29-day Very Best of New Zealand, from only £4,495pp
The below itinerary is based on departures from October 2020 onwards.
Guests travelling on the Very Best of New Zealand tour on an earlier departure date will have different flight options and a slightly different, 28-day itinerary – click here to see full details.
To find out more details about a destination or hotel, please click on any text coloured orange.
Day 1: Depart UK
Depart from London Heathrow with award-winning Singapore Airlines. Alternatively, you may choose to fly via Amsterdam with KLM/Singapore Airlines from Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Edinburgh or Glasgow at no additional cost.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Singapore, 2 nights
Arrive into the wonderful city of Singapore and transfer to the four-star Copthorne Kings Hotel, situated in an enviable position close to the banks of the Singapore River.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 3: Singapore
Known as ‘the crossroads of Asia’, Singapore is a city where east meets west; a cosmopolitan melting pot with an inspirational identity. This morning, enjoy a tour of this wonderful city. Included is a stop at Merlion Park with impressive views of Marina Bay. See the historic Civic District, Thian Hock Keng Temple and the fabulous orchid gardens set within Singapore’s botanical gardens. Return to the hotel where the rest of our day is free to spend as we please. Perhaps explore the impressive Gardens by the Bay or enjoy high tea at Raffles Hotel.
Day 4: Depart Singapore
A day at leisure in Singapore until it’s time to leave for our evening flight to Christchurch.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 5: Christchurch, 2 nights
On arrival into Christchurch, we meet our local Coach Captain, who will be our driver and guide during our time in New Zealand. Transfer to the centrally located Distinction Hotel Christchurch, where we spend our first two nights in New Zealand.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 6: Christchurch
Considered the most English of New Zealand’s cities, today in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is in the midst of an epic rebuild that has completely reconstructed the city centre. This morning we take a tour to see what this exciting developing city has to offer. We start our day with a visit to the Sign of the Takahe, an historical building on the edge of the city before continuing to view the key landmarks of the city centre, including the transitional ‘Cardboard Cathedral’. From here we take a visit to the Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English oak tree, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens contain an impressive array of flora and fauna. Our afternoon is at leisure to continue exploring this delightful city.
Christchurch sightseeing: 4hrs
Day 7: Dunedin, 2 nights
This morning, we begin our journey south towards Dunedin. We stop at Hampden Beach to witness the geological curiosities known as the Moeraki Boulders, huge spherical boulders which are scattered along the beach, whilst others can be seen emerging from the sandstone cliffs. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres in diameter. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago. Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago and waves, wind and rain are uncovering them one by one. Our next two nights are spent at the Distinction Hotel Dunedin.
Christchurch to Dunedin: 8hrs 30min via Moeraki and Oamaru, incl. lunch and stops
Day 8: Dunedin
This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour taking in the city’s neo-Gothic churches, town hall, opulent theatres, and other 19th century buildings. We have time to admire the beautifully landscaped trees and plants of Dunedin Botanical Gardens and the spectacular views of the Otago Peninsula and Harbour before we return to our hotel. Our afternoon is at leisure to spend as we please.
Dunedin sightseeing: 3hrs
Day 9: Te Anau, 2 nights
This morning we say goodbye to Dunedin and begin our journey to Te Anau. Our journey takes us via Milton and Balclutha, with its distinctive arched concrete bridge before continuing through fresh, green farm scenery into Gore. We travel via Lumsden and Mossburn before arriving in Fiordland and the shores of Lake Te Anau, the biggest of South Island’s many lakes. We stay the next two nights at the Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas.
Dunedin to Te Anau: 5hrs 30min incl. lunch and stops
Day 10: Milford Sound Cruise
An early start this morning as we embark on a stunning scenic drive into the heart of Fiordland National Park to join our morning cruise on spectacular Milford Sound. By choosing to cruise early in the morning, we will experience a quieter environment in which to enjoy all the wonders this beautiful fiord has to offer. See towering cliffs and peaks, including the iconic and much-photographed Mitre Peak, rising more than a kilometre straight out of the sea. Waterfalls cascade into the fiord and luxuriant rain forest clings to sheer rock faces. Later we return to Te Anau where there is time to enjoy the delights of this quaint township.
Te Anau to Milford: 3hrs (3 stops)
Nature Cruise: 2hrs
Milford Sounds to Te Anau: 2hrs
Day 11: Queenstown, 3 nights
This morning, we depart through high country landscapes as we travel to the historic mining town of Arrowtown. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of small-town heritage buildings that stretch into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miners’ cottages. Be sure to try a cream tea in one of the quaint tea rooms. We journey on to nearby Queenstown, and our home for the next three nights, the four-star Millennium Hotel, situated only a short walk from the centre of town.
Te Anau to Queenstown: 6hrs via Arrowtown incl. lunch and stops
Day 12: Queenstown Freedom Day
Queenstown smiles south across Lake Wakatipu into an incomparable alpine scene. Poplars and willows surround the lakefront and the lake seems to glisten every shade of blue. Today has been left free to take advantage of the incredible variety of activities available in and around New Zealand’s most glamorous alpine resort. For a relaxing experience, follow Queenstown’s wine trail, an enjoyable day excursion of wine tasting and sightseeing. There is also an opportunity to take an optional leisurely cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage steamboat TSS Earnslaw. The cruise includes a visit to Walter Peak Homestead and a sheep shearing show, before returning to Queenstown aboard Earnslaw.
Day 13: Queenstown Freedom Day
A further Freedom Day to enjoy in this wonderful alpine setting. The thrill seekers amongst us may wish to try the Shotover Jet – an exhilarating boat ride amongst the crags and boulders of the Shotover River canyon. For a more serene experience maybe stroll by the lakeside or take a gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for a magnificent panoramic view of Queenstown.
Day 14: Franz Josef, 2 nights
Incredible scenery today as we travel via Lake Dunstan, created by the mighty Clyde hydro dam in 1994. We make our way through New Zealand’s Central Otago region, along the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. We will also travel along one of the most exciting scenic roads ever built – crossing the Haast River Bridge. Later in the afternoon, we reach Franz Josef in the Westland National Park. Our next two nights are at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier.
Queenstown to Franz Josef: 9hrs incl. lunch, convenience, and sightseeing stops
Day 15: 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, which is at an additional cost, over the glacier and the awe-inspiring Alpine region.
Day 16: Nelson, 2 nights
Journey north this morning along the Heritage Highway, passing Lakes Mapourika and Ianthe as we leave Westland National Park. Our travels continue northbound taking us via Hari Hari and Hokitika, travelling alongside striking wild scree-scarred terrain with forests of Crimson Rata and Kahikatea. We visit Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks), an incredible maze of limestone rocks with booming blowholes stacked high above the sea; before arriving in Nelson where our next two nights are at the Rutherford Hotel.
Franz Josef to Nelson: 10hrs incl. lunch, convenience, and sightseeing stops
Day 17: Nelson Freedom Day
Nelson is a delight for explorers on foot. Scattered throughout the city are art galleries and workshops, historic buildings and street-side 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 visit some of the region’s wonderful wineries.
Day 18: Wellington, 2 nights
This morning we leave South Island in our wake as we board the ferry for our inter-island cruise to New Zealand’s North Island. During the cruise, enjoy spectacular views as we depart Queen Charlotte Sound. With the possibility of birds and dolphins following, we make our way across the Cook Strait to Wellington. Upon arrival, we re-join our coach and make our way to Wellington, where the remainder of our day is at leisure. Our next two nights are spent at the Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay.
Nelson to Picton Ferry: 3hrs incl. stops
Ferry to Wellington: 3hrs 30min
Day 19: 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 the 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.
Wellington sightseeing: 3hrs
Day 20: Napier, Overnight
This morning our journey continues north via Hastings and the Kapiti coast as we make our way to the Art Deco city of Napier, located in an area dominated by orchards and vineyards. Napier’s city centre has the feeling of a time capsule – the seamless line of 1930s architecture is quite extraordinary. One of the ways to enjoy the streetscape is on a self-guided tour. Our evening is spent at the delightful Scenic Hotel Te Pania, superbly situated on Napier’s seafront. Breakfast included
Wellington to Napier: 6hrs incl. lunch and stops
Day 21: Rotorua, 2 nights
Today we make our way along the Thermal Explorer Highway to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. We 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. We continue to Rotorua, which is at the heart of New Zealand’s rich Maori culture, and enjoy a lunch inspired by traditional Maori cooking. Following lunch, we explore Te Puia, Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, with its spurting geysers and boiling mud pools, before attending a concert featuring traditional song and dance, including the world-famous war dance – The Haka. After a wonderful day soaking up traditional Maori culture, we head to the Millennium Hotel for a two-night stay.
Breakfast and lunch included
Napier to Rotorua: 6hrs 30min via Huka Falls, and stops for lunch and convenience
Rotorua sightseeing: 3hrs
Day 22: Rotorua Freedom Day
A day at leisure in Rotorua. For those that so wish, optional activities include a floatplane flight over Mount Tarawera, or perhaps a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings may be more appealing?
Day 23: Bay of Islands, 3 nights
We travel north this morning, via Auckland, as we make our way to the pale sands and turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands. In the pretty seaside town of Paihia, the Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands will be our home for the next three nights.
Rotorua to Paihia: 9hrs via Auckland incl. lunch and stops
Day 24: Bay of Islands cruise
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of this tour is a cruise around the Bay of Islands, as in our opinion, there’s no better way to see this picturesque area of New Zealand. You’ll cruise via Red Head Passage to Cape Brett and Piercy Island and on to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’. In these world-famous deep-sea fishing waters, it’s not uncommon to see schools of fish and dolphins. The return trip includes a visit to historic Russell. It’s hard to believe that this quaint township was once known as the ‘Hell Hole of the Pacific’. As the afternoon has been left free, you have an excellent opportunity to take an optional visit to the grounds of the Waitangi National Reserve. It was here in 1840 that the British and Maori chiefs signed the Waitangi Treaty.
Day 25: Bay of Islands Freedom Day
Today you’ll have a full day at leisure, allowing you to do the things that really interest you. For example, there is the opportunity to join a fantastic optional trip to Cape Reinga. It’s a full-day excursion which visits the northern tip of New Zealand. Not only is this where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, but it holds a special significance in Maori tradition as the place where Maori spirits return to their traditional homeland, Hawaiiki-A-Nui, via the roots of a lone – and still standing – 800-year-old pohutukawa tree. Other standout locations during the tour include the Te Paki sand dunes and a drive along Ninety Mile Beach, passing some magnificent scenery along the coast.
Day 26: Auckland, 2 nights
After breakfast this morning, we leave the Bay of Islands. On the drive to the Waipoua Kauri Forest Reserve, we pass rolling hills dotted with dairy farms which give way to lush forest the closer we get to the reserve. There’s chance to marvel at the gigantic kauri tree Tane Mahuta, or ‘Lord of the Forest.’ From here, we cross the impressive Waitemata Harbour Bridge and head into Auckland and the Grand Millennium Hotel for our final two nights in New Zealand.
Paihia to Auckland: 8hrs 30min via Waipoua Forest incl. stops
Day 27: Auckland
Start the morning with an orientation tour of the city. Auckland has a beautiful waterside setting, with a modern skyline standing out against a backdrop of volcanic hills. As part of the tour, we’ll drive along the famous Waitemata Harbour. You’ll be able to see Rangitoto Island, an extinct volcano, which although it’s in the distance, dominates the horizon. Stop at the stylish Viaduct Harbour, which has played host to many America’s Cup celebrations. As the afternoon has been left free for you to enjoy however you would like, why not take in the panoramic views from the top of the Sky Tower? As you would expect from the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the views truly are breathtaking.
Auckland sightseeing: 4hrs
Day 28: Depart Auckland
All good things must come to an end, and this morning we transfer to Auckland Airport. Our flights to London Heathrow or Manchester travel via Singapore. If flying to Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Edinburgh or Glasgow, flights will also travel via Amsterdam.
Breakfast and in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Airport transfer: 1hr
SPECIAL OFFER: If you would like to break the long journey home to the UK after your New Zealand tour, then why not add on a stopover on Sentosa Island, Singapore? To celebrate the launch of our new 2020/ 2021 season, we are offering any guests travelling in our new season (departing from October 2020) a two night homebound stopover for only £49pp (£98 for single occupancy). The homebound stopover includes return airport transfers, two nights accommodation in a four-star hotel and a full daily breakfast. To enjoy this special launch offer, simply book by 29 February 2020.
If you fly with Qantas / Emirates (a supplement of £395pp applies), your stopover choices are Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore, each of which is on the same very special offer.
Day 29: Arrive UK
This morning we arrive at our chosen airport, bringing to an end our incredible adventure. 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.