vehicle for the next leg of your adventure.  It includes daily insurance, unlimited kilometers, accident excess reduction and GPS.  Drive to your accommodation in Nelson, the city of sunshine.  This is a haven for artisans with its landscapes of mountains, valleys, pristine shores and national parks.  The pleasant climate has produced a wine and orchard region that is great fun to explore.  Edenhouse - Double/Twin Cottage Suite (B,D)

Day 8:  Nelson – Stephen’s Bay
Set out for Stephens Bay for a private day cruise in the Abel Tasman National Park.  The park sits at the north end of the South Island, and is named after Abel Tasman, who became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand 1642.  The park is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and the world-famous Abel Tasman Coast Track.  It also has a mild climate and is a good place to visit at any time of the year.  You cruise around the scenic headland to Split Apple Rock.  The cruise itinerary is flexible to allow you to explore what is most interesting in that moment… be that dolphins riding the bow wave or New Zealand fur seals fishing.  Anchor in a sheltered bay for a light lunch.  There is time for you to swim, kayak, snorkel, go ashore for a bush walk, or just relax on the boat while lunch is prepared.  Enjoy this relaxed and unhurried day before returning to the doc in late afternoon.  Edenhouse – Double/Twin Cottage Suite (B,D)

Day 9:  Nelson / Kaikoura
Explore the territory as you drive from Nelson to Kaikoura (approximately 4 hours 30 minutes drive).  Kaikoura is a seaside settlement on a peninsula on the rugged east coast of South Island.  Majestic, often snowcapped mountains, serve as a dramatic backdrop.  Renowned for eco-tourism, the area is recognized for its outdoor lifestyle – from boating to hiking to scuba diving.  Hapuku Lodge Kaikoura - Double/Twin One Bedroom Tree House (B,D)

Day 10:  Kaikoura
Today is all about the marine world, beginning with a whale-watching excursion in search of sperm whales, dolphins and fur seals.  You may also spot the wandering albatross, humpback, pilot, blue and Southern right whales.  Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin, the Orca, as well as the smallest and rarest, Hector's whales.  This afternoon, enjoy a dolphin encounter cruise.  We have long known that dolphins are friendly creatures that spend their lifetime, usually in groups known as pods, in the open ocean.  Dolphin Encounter, the pioneers of dolphin swimming in New Zealand, have developed and refined their tours for those wishing to enhance their understanding of dolphins in their natural environment – a truly unique experience.  Dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters off Kaikoura year round.  An optional program, time permitting, invites you to into the Maori world.  Kaikoura is not only an area of immense natural beauty, it is also rich Maori history.  The stories of their ancestors echo through the voices of today.  Half-day tours are available on a private basis.  Hapuku Lodge Kaikoura - Double/Twin One Bedroom Tree House (B,D)

Day 11:  Kaikoura / Arthur’s Pass
Drive to your lodge at Arthur’s Pass (approximately 4 hour drive).  Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass is a nature reserve and high country sheep station nestled in mountain beech forest and surrounded by the Southern Alps.  A natural paradise of tussock clearing, moss-lined streams and lakes on a network of nature trails.  Optional activities include guided hikes, kayaking, limestone cave exploring, trout fishing and bird watching.  During your stay at Arthur’s Pass, you have two complimentary short guided nature activities where you learn about the beech forests; the strange thorn forests, and look for New Zealand’s smallest bird, the rifleman, and the world’s smartest animal, the kea parrot.  You will also be introduced to the Southern Cross and night sky and the history of the mountains.  Meet the Farm Manager and help shear Merino sheep and see the sheep dogs working.  Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass - Double/Twin Alpine Lodge Room (B,D)

Day 12:  Arthur’s Pass/Lake Moeraki
Today, you set out for Lake Moeraki (approximately 5 hour drive).  Travel via Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier down the rugged wind-swept West Coast, which is bordered by the Southern Alps on one side and the raging Tasman Sea on the other.  En route, you can opt for a short detour at Fox Glacier to Lake Matheson for a pleasant bush walk.  Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki - Double/Twin River View Room (B,D)

Day 13:  Lake Moeraki 
Lake Moeraki is set in the heart of the 2.7-million-hectare South West New Zealand UNESCO World Heritage area.  This is a place of towering rainforests, pristine seacoast, Fiordland Crested Penguins, seals and untouched nature.  While at leisure, you can select optional activities such as guided hikes, trout fishing, wilderness seacoast excursions, ancient rainforest walks and canoe safaris.  During your stay at Lake Moeraki, you have two complimentary short guided nature activities that introduce you to the flora and fauna unique to the South Westland Heritage Park.  Learn about the rainforests and discover ferns, orchids, giant native pigeon, bellbird and Tui.  Night walks take you to see glow-worms, the Southern Cross and freshwater crayfish.  Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki - Double/Twin River View Room (B,D)

Day 14:  Lake Moeraki / Queenstown
Today, you head south via the scenic Haast Pass Drive to Queenstown (approximately 5 hours and 15 minutes drive).  Queenstown claims to be the “Adventure Capital of the World.”  With a rich menu of outdoor adventures from bungee jumping to heli-surfing, it certainly qualifies to vie for that title.  Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, amidst the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, the scenery provides a perfect backdrop for endless outdoor adventures as well as an idyllic haven to just relax.  Azur Queenstown –  Double/Twin Villa (B,D)

Day 15:  Queenstown
Savor a private helicopter excursion to the renowned Milford Sound.  Fly through the grandeur of the Alps, over rainforests and frozen lakes to touchdown on an ancient glacier.  The views of the glaciers are awe-inspiring with the many crevasses and blue and green ice falls.  Return to Queenstown.  The remainder of the day is free to choose an optional activity.  Take a jetboat on the Dar River or the Shotover River.  Enjoy a steamer cruise to Walter Peak or a gondola ride to Bob’s Peak.  Set out on a private guided tour to visit some of the leading boutique wineries and vineyards for which Central Otago is known including Amisfield, Chard Farm, Peregrine Wines, Lake Hayes and Gibbston Vineyards.  Explore the historic gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown or the lush, surreal landscape where the ‘Lord of the Rings’ was filmed.  Golf, horseback riding, skydiving,  hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, heli-surfing, river surfing, rock climbing and whitewater rafting are all available.  Azur Queenstown -  Double/Twin Villa (B,D)

Day 16:  Queenstown / Auckland / Depart
This morning drive to Queenstown Airport and return your rental vehicle prior to your onward flight to Auckland.  Upon arrival at Auckland Domestic Airport, you will be met by a representative who will assist you in connecting with our onward flight home.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy: Please call for rates

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