17 Day Kia Ora New Zealand
17 Day Kia Ora New Zealand
One of AAT Kings' most popular coach tours, visiting both the North and South Island. Experience the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Queenstown, Milford Sound and more.
Please Note: - For all departures from April 2020 onwards, there are some minor changes to the tour itinerary. Your Relaxing Journeys consultant will advise of changes at time of booking.
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|Tour Type:||Low Cost Coach Tour|
|From:||Auckland to Christchurch|
|Departures:||Oct 2019 to Mar 2021|
|Price:||From (NZD) $5010 per person|
|Tour Operator:||AAT Kings Tours|
|16 nights accommodation in comfortable hotels|
|16 fully cooked breakfasts (B) and 11 dinners (D)|
|Visit the beautiful Bay of Islands|
|Cruise through the famous Hole in the Rock|
|Tour the Glowworm Grotto at Waitomo Caves|
|Feast on a traditional hāngī at a unique dinner experience at Tamaki Māori Village|
|Discover the arts and traditions of New Zealand's Māori culture|
|View the mighty Huka Falls|
|Visit Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand|
|Cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound from Wellington to Picton|
|Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo|
|Full day at leisure in Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital|
|Cruise on breathtaking Milford Sound|
|Cruise Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw for a unique highlight dinner|
|Visit historic Arrowtown|
|Stay at spectacular Franz Josef Glacier|
|Visit a pounamu (jade) studio and watch the artists at work|
|Journey on the TranzAlpine train|
|Explore Wellington, New Zealand's capital city|
|See spectacular Lake Tekapo and Lake Te Anau|
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Day by Day Tour ItineraryView Tour PDF
Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s ‘City of Sails’. Flights can arrive any time prior to 4.00pm and you will be transferred from the airport to your hotel. After you check in, you can explore Auckland. Take a walk down Queen Street to the main shopping precinct. This recently developed area of central Auckland has cafes and restaurants galore. Take a seat in the sunshine, enjoy a glass of one of New Zealand’s famous sauvignon blancs, and watch the maritime activity on Waitemata Harbour.
Stay: VR Queen Street, Auckland.
This morning depart Auckland City and travel north over the Harbour Bridge. Journey through Orewa and along the scenic Hibiscus Coast, the birthplace of Sir Edmund Hillary. Enjoy a stop at Parry Kauri Park and take a walk among New Zealand’s native forest giants, the kauri trees. Your travels then take you into Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, where you can wander around the art galleries and through the marina in the Town Basin.
This afternoon you will travel into the beautiful Bay of Islands. Experience spectacular scenery as you take a scenic cruise through game fishing waters to Cape Brett and, weather permitting, through the famous Hole in the Rock formation. The return cruise to Paihia meanders through picturesque islands – see deserted sandy beaches and secluded bays and keep your eyes peeled for the marine life. This evening enjoy dinner with your travelling companions at the hotel
Stay: Copthorne Hotel and Resort (Garden View), Bay of Islands (2 nights) (B, D)
Today is completely free for you to experience the beauty of the Bay of Islands. Perhaps head back out on to the water on a dolphin watching cruise, and maybe even jump in the water for a swim with these magnificent creatures. Or take a coach trip up to Cape Reinga, the very top of Aotearoa, via idyllic Ninety Mile Beach. Experience a day of sailing aboard a historic tall ship, enjoy wine tasting around Kerikeri, or join a heritage cruise and learn a little more about the settling of the Bay of Islands.
Tonight you are free to dine as you wish. You may want to Experience a Kiwi tradition – fish and chips on the beach, or glide down the Waitangi River on board the ‘Ratanui’ for a sumptuous dinner cruise. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist you in booking all of your chosen optional experiences. (B)
This morning you will have the opportunity to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. As you stroll through the reserve you will see highlights such as the ceremonial war canoe and intricately carved meeting house (optional – own expense). Alternatively, you may want to travel over to historic Russell, New Zealand’s first capital. This afternoon sit back and relax as you make your way down through Northland’s lush farmland scenery and past the sprawling suburbs of the North Shore of Auckland. Tonight, dinner is included at your hotel.
Stay: VR Queen Street, Auckland (B, D)
A city sights tour will start your morning in Auckland. Travel around the waterfront from the central city out to Mission Bay. Prepare your camera for the stop at Bastion Point and the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, as you will get stunning shots of Auckland, the North Shore and Waitemata Harbour. After leaving Auckland you will follow the meandering trail of the Waikato River to Waitomo Caves. Tour the amazing limestone caverns and sail through the still waters of the sparkling Glowworm Grotto. From Waitomo to Rotorua you will venture through the King Country region, which was at the centre of the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s. On arrival in Rotorua an orientation tour takes in views of Lake Rotorua.
Stay: Hotel Ibis Rotorua (2 nights) (B)
Today is your chance to experience the scenic wonders of the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. This morning you will head to the Agrodome Farm Show, a hilarious, interactive way to gain an insight into New Zealand’s biggest industry – agriculture. After the Agrodome you may wish to travel back to the Rotorua township and relax lakeside, or you may prefer to choose from one of the varied optional experiences on offer. Take a scenic flight out over Lake Rotorua for a bird’s-eye view of the region. You may even want to stop at the top of Mt Tarawera, the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory!
Tonight an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at Tamaki Māori Village. Wander through the ancient forest village and learn about Māori art forms and traditions, followed by a concert featuring local performers. Experience an authentic hāngī meal, steamed underground in the traditional way. (B, D)
Say “haere ra!” (goodbye) to Rotorua this morning and journey out through pine forests and farmland to a little hidden spot, the turquoise torrent of rapids known as Huka Falls. The road ahead unfolds in a broad panorama of Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake. The stunningly blue fresh water of Lake Taupō is home to some of the best trout fishing in the world. You will then journey south over the Central Plateau, New Zealand’s main volcanic area. In a country of contrasts, perhaps nothing is more striking than the three peaks of Tongariro National Park rising starkly from the surrounding plateau of tussock and near-desert.
Pass through a number of small towns along the road to Wellington, each with their own personality and quirks. Probably the quirkiest of all would have to be Taihap, the self-proclaimed gumboot capital of the world. Travel along the Kapiti Coast, the traditional summer playground of the inhabitants of Wellington City. As you follow the state highway the Kapiti Coast becomes New Zealand’s capital city – Wellington. Tonight dinner is included at your hotel.
Stay: Travelodge, Wellington (B, D)
This morning enjoy a tour of Wellington, including panoramic views from the summit of Mt Victoria. See the Parliament buildings and the Beehive, home to New Zealand’s government, and explore Te Papa, where you’ll have time to explore New Zealand’s nature, art, history and cultural heritage. Then cruise across the Cook Strait and meander down the maze of inlets of Queen Charlotte Sound to the seaside village of Picton.
Stay: Beachcomber Inn, Picton (B, D)
This morning you will begin your adventure in Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand. Today you will get the opportunity to spend some time observing some pretty special wildlife. Get up close and personal with New Zealand fur seals at Ohau Point, and watch as they frolic and play in the tidal currents and sun themselves on the rocks. You could take a helicopter flight out of Kaikōura (optional – at own expense) and coast out over the Pacific Ocean for whale and dolphin viewing. If a helicopter flight is not your style, why not wander down the main street, stop in at one of many local eateries, and sample a Kiwi seafood delight – crayfish. There is no way to avoid these sea creatures… even the town’s name reflects an abundance of crustaceans – ‘kai’ in Māori means food and ‘kōura’ is crayfish.
This afternoon’s journey follows the Pacific Ocean coastline where roaring sea meets enormous bush-clad mountains. As the mountains turn to rolling hills and lush river flats, you will travel across the Northern Canterbury Plains and into Christchurch. Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Christchurch’s inner city.
Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch (B)
This morning you may wish to take a brief walk around the city centre and Cathedral Square before departure. See how Christchurch is rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and pop into the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square, the temporary home of the Christchurch Cathedral. It is the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard! After a Christchurch city sights tour you will head out over the patchwork countryside of the Canterbury Plains to soak up some spectacular sightseeing.
Sweeping views across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo framed by a backdrop of rugged hills and snow-capped mountains provide stunning alpine photography opportunities. You will visit the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd and stop for a quick photo with the bronze statue of a collie dog, a touching tribute to the sheepdogs which helped develop the Mackenzie high country. You may want to take in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park from the air this afternoon on a scenic flight out over New Zealand’s highest peak, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (optional experience – at own expense). Your day finishes in the heart of the Mackenzie region at Ōmarama. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Heritage Gateway Hotel, Ōmarama (B, D)
Your day starts with a journey along the Waitaki River, and a photo stop at the Waitaki hydro scheme and Benmore Dam. The Waitaki River marks the boundary between the regions of Canterbury and Otago, and with its large catchment it is an ideal source of hydro-electric power. The Benmore Dam holds back New Zealand’s largest artificial lake, and when the Benmore Power Station was opened in 1965 it was the largest power station in New Zealand. Even today it is still the second-largest, and generates enough electricity each year for about 298,000 average New Zealand homes.
From the Waitaki Valley you will then travel through to the township of Ōamaru, with its stately tree-lined streets and famous white limestone buildings. As well as shipping limestone to the bigger cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin for construction of their town halls and various churches, Ōamaru locals made sure their own town represented the best in limestone building the mid- to late-1800s had to offer.
This afternoon you will make your way down to Dunedin. With the rest of your free afternoon you may wish to take part in an optional excursion to see more of the region. Take a wildlife cruise out to Otago Peninsula, visit the Speight’s Brewery, or ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Dunedin (B, D)
This morning you have some free time in Dunedin. You may want to visit Cadbury World or journey out to the gorgeous Larnach Castle – New Zealand’s only castle. Or you may just wish to roam around the beautiful grounds of New Zealand’s first university – Otago University. Dunedin, also known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’, has strong connections to its northern hemisphere sister city, even down to sharing many of the same street names. Take a wander down George Street, noting Dunedin’s Scottish ancestry.
This afternoon travel through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land. Aotearoa is internationally known for its sheep farming, and these are sights many visitors recognise as typically ‘New Zealand’. You are sure to find the perfect sheep photo here! As your excursion continues, the rolling, grassy hills once again turn back into heavily forested, rugged mountains, and you meander your way up into the Fiordland National Park to the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau. This evening you have the opportunity to head out across the lake to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves for a tour (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Te Anau (B, D)
Today is one of those days where you will want to have your camera battery charged, and ready to go. And you will probably want to have a spare battery or two on hand… just in case. After leaving Te Anau you will journey 119km through the Fiordland National Park and out to Milford Sound on one of the most scenic roads you could hope for. Travel through native rainforests, beech forests, alluvial flats and meadows. You will stop at Mirror Lakes where, as the name suggests, you can see the stunning mountain scenery perfectly reflected in the waters of the lakes.
Then on to the Homer Tunnel, man’s attempt to master the sheer rocky ranges, still left rough-hewn around the edges. As you emerge out the other side of the tunnel you are presented with one of the world’s most dramatic alpine drives, down through the Cleddau Valley. You will have a stop at the Chasm, where the roaring Cleddau River has carved its way through solid rock, and then it’s on to Milford Sound where you will cruise on the waters of this natural wonder.
Your cruise meanders down the sound, taking in the Bowen and Stirling Falls as they plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea, and the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak rising from the deep waters of the fiord. From the spectacular scenes of Milford Sound you will travel on to the beautiful sights of Queenstown. An orientation tour skirting around the shores of Lake Wakatipu takes you into the town centre. Tonight you may want to take a gondola up Bob’s Peak, and dine at Stratosfare Restaurant (own expense) overlooking Queenstown – the ultimate way to end a highlight day!
Stay: Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Queenstown (2 nights) (B)
Explore exciting Queenstown your way! Why not soar through the trees on a Ziptrek Ecotour, or raft the mighty white water rapids of the Kawarau River? Take the opportunity to encounter a Queenstown legend and ride the Shotover Jet or venture out onto the Dart River for a longer jet safari. If laid-back and relaxed is more your idea of fun then join a Queenstown Original Wine Tour and sample some of Central Otago’s award-winning wines, or play a round of golf at one of the spectacular alpine courses around Queenstown. Your AAT Kings Travel Director will assist in booking all of your chosen optional experiences.
After a day of activity, sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand’s oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Station. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. Today the TSS Earnslaw is believed to be the only coal-fired passenger-carrying vessel still operating in the Southern Hemisphere. Partake in a gourmet BBQ highlight dinner at Walter Peaks’ Colonel’s Homestead and then enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing a glimpse into high country farm life. On the cruise back to Queenstown, join in a vintage singalong or grab your partner for a dance across the polished wooden floors of the Earnslaw. (B, D)
This morning you will leave the alpine wonderland of Queenstown behind and begin the passage through Central Otago and out to Westland. On the way out of the Queenstown region you will stop at the faithfully restored gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. As you amble down the beautiful tree-lined avenues and past the 19th century wooden buildings, you will feel like you have stepped into a movie set.
From here you will travel over to Cromwell, situated next to the sparkling pristine waters of Lake Dunstan, where you will stop in at a local orchard for a taste of some of the town’s delicious stone fruit. It is a day of gorgeous lakes, as after Dunstan, you will travel further into Central Otago and view the vivid blue waters of Lake Hawea, followed by Lake Wanaka, where the shoreline is charmingly lined by poplars and willows. Following an ancient pounamu trail you will travel over Haast Pass, marking a change from the alpine scenery of the Southern Lakes to the rainforest marvel 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 for today is the extraordinary rivers of ice that make up Franz Josef Glacier. You may want to get up close and personal with the glaciers on a helicopter flight. Your flight will hover over the snow face and may land high up in the valley so that you can walk across the ice fall – subject to weather conditions (optional – at own expense). Tonight, enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Stay: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier (Graham Wing) (B, D)
If weather conditions are unfavourable on Day 15 you will get another chance to fly up to the glaciers this morning, or you might want to take a stroll through the small but lively Franz Josef village. Then you head off to the driftwood-strewn beaches of Hokitika. As well as being one of the few West Coast communities to embrace its coastal landscape, Hokitika struck it rich in the resources stakes. Here you will visit a pounamu (jade) studio for the chance to see master carvers at work creating intricate pieces of jewellery and art. Māori tradition says it is bad luck to buy pounamu for yourself, so if you fancy a trinket of your own, make sure you have someone there to purchase it for you.
From Hokitika you will travel inland to the small settlement of Arthur’s Pass. Here you will board the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch City. This spectacular train journey dates back to 1914 and is rated as one of the world’s most scenic train trips. The train forges through tunnels and over viaducts with panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, icy rivers, beech forests, gorges and river valleys. This evening join your AAT Kings Travel Director and Driver, and your newfound friends, for a farewell dinner.
Stay: Ibis Hotel, Christchurch (B, D)
Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight. (B)
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One of AAT Kings' most popular coach tours, visiting both the North and South Island. Experience the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, ... Read More
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