Kowhai

NZ$8,640 – $10,800pp (based on seasonality), twin share, land only

Explore the wide sandy beaches of the Coromandel coastline; dip your toes in the azure blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park; and journey deep into Fiordland National Park to cruise on the iconic Milford Sound – One of our all-time ‘must do’ experiences on a trip to the South Island.  

 

Day 1 Arrive Auckland

M Social Hotel, 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 - Bay of Islands

Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell

Travel north via Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge visiting the Reed Memorial Park.  Here walk along an elevated canopy walkway through a remnant of the original kauri forests – some kauri trees are known to be at least 500 years old.  Take in the picturesque Whangarei Falls formed more than 2 million years ago, before continuing to the Bay of Islands, a stunning region of 144 sub-tropical islands scattered through warm shallow waters and bays abundant in natural wonders and marine life.  Regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand the Bay of Islands is rich in both Maori culture and early European history.  You are welcomed to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, to learn the story of Waitangi including the signing of the 1840 treaty between Maori tribes and British settlers; the magnificent meeting house; the interactive and contemporary museum; and the war canoe (waka).  Next, take a ferry to the seaside village of Russell spending the next two nights at the historic Duke of Marlborough Hotel.

Day 3 Bay of Islands

Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Russell

Today we have a choice of two tours excursions:

  1. Discover the Far North of New Zealand – Journey along the magnificent 90 Mile beach to Cape Reinga the very tip of New Zealand, where the Tasman Sea collides with the Pacific Ocean. This full day tour includes a visit to the ancient Puketi Kauri forest and lunch.
  2.  Enjoy a Dolphin and Hole in the Rock cruise. On the way to the Cape Brett Lighthouse, playful dolphins race alongside the boat, now hold your breath as the skipper skilfully navigates his way through the famous Hole in the Rock and into Grand Cathedral Cave (conditions permitting).  Return to Russell to meet a local guide for an insight into this historic town’s rip-roaring past!

Day 4  Bay of Islands - Auckland

M Social, Auckland

Head south through rural towns and past delightful beaches before arriving in Auckland; New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city to enjoy a sightseeing tour of the ‘City of Sails’ including panoramic views from Bastion Point; trendy Parnell Village; the lovely bays of the waterfront drive; and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area.  Also, enjoy a guided tour of the Auckland Museum which gives an excellent introduction to the artistic legacy and cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific.

Day 5  Auckland - Coromandel Peninsula

Oceans Resort, Whitianga

Take to the water for a scenic cruise across the Hauraki Gulf passing many volcanic islands to the Coromandel Peninsula. Visit the nearby Driving Creek Railway climbing 120m on a narrow-gauge line to the ‘Eyefull’ Tower for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and back over the Hauraki Gulf. Drive east across the Peninsula through beautiful scenery to reach the resort of Whitianga on Mercury Bay.

Day 6  Coromandel Peninsula

Oceans Resort, Whitianga

White cliffs, golden beaches, inviting turquoise waters and green forests are the colours of the Coromandel, with scarlet highlights courtesy of the flowers of Pohutukawa trees in summer, making this one of our favourite regions.  Rightly famous is Hot Water Beach, where warm springs bubble up through the sand, and when the tide is right you can dig out your very own ‘spa’ pool for a wallow in the warm waters.  Walk down into Cathedral Cove – your efforts are rewarded with one of the most photogenic beaches in New Zealand.  Depart by water taxi back to Hahei where your driver will be waiting to take you to Cooks Beach – named after Captain James Cook who sailed on the HMS Endeavour into Mercury Bay in 1769 – famous for its long golden sandy beach which is now a popular retreat for Kiwis during summer months.

From Cooks Beach you can choose to: 

a) Catch the short ferry ride back to Whitianga and walk to your accommodation

b) Travel back with your driver.

Day 7  Coromandel Peninsula - Rotorua

Prince's Gate Hotel, Rotorua

Taking the Pacific Coast Highway through the beachside towns of Whangamata and Tauranga in the beautiful Bay of Plenty before turning inland to visit a well-formed bushwalk with scenic lookouts over Okere River and its spectacular waterfalls.  Rotorua is the epicentre not only of New Zealand’s geothermal activity but of Maori heritage, and 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.

Day 8  Rotorua

Prince's Gate Hotel, Rotorua

Today you have the choice of two excursions: 

  1. Visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley – site of the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 the devasting eruption buried local Maori villages and destroyed the world-famous ‘Pink and White’ silica terraces, once considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. This catastrophic event changed the landscape forever and created the valley you can now walk through, past boiling craters and jewel-coloured steaming lakes. Take a cruise across Lake Rotomahana to the site of the old silica terraces, hear the story of Guide Sophia and see the new terraces of silica slowly forming.
  2.  Experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the delightful setting for The Shire that featured in Peter Jackson’s films, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit film series. Your Hobbiton guide will escort you through the ten-acre site recounting fascinating details of how the movie set was created.  The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for the films can be viewed, and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth.

This evening travel to a Marae (Maori Village).  Experience a formal welcome (powhiri) including the hongi – that is sharing breath.  Delve into Maori life, both past and contemporary. Listen to their fascinating reality – how things are and what is important to their family, their connection to their land, the importance of whakapapa (lineage) and life amongst their people.  Finally, this evening enjoy a powerful cultural performance, storytelling and Hangi (feasting).

Day 9  Rotorua - Napier 

Scenic Hotel Te Pania, Napier

Visit the powerful Huka Falls then view the vast Lake Taupo – more inland sea than a lake, though its fresh waters teem with trout.  Across the lake stands the mighty volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro within the Tongariro National Park.  Onto Napier to view one of the world’s most complete examples of Art Deco architecture, second (arguably) only to Miami Beach.  This joyful seaside town had a tragic birth, being virtually levelled by fierce fires that followed the devastating 1931 earthquake.  Napier was rebuilt in the most up-to-date style of the time, which today is referred to as Art Deco.  This afternoon your local guide brings history and architecture alive with entertaining stories as you discover Napier on foot.  Today’s journey has brought us to the North Island’s wine country, so this evening’s treat is dinner at New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate, where you enjoy dinner in the restored seminary buildings with sweeping views of Napier.

Day 10  Napier - Wellington 

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Travel through the vineyards and orchards of Hawke’s Bay and the bush-clad ranges of the Wairarapa into New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.  On arrival view New Zealand’s magnificent Parliament Buildings including the iconic ‘Beehive’ building.   From the Kelburn lookout take the Wellington Cable Car down into the central city precinct before visiting Te Papa – one of the most exciting museums in the world, featuring New Zealand insights; the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.

Day 11  Wellington - Nelson

Heritage Rutherford Hotel, 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.

Day 12  Abel Tasman National Park

Heritage Rutherford Hotel, Nelson

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. Return to Nelson city for some time this afternoon at leisure.

b) 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.

c) 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 13  Nelson - Punakaiki

Punakaiki Resorts, 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 Saint 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.

Day 14  Punakaiki - Fox Glacier 

Distinction Hotel, 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).

Day 15  Fox Glacier - Wanaka 

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

Have your camera ready for your visit to nearby Lake Matheson for a morning stroll – when conditions are right the lake perfectly mirrors beautiful Mount 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 Wanaka, reflecting the mountain peaks that in winter offer superb skiing and the pretty resort town of Wanaka.

Day 16  Wanaka  

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

This morning you have the choice of two excursions:

  1. Today join a passionate local eco-guide as you depart Wanaka 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 Wanaka, 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.
  2. 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 Wanaka.  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 Wanaka’s first farmers.  With two optional walks, through pristine alpine meadows and ancient lakeside forests, this journey offers a unique insight into Wanaka’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 17  Wanaka - Te Anau

Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Te Anau

Depart Wanaka 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 Remarkables 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 18 Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

Scenic Suites, 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 Wakatipu to Queenstown.

Day 19  Queenstown

Scenic Suites, Queenstown

Haere ra – farewell from New Zealand.  After breakfast you are transferred to Queenstown Airport for your return home taking with you fond memories of your time in New Zealand.  Alternatively, should you wish to extend your stay in New Zealand, we can assist you with additional travel arrangements.
Entry to Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Journey along 90-mile beach, or take a dolphin and Hole in the Rock cruise.
A scenic cruise from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula, stopping at Waiheke Island
Narrow-gauge railway journey through native Coromandel bush
Visit Hot Water Beach and photogenic Cathedral Cove
A private guide around a geothermal valley with geysers, mud pools and hot springs
Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley – or – experience Hobbiton Movie Set
Delve into Maori life and enjoy a powerful cultural performance and feast
Enjoy a wine tasting and evening meal at Mission Estate in Napier
Travel on Wellington’s famous Cable Car and visit Te Papa museum
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

M Social, Auckland

M Social is a unique contemporary hotel, appealing to the curious, the explorers and those who thrive on new experiences. It offers form and function in a casual setting, featuring spaces that are designed to be flexible to guests’ needs.  The hotel is adjacent to the Viaduct Harbour and overlooks the vibrant Princes Wharf that is home to a stunning array of dining and entertainment experiences.

Distinction Hotel Luxmore, Te Anau

The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Te Anau’s town shopping centre and a short stroll from Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake.

Duke of Marlborough

The Duke of Marlborough began its life in 1827 as “Johnny Johnston’s Grog Shop” and was one of the first land sales to a European in New Zealand.  In the 1930s Johnny changed the name of his hotel to the Duke of Marlborough, as at the time the Duke of Marlborough was the world’s richest man, so the name sought to bring respect, elegance and opulence to the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”.

Oceans Resort, Whitianga

Nestled on the western shore of the beautiful Mercury Bay and only a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Buffalo Beach, you will find the relaxed luxury Whitianga Apartments of Oceans Resort in the heart of popular Whitianga. The resort is only a short stroll to the ferry and the picturesque marina, or wander through the town centre where you will find an abundance of cafés, restaurants and bars, and boutique stores. Please note these are self-contained apartments and there is no restaurant on site.

Prince’s Gate Hotel, Rotorua

Originally built in the gold mining town of Waihi, in 1917 nail by nail and board by board, the hotel was dismantled and transferred by horse-drawn wagon to the Waihi Railway Station and the timber and fittings were duly taken by rail to Rotorua.

Scenic Hotel Te Pania, Napier

Hawke’s Bay is one of the first places in the world to see the light each day. The hotel enjoys a premium waterfront location on Napier’s Marine Parade and is a short stroll from the main art deco style street.

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Located in the heart of Wellington the hotel is minutes from the Cable Car, Parliament, and Lambton Quay’s shopping district.

Heritage Rutherford Hotel

The hotel boasts a prime spot only minutes’ walk from Nelson’s landmark cathedral and main shopping district (including, just a block away, Jens Hansen Goldsmiths; creators of the ring in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy).

Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki

This hotel is two minutes’ walk from the beach, situated in Paparoa National Park just 300 meters from the magnificent Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier

Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier hotel is situated in one of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful environments – nestled beneath the towering Southern Alps on the stunning West Coast of New Zealand.

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka

The hotel is in a fantastic location, directly on the shores of beautiful Lake Wanaka.

Scenic Suites Queenstown

Scenic Suites Queenstown provides one of the most sought-after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic views of the Southern Alps.