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National Geographic New Zealand Journey


     

Spend 11 days exploring the North and South Islands of this small country packed with wonders. Travelling by train, gondola, boat, and plane, connect with locals in artsy beach towns, walk through an ancient rain forest, and learn about local legends and cuisine from the Maori. Take a deep breath to fill your lungs with the impossibly clean air here - and fill your soul with the legendary Kiwi spirit.

 

 

 

 

Our Opinion

 

This amazing National Georgraphic tours not only ensures you get a full insight into both the north and south islands of New Zealand, but your days are crammed full of amazing excursions and activities to give you the best possible experience!

 

 

 

 

Tour Highlights

 

Waiheke Island Wineries Tour (National Geographic Exclusive)

Boat ride through the Waitomo Caves

Visit Tamaki Maori Village where you'll meet a Maori elder

Enjoy one of the most scenic rail journeys across the Southern Alps

Get the chance to spot dolphins, seals, birds and penguins on the Overnight Wilderness Cruise at Fiordland National Park

 

 

 

 

 

Itinerary In Brief

 

Auckland: 2 nights

Raglan: 1 night

Rotorua: 1 night

Christchurch: 1 night

Franz Josef: 2 nights

Queenstown: 1 night

Fiordland National Park Overnight Wilderness Cruise: 1 night

Queenstown: 1 night

 

 

 

 

Full Itinerary

 

Day 1: Auckland - Arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel. The CEO will have a welcome meeting this evening. The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you're back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.

 

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Auckland City (or similar)

 

 

Day 2: Auckland - Catch a ferry to Waiheke Island and visit two local wineries to learn more about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of wine production in the country - while sampling some of the local blends, of course! Later, enjoy a short orientation walk and some free time to explore the city.

 

National Geographic Journeys Exclusives:  Waiheke Island Wineries - Catch the ferry to picturesque Waiheke Island to learn about New Zealand's highly celebrated wine industry in its founding region. Tour a boutique vineyard and learn from our host about the process of making the syrahs, merlots, and chardonnays that the region is so well-known for. Enjoy a taste of the vineyard's estate-grown olive and avocado oils. After, continue to one of Waiheke's original wineries for a tour and tasting - while learning about the evolution of wine production in New Zealand. Return to Auckland this evening via a scenic ferry ride.

 

Orientation Walk (30m-1h) - Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. For more specific or in-depth information, an official guided tour is recommended.

 

Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel Auckland City (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Day 3: Auckland/Raglan - Drive a scenic route, visiting an eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Continue to the artsy town of Raglan, stopping at Bridal Veil Falls en route, and enjoy a cruise on the stunning harbour.

 

Eel Farm Visit: Raglan (1h-1h30m) - Visit a local sustainable eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture and biological solutions for dairy farms in an effort to restore lowland wetland eco-systems. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Be inspired by their green initiatives - they practice the art of giving more back to the environment than they take out.

 

Private Vehicle: Auckland - Raglan (3h. 180km)

 

Bridal Veil Falls Walk: Bridal Veil Falls (30m) - Enjoy a scenic trek to Bridal Veil Falls, a plunge waterfall located along the Pakoka River in the Waikato area of New Zealand. Relax on arrival and enjoy the waterfall's breathtaking natural beauty. The waterfall is 55m (180 ft) high, and, over time, has caused the formation of a large pool at its base.

 

Raglan Harbour Boat Cruise: Raglan (1h30m-2h) - Enjoy a cruise on the Raglan Harbour with stunning views of ancient limestone rock formations and local wildlife. Keep an eye out for dolphins and (fingers crossed!) whales.

 

Accommodation: Raglan Sunset Motel (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast / Lunch

 
 

 

 

Day 4: Raglan/Rotorua - Drive to Rotorua, stopping for an excursion at Waitomo Caves where you'll take a boat ride through the cave and see thousands of flickering glowworms lighting up the walls. This evening visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome and talk from a 'Kaumatua' (an elder in Maori society). After, enjoy an extravagant performance about local myths, and legends while dining on traditional Hangi cuisine.

 

 

Rotorua sits over an active volcano with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and culture tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land.

 

Private Vehicle: Raglan - Waitomo Caves (1h30m-2h. 100km)

 

Waitomo Cave Excursion: Waitomo Caves (3h30m) - Enjoy a peaceful boat ride through caverns covered with magical glowworms that are unique to New Zealand. Hundreds of thousands of these tiny creatures radiate luminescent light in underground caves carved by rivers and time. Take in more than 120 years of cultural and natural history on this unique excursion.

 

Private Vehicle: Waitomo Caves - Rotorua (2h-2h30m. 140km)

 

National Geographic Journeys Exclusives: Meet a Maori Elder - Enjoy a 'mihi' (private welcome) in Tamaki Village from a 'Kaumatua' (an elder in Maori society). Sit down to an exclusive talk with the elder and learn about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends, including the Sky Father and Earth Mother. You'll also learn about the history of the Maori people and their deep connection to Rotorua landscape and its geothermal aspects.

 

Tamaki Maori Village: Rotorua (3h-3h30m) - Visit the Tamaki Maori Village. Receive the traditional Powhiri welcome ceremony followed by a captivating stage performance explaining Maori history, myths and culture. For dinner, enjoy a traditional Hangi meal, similar to the Hawaiian Luau, with dishes cooked in the ground. Savour the taste of chicken, sweet potatoes, port and pudding wrapped in cabbage or banana leaves and steamed underground with the heat from lava rocks and wood. Yum!

 

Accommodation: Millennium Rotorua Hotel (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast / Dinner

 
 
 

 

 

Day 5: Rotorua/Christchurch - Enjoy free time this morning in Rotorua before catching a flight to Christchurch. Take an orientation walk with the CEO to get a feel for the city. With free time in Rotorua this morning, opt to relax in one of the hot pools fed by water coming directly from the natural springs.

 

Private Vehicle: Rotorua

Flight: Rotorua - Christchurch (1h-1h45m)

 

Orientation Walk (30m-1h) - Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. For more specific or in-depth information, an official guided tour is recommended.

 

Accommodation: Chateau on the Park Hotel (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Day 6: Christchurch/Franz Josef - Enjoy one of the world's great scenic train trips on the TranzAlpine train, crossing the scenic Southern Alps to New Zealand's glacier region. Disembark and finish the journey over the highest pass in the Southern Alps in a private vehicle before transferring to a beautiful rainforest lodge, our home for two nights.

 

Train: Christchurch - Arthur's Pass (2h30m) - Climb aboard, take a seat, and enjoy the ride.

Private Vehicle: Arthur's Pass - Franz Josef (3h-3h30m. 240km)

 

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Franz Josef - Options are plentiful. Choose from a helicopter hike, ice walking on the glacier, or soaking in the hot pools amongst the stunning scenery.

 

Free Time: Franz Josef - Opt for various hiking adventures in the area, the most popular being trekking to view Franz Josef glacier. If relaxing is more your style, there are shorter day hikes and bush walks or local hot pools to take a dip.

 

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Day 8: Franz Josef/Queenstown - Travel through the rugged rainforest along the west coast to Queenstown. Enjoy an evening gondola ride with spectacular views of the city. Early start to travel to the picturesque Lake Matheson. When the weather is right, you can get a great photo of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake. Follow the wild West Coast Road, through the rainforest before stopping for some short walks and waterfall visits.

 

Private Vehicle: Franz Josef - Queenstown (6h. 365km)

Gondola Ride: Queenstown (1h-2h30m)- Take a ride up to the top of the mountain by cable car gondola. Get a spectacular 220º view of Coronet Peak, the Remarkables mountain range, and Lake Wakatipu below.

 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Queenstown (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Day 9: Queenstown/Fiordland National Park - Embark on an amazing wilderness cruise through Fiordland National Park. Led by onboard naturalist guides we have the chance to see dolphins, fur seals, birds and penguins and an option to kayak. Spend the night onboard in comfortable cabins with time to relax on deck, stargaze and enjoy some New Zealand wine. In the evening, enjoy a delicious three course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travelers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar (additional price) and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.

 

*Please note that the itinerary for this day varies in the winter:

Winter Schedule 18 May - 20 Sept Fiordland National Park/Te Anau

Drive the scenic route around Lake Wakatipu to the town of Manapouri. Travel by boat and bus to arrive at an eco cruise boat. Spend the afternoon cruising through Milford or Doubtful Sound, two of the most untouched, remote places in the world. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls. The boat offers excellent chances for wildlife viewing in the area. Dolphins, penguins, seals and a variety of birds are some examples of what you can hope to see. In the evening, head to Te Anau for the night. We take in a screening of the award winning 'Ata Whenua - Shadowland' Fjordland on Film documentary at the local cinema before having a group meal.

 

Private Vehicle: Queenstown - Fiordland National Park (3h. 250km)

 

Fiordland National Park Overnight Wilderness Cruise: Fiordland National Park (24h) -  Cruise through stunning Fiordland National Park, one of the most untouched, remote places in the world. Depending on the departure, the cruise will be in either Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound - two of the most stunning regions within the park. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls, and keep an eye out for area wildlife: dolphins, penguins, seals, and a variety of birds. Want to get closer to the water? Feel free to use one of the boats' sea kayaks to explore the area more in-depth. After the day, moor at a secluded bay for the night, and sit back and relax on the spacious viewing decks.

 

Accommodation: Doubtful Sound Cruise (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast / Dinner

 
 

 

 

Day 10: Fiordland National Park/Queenstown - Enjoy morning wildlife viewing along the fiord as we cruise back to port, then return to Queenstown for the final night. Opt for a farewell dinner with your group.

 

Private Vehicle: Fiordland National Park - Queenstown (3h. 250km)

 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakefront Queenstown (or similar)

 

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

Day 11: Queenstown - Depart at any time.

 

 

 

 

Extensions

 

Not ready to go home straight away? Contact us to discuss a wide variety of additional stay options, from a few days on the beach in Australia, to an extended stopover in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

Need to Know

 

Travel Style: National Geographic Journeys - Greater exploration, insider access, and the freedom to roam - all without sacrificing comfort.

 

Service Level: Upgraded - Quality accommodations and more inclusions than on other G Adventures tours, like meals, private transport, and activities.

 

Physical Rating: Light - Light walking and hiking suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.

 

Trip Type: Small Group - Small group experience; Max 16, Avg 12.

 

Age requirement: All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.