28-day Very Best of New Zealand, from only £4,495pp
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Day 1: Depart UK
With a choice of five major UK airports: Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester and Newcastle, you can begin your journey departing from the airport most convenient to you with Qantas or Emirates. Departures from Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow fly via Dubai, while from London Heathrow or Manchester you can choose instead to fly to Singapore with Singapore Airlines. There is no additional cost whichever flight you choose.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Singapore, 2 nights
The next three days of our itinerary are based on flying via Singapore, with flights direct from London Heathrow stopping here. All other flights travel via Dubai. Upon arrival into Singapore, you’ll be transferred to the four-star Copthorne Kings Hotel. Set in a location close to the banks of the Singapore River, you’ll be in a prime position to explore this exciting city.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 3: Singapore
A lively and modern city yet still a place steeped in cultures and traditions, Singapore is known as the crossroads of Asia, with its streets and landmarks telling the story of the city’s rich history over the centuries. Our first morning in Singapore begins with a tour taking in some of the city’s top sights. Along the way we’ll visit Merlion Park and admire its stunning views out to Marina Bay, the beautiful Thian Hock Keng Temple, the historic Civic District and the orchid gardens, surrounded by the city’s impressive botanical gardens. After our tour, we’ll return to the hotel, where you’re free to spend the rest of the day in Singapore as you please.
Day 4: Depart Singapore
Before our evening flight to Auckland, we have the day to ourselves to spend as we like. We can recommend exploring the immensely beautiful Gardens by the Bay or tucking in to a high tea at the iconic Raffles hotel.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 5: Auckland, 2 nights
Those flying via Dubai will change aircraft in Australia before flying to Auckland, while those flying with Singapore Airlines will fly to Auckland directly. Our friendly Coach Captain will be on hand to greet you when you arrive, and will be there to help you make the most of your time in New Zealand, acting as both your driver and guide. From the airport we will be transferred to the Grand Millennium Auckland, enjoying a central location in the city; here we will spend out first two nights in New Zealand.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 6: Auckland
This morning we get to know our new surroundings with an orientation tour of Auckland. The most populous city in New Zealand, Auckland is known as the City of Sails thanks to its waterside location, though it is also surrounded by landscapes of volcanic hills. Our drive through the city first of all takes us along the stunning coastline of Waitemata Harbour, where you can see the extinct volcano of Rangitoto Island dominating the skyline in the distance. We will then continue to the setting for several America’s Cups, the glistening Viaduct Harbour. After the tour, your afternoon is free to do as you please. This is a great opportunity to take a trip to the top of Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. The panoramic views from the top are simply breath-taking!
Day 7: Bay of Islands, 3 nights
We start off today setting off towards the Bay of Islands with a drive over the impressive Waitemata Harbour Bridge, driving past scenic landscapes of rolling hills and dairy farms as we travel north. On the way we visit the Waipoua Kauri Forest Reserve, where we will stop to observe one of its most notable landmarks, the enormous Kauri tree Tane Mahuta, known as the ‘Lord of the Forest’. After our beautiful stop in the forest, we travel through further across the country to the magnificent Bay of Islands. We arrive in the picturesque coastal town of Paihia, our base for the next three nights, where we will be staying at the Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands.
Day 8: Bay of Islands
Today we embark on an unforgettable cruise around the Bay of Islands, which is sure to be one of many highlights during your holiday. From Paihia we cruise through the Red Head Passage to Cape Brett and Piercy Island, before taking in the famous Hole in the Rock. Look out for dolphins and schools of fish as we cruise through the beautiful waters. On the return leg, we visit historic Russell, a picturesque town which was known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific many moons ago. Following our cruise, the afternoon is free to spend as you wish. We are also offering an optional visit this afternoon (at an additional cost) to the Waitangi National Reserve, the famous spot where together the British and Maori chiefs signed the Waitangi Treaty in 1840.
Day 9: Bay of Islands Freedom Day
Today is another Freedom Day to spend as you like in the Bay of Islands, though we are also offering an excellent optional full-day excursion to Cape Reinga, taking in the northern tip of New Zealand. On the way, we’ll take in some truly spectacular coastal views, including the incredible Ninety Mile Beach, as well as the Te Paki sand dunes. Arriving at Cape Reinga, we will see where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. We will also learn about this place’s significance in Maori tradition; here Maori spirits return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiiki-A-Nui using the roots of an 800-year-old pohutukawa tree, which is still standing today.
Day 10: Rotorua, 2 nights
This morning we set off south, passing through Auckland once more on our way to Rotorua, famous for its thermal springs. We arrive at our home for the next two nights, the four-star Millennium Rotorua, with a superb location near the shores of Lake Rotorua.
Day 11: Rotorua
We get to know our new surroundings today with a sightseeing tour of the area, with our first stop being the Tudor-style Bath House, set within the famous Government Gardens. The tour then continues on to Te Puia, where we find the amazing Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, home to boiling mud pools and spurting geysers. Following the tour, the afternoon is free to do as you like. Optional activities today include a float plane flight over Mount Tarawera, or for a more relaxing afternoon, you can experience the healing properties of the natural thermal pools at Polynesian Spa. Rotorua is the perfect place to take in New Zealand’s rich Maori culture, and tonight at our hotel we enjoy a cultural showcase of song and dance, including the famous Haka. The evening also includes a buffet meal.
Breakfast and dinner included
Day 12: Napier, Overnight
This morning we make our way along the Thermal Explorer Highway to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Visit the impressive Huka Falls where the Waikato River suddenly narrows to a chasm less than 15 metres across and heaves its vast bulk over an 11 metre ledge to boil furiously in a deep semi-circular basin below. Our destination today is the Art Deco city of Napier, located in an area dominated by orchards and vineyards. Take time this afternoon to explore the city. The seamless line of 1930s architecture is quite extraordinary and one of the best ways to experience the town is on a self-guided walk. We stay overnight at the delightful Scenic Hotel Te Pania, superbly situated on Napier’s sea front.
Day 13: Wellington, 2 nights
This morning our journey continues south via Hastings and the Kapiti Coast as we make our way to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Upon arrival we make our way to Wellington’s Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay, where our evening is at leisure.
Day 14: Wellington
Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Its interesting and varied architecture provides the ideal starting point for our orientation tour this morning. We visit Wellington’s administrative area, taking in Parliament House, ‘the Beehive’ (you’ll understand the name when you see it) and the government buildings. We then continue to the top of Mount Victoria for the ﬁnest view of the city and its picturesque harbour. Your afternoon is at leisure – a visit to Te Papa museum is highly recommended, as it oﬀers a fascinating insight into New Zealand’s rich history and cultural heritage. Alternatively, ride a cable car to Wellington’s beautiful botanical gardens.
Day 15: Nelson, 2 nights
This morning we leave North Island in our wake as we board the ferry for our interisland cruise to New Zealand’s South Island. During the cruise, enjoy spectacular views as we approach Queen Charlotte Sound. With the possibility of birds and dolphins following, we make our way across the Cook Strait to Picton. Upon arrival we re-join our coach and make our way to Nelson where the remainder of our day is at leisure. Our next two nights are spent at the Rutherford Hotel Nelson.
Day 16: Nelson Freedom Day
Nelson is a delight for explorers on foot. Scattered throughout the city are art galleries and workshops, historic buildings and street cafés. Today has been left as a Freedom Day so you can spend it any way you choose. Perhaps consider a trip to Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest national park, blessed with golden beaches, sculptured granite cliﬀs, and its world famous coast track. A cruise along the coast will take you to the very best scenery this region has to oﬀer. Alternatively, you may wish to take a tour to some of the region’s wonderful wineries.
Day 17: Franz Josef, 2 nights
Journey south this morning along the Heritage Highway to the rugged west coast. Visit Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks), an incredible maze of limestone rocks with booming blow-holes stacked high above the sea. Our travels continue southbound taking us via Hokitika and Hari Hari travelling alongside striking wild scree-scarred terrain with forests of Crimson Rata and Kahikatea. Just a few miles further south we pass Lakes Ianthe and Mapourika before reaching Franz Josef and entering the Westland National Park. Our next two nights are at the Scenic Franz Josef Glacier Hotel.
Day 18: Franz Josef Freedom Day
Today is left completely free to absorb the beauty of Franz Josef. For those that so wish, we shall drive to the Franz Josef Glacier terminal where we will have the opportunity to walk to view the glacier. Weather permitting we may also take an optional scenic ﬂight (at an additional cost) over the glacier and the awe-inspiring Alpine region.
Day 19: Queenstown, 2 nights
Today we take the ultimate road trip from Franz Josef to Queenstown, travelling over the Haast River Bridge and past the towering Clarke Bluff before we visit some of New Zealand’s stunning signature lakes. As we enter the Central Otago region, we drive along the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, as well as Lake Dunstan, a completely man-made lake created in 1994 by the gigantic Clyde hydro dam. After taking in the beautiful lakeside scenery we arrive at the alpine resort of Queenstown and the four-star Millennium Hotel, just a short walk from the town centre, ready for the next day of adventures.
Day 20: Queenstown Freedom Day
Another of our Freedom Days to enjoy is right here in Queenstown, where there are a whole host of activities on offer where you can make the most of the alpine landscapes. One option is to take a gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak, which offers unforgettable views across Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkables, a dramatic mountain range blanketed with snow. You can also enjoy the views from the water with an optional vintage cruise on board a vintage steamboat, the TSS Earnslaw. This leisurely cruise also includes a visit to the Walter Peak Homestead, where you can enjoy a sheep shearing demonstration before boarding the Earnslaw for the return to Queenstown.
Day 21: Te Anau, 2 nights
This morning we visit one of the many historic mining towns found in the Otago region, the charming Arrowtown. At the heart of Arrowtown is Buckingham Street, lined with heritage buildings and small miners’ cottages, telling the story of the town in centuries past. After admiring the architecture and quaint buildings, be sure to stop for a cream tea in one of the olde-worlde tearooms. Leaving Arrowtown, we pass trout fishing rivers and travel through rolling countryside to Lake Te Anau, the largest of the many lakes found on South Island. Our stop for the next two nights is either the Distinction Luxmore Hotel or the Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas, close to the shores of Lake Te Anau.
Day 22: Milford Sound Cruise
The early rise today is well worth it as we begin our day with a drive into the Fiordland National Park, ready for a truly unforgettable morning cruise on the spectacular Milford Sound. This morning cruise gives us the opportunity to enjoy the fjord at a much quieter time of day, with the beauty of the water and surrounding landscapes all to ourselves. Tall cliffs and peaks rise all around the fjord, reflecting in the tranquil waters, while you can also see lush rainforests clinging to rock faces and stunning waterfalls cascading down into the fjords. Not to be missed is a photo of Mitre Peak, a famous peak which towers more than a kilometre straight out of the sea.
Day 23: Dunedin, 2 nights
After yesterday’s amazing cruise around Milford Sound, we sadly say goodbye to Fiordland after getting ready for the day with breakfast at the hotel. Our morning drive takes us through more lush green countryside as well as the tiny townships of Mossburn, Lumsden, Gore, Balcutha, with its distinctive arched bridge, and Milton, before reaching Dunedin. The second-largest city on South Island, Dunedin has been affectionately titled the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ and boasts an impressive collection of well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian buildings. For the next two nights we will be staying at the Distinction Hotel Dunedin, a building which was once the Chief Post Office.
Day 24: Dunedin
This morning we take in a sightseeing tour of Dunedin, passing Otago University, the first university established in New Zealand, a series of neo-Gothic churches and an array of delightful 19th century buildings, including the town hall and lavish theatres. We will also see some spectacular natural views in the form of the beautifully landscaped Dunedin Botanical Gardens, as well as the sights over the Otago Peninsula and Harbour. Our tour will then return to the hotel, from where we can spend the afternoon at our own leisure.
Day 25: Christchurch, 2 nights
This morning we depart Dunedin to head north once more to Christchurch. During the journey north, we’ll stop at Hampden Beach where the breath-taking Moeraki Boulders can be see. These enormous spherical boulders are up to two metres in diameter, and are both scattered across the beach as well as emerging from the sandstone cliffs. These boulders are part of Maori legend, which says that the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru brought the boulders ashore when it wrecked against the shore hundreds of years ago. Scientists estimate the boulders to be over 65 million years old, buried in soft mudstone until the past 15 million years of waves, wind and rain had exposed them one by one. After taking in this incredible sight, we drive on to Christchurch and arrive at the Distinction Hotel Christchurch for our last two nights in New Zealand.
Day 26: Christchurch
After suffering huge damage at the hands of the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is still being constructed with a rebuild that has brought all of the city centre back to its former glory. Today we begin with a tour to see the city’s key landmarks as well as areas where Christchurch is still in a transition from damaged to new. The first stop is the Sign of the Takahe, a historical building on the edge of the city, before moving into the city centre to see the main landmarks, such as the unique ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, and then onwards to the Botanic Gardens. These gardens are home to an impressive display of flora and fauna, and were established back in 1863, where it all began with the planting of an English oak tree. Following the tour, our afternoon is free to enjoy the city as we please.
Day 27: Depart Christchurch
After a holiday of a lifetime exploring New Zealand, we sadly transfer to Christchurch Airport for our departures back to the UK. All flights with Qantas or Emirates, regardless of UK airport, travel via Australia and Dubai, while all Singapore Airlines flights change in Singapore.
Breakfast and in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 28: Arrive UK
An on-board breakfast is served before we arrive at the airport of our choosing: Birmingham, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester or Newcastle.
In-ﬂight drinks and breakfast included
Why not combine with a tour of Australia?
For the ultimate Australasian adventure, discovering the highlights of both Australia and New Zealand, why not combine the Very Best of New Zealand Tour with our Wonders of Australia or Very Best of Australia tours? Take a look at our selection of combined tours for full information.