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15 Day New Zealand Exploration

Here is a great overview of New Zealand for the slightly more discerning traveller.
A great mix of food and wine, culture and beautiful scenery.


Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland The City of Sails

Auckland - 'City of Sails' is regularly voted one of the best lifestyle cities in the world. Set on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour (meaning 'sparkling waters' in the Maori language), New Zealand's largest city boasts a diverse Pacific Rim and European cultural mix with opportunities to sample outstanding restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Explore cultural experiences at museums, galleries and Waiheke Island's idyllic food, wine and scenery tours; through to adventurous excursions such as sailing an Americas Cup yacht or exploring its rugged west coast for mountain biking, hiking trails or surfing at black sand beaches.

Auckland, New Zealand

Day 2 - Ferry to Waiheke Island - A Quiet Tropical Paradise in the Hauraki Gulf

Just 35 minutes by ferry from Auckland, across the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island seems a million miles away in pace and beauty. Waiheke has a special charm and seaside holiday atmosphere. Waiheke Island is an eclectic mix of cultures, activities, vineyards, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, beautiful beaches, scenic walking tracks and much, much more. It's a perfect relaxing, romantic escape; family holiday at the beach or weekend away. There are many outdoor activities and plenty to see and do, no matter what your interests or energy levels.

Waiheke Island

Day 3 - The Gourmets Food and Wine Tour

Enjoy succulent fresh oysters, award-winning olive oil and other locally-produced specialty foods, accompanied by wines from some of the Island's top boutique vineyards. Your guide will provide an entertaining and informative commentary along the way. You will visit an award-winning olive oil mill, followed by two vineyards, each offering a range of gourmet tastes to accompany their wines. Treats may include oysters straight from Te Matuku Bay, wild honey, the famous local green herb spread and artisan cheeses. Afterwards, enjoy a platter lunch at one of our top vineyard restaurants.

Gourmets Food and Wine Tour in New Zealand

Day 4 - Ferry back to Auckland. Collect rental car and drive 2.5 hours to Waitomo - Cave Country

The green rolling landscapes of the Waikato region that lies to the south of Auckland form some of the most fertile land in New Zealand, yet this is one region in particular which holds more than just surface appeal. For Waikato also boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns that formed millions of years ago and are now a major tourist attraction. To the south of Hamilton, the small and pleasant town of Waitomo is the focal point of the region's subterranean wonders. The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders - a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered. Above ground, the area around Waitomo is also popular for horse riding and bush walking.


Day 5 - Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour

Following a short transfer and walk to the cave entrance, your guide lights the candles setting the scene for an intimate cave experience. Here you will have the view of glowworms and cave formations up close and appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave). See glow worms up close. The guide tells the stories of the insect life that live here - titiwai, the glow worm, and the eels. Formation lights are especially turned on to cast a warm glow over stunning cave formations. After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, you'll be seated in Footwhistle's Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. Although the display only lasts a few seconds, your memories of the Footwhistle Cave will last a lifetime.

Glowworm Cave

Drive 2 hours to discover the Geothermal Wonderland of Rotorua

Rotorua is surrounded by steaming lakes, bubbling hot pools and bursting geysers, host to some of the world's most incredible natural forces. A heartland of Maori culture, the local people have embraced this turbulent land. For the traveller there is a breadth of attractions - families will enjoy viewing farm attractions and native wildlife, adventure seekers can experience world class white water rafting or mountain biking, while culture enthusiasts can experience indepth vibrant Maori traditions.


Day 6 - Maori guided tours of Buried Village & Whakarewarewa Thermal village

Take a journey with a local guide in the footprints of the Maori tribe "Tuhourangi " The afternoon is spent learning about the history of the eighth wonder of the world, the pink and white terraces and the great 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera that destroyed both the tribal village and the terraces. See where local Maori live now today in the thermal village of Whakarewarewa after being displaced by the Tarawera eruption of 1886. You can watch/purchase food cooked in the thermal waters and see the Pohutu geyser erupt. Boiling mud and thermal springs are on the guided walk through the living arts and crafts Maori village. Then take a scenic drive to the Blue and Green Lakes lookout and visit the Buried Village which is the former tribal lands of the Tuhourangi people. Here visitors can enjoy a guided walk through excavations/museum of the Buried Village and learn the stories of the how the eruption affected the land and the peoples of this time. The tour includes a beautiful native bush walk to a waterfall and Lake Tarawera lookouts.

Whakarewarewa Thermal village

Day 7 - Fly to Christchurch 'The Garden City'

Christchurch - 'A City Rebuilding'. The gateway to the South Island, is recovering from devastating earthquakes. Witness as the city creates its future - combining restoration of damaged historic icons; today's highly praised temporary 'cardboard cathedral' and 'Re:Start' shipping container shopping precinct; understand the vision of how the new vibrant city will be more of a joy to visit than ever before. Christchurch is an ideal base for day excursions to view Kaikoura's whales, scenic French settlement Akaroa or the mountain scenery at Arthur's Pass.


Day 8 - Alpine Train Journey - Christchurch to Greymouth

Rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world, the famous Tranz Alpine train will take you deep into the heartland of the South Island ... a coast to coast journey through some of the world's most extreme and beautiful scenery. The Tranz Alpine winds its way over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys before tracking slowly across the country's greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps. It stops in the heart of the Southern Alps at Arthur's Pass before following rivers, skirting lakes, before descending through lush beech forest to the Tasman Sea and the town of Greymouth.

Alpine Train Journey

Collect new rental car and drive 2.5 hours to Franz Josef Village

Franz Josef village is small (only 500 locals) and is located only ten minutes from the Glacier. The Franz Josef is a glacier located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south it is a unique in the fact that it descends from the Southern Alps to just 200 metres above sea level amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest. The glacier is currently 12 kilometres long and terminates 19 km from the Tasman Sea. The glacier exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the neve.

Franz Josef Glacier

Day 9 - Experience the Twin Glaciers with a snow landing

Twice the ice! Explore by helicopter the ancient icefalls of not one but two glaciers - Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Our pilots get you up close to the unique ice formations and neves. Experience the thrill of a snow landing that sets you up for some spectacular photo opportunities and unforgettable memories.

Experience the Twin Glaciers by helicopter

Drive 3 hours 40 mins to Lake Wanaka

Wanaka is located on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka, embraced by the Southern Alps, Wanaka is Otago's second resort town after Queenstown. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand's fourth largest lake, reflect the snow-capped peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park. Here you can absorb the unstoppable beauty of pristine wilderness and know that it will be easy to find a great restaurant for dinner. The township of Wanaka is a magnet for visitors who want to find the perfect combination of outdoor adventure and indoor luxury. There are comfortable places to stay, great shops and eateries- and all the time there's the call of the wild. The lake, mountains and around-the-year events calendar will keep you looking forward to tomorrow.

Lake Wanaka

Day 10 - Central Otago Wine Tour

The accent is on leisure as you immerse yourself into the flavours and sights of this vineyard paradise. We'll take you to the little places that are quietly making a big name for themselves with their dedication to produce the best possible wine. Here you'll get up close and personal with the vineyard owners. This tour is an unhurried amble through up to six of the regions finest, pausing only to admire the ever- present views. Savour the unique atmosphere of the arts, crafts and history of Old Cromwell Town and enjoy the indulgence of an award-winning gourmet platter lunch, made from local fresh produce.

Central Otago Wine Tour

Day 11 - Drive 1 hour 15 mins to Queenstown - Adventure Capital

Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps, is New Zealand's most celebrated destination. Offering a wealth of accommodation to suit all travellers, there is huge diversity in the experiences to be enjoyed - from adrenaline activities such as bungee jumps and sky diving, adventurous excursions like jet-boating and hiking through to superb golf, gourmet food and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning. Numerous day excursions are available, from the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound; Glenorchy's stunning scenery at the head of Lake Wakatipu, or to the historic towns of Central Otago. Queenstown itself has an excellent range of shops, restaurants and nightlife to enjoy. One thing is certain: you won't run out of things to do.

Queenstown in New Zealand

Day 12 - Scenic Cruise and Mt. Nicholas Farm Experience

Spirit of Queenstown offers a premium cruising experience on Lake Wakatipu - cruise further and see more. Board the vessel and enjoy a return cruise to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm on the western shores of the lake on a modern, spacious, purpose-built catamaran. Stop at Bob's Cove and view flora and fauna up close, and enjoy spectacular views towards Glenorchy, Mt Earnslaw, the Southern Alps and Remarkables mountain range. Disembark the vessel and join the farm guide on a walking tour of this truly authentic, working high country merino sheep farm. Watch the farm guide round up sheep, meet working farm animals used on the farm, and get up close to merino sheep whose wool is provided directly to Icebreaker clothing company. Then sit back and watch the landscape unfold as you get off the beaten track to spectacular vantage points by 4WD vehicle. Enjoy a morning or afternoon tea of freshly baked pikelets/pancakes/scones with jam and cream and a light Kiwi BBQ (summer) or soup and bread roll (winter) at the woolshed before boarding the vessel for the return cruise to Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu Cruise

Day 13 - Welcome to Auckland The City of Sails

Doubtful Sound Luxury Overnight Cruise

Explore the most beautiful Fiords in New Zealand through the Doubtful Sounds Luxury Overnight Cruise. Your magical journey begins as we cruise across sparkling Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Admire the beauty of the Lakes, towering mountains and lonely islands. Disembark at West Arm and transfer to a coach to commence the climb up over the Scenic Wilmot pass for photo stops and views of Doubtful Sounds Deep Cove before descending and boarding the MV Southern Secret. The vessel caters exclusively for just 11 passengers and each cabin has an ensuite bathroom including toilet and shower. Activities onboard the Southern Secret usually include: cruising and sightseeing amongst many of Doubtful Sounds Fiords, sea fishing, kayaking and mammal watching. Included in the overnight cruise is a picnic lunch, delicious evening meal, snacks and continental breakfast. You are welcome to bring Beer or Wine (NZ of course!) aboard to compliment your evening meal...

Doubtful Sound Luxury Overnight Cruise

Day 14

Return to Queenstown after cruise.

Day 15

Depart Queenstown.

Download Detailed Itinerary [pdf]

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Dive Discovery
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(415) 444-5100

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