Day 0: Monday, September 19th
We suggest that you arrive a day earlier to get over any jetlag from the long flight to New Zealand. (Accommodations and meals for this extra day are at your expense). We recommend staying at the Hotel Grand Windsor which enjoys a prime position, in the heart of the city, on bustling Queens Street. This classic Art Deco 1928 Heritage Listed building is the perfect blend of sumptuous accents of grand glamour, and glitz, and has been meticulously refurbished, offering a high level of comfort and relaxation.
If you’d like to take this option. and we will assist with arrangements.
Day 1: Tuesday, September 20th (D)
We’ll meet you at the airport and provide transport to the Hotel Grand Windsor, in Auckland city. Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city and is a multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture. Auckland is the perfect mix of city sophistication alongside a stunning natural playground. World-class shopping and dining experiences are never too far from beautiful scenery which includes harbors and islands, volcanic cones, native bush and black-sand beaches.
Your room will be pre-registered, so you can rest and recover.
This afternoon, we’ll take an easy walking tour with your guide around the central business district and enjoy a welcome dinner (first round on us) at the revolving restaurant Orbit 360◦ on Sky Tower. Soaring high above Auckland, Orbit 360◦ is a truly iconic New Zealand brasserie offering its diners sensational views – and food to match. Situated at the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the dining room rotates once every hour, providing a truly unique kiwi-inspired menu that features the best local and seasonal produce with amazing 360-degree panoramas of the city, the Hauraki Gulf and beyond.
Day 2: Wednesday, September 21st (B L)
Auckland & Waiheke Island
Breakfast at hotel
Your guide will take you for a morning tour of Auckland, the waterfront and the exclusive suburbs of Ponsonby to meet some NZ fashion designers. Or you can opt for the sailing experience and let the winds of Auckland blow those cobwebs away. Opportunity to sail on one of the America’s Cup sailing boats dating back to the 1990’s. (Sailing is extra: NZ$ 190/pp).
For lunch, we’ll board the local ferry to the picturesque island of Waiheke, followed by sightseeing and wine tasting at two different vineyards. Waiheke Island is a haven of organic vineyards, olive groves, beaches and local artists’ galleries. In landscape, lifestyle and experience, Waiheke is a world away.
This afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel and the evening is yours at leisure. We’re happy to provide suggestions for dinner tonight (not included).
Day 3: Thursday, September 22nd (B D)
Auckland – Waitomo – Rotorua
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll check out and travel south (2.5 hrs.) to the green pastures of Waikato, the country’s richest farming region. We’ll stop at Waitomo to visit the limestone caves and marvel at thousands of glow worms as we glide gently downstream in an inflatable raft. Time at leisure for lunch (not included).
We’ll continue on to Rotorua, located in an active volcanic region complete with a landscape of crater lakes, hot springs, geysers and more. Upon arrival into Rotorua, we’ll have time to relax into the mineral hot pools overlooking the lake at Polynesian Spa’s Lake Spa Retreat.
This evening will feature a Maori Cultural show and traditional hangi dinner. In traditional hangi cooking, food such as fish and chicken, and root vegetables like kumara (sweet potato), are cooked in a pit dug in the ground. In today’s modern society, pork, mutton or lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included.
New Zealand has a rich and fascinating history, reflecting a unique mix of Māori and European culture. Today, New Zealand is home to more than 5 million people. We’ll learn more about how such cultural diversity came about in this fairly young country. Māori were the first inhabitants of New Zealand or Aotearoa, guided by Kupe the great navigator. Māori are the tangata whenua, or indigenous people of New Zealand. They came here more than 1,000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. Today, one in seven New Zealanders identify as Māori. Their history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.
We’ll experience Māori culture by visiting a marae, watching a carving or weaving demonstration, and learning about fascinating myths and legends from passionate Māori guides.
Tonight we’ll be staying at the Hotel Pullman Rotorua, situated in the heart of the city and moments away from the lakefront making it the perfect base. Here we will discover shooting geysers, bubbling mud, natural hot springs and magical forests.
Day 4: Friday, September 23rd (B L)
Rotorua – Wellington
Breakfast at our hotel.
This morning we’ll visit Te Puia. At the NZ Maori Arts & Crafts institute here we’ll learn about carving, weaving, fashion, jewelry and tattooing. There are also geysers and other geothermal wonders around the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, as well as a live Kiwi-bird display.
We’ll savor lunch at Pataka Kai Restaurant at Te Puia overlooking the geysers before departing to the airport for our flight to Wellington.
Air NZ flight departs Rotorua at 14:15 and arrives Wellington 15:30. Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington, New Zealand, was recently named “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet.
We’ll transfer to the city center with a panoramic tour of the capital on the way to our hotel, The Bolton Wellington. The Bolton is family owned and operated, and just steps from Parliament and the central business district. It’s conveniently close to the best of the city’s shops, cafes and restaurants and within walking distance of Wellington’s vibrant waterfront.
This evening will be yours to explore Wellington at your leisure. This city is famous for the green lipped mussels served with frites. (Dinner not included).
Day 5: Saturday, September 24th (B L)
Wellington – Picton – Blenheim
We’ll have an early breakfast today at the hotel, then head to the ferry terminal for our journey to the South Island across Cook Straits, one of the world’s most scenic ferry routes. Sailing through Marlborough Sounds is particularly spectacular. The ferry departs at 09:00 – we get to walk on and walk off (our luggage will be transferred) – and arrives at 12:30pm into Picton.
When we get off the ferry, we’ll head straight to the Herzog winery for a wine tasting, followed by lunch with a wine pairing. Plus we’ll visit another winery with more wine tasting in the afternoon.
After we’ve had our fill we’ll head to Blenheim and check into the Chateau Marlborough. Chateau Marlborough has an onsite day spa, “Meraki”, located inside the hotel. The spa offers healing and relaxing body massages, advanced skin treatments and modern beauty therapies. (Bookings are essential)
The evening is yours to explore at leisure. Its an easy 2 minute walk to Blenheim’s town center.
Day 6: Sunday, September 25th B L D
Blenheim – Kaikoura – Hanmer Springs
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll head to Kaikoura for a dolphin encounter cruise. Swimming with the dolphins is optional. (It’s amazing)! Local fish and chips for lunch is included.
This afternoon we’ll travel to Hanmer Springs to soak in the thermal springs . Massage option is an extra cost.
After the springs, we’ll check in to the Hanmer Springs Hotel, surrounded by stunning scenery and nestled amongst beautiful gardens and tall canopies located in the heart of Hanmer Springs near shops, restaurants and attractions.
Evening at leisure. Dinner at the hotel is included tonight first round is on us.
Day 7: Monday, September 26th (B D)
Hanmer Springs – Christ Church – Queenstown
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll travel south to the city of Christchurch where we’ll enjoy a local walking tour of the city. We’ll hear about the rebuilding of the city following the 2011 earthquake, and discover innovative new developments. Free time for lunch and shopping.
After lunch, we’ll head to the Christchurch airport for our flight to Queenstown. (Depart Christchurch at 14:30pm arrive Queenstown 15:45pm)
Queenstown…..towering mountains, positioned on the edge of a lake – Queenstown is a hub of adventure, thrumming with adrenaline and an omnipresent sense of fun.
The rest of the day is at leisure. We’ll be staying at the Hotel St. Moritz, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range.
Day 8: Tuesday, September 27th B L
Breakfast at hotel followed by a full day tour around Central Otago, one of the world’s most scenic wine regions at a latitude of 45° south. You’ll visit several wineries in the Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn and Cromwell regions, including a journey inside New Zealand’s largest wine cave. Lunch will be cooked in French Oak Pinot Noir barrels with a wine pairing.
Return to Queenstown and have an evening at leisure. Dinner not included tonight, but we will provide a fabulous list of suggested restaurants.
Day 9: Wednesday, September 28th B L D
Breakfast at hotel, then depart for Manapouri where we’ll go on a short cruise on the lake before continuing by coach through the dense rainforest of Wilmot Pass. Picnic lunch is included. At Doubtful Sound, we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for an extended cruise on a remote fjord. As you cruise through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, you may encounter resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins, and appreciate the deep silence that this secluded location provides.
Return to Manapouri and to Queenstown in the afternoon.
It’s time for our last dinner together, for now. (First round on us). We will toast to new friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Day 10: Thursday, September, 29th B
Queenstown – Auckland
Breakfast at hotel, then we’ll head to Queenstown airport and fly to Auckland where you’ll connect with your international flight. Travel well – we shall surely exchange hugs and kisses as we say a fond farewell holding onto our new memories and new friends.