New Years Tour
From $2750.00 per person
Why not celebrate New year exploring the lower North Island? During this eight-day tour, we explore Napier and Whanganui enjoying attractions including Gannet Safari, Missions Estate Winery, the Tui Brewery, Durie Hill Elevator, Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary and Bason Botanic Gardens just to name a few.
Day 1 Friday 27 December 2019 – HOME CITIES TO NAPIER (D)
This morning we commence our journey travelling south through Cambridge and Tirau to Taupo where we visit the Huka Falls. We then stop in Taupo and have time to purchase lunch. We continue our journey through to Napier the city by the sea, which was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive earthquake in February 1931. Supported by a Mediterranean climate and over 2,200 hours of sunshine a year this popular year-round destination is set amongst the splendour of the Art Deco buildings. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s in such a concentrated area. Napier is home to one of New Zealand’s busiest ports, transporting timber, local fruit and meat products to worldwide destinations. Upon arrival, we will have a brief orientation tour before being transferred to our accommodation. Tonight we travel out to Mission Estate Winery for a delicious 3-course dinner. The restaurant is located in a historic building overlooking Napier and Hawkes Bay. This building was built in 1880. It was known as La Grande Maison or the “big house” and became the home for the early French Marists for three decades.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Te Pania, Napier – 3 nights
Day 2 Saturday 28 December 2019 NAPIER (BD)
Today we visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand. Nowhere else in New Zealand can you experience such a large and diverse range of aquatic animals and wildlife, both native species and from around the world. The 1.5 million litre Oceanarium showcases the many and varied aquatic species that exist in the adjacent Hawke Bay, including five types of shark and many other reef fish. Journey through the Oceanarium inside their amazing underwater viewing tunnel as hundreds of local fish species swim and feed, above and around you. Elsewhere in the aquarium, you can view more native saltwater and freshwater species, as well as exotic reef and deep-sea fish from around the world. The kiwi, tuatara and penguin enclosures provide an insight into New Zealand’s most precious species. Also on exhibition are species from the Americas, Asia and Australia, including alligator and piranhas. After lunch, we travel to Silky Oak Chocolates where we will enjoy a selection of our delicious chocolates and learn all about the chocolate making process from one of their experts. View the chocolate factory in action through the viewing window. In addition to enjoying a selection of their delicious chocolates and hearing all about how chocolate is made, we’ll also enjoy a self-guided admission into the “Chocolate Thru’ the Ages” museum. the only comprehensive chocolate museum in the Asia Pacific region. Covering 3,000 years of chocolate history, the museum tells the story of food whose past is as rich as its flavour. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Day 3 Sunday 29 December 2019 NAPIER (B)
Today we drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland to visit the world’s largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years. Our safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. There is absolutely no walking required. You will travel in comfort in our air-conditioned 4 x 4 Mini Coach, through Cape Kidnappers Station – traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, through stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to the Mahia Peninsula. The amazing geology of the area can also be taken in. The 36km, three-hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide/driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets, you can stretch your legs and take in the mouthwatering scenery from your position at the brink of the cliff’s edge – 100 metres above the ocean. Here your driver/guide will serve you light refreshments whilst you enjoy watching the gannets perform around you. On the completion of our Gannet Safari, we will drive through Havelock North and Hastings before returning to our accommodation in Napier. Dinner tonight is at your leisure.
Day 4 Monday 30 December 2019 NAPIER TO WHANGANUI (BLD)
Departing Napier this morning we travel south through Hastings and the Hawkes Bay sheep and cattle farming country to the small town of Mangatainoka, home to the New Zealand famous Tui Brewery, the largest brewery in the North Island. The brewery is set amongst farmland alongside the Mangatainoka river. Our time at Tui includes a guided tour of the brewery, kiwi lunch, beer tastings and a visit to the museum. Departing Mangatainoka we travel to the River City of Whanganui, where we will base ourselves for the next four nights. On arrival in Whanganui, we will do an orientation tour of the town before checking into our accommodation. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Kingsgate Hotel The Avenues, Whanganui – 4 nights
Day 5 Tuesday 31 December 2019 WHANGANUI (BD)
Today we discover what Wanganui has to offer. Located opposite the city bridge at the bottom of Victoria Avenue, the Durie Hill pedestrian tunnel leads to the historic Durie Hill Elevator. Built-in 1919 it is the only earthbound elevator in New Zealand and one of only two left in the world Two viewpoints are located at the top, one above the elevator’s machinery room and the other on the Memorial Tower. The 33.5 metre Memorial Tower is built from fossilized shell rock and offers excellent views of the city, Mount’s Taranaki and Ruapehu and the Tasman Sea. A walkway beside the tower offers an alternative route descending 191 steps to the city bridge. We then board the PS Waimarie and experience river travel as it used to be on Whanganui’s iconic paddle steamer! Salvaged from the bottom of the Whanganui River where she sat for around 50 years, the Waimarie Paddle Steamer was restored to her former glory and re-launched in 2000 to make her New Zealand’s last steam-powered and coal-fired passenger paddle steamer operating from the golden riverboat era of the late 19thand early 20th centuries. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Day 6 Wednesday 1 January 2020 WHANGANUI (B)
Happy New Year!
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we’ll visit the Whanganui Regional Museum. Set in the heart of the Whanganui cultural centre on Queens Park, the Whanganui Regional Museum offers a rare experience – a journey into the hearts and minds of the people of Whanganui, and a look at their treasures, their loves, their everyday lives and their dramas, their history and their future. After lunch (own cost), we’ll visit the Virginia Lake Aviary. It is one of many gifts that have been presented to the city by local philanthropists and volunteers. The present aviary was officially opened on August 12, 1979, along with the dovecote which stands nearby. The concept of a free-flight design, which allows visitors up-close walk-through access to the birds, was a novel idea in the late 1970s and led the development of other such aviaries in New Zealand. It now has 400 birds of 32 species from a variety of countries including Australia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, India, Burma, China and Japan. You’ll see pheasants, guinea fowl, yellow and red-crowned kākāriki (parakeets), numerous different parrots and sulphur-crested cockatoos. The remainder of the day, including dinner, is at your leisure.
Day 7 Thursday 2 January 2020 WHANGANUI (BLD)
Today we travel north to Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary. The 100-hectare native forest sanctuary is predator-free for native birds and is ranked as one of Australasia’s “Top 25” Restoration Projects. There are 3.4km of easy all-weather walking tracks throughout the forest and wetlands area and a huge variety of bird life and species of trees. Bellbirds (kōmako), NZ bush pigeon (kereru), saddlebacks (tīeke), stitchbirds (hihi), morepork or owl (ruru), purple swamp hen (pūkeko), kingfishers (kotare)and white-faced heron (matuku moana) are just some we may see. Don’t miss “Ratanui”, believed to be the biggest northern rata tree, 43 metres high with a girth of more than 11 metres with an age of between 500 and 1000 years. While here we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch at the Homestead. Departing Bushy Park we travel to Bason Botanic Gardens. Set in 25 hectares of landscaped countryside and includes one of the most extensive public garden orchid collections in NZ and unique conservatory architecture. The history of Bason Botanic Gardens is that of a magnanimous gift from Stanley and Blanche Bason to the Wanganui City in 1966. Initially living off the land, this couple had a good vegetable garden, orchard, plenty of ducks, pheasants and pūkeko and watercress from the creek. As their farm become more profitable following World War II, they were able to develop the Homestead and English Garden into almost an acre of camellia, roses, delphiniums, a scented garden and more. We then retrace our steps back to Whanganui. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 8 Friday 3 January 2020WHANGANUI TO HOME CITIES (B)
After breakfast this morning we depart Whanganui and commence our journey home travelling via State Highway 4. At National Park, we disembark the coach and board the Northern Explorer train for the remaining part of the tour. Our train journey begins traversing the world famous Raurimu Spiral, before seeing fantastic views of rugged bush landscapes and rolling farmland of the King Country. Arriving back in Hamilton in the late afternoon, we disembark the train and say farewell to the friends you have made. Auckland passengers will remain on the train and travel through to Auckland.