An in-depth exploration of New Zealand's north and south - epic natural landscapes, extraordinary insights into Māori culture and spirited cities reveal all the highlights of this island nation.
Arrive Auckland (2 Nights)
Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand's City of Sails. Transfer by private car to your hotel (flight to arrive prior to 4pm), where you'll meet your Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and dinner later.
We'll head to the New Zealand Maritime Museum for an exclusive America's Cup tour. Then connect with your beautiful surrounds, embarking on a sightseeing tour of Auckland from the heart of the city, Auckland Waterfront. Continue to Mission Bay, keeping your camera at hand to capture the exquisite views of Auckland skyline, North Shore and Waitemata from Bastion Point and the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial. Then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on your own. Why not take a stroll down Queen Street to Viaduct Harbour's main shopping precinct and enjoy a glass of New Zealand's crisp Sauvignon Blanc overlooking the busy waterway of Waitemata Harbour?
Auckland - Tauranga
Leave Auckland behind and journey into the countryside where you'll 'Connect With Locals' and discover New Zealand's horse-racing traditions over an exclusive 'Be My Guest' lunch with the O'Sullivans on their dairy farm. Continue to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Here enjoy a free afternoon to explore the slopes of Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano, or relax on the golden sands of its secluded beach, considered one of the best beaches in New Zealand.
Tauranga - Rotorua (2 Nights)
This morning journey to Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of New Zealand. Visit Kiwifruit Country, a family-owned business set within a 60-hectare working kiwifruit orchard, then continue to Rotorua for an orientation tour that includes views of Lake Rotorua. At Te Puia, you'll see the steaming hot springs and geysers of Whakawerawera Thermal Reserve. Tonight, an evening of culture, history and a traditional Māori meal awaits at the Tamaki Māori Village. 'Dive Into Culture' as you stroll through the ancient forest village and learn about Māori art forms and traditions. Watch a concert featuring local performers and experience an authentic Māori Hangi Regional Dinner, steamed underground in the traditional way.
Rotorua - Wellington
Say haere ra (goodbye) to Rotorua this morning and journey through pine forests and farmland to the turquoise torrent of rapids known as Huka Falls. The road ahead unfolds into panoramic views of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. The stunningly blue fresh water of the lake is home to some of the best trout fishing in the world. Continue south over the volcanic Central Plateau and along the Kapiti Coast to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Here you'll have the evening free to do as you wish.
Wellington - Blenheim
A leisurely start to your day means there's time to explore Welly on your own. Don't miss an opportunity to view the unusual Beehive building which houses New Zealand's government. Later, 'Dive Into Culture' at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, exploring the culture and heritage of the New Zealand people with exhibits featuring artworks, traditional dress and photography. This afternoon, cruise the Cook Strait into the tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound. The village of Picton is next, then it's on to Blenheim for a sightseeing tour. This evening, indulge in a 3-course dinner prepared from local produce and paired with some of the celebrated vintages of Marlborough's legendary wine region.
Blenheim - Christchurch
Keep a keen eye out for Sperm Whales during your visit to Kaikoura, New Zealand's whale-watching capital, before travelling along the Pacific coast and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
Christchurch - Twizel
Roll up your sleeves this morning and 'Make A Difference' by contributing to Trafalgar's Sustainable Tourism Commitment to planting indigenous trees in the Port Hills of Christchurch, which were badly damaged in wildfires during 2017. Next, travel over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains bound for Morelea. Here you'll 'Connect With Locals' Angie and Stan Taylor for an exclusive 'Be My Guest' afternoon tea and insights into a lifetime spent farming in New Zealand. Later, view the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd with its bronzed collie dog statue, the touching tribute to the sheepdogs who helped develop the Mackenzie Country. Your final destination tonight lies at the heart of the Mackenzie Country, the town of Twizel.
Twizel - Dunedin
Journey along the Waitaki River and enjoy a brief photo stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. From the Waitaki Valley, you'll travel through to the township of Oamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and famous white limestone buildings. This afternoon, continue to New Zealand's southernmost city, Dunedin. With the rest of your day free, you may wish to explore more of the region, where you could choose to take a wildlife cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit Speight's Brewery, or a ride on the historic Taieri Gorge Railway.
Te Anau - Queenstown (2 Nights)
A scenic drive through the Fiordland National Park takes us past native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. Stop at Mirror Lakes where the reflection of the surrounding mountain scenery shimmers in the water. Then continue through Homer Tunnel, man's attempt to tame the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side, you are presented with one of the world's most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley. Stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, then cruise along the tranquil waters of the Milford Sound. See the Bowen and Stirling Falls plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. Leaving the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound behind, you'll travel to Queenstown and embark on an orientation tour skirting the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown Free Time
Discover why Queenstown is deserving of its reputation as New Zealand's adventure capital on this day at leisure. On an Optional Experience you could ride the Shotover Jet, take a gondola to Bob's Peak for amazing views or tour through Skippers Canyon in a minibus. After a busy day, enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue Regional Dinner at the Colonel's Homestead. An entertaining after-dinner farm show provides a glimpse into high-country farm life. On the cruise back to Queenstown, join in a chorus or dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw.
Queenstown - Franz Josef
Leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. Visit the faithfully restored gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown with its tree-lined avenues and 19th-century wooden buildings, reminiscent of a historic movie set. Journey to Cromwell on the sparkling shores of Lake Dunstan and stop at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town's juicy stone fruit. It's a day of gorgeous lakes as you travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, whose shoreline is charmingly lined with poplars and willows. Following an ancient greenstone trail, cross Haast Pass, exchanging the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes for the rainforests of the wild West Coast. View the sheer drop of Thunder Creek Falls and the grand sight of Mt. Hooker, flanked on three sides by extensive glaciers. Our final destination today is Franz Josef Glacier, where you'll have an opportunity to embark on an optional helicopter flight for views you'll never forget.
Franz Josef - Punakaiki
Savour your beautiful natural surrounds this morning with free time to stroll through the small, but lively Franz Josef village followed by a visit to Hokitika, home of the native greenstone (jade). Join a 'Local Specialist' for a jewellery demonstration at a greenstone factory, then travel to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. You'll spend the night at one of Trafalgar's 'Stays With Stories', an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront. Here you'll enjoy dinner with wine while watching the surf thundering at your doorstep.
Punakaiki - Christchurch
Enjoy a leisurely start to your day before travelling to Greymouth to visit Monteith's Brewery, where a 'Local Specialist' will reveal insights into the heritage of this national icon. You'll get to taste ever-changing and innovative brews before enjoying a pub-style lunch. Later, board the TranzAlpine train on one of the world's most scenic train trips to Christchurch. This spectacular train journey forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. After a day of soul-stirring sights, join your Travel Director and new friends for a Farewell Dinner to toast to your epic New Zealand adventure.
Your New Zealand holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred by private car to Christchurch Airport (flights anytime).