28-day Very Best of New Zealand, from only £5,195pp
Day 1 – Depart UK
You’ll leave the UK from the airport that’s most convenient for you: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow, flying with Emirates / Qantas. Alternatively, you can choose to fly with Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow. Whichever airport or airline you select, there’s no additional cost.
In-flight meals and drinks included
Day 2 – Singapore, 2 nights
Just so you know, all flights to Singapore travel via Dubai before arriving in Singapore, undoubtedly one of Asia’s must-visit cities. You’ll be transferred to the four star Copthorne Kings Hotel, situated in the city centre and close to the banks of the Singapore River.
In-flight meals and drinks included
Alternative stopover – Dubai or Bangkok
We’ve based days 2 -4 of this New Zealand tour on flights with Emirates / Qantas and a stopover in Singapore. You might decide, however, that you’d prefer to stop in Bangkok or Dubai for the same price. You may also choose to travel with Singapore Airlines, flying from London Heathrow. This means your included stopover with Singapore Airlines will be Singapore. All of our stopovers include transfers to and from the hotel, daily breakfast and a city sightseeing tour. Flight timings do vary depending on your choice of stopover. For more details, please speak with one of our travel experts.
Day 3 – Singapore
Singapore is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city; a melting pot of east and west. This morning, you’ll get to experience this for yourself during a tour of the city. There are plenty of opportunities to take photos at Merlion Park, Thian Hock Keng Temple, plus the thousands of beautiful orchids within the botanical gardens. You’ll be taken back to the hotel, with the rest of the day free to spend as you’d like.
Day 4 – Depart Singapore
You’ll have another day at leisure in Singapore as our flight to Auckland is not departing until the evening. Perhaps you’d like to explore the futuristic bio-domes and sculptures in the Gardens by the Bay. Or start your holiday in style with high tea at the famous Raffles hotel.
Breakfast included and in-flight meals and drinks included
Day 5 – Auckland, 2 nights
There’ll be a quick change of flight in Australia before you arrive into Auckland. Our coach will be waiting, and will transfer you to the Scenic Hotel Auckland, where you’ll be spending the first two nights of this guided tour of New Zealand.
In-flight meals and drinks included
Day 6 – 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. The stylish Viaduct Harbour is another stop on the tour, which has played host to many America’s Cup celebrations. As the afternoon has been left free for you to enjoy however you’d like, why not take in the panoramic views from the top of the Sky Tower? As you’d expect from the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the views truly are break-taking.
Day 7 – Bay of Islands, 3 nights
After breakfast this morning, you’ll leave Auckland, crossing the impressive Waitemata Harbour Bridge and head north. On the drive to the Waipoua Kauri Forest Reserve, you’ll pass rolling hills dotted with dairy farms which give way to lush forest the closer you get to the reserve. There’s chance to marvel at the gigantic kauri tree Tane Mahuta, or ‘Lord of the Forest.’ From here, you’ll travel to the pale sands and turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands, and the pretty seaside town of Paihia where the Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands will be your home for the next three nights.
Day 8 – Tour Highlight
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 part 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-fishing spots 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 visit the grounds of the Waitangi National Reserve. It was here in 1840 that the British and Maori chiefs signed the Waitangi Treaty. This tour does come at an additional cost.
Day 9 – 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 area the place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, but it hold 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 today’s tour include the Te Paki sand dunes and a drive along Ninety Mile Beach, passing some magnificent scenery along the coast.
Day 10 – Rotorua, 2 nights
We travel south this morning via Auckland as we make our way to the world-famous thermal region of Rotorua. The next two nights are spent at the four star Millennium Rotorua, superbly situated close to the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua.
Day 11 – Tour Highlight
Rotorua sightseeing and Maori Hangi
This morning’s sightseeing takes us via Rotorua’s famous Bath House within the Government Gardens and is built in a Tudor style. You’ll then continue to Te Puia, which is home to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve. Here you’ll find spurting geysers and boiling mud pools. Your afternoon is then at leisure, allowing you time to relax. As always, there are optional activities available including a leisurely afternoon enjoying the thermal pools at the nearby Polynesian Spa, with their healing properties. For those of you among us who prefer things a little more action-packed, there is also a float plane flight over Mount Terawera. This evening, you’ll experience the rich Maori culture with a concert of traditional song and dance – including the famous war dance The Haka – plus a traditional Hangi buffet dinner, cooked using traditional Maori methods.
Breakfast included and dinner included
Day 12 – Napier, 2 nights
There’ll be a leisurely start to the day before you make your way along the Thermal Explorer Highway to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. You’ll visit the Huka Falls and witness the impressive sight of the Waikato River narrowing to a chasm less than 15 metres across, tumbling down 11 metres to the basin below. There is then a visit to Wairakei Terraces, to see a Maori village. Your Maori guides will teach you about their rich cultural and spiritual history, plus you’ll explore the arts and crafts of the village. It’s then on to Napier, the final destination of the day, and your home for two nights. The city is heavily influenced by Art Deco, and is surrounded by vineyards and orchards. The next two evenings are spent at the delightful Scenic Hotel Te Pania, situated in a perfect spot on Napier’s sea front.
Day 13 – Napier Freedom Day
Today is yours to spend as you please, although we would recommend spending some time exploring Napier. The 1930s buildings lining the streets give the city a trapped-in-time feeling; and you can enjoy the streetscape during a self-guided tour. It’s not just the architecture that the area is famous for though, and you might also like to visit some of the local wineries to sample the signature grapes of Pinot Gris and Syrah.
Day 14- Wellington, 2 nights
This morning the journey continues south, via Hastings and Masterton as we make our way to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Upon arrival we shall make our way to Wellington’s Copthorne Hotel Oriental Bay, where our evening is at leisure.
Day 15 – Wellington
Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Its interesting and varied architecture provides the ideal starting point for an orientation tour this morning. You will visit Wellington’s administrative area, taking in Parliament House, ‘the Beehive’ – you’ll understand the name when you see it – and the government buildings. 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 16 – Nelson, 2 nights
This morning you leave North Island in your wake as you board the ferry for our inter-island cruise to New Zealand’s South Island. During the cruise, enjoy spectacular views as you approach Queen Charlotte Sound. With the possibility of birds and dolphins following, we make our way across the Cook Straight to Picton. Upon arrival you will re-join our coach and make your way to Nelson where the remainder of our day is at leisure. Your next two nights are spent at the Nelson Rutherford Hotel.
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 cafes. 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 of some of the regions wonderful wineries.
Day 18 – Franz Josef, 2 nights
This morning journey south along the heritage Highway, stopping off at Punakaki, otherwise known as Pancake Rocks. This incredible maze of limestone rocks stacked high with blowholes blasting water sky-high. Continue heading south, via Hokitika and Hari Hari , with the striking wild landscapes 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 Franz Josef Glacier Hotel.
Day 19 – Franz Josef Freedom Day
Today has benn left completely free to absorb the beauty of Franz Josef under your own steam. There is the option, if you wish, to drive to the Franz Josef Glacier terminal where you have the opportunity to walk and view the glacier. Weather permitting, you can also take an optional scenic flight over the glacier and the awe-inspiring Alpine region, although this does come at an additional cost.
Day 20 – Queenstown, 3 nights
Today’s drive features incredible scenery, as you travel across the Haast River Bridge and via Clark Bluff along one of the most exciting scenic roads ever built. Travelling along the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, entering New Zealand’s Central Otago region. You’ll also see Lake Dunstan, created by the Clyde hydro dam in 1994. Later in the afternoon you’ll reach the cosmopolitan city of Queenstown, and the four star Millennium Hotel which is your home for the next three nights and is only a short walk from the centre of town.
Day 21 – Queenstown
Queenstown’s location is impressive. The city hugs the shore of Lake Wakatipu and backs onto an incomparable alpine scene. The lake itself seems to glisten every shade of blue, with the curve of the bay looking like a giant smile. This morning you’ll take a tour to visit nearby Lake Hayes before moving on to the historic mining town of Arrowtown. Make sure you stop for a cream tea in one of the quaint tearooms along Buckingham Street, with its collection of heritage buildings stretching into a tree lined avenue of tiny miners’ cottages. Your afternoon in Queenstown has been left at leisure. Thrill seekers may wish to try the Shotover Jet – an exhilarating speed boat ride, twisting amongst the crags and boulders of the Shotover River canyon. For something a little more sedate, why not follow Queenstown’s wine trail for an enjoyable afternoon of wine tasting and sightseeing.
Day 22 – Queenstown Freedom Day
Today has been left free to allow you to take advantage of the incredible variety of activities available in and around New Zealand’s most glamorous alpine resort. Take a gondola ride – and your camera – to the top of Bob’s Peak for some fabulous views of the apt-named Remarkables. For an additional cost, you also have the opportunity to enjoy an optional leisurely cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage steamboat TSS Earnslaw. The cruise also includes a visit to Walter Peak Homestead and a sheep shearing show, before returning to Queenstown.
Day 23 – Tour Highlight
Milford Sound, Overnight
Today is sure to be another tour highlight. Visit the magnificence of Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. The scenic drive takes you through Te Anau, plus a variety of landscapes: farmland gives way to lush beech forests and deep, glacial valleys before arriving at Milford Sound. It’s easy to see why the Sound is such a popular tourist attraction – it attracts thousands of visitors every day during the summer months. Yet, one of the best times to visit Milford Sound is at the end of the day, when everyone has left. And with Distant Journeys you’ll do just that with an overnight cruise along Milford Sound , which is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll be staying on board the wonderful Milford Mariner, and you’ll cruise the length of New Zealand’s most spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea, before anchoring for the night in a sheltered cove. Your night aboard Milford Mariner will be a truly memorable experience – there will be nature guides on hand to help you spot some of the wild residents, and there is the option to go exploring in the tender craft or kayaks. Of course, you can simply relax on deck. After the day’s activities, enjoy a sumptuous evening buffet in the spacious dining saloon before retiring to your private cabin with en-suite facilities.
Breakfast and dinner included
Day 24 – Dunedin, 2 nights
Start the day on board the Milford Mariner with a hot breakfast, before it’s time to make your way back to the jetty ready for the next part of your journey. Fresh, green farmland will be the vista for the journey to Balclutha, with its distinctive arched concrete bridge. Milton is the last sizeable settlement before we reach Dunedin. Dunedin is South Island’s second largest city and is also known as ‘Edinburgh of the South.’ It’s also considered New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital, thanks to its lovingly restored Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Your next two nights are spent at the Distinction Hotel Dunedin.
Day 25 – Dunedin
Enjoy a city sightseeing tour this morning, which includes travelling via Otago University, which was the first university in New Zealand. You’ll also pass by the city’s neo-Gothic churches, town hall, opulent theatres, and other 19th century buildings. There’s plenty of time to admire the beautifully landscaped Dunedin Botanical Gardens , plus the impressive views of the Otago Peninsula and Harbour before returning to the hotel. Your afternoon is at leisure to spend as you please.
Day 26 – Christchurch, Overnight
This morning, you’ll be heading north once more. Stop at Hampden Beach to admire the Moeraki Boulders, huge spherical boulders scattered along the beach, with others 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. Later in the day you’ll arrive at the Heartland Hotel Cotswold in Christchurch for your final night in New Zealand.
Day 27 – Depart Christchurch
This morning marks the end of what will have undoubtedly been a memorable trip. You’ll transfer to Christchurch Airport before the flights to your chosen airport via Sydney and Dubai.
Breakfast and in-flight meals and drinks included
Day 28 – Arrive UK
Breakfast is served shortly before our arrival into London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow.
In-flight drinks and breakfast included
Why not combine with a tour of Australia?
If you wish to make the ultimate journey to Australasia, combining the Wonders of Australia or Very Best of Australia tours with The Very Best of New Zealand tour makes perfect sense. Have a look at our combined tours for more information.