RATA: BEST OF NEW ZEALAND
16 Days

ITINERARY

16 DAYS: Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Nelson, Punakaiki, Fox Glacier, Wānaka, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mt. Cook, Twizel & Christchurch.

Tour Overview:

On this Small Group Journey you will see and learn about New Zealand’s amazing geothermal activities, experience authentic Māori culture and hospitality, and explore the vast range of jaw-dropping scenery that makes New Zealand a magnificent location for the ultimate vacation.


Day 1 – Arrive Auckland

Haere mai – welcome! Arrive into Auckland where you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Spend the afternoon and evening at your leisure exploring the ‘City of Sails’.


Day 2 – Auckland / Rotorua

This morning enjoy a Auckland City tour including panoramic views from Bastion Point, the informative Māori and Pacific Islands displays at the Auckland Museum, quaint Parnell Village, and some of the most popular waterfront areas. Departing Auckland we travel to Rotorua – the heart of New Zealand’s famous thermal and cultural region. On arrival we will enjoy a city tour, before checking into our central accommodation. This afternoon we have some time out to relax, then visit Tamaki Māori Village for Te Pā Tū. The evening experience and feast is aligned to and changes with the maramataka (Māori lunar calendar). Feast on Māori song, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) amidst towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and forest-formed amphitheatre. Hākari (feasting) begins with forest horotai (canapes) and culminates in a lavish 4-course fusion feast. Hāngī is featured in varied seasonal menus designed by Māori chefs served to table, al fresco when warm, or in the wharekai (dining room) if cooler. During summer months, Tū Te Rā celebrates harvest and concepts concerning ancient Māori warfare and peace. Over winter months, Tū Te Ihi celebrates the Matariki star cluster with mystical ritual, energy, and passion. Return hotel transfers included – other travellers will be on board. (BD)


Day 3 – Rotorua / Wellington

Rotorua is the epicentre not only of New Zealand’s geothermal activity but of Māori heritage. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without including Te Puia, not only an active geothermal site, but the nation’s centre for indigenous arts and crafts and a Kiwi conservation project. At Te Puia it’s part of their culture to welcome, guide, entertain, and treat you like part of the family and you are treated to a private guide throughout your time here. Next travel out to visit the Blue and Green Lakes, and Lake Tarawera – site of the Buried Village to see remains of the Māori village Te Wairoa that was devastated by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Tarawera during the night of June 10, 1886. The excavated village offers a first-hand insight into the chaos and destruction that ensued following the eruption of Mt. Tarawera. This eruption also destroyed the famed Pink and White Terraces, once considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. This afternoon fly to Wellington, New Zealand capital city, which seems to be clinging to steep hillsides around a magnificent harbour at the southern tip of the North Island. The geographical heart of the country, it is also the political and administrative centre. The city has a cosmopolitan flavour with offices jostling for space with department stores, boutiques, galleries, trendy cafes and restaurants. On arrival enjoy a city tour including viewing famous landmarks such as New Zealand’s magnificent Parliament Buildings and the iconic ‘Beehive’building. Then into your hotel located within the central business and shopping precinct of Wellington. (B)


Day 4 – Wellington / Nelson

Your day commences with one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world. Travelling through the waters of Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound the ferry is often accompanied by dolphins riding the bow waves. Disembarking in Picton travel the short distance to Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough wine country. What better way to enjoy this region famous for its Sauvignon Blanc than with wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries? From Marlborough cross to the Nelson district a corner of the South Island blessed with a sunny microclimate and your base for the next two nights. (B)


Day 5 – Nelson – Abel Tasman National Park

Paradise found! Abel Tasman National Park is a mosaic of golden coves and turquoise lagoons sheltered by forested ranges to the south. With few roads in this pristine wilderness, most journeys are made by boat. This morning from Kaiteriteri, your tour includes a choice of one activity from these three options:

a) Non – Walking Option:
Full Park Scenic Cruise (3-4 hour cruise) Enjoy a morning cruise exploration of New Zealand’s smallest National Park. View world-famous Split Apple Rock, New Zealand Fur Seals, golden sands and the turquoise waters of Anchorage, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Awaroa and Totaranui Beach. Enjoy time at your leisure in Kaiteriteri and return to Nelson on the late afternoon transfer. Walking Option 1: Astrolabe Beaches and Bays (7km, 2.5 hour walk) After the Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Apple Tree Bay for a self-guided walk to fabulous Anchorage Beach. Late afternoon shuttle transfer back to Nelson.
b) Walking Option 2: Forest and Swing-Bridge (10.5km, 4 hour walk)
After the Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Medlands Beach for a rewarding and varied self-guided walk to Anchorage Beach including the scenic highlights of the South Head lookout, the famous Falls,River swing-bridge and Cleopatra’s Pool. Late afternoon shuttle transfer back to Nelson.


Day 6 – Nelson / Punakaiki

Driving via the Nelson Lakes National Park – an enchanting alpine landscape of rugged peaks, forests, stunning glacial lakes and the beginning of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps make a stop at the quaint village of St. Arnaud on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Turn inland to follow the Buller River Gorge – one of the world’s best but least-known scenic drives, carved out of the forest by 19th -century prospectors, it follows the deep river gorge, often crossing it on single-track bridges. Emerging from the forest the road hugs the coastline south to the small settlement of Punakaiki – renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ – these stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature. (B)


Day 7 – Punakaiki / Fox Glacier

Journey south along the Great Coast Road which was recently voted one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet. Pass through historic towns reaching Hokitika and its galleries specialising in pounamu (greenstone) jewellery and art works. Stretch your legs at the dramatic Hokitika Gorge where the blue/green waters pass through the rugged rocks. Continue south through forests and farmland, with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to Franz Josef then on to the small remote village of Fox. The huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from vast snowfields high in the Southern Alps, down almost to sea level. Weather permitting, an optional helicopter ride with a snow landing is a terrific way to experience the sheer grandeur of these West Coast glaciers (extra cost). (B)


Day 8 – Fox Glacier / Wānaka

Have your camera ready for your visit to nearby Lake Matheson for a morning stroll – when conditions are right the lake perfectly mirrors beautiful Mt. Cook in its still waters. Head over the Haast Pass along the river road beside the icy river and deep into Mt. Aspiring National Park. The atmosphere lightens as we reach lovely Lake Wānaka, reflecting the mountain peaks that in winter offer superb skiing, and the pretty resort. (B)


Day 9 – Wānaka

This morning you have the choice of two excursions:
a) Today join a passionate local eco-guide – as you depart Wānaka by boat and quickly leave civilization behind as you cruise across the lake to a predator-free island. The walking track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native vegetation – filled with very vocal birdlife – to the top to the “island’s secret”; a lake on top of the island with small islands in it! Unique and very photogenic, the echo of birdsong here is astounding. Carrying on a little further you come to the very top of the island and have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wānaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and the Arethusa Pool below. This is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the panorama. The flightless Buff Weka often join visitors on the island; this rare flightless bird has been extinct on Mainland NZ since 1920.
b) Experience New Zealand’s most authentic 4WD adventure – the perfect mix of incredible scenery, history, heritage and farming life. Explore remote and seldom travelled back roads of an authentic New Zealand High Country farm overlooking sparkling Lake Wānaka. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, glaciers and wild river valleys you’ll see farm animals including Red Deer, cattle and sheep up close and in their natural environment. Visit historical sites and experience what life was like for Wānaka’s first farmers. With two optional walks, through pristine alpine meadows and ancient lakeside forests, this journey offers a unique insight into Wānaka’s rich history, heritage, modern-day farming life and breath-taking scenery. This afternoon is at your leisure to relax or enjoy your own choice of activities.


Day 10 – Wānaka / Te Anau

Depart Wānaka with your first stop at the much photographed Cardrona Pub before traversing the Crown Range road to visit historic Arrowtown – a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. Continue your journey via the road pinned between the base of the Remarkable mountain range and spectacular Lake Wakatipu. Journey through a glacial formed valley that is now farmland, to reach Lake Te Anau, the largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the South Island and gateway to Fiordland National Park.


Day 11 – Te Anau / Milford Sound / Queenstown

The journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences you can have on four wheels. Fiordland National Park, part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is breath-taking in any weather. Board a comfortable vessel for a cruise past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. Keep an eye peeled for seals and dolphins which are often seen in the waters of the fiord. Following the cruise, retrace your journey back to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley then across the Southland farmlands and around spectacular Lake. (BL)


Day 12 – Queenstown

Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of Queenstown create the perfect backdrop for a visit full of adventure, exploration or relaxation. Today is free for you to do your own thing: thrill-seekers may choose to zip-line at Bob’s Peak, get drenched on a Shotover jet-boat ride or go white-water rafting. Other enjoyable but less hair-raising activities include the gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak, or a 4WD safari to Skippers Canyon. Boutique wineries and local gardens welcome visitors and the classic steamship TSS Earnslaw is an elegant way to discover Lake Wakatipu during a cruise to Walter Peak High Country Farm. (B)


Day 13 – Queenstown / Mt. Cook / Twizel

Continue north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge, past pretty Lake Dunstan and across the distinctive Central Otago countryside to the Lindis Pass. Descend into the unique Mackenzie Basin where the Southern Alps dominate the horizon. Take a beautiful drive along Lake Pukaki to Mt. Cook Village, home to New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki/Mt. Cook, we stay overnight in the rural town of Twizel. (B)


Day 14 – Twizel / Christchurch

Visit a local home set on the shores of Lake Tekapo and learn the secrets of making a Pavlova – a truly Kiwi dessert! For morning tea, enjoy the taste of your pavlova as you drink in the views of this beautiful lake. View the Church of the Good Shepherd, one of New Zealand’s most-photographed spots: a tiny church set against a majestic backdrop of the Southern Alps. Pass across the high country’s tussock plains, through the small rural towns of Fairlie and Geraldine and onto Ashburton. From here travel across the fertile Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. This most English of New Zealand cities suffered a succession of terrible earthquakes in 2010/11. Post-earthquake the city combines urban regeneration and innovation with heritage, culture and creativity. (B)


Day 15 – Christchurch

This morning we join punting boatmen, resplendent with straw boaters and traditional Edwardian dress for a relaxing cruise in flat-bottomed punts along the River Avon through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Enjoy a journey in style onboard a beautifully restored heritage tram through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre. This is the final part of our journey together so tonight we enjoy a relaxed farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (BD)


Day 16 – Depart Christchurch

Haere rā – farewell from New Zealand. After breakfast you are transferred to the Christchurch Airport for your return home taking with you fond memories of your time in New Zealand. Alternatively, should you wish to extend your stay, we can assist you with additional travel arrangements. (B)

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DATES/PRICING/ACCOMMODATIONS

2023
Dates Dbl Sgl
Nov 29 - Dec 14 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
2024
Dates Dbl Sgl
Jan 17 - Feb 01 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
Jan 31 - Feb 15 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
Feb 14 - Feb 29 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
Feb 28 - Mar 14 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
Mar 27 - Apr 11 CAD 9970 CAD 13120
Apr 24 - May 09 CAD 9220 CAD 12225
Sep 25 - Oct 10 CAD 8845 CAD 11845
Oct 30 - Nov 14 CAD 9595 CAD 12780
Nov 27 - Dec 12 CAD 10345 CAD 13685
2025
Dates Dbl Sgl
Jan 22 - Feb 06 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Jan 29 - Feb 13 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Feb 19 - Mar 05 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Feb 26 - Mar 12 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Mar 12 -Mar 27 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Mar 26 -Apr 10 CAD 10685 CAD 14155
Apr 12 -Apr 27 CAD 9905 CAD 13220
May 14 - May 29 CAD 9155 CAD 12280
Accommodations :
DESTINATION HOTEL
Auckland M Social
Rotorua Millennium Hotel (or Regal Palms Resort)
Wellington DoubleTree by Hilton
Nelson Heritage Rutherford Hotel
Punakaiki Scenic Hotel
Fox Glacier Distinction Hotel
Wānaka Edgewater Resort
Te Anau Distinction Hotel Luxmore
Queenstown Scenic Suites
Twizel Distinction Mackenzie Country
Christchurch Distinction Hotel

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INCLUSIONS

Inclusions & Highlight:

  • 15 nights accommodation in First Class Hotels
  • 19 meals included – 15 breakfasts,1 lunch,2 dinners
  • Visit the Auckland Museum
  • Delve into Māori life and enjoy a powerful cultural performance and feast
  • A private guide and tour around a geothermal valley with geysers, mud pools and hot springs
  • Visit a volcanic valley and explore the site of a buried village devastated by an 1886 eruption
  • Scenic Interislander Ferry journey across the Cook Strait
  • Wine tasting at one of Marlborough’s premier wineries
  • Cruise the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park
  • Visit world-famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki
  • Join a local eco-guided tour – or – an authentic 4WD adventure
  • Explore the historic gold rush village of Arrowtown
  • Cruise, with a picnic lunch, on the breath-taking Milford Sound
  • Enjoy true kiwi hospitality with morning tea at a local home on the shores of Lake Tekapo
  • Relax as you’re guided along Christchurch’s Avon River on an authentic Edwardian punt
  • Journey onboard a beautifully restored heritage tram through Christchurch’s city centre

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EMAIL US

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