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New Zealand: A North & South Island Adventure

14 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive Christchurch 
Tour begins 5:30 PM. A transfer is included from Christchurch Airport to the George Hotel in the heart of the city, overlooking Hagley Park and the Avon River.  Board a private tram car for a ride to Canterbury Museum, with sightseeing and commentary along the way. The museum, opened in 1870, is world-renowned for its natural and human history collections, including fossils, art, and Maori artifacts. Tonight, join us at a special setting for our welcome reception and dinner. (D)

Day 2 Quake City and Sightseeing 
Begin the day with a visit to Quake City, a museum that documents the disastrous earthquakes that struck Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region in September 2010 and February 2011; exhibits tell of heroism and loss, the science behind earthquakes, the efforts of emergency workers and volunteers who pitched in to help, and recovery projects still going on. Leave the museum and go punting on the River Avon; punting is among the city's English traditions, like cricket, rugby, gardening, and afternoon tea, and today a punter in Edwardian outfit will pole your flat-bottomed boat along the idyllic Avon from the boatsheds to the Botanical Gardens.  Lunch at the historic Mona Vale homestead and peruse the park, then take your choice of afternoon adventures. See the city sights from the back of a Harley* (helmet, jacket, and gloves provided); take a walking tour of the city's amazing street art with an art historian; explore Hagley Park and the riverside on a bicycle* (manual or electric, as you prefer); or choose a guided tour of the famous Botanical Gardens, where you'll learn why Christchurch is called The Garden City. Spend the rest of the day and evening as you please. (B, L)

Day 3 Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park 
Drive to Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park, a land of skyscraping peaks and expansive glaciers in the heart of South Island, a mountain-climbers' mecca; here Sir Edmund Hillary practiced his climbing skills on Mount Cook before tackling Everest. After lunch, board a MAC boat* for a close-up look at Tasman Glacier. The 16 mile-long glacier is continually melting and calving, creating an ever-expanding lake with icebergs; cruise the awe-inspiring lake with its eerie iceberg-islands to the towering walls of the glacier. Dine at your hotel inside the park this evening; tonight, you'll have a chance to go stargazing with an expert who will guide you through the constellations. The park is one of the few places in world officially recognized as an International Dark-Sky Reserve, free of groundlights, which means the night skies here are rare and spectacular. (B, L, D)

Day 4 From glaciers to Queenstown 
Today you have a choice of excursions.  Tour Tasman Valley in a 4WD vehicle* with an expert guide who will share insights on the valley's geology, ecology, and pioneering history; fly in a skiplane* over the breathtaking Southern Alps and land on Tasman Glacier for a stroll; or take a helicopter ride* to the Tasman Glacier to learn how glaciers work, and get an eagle-eye's view of the astonishing Hockstetter Icefall; or visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center, which showcases the great explorer, the region, and its people through exhibits, a 3D movie theatre, and a planetarium. Depart on a scenic drive to Queenstown after lunch and arrive late afternoon at your luxury hotel on Lake Wakapitu, ringed by glacier-carved alpine mountains. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Nature trails and jet boats 
Drive to Glenorchy at the north end of the lake for an exhilarating jet boat ride* through Mt. Aspiring National Park along the Dart River; the park's strikingly diverse landscapes of alpine mountains, forests and valleys are laced with braided rivers and easy hiking trails where local guides will introduce you to the area's rich history and Maori legends. The beech forest along the Greenstone trail feels like a forest in Tolkien's Middle Earth; in fact, it was used as a location in Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. Fly by helicopter* back to Queenstown where the rest of the day and evening are yours. (B)

Day 6 Misty mountains, ziplines and fly fishing 
You have a choice of excursions: ride in a 4WD vehicle* through breathtaking scenery on a Lord of the Rings safari to locations used in the movies, including Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), the Ford of Bruinen, and more; you'll also follow an historic mining road along the Arrow River and try your hand at panning for gold. Alternatively, you can zipline* through the treetops of a beech forest for incredible scenic views; or go fly fishing along waterways that suit you. Spend the afternoon as you please, then dine at a choice of select restaurants in Queenstown. (B, D)

Day 7 Planes, gardens & wine tasting 
Fly to Blenheim (via Wellington) in the Marlborough region, where your first stop is the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, a museum with an astonishing array of vintage aircraft from the world wars, including several World War I planes from filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson's personal collection. Not merely displayed, the aircraft are featured in vivid dramatic scenes and settings designed by Jackson's film studios to show them in action. Depart for a sheep farm, where a garden tour with lunch is followed by sheep-dog and sheep-shearing demonstrations. Then enjoy tastings at Yealands Winery in Awatere Valley, where you'll discover how sustainable, green technology is used to produce their award-wining wines (and also see their adorable baby doll sheep).  Check into your hotel in Blenheim. Dinner tonight is at the Arbour Restaurant in a relaxed environment with innovative cuisine and an extensive wine list; the menus showcase local producers and Marlborough stories. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Marlborough Sounds Cruise 
Take a cruise along the enchanting Marlborough Sounds, a vast network of sunken valleys, islands, secluded bays, and fjord-like vistas at the northern tip of South Island; the sheltered waters are home to dolphins, seals, gannets, and occasionally orcas.  Return to the hotel for free time on your own, then set out for an adventure in what the region is famous for: food and wine. Stop in at the Wine Station where you can sample from a selection of 80 premium local wines along with a range of gourmet platters from artisan producers. Dinner is at the hotel tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 9 Art Deco treasures in Napier 
Fly (via Wellington) to Napier in Hawke's Bay on the east coast of North Island.  Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in the Art Deco style that was popular at the time; today the city is famous for its well-preserved 1930s architecture, the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand. A short documentary film will brief you on the 1931 earthquake and its aftermath; then see the city sights on foot and in a chauffeured vintage car with stories and commentary by local guides. Dine at leisure at your hotel this evening. (B, D)

Day 10 Te Mata Peak & a Gala 1930s evening 
Take a sightseeing drive through town, then enjoy morning coffee on Te Mata Peak, 1300 feet above Hawke's Bay, with panoramic views of the city, the bay, and Heretaunga Plains. Drop in at Birdwoods Gallery and Sweet Shop, an art gallery with a sculpture garden, café, and old-fashioned sweet shop in a charming colonial cottage. Visit family-run Mangara Farm for a tour of their sustainable farming methods and a barbecue lunch.  Return to the hotel and get dressed (in costume) for our sparkling evening event, a Gangsters and Flappers Party in the Gatsby Room, featuring "Prohibition cocktails", dinner, and a swing band. (B, L, D)

Day 11 Adventures in Hawke's Bay 
Sleep in this morning... or explore Napier on your own, then lunch at Elephant Hill, an eco-friendly wine estate and restaurant on the Te Awanga Coast in Hawke's Bay. This afternoon you have a choice of activities. Take a wide-ranging "Sunset on the Water" bicycle tour* through Napier that includes a visit to an Art Deco landmark and winery, then ride around the coastline and outlying farms, ending with a sunset cocktail at a waterside bar; or choose a "Walk with Ancestors" tour with a member of the Waimarama Tribe who will walk you through a sacred site and share stories of his family's history and culture, and an insider's perspective on being a Maori in contemporary society; or visit three local craft breweries to meet their owners and learn about the meteoric rise of artisan ales and lagers in New Zealand. The rest of the day and evening are yours. (B, L)

Day 12 Napier to Auckland 
Fly to Auckland this morning and visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of New Zealand's most treasured institutions of history, culture, natural history and military history, known for its collections of Maori and Pacific treasures; the museum is also a war memorial for the Auckland province. Enjoy a private Maori performance and guided tour of the Maori exhibit. Check into your luxury hotel in the city's new Wynyard waterfront district and dine at the hotel tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 13 City of Sails 
Auckland is called the "City of Sails" for the abundance of yachts in its harbors. Take your pick of excursions this morning.  Besides major landmarks, our City of Sails Sightseeing Tour includes bays and residential suburbs where you'll see the homes and lifestyles of urban "Kiwis," Eden Park, home to the rugby world champions All Blacks, and the top of Mount Eden, an extinct volcano with panoramic views of the city and the Hauraki Gulf; or visit Waiheke Island, the Island of Wine, a haven of beautiful vineyards, white beaches, and forests; or take a scenic coastal drive to Matakana, an artisan paradise, where you'll visit wineries, walk the sculpture trail, and meet the people of the village; or visit Hobbiton (aka The Shire), the movie-set village where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed; or you can choose the world-famous boat ride through Waitomo Caves, where thousands of glow worms illuminate the dark like constellations of stars. Spend free time on your own, then join us a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. (B, D)

Day 14 Journey home 
Tour ends Auckland. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Park Hyatt Auckland to Auckland Airport. Allow three hours for flight check-in. (B)
All This Included
See Christchurch from the back of a Harley and go punting on the River Avon... walk on Tasman Glacier... jetboat the Dart River and hike wilderness trails through Middle Earth... dance at a Gatsby-style gala in Napier... discover Maori culture and a Hobbit village in Auckland... with adventures in world-class wine and cuisine along the way.

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring landscapes, cultures, and cuisines of New Zealand on this 14-day journey far off the beaten tracks. Your journey begins with two nights in Christchurch at a luxury hotel on the River Avon; tour the city sights by tram, foot, bicycle, or motorcycle... go punting on the River Avon... Stay at a lodge inside Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park where the landscape of rugged peaks and glaciers calls you to its hiking trails; ride a helicopter to Tasman Glacier; lose yourself in the spectacular night sky (the park is one of the best places in the world for stargazing)... Hike the Arrow River and pan for gold in Queenstown... ride a jet-boat on the Dart River, bicycle-ride, zip-line, fly-fish, or take a 4WD safari to landscapes featured in the Lord of the Rings movies...  Stay two nights in the heart of New Zealand's winemaking region at Blenheim, where you'll visit a winery and a sheep farm, and cruise the fjord-like sunken valleys of the Marlborough Sounds...  Discover the town of Napier, a treasure-trove of 1930s Art Deco architecture... Fly to Auckland on North Island for two nights at a waterfront luxury hotel, your base for exploring the city; tour the Auckland Museum with a private Maori dance performance... visit Waiheke Island (the island of wine), the artisan village of Matakana, or Hobbiton Farm (the Shire) the movie set where The Hobbit was filmed.
  • Cruising the sunken valleys of the Marlborough Sounds
  • A jetboat ride on the Dart River, and a Lord of the Rings tour in Mt. Aspiring National Park
  • Wine tastings in Blenheim
  • Flightseeing the Southern Alps with a landing and walk on Tasman Glacier
  • Stargazing the night sky over Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park with an expert guide
  • Tour of a sacred Maori site in Auckland with a member of the Waimarama Tribe
  • Ride a boat through underground Waitomo Caves, illuminated by glow worms
  • On-Tour Air included (3 flights)
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 32 meals; gratuities to local guides and drivers, service charges, taxes, and porterage
  • TAUCK EXCLUSIVE — A sparkling 1930s party with a live swing band in Napier
  • TAUCK EXCLUSIVE — Private Maori performance at Auckland Museum and a tour of the Maori exhibit guided by the performers
  • Tauck’s exclusive charter flights mean more sightseeing and less waiting (3 flights in total)
Christchurch: The George Christchurch
Mt. Cook National Park: The Hermitage Hotel
Queenstown: The Rees Hotel
Blenheim: Chateau Marlborough
Napier: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Auckland: Park Hyatt Auckland
  • The following dates are Small Group Departures, averaging 24 guests: February 23 and October 19.
    Note: Activities marked with an asterisk (*) are at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.