Itinerary – 16 Day New Zealand Coach Tour 2020

Key:

B Breakfast Provided
L Lunch Provided
D Dinner Provided
Day 1 Sunday (D)

Home ~ Auckland

Welcome to New Zealand! You are met on arrival at the Auckland International Airport before being transferred to your hotel.

Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel Auckland, Deluxe Rooms 1 night

Day 2 Monday (BD)

Auckland ~ Bay of Islands

This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Auckland City including the vibrant Viaduct Harbour, the city and sea views from Bastion Point, trendy Parnell Village; and the lovely bays of the waterfront drive. Departing Auckland we travel north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to first of all visit the Parry Kauri Park to view some fine examples of Giant Kauri Trees Continuing our journey we reach Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge Paihia, Run of House 2 nights

Day 3 Tuesday (BD)

Bay Of Islands 

This morning board a luxury catamaran to cruise the Bay of Islands to Cape Brett and farther out see beautiful Motukokako Island and the famous Hole in the Rock. Hold your breath as the skipper skilfully navigates his way through the hole and into Grand Cathedral Cave (sea conditions permitting). On the return to Paihia pass several remote islands, fringed with golden sand beaches. This afternoon we take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House where on 6 February 1840 Maori and British settlers signed an historic agreement which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand. The Maori Meeting House in the grounds is a superb example of the skills of Maori wood carvers and flax weavers.

Day 4 Wednesday (BD)

Bay of Islands ~ Cambridge Rural Homestay

Depart Paihia and travel south through undulating farmlands and the city of Whangarei. Continue south through the rural townships of Warkworth and Wellsford then pass the delightful beaches of the Hibiscus Coast before arriving in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. Pass over the Bombay Hills, where market gardens supply home and export markets then continue along the east bank of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. Travel south through some of the country’s richest farmland in the lush Waikato Valley to Cambridge. Our evening’s accommodation this evening is located on a local rural property, where we will divide into smaller groups to enjoy the hospitality of our local rural hosts, taking dinner and breakfast with the local families, touring the property and learning something of the workings of a typical rural community.

Accommodation: Rural Homestay , Share Bathrooms 1 night

 

Day 5 Thursday (BD)

Cambridge ~ Matamata ~ Rotorua

After a farm breakfast, farewell your hosts and re-board the coach to travel the short distance to Matamata. Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson directed movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings and more recently, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Your guided tour commences with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you through the ten-acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Upon completion of your tour of the set you will return to The Shires Rest. After your Hobbiton tour travel southwest and climb into the bush-clad Mamaku Ranges and through the lush Fitzgerald Glade before reaching the unique geothermal area of Rotorua set on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Some time at leisure this afternoon before an evening visit to a local Maori Village for a Cultural Experience and Hangi Dinner. Experience the warmth of the Maori people during an evening of ceremonial rituals, powerful cultural performance, storytelling & hangi feasting. Enter the pre-European Maori village, witness the earth being scraped carefully away from the hangi pit and enter their ancestral Meeting House to relax as their family entertain you with a powerful cultural performance before dining on the traditional hangi buffet dinner (Maori feast) cooked the traditional Maori way in an earth oven.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Rotorua, Superior Rooms 2 nights

Day 6 Friday (BD)

ROTORUA

Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of this popular tourist town set on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Highlights include a guided tour of Te Puia to visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see the boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces and the geyser activity and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori are learning traditional carving and weaving skills. Visit Rainbow Springs, a showcase of New Zealand’s natural flora and fauna – see the rare Kiwi bird in a special nocturnal enclosure and New Zealand’s only reptile, the Tuatara. The rest of this afternoon is at your leisure. Dinner tonight at your hotel.

Day 7 Saturday (BD)

Rotorua ~ Wellington

Depart Rotorua travelling via New Zealand’s largest pine tree forests to Taupo. En-route, make a visit to the Wairakei Geothermal Steam Field. This was a world-first, generating electricity by tapping a natural steam field then channelling the steam to a nearby power generation plant. Continue on to see the mighty Huka Falls. Huka in Maori translates to “snow” as the water here has the appearance of snow falling as it is forced along from Lake Taupo through the falls on its journey along the Waikato River. From Taupo continue south across the Tongariro Volcanic Plateau, pass the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe then travel south through the Mangaweka Hills and across the Manawatu Plains then down the pretty Kapiti Coast to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city built on the hills around a magnificent natural harbour. Brief sightseeing tour upon arrival including Old St Pauls which is one of New Zealand’s finest examples of colonial Gothic architecture; Parliament Buildings with the distinctive Beehive; and the views from Mt Victoria.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor James Cook, Terrace Rooms 1 night

Day 8 Sunday (BD)

Wellington ~ Christchurch

Today we cruise the Cook Strait heading through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound into the South Island. On arrival in Picton we re-board our coach and travel along the rugged coastline through to Kaikoura, keeping an eye out for the seals sunning themselves on the coastal rocks. Continue south across the northern Canterbury Plains to the city of Christchurch.

Accommodation: Ibis Hotel Christchurch, Run of House 2 nights

Day 9 Monday (BD)

Christchurch

This morning enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Christchurch. Highlights include the River Avon, the Canterbury Museum; the Catholic Basilica; Bridge of Remembrance; the Earthquake Memorial; and the Art Deco New Regent Street. Learn about the effects of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding. Also drive up the Port Hills to the Sign of the Takahe for views across the city towards the Southern Alps and drive out to Sumner Beach.

Afternoon at leisure.

 

Day 10 Tuesday (BD)

Christchurch ~ Mt Cook National Park ~ Omarama

Today travel south across the alluvial Canterbury Plains, New Zealand’s chief cropping area then turn inland through Burkes Pass to the Mackenzie Country named after a 19th Century sheep stealer. See the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Sheep Dog on the shores of magnificent Lake Tekapo then travel along the shores of glacial Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook Village in the Mt Cook National Park. At the heart of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine region is Mt Cook, at 3754 metres the tallest peak in Australasia. Time is available for an optional scenic flight over the ancient rivers of ice and the West Coast Glaciers (weather permitting a highly recommended option). Mid-afternoon we retrace our journey past the spectacular blue waters of Lake Pukaki then continue through the Mackenzie Country to the rural service town of Omarama for our overnight stay.

Accommodation: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Run of House 1 night

Day 11 Wednesday (BD)

Omarama ~ Te Anau

At the southern end of the Mackenzie Country the road climbs through bleak rugged hills to the summit of the Lindis Pass before descending into Central Otago. The road follows the mighty Clutha River into recently created Lake Dunstan then through the spectacular rugged Kawarau Gorge to the delightful historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown set on the banks of the Arrow River. Following time here to wander amidst the shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants we skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu with magnificent views of the south arm of the lake and the mountains. Leaving the lake continue south through the glacial formed valley that is now farmland. Pass through small farming towns before reaching Lake Te Anau the largest freshwater lake in the South Island and the gateway to Fiordland National Park. This afternoon we see the audio-visual presentation Ata Whenua Shadowland which presents the Fiordland National Park and World Heritage Status you would otherwise never see. Mysterious, evocative, exhilarating and utterly spectacular, filmed across extremes of season, climate and terrain, it will take you on an unforgettable journey through one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on earth.

Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Superior Rooms 1 night

Day 12 Thursday (BL)

Te Anau ~ Milford Sound ~ Queenstown

Depart Te Anau for a full day excursion travelling via Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and leaping waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. At Milford Sound board a comfortable vessel for a scenic cruise down the fiord past Mitre Peak to the open sea. Seals and dolphins are often seen in the clear waters of the fiord. Lunch served aboard. At the conclusion of the cruise, re-board the coach and retrace our journey to Queenstown travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel , Te Anau and the quaint settlements of Mossburn, Athol and Garston. Nestled among glacier-rounded hills and dramatic rugged mountain peaks, Queenstown is New Zealand’s premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Evening at leisure to dine at your choice of one of Queenstown’s excellent restaurants or cafés.

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel and Resort Lakefront, Superior Rooms 2 nights

Day 13 Friday (BD)

Queenstown 

Today is at leisure. Queenstown has a plethora of optional sightseeing activities available from jet-boating on the thrilling Shotover Jet; a jet-boat excursion along the scenic and remote Dart River; winery tours to the premier Central Otago wineries; 4WD tours into unforgettable Skippers Canyon; scenic flights; fly-fishing or if you dare bungy jumping or tandem sky-diving! Extra cost for optional sightseeing excursions. This evening we dine at Queenstown’s most spectacular location. Ride the aerial gondola high above Queenstown to Bob’s Peak where the Skyline Restaurant serves up a mouth-watering Taste of New Zealand buffet – feast on South Island salmon, seafood, salads, roast meats and delicious desserts – and feast your eyes on the most spectacular scenery in the country.

Day 14 Saturday (BD)

Queenstown ~ Franz Josef

Today depart early, sit back and enjoy a day of ever-changing spectacular coastal, rainforest, and alpine scenery as you travel from Queenstown to Franz Josef on the West Coast. Travel through the rock hewn Kawarau Gorge passing stone-fruit orchards before skirting the shores of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka where the scenery changes dramatically. Cross the Haast Pass, the lowest of the South Island mountain passes crossing the Southern Alps then head towards the coast. The journey along the West Coast features native rainforest, wetlands, bush-fringed lakes, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. View the Fox Glacier in its spectacular setting amidst the rainforest then continue the short distance to the village of Franz Josef. The massive rivers of glacial ice of the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers flow from snowfields high in the Southern Alps almost to sea level quite an unusual feature in a temperate climatic zone.

Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, Graham Wing 1 night

Day 15 Sunday (BD)

Franz Josef ~ Arthurs Pass ~ Christchurch

Today we drive north along the West Coast with the Tasman Sea to the west and the Southern Alps rising steeply to the east to the town of Hokitika. Time permitting, visit the greenstone factory at Hokitika where a local jade like stone highly prized by pre-European Maori is crafted into exquisite jewellery. In the afternoon head inland to the small remote village of Arthurs Pass in the heart of Arthurs Pass National Park. At Arthurs Pass we board the Tranz Alpine train for a scenic rail journey traversing the heart of the mighty Southern Alps. Travel across towering viaducts, through spectacular gorges and river valleys then the landscapes opens up as we journey across the fertile Canterbury Plains and into Christchurch City.

Accommodation: Ibis Hotel Christchurch, Run of House 1 night

Day 16 Monday (B)

Depart Christchurch 

Farewell from New Zealand, today you are transferred from the hotel to Christchurch International Airport for your flight home.