15 Day New Zealand Splendour

15 Day New Zealand Splendour

Discover the best of New Zealand's North and South Island on AAT Kings' 15 day New Zealand Splendour. Highlights include touring the Waitomo Caves, a unique Māori culture experience with the Realm of Tane in Rotorua, cruising on Milford Sound, and plenty of free time to discover the Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Wellington, and historic Dunedin.

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Tour Info

Tour Type: Premium Coach Tour
From: Auckland to Christchurch
Departures: Jun 2018 to Dec 2019
Price:
From (NZD) $6150 per person
Tour Operator: AAT Kings Tours
Pace: Relaxing
Duration: 15 Days
Tour Code: zaac

Inclusions

14 nights accommodation in superior hotels
14 fully cooked breakfasts (B), 1 lunch (L), and 11 dinners (D)
Discover Waitomo and its famous Glowworm Grotto
Cultural experience and hāngī feast at Tamaki Māori Village
Take your pick of a selection of included experiences in Rotorua, Dunedin, and Queenstown
Journey through the magnificent scenery of Tongariro National Park
Explore Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand
Savour a delicious Kiwi BBQ at Morelea Farm
Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station
Travel past ancient glaciers, spectacular mountains and magical rainforest en route to Milford Sound
Taste Central Otago stone fruits at a local orchard
Discover fascinating Franz Josef Glacier
Visit a pounamu (jade) studio and marvel at artists at work
Walk around Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
Journey over the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine train
Travel wallet, comprehensive customised itinerary, bound map book, accommodation and activity vouchers, and local travel guides

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Day by Day Tour Itinerary

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Day 1
Arrive Auckland

On arrival at Auckland Airport you’ll be met by private car and transferred to your hotel. The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. You could visit the Sky Tower for spectacular views of the city, picturesque Viaduct Harbour and surrounding lush volcanic hills. Perhaps visit the Auckland Museum or go shopping in stylish Parnell. This evening meet your Tour Director and fellow travelling companions for a welcome reception and highlight dinner at Eight Restaurant, located at Cordis. Eight offers the freshest high-quality ingredients, including mouth-watering seafood and desserts.

Stay: Cordis, Auckland (D)

Day 2
Auckland - Waitomo Caves - Rotorua

A city sights tour will start your morning in Auckland. Travel around the waterfront to Mission Bay, with a stop at Bastion Point and the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, for stunning photos of Auckland and surrounds. 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. Then cross the rolling hills of King Country to Rotorua, where your orientation tour takes in spectacular views of Lake Rotorua.

Stay: Millennium Hotel, Rotorua, (2 nights) (B)

Day 3
Rotorua (Included Choice)

Today choose one from a range of Included Choice sightseeing experiences. You have the option to join the Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, discover Māori culture at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, see the Agrodome Farm Show, relax in the seclusion of your own hot mineral pool or unwind with a facial treatment in the Lake Spa Retreat at the Polynesian Spa. Maybe ride the amphibious Rotorua Duck or the luge at Rotorua Skyline. Tonight an evening of culture, history and scrumptious food awaits you at the 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)

Day 4
Rotorua - Wellington

Say ‘haere ra!’ (goodbye) to Rotorua this morning and journey out through pine forests and farmland to a little hidden spot, Huka Falls. From here the road unfolds to a broad panorama of Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake. You will then journey south over the Central Plateau, New Zealand’s main volcanic area. Travel along the Kapiti Coast to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, where you will enjoy an exclusive after-hours guided tour of Te Papa. Before leaving the museum, top off the night with a highlight dinner.

Stay: James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington (B, D)

Day 5
Wellington - Blenheim

Why not discover more of Wellington this morning? There’s time to visit the Parliament Buildings and the Beehive, home to New Zealand’s government. Later you’ll visit Te Papa and explore the fascinating exhibits at your leisure, including the unique marae and wharenui (meeting house). Cruise the Cook Strait into tranquil Queen Charlotte Sound. The village of Picton is next, then it’s on to Blenheim for a city sightseeing tour. Tonight, enjoy a highlight dinner prepared from local produce and matched with fine Marlborough wines.

Stay: Chateau Marlborough, Blenheim. (B, D)

Day 6
Blenheim - Kaikōura - Christchurch

This morning stop to meet some New Zealand fur seals at Ohau Point and watch as they frolic and play in the tidal currents. Take a helicopter flight out of Kaikōura (own expense) for whale and dolphin viewing or stop in at one of many local eateries and sample a Kaikōura seafood delight, crayfish. This afternoon’s journey follows the Pacific Ocean coastline where roaring sea meets enormous bush-clad mountains. Travel across the Northern Canterbury Plains and into Christchurch. Tonight, speak with your Travel Director about dining recommendations in Christchurch’s inner city.

Stay: Distinction Hotel, Christchurch (B)

Day 7
Christchurch - Twizel

Visit Morelea Farm, a typical working sheep farm where you’ll get a taste of traditional New Zealand country life. You will be welcomed into the home of Angie and Stan Taylor and their 240-hectare garden, with the chance to experience sheep shearing and farming demonstrations before enjoying a BBQ lunch; wait until you try Angie’s famous pavlova dessert! Listen to the family’s story of growing up in rural New Zealand and their challenges of farming in the foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Later see Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on your way to Twizel.

Stay: Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel (B, L, D)

Day 8
Twizel - Dunedin (Included Choice)

View the Waitaki hydro scheme and Benmore Dam. Travel through Ōamaru, with its limestone buildings, to Dunedin. Choose one from a range of Included Choice sightseeing experiences. Tour stately Larnach Castle, ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway, take a wildlife cruise, or an interactive tour of Speight’s Brewery. This evening enjoy dinner with wine at your hotel.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Southern Cross, Dunedin (B, D)

Day 9
Dunedin - Te Anau

Today, travel across farming land to the village of Te Anau, on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the South Island’s largest lake. This evening enjoy dinner with wine at your hotel.

Stay: Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas (B, D)

Day 10
Te Anau - Milford Sound - Queenstown

You will be awestruck by the magnificence of the World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park. Amazing photo opportunities await you today as you see rainforest, ancient glaciers, mountain ranges and the handmade Homer Tunnel. Pass the Mirror Lake, Pop’s Lookout, Cleddau Valley and the Chasm. Your cruise on Milford Sound will take you past Bowen Falls and Mitre Peak. Afterwards, travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu on your way to Queenstown, where an orientation tour finishes this highlight day.

Stay: Millennium Hotel, Queenstown (2 nights) (B)

Day 11
Queenstown (Included Choice)

Today choose one from a range of Included Choice sightseeing experiences. You have the option to ride the Shotover Jet, experience farm life in the high country, or take the Skyline Gondola to Stratosfare Restaurant for dinner. Perhaps take a 4WD minibus through Skippers Canyon or go to a wildlife park and see New Zealand’s own kiwi bird. This evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue highlight dinner at the Colonel’s Homestead. An entertaining farm show provides a glimpse into high country farm life. (B, D)

Day 12
Queenstown - Franz Josef Glacier

Visit the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown on the Arrow River, previously one of the world’s richest rivers. Enjoy the tastes of delicious stone fruit at Cromwell. See a trio of lakes – Dunstan, Hawea and Wanaka. Travel over the Haast Pass, view amazing Thunder Creek Falls, and take a small rainforest walk. Then it’s on to Franz Josef Glacier, the world’s most accessible glacier.

Stay: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, (Douglas Wing) (B, D)

Day 13
Franz Josef - Punakaiki

There is time this morning to explore Franz Josef Glacier. You can see it from the air on an optional flight (weather permitting) or take a glacier hike! (Both optional.) Then it’s time for an exhilarating adventure among temperate rainforest giants on the West Coast Treetop Walk. Depart for Hokitika, home of pounamu (jade), for a studio visit and jewellery demonstration. Later, travel to Punakaiki to view the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Tonight you will stay in an eco-friendly resort right on the waterfront.

Stay: Punakaiki Resort (B, D)

Day 14
Punakaiki - TranzAlpine - Christchurch

Travel to the alpine village of Arthur’s Pass and board the TranzAlpine. This spectacular train journey dates back to 1914 and is rated as one of the word’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. Join your Tour Director this evening for a farewell dinner with wine.

Stay: Distinction Hotel, Christchurch (B, D)

Day 15
Depart Christchurch

Your tour concludes after breakfast. You will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight. (B)

4.6/5.0

There are 17 reviews of this tour from past clients of Relaxing Journeys, averaging 4.6 out of 5.

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Tour Reviews

5
21/11/2017
Some hotels were very good while others were just about average. As for vegetarian food, much improvement is needed. The sit-down dinner at the hotel in Blenheim was excellent even for vegetarians. The quality of the meals at Cordis were also very good, and a wide selection was available for vegetarians.
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4
10/10/2017
The overall coach trip was really good. The tour director and driver were excellent. The hotel rooms were impressive but in some instances lacked a bath. I felt that it would be relaxing after a long day to have a bath.
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5
28/03/2017
The best for us: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Rotorua in general, Queenstown (gondola and vintage steamship 1912), Moeraki Boulders and Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki.
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5
26/01/2016
Our trip was wonderful. We would like to give special thanks to our tour guide, Tania Simpson, and our driver, Monica Bulgari. Nobody could have done a better job then they did. Both of them were courteous, knowledgeable, and professional. A few years ago we had taken a tour with Trafalgar that was not very good and made us consider never taking another, but the AAT Kings tour turned out to be much better than we had hoped. There were a couple of minor things that could have been better about some of the hotels such as screens and fans when there was no air conditioning, but the coach was comfortable, the meals were good, and the sites were great. The hidden gems they showed us were beautiful. Trafalgar is lucky to have AAT Kings as a partner. We found New Zealand to have gorgeous scenery, friendly people, and was very clean. Too bad New Zealand is so far away or we would probably visit again.
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5
27/10/2015
NZ tour was great...Mel, tour guide, was funny, patient and a wealth of NZ information. Itinerary suited us perfectly and gave us a variety of NZ places to experience. Loved the 'included choices', as well as the opportunity to do more through the 'optional choices'. Hotels were very good and overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our tour. My only suggestion would be to try to limit the number of people on tour to 35 or less. Our group had 42 at one point and it was sometimes a little confusing with that many.
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4
10/02/2015
We had an excellent time on our tour and saw some amazing sights. Our tour guide Mel and driver Mark were a kick, we always had a good time with them. When our Wellington Ferry kept getting delayed, Mel jumped right in and got us booked on another ferry so we made it to Picton later that day and on schedule. Our slight modification of rating stemmed from 2 things. 1) the tour pace - we wish we had more time to shop during our lunch stops which might not have been helped because we were covering so much land. 2) we weren't huge fans of the Millennium Hotel chain or any of the hotels that wanted to charge for wifi service at what seemed like pretty steep pricing, plus husband found dirty socks in room upon arrival at the Millennium in Queenstown. We were great fans of New Zealand owned and operated Scenic Hotel chain! Important to note that all hotels were really great locations and some of the smaller ones like Distinction Te Anau greeted us with drinks while Punikaiki Resort was right on the beach and Mackenzie Country Inn was a country inn with big heart!

Highlights included: Langham Hotel dinner, Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, Tamaki Family Maori Hangi Feast and village walk thru, Hobbiton, Shenandoah, Christchurch Botanical Gardens, Larnarch Castle and Speights Brewery Tour in Dunedin, in Queenstown, it was the shot over jet TSS Earnslaw ferry to Walter Peak Station for amazing dinner, and visit to Remarkable Wines, Milford Sound Cruise was a definite highlight, Franz Josef glacier walk not to mention upgraded hotel in Franz Josef to the stunning Te waonui Forest Retreat (also owned by Scenic I believe). Just too much to mention with the beautiful lakes and scenery. New Zealanders are the nicest people, just strike up a conversation.
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5
18/11/2014
The tour was well managed by Mark & backed up by his Driver Paul. Mark has a wealth of information on New Zealand & his anecdotes on local area events & history was very much appreciated. A couple of days were quiet long but had numerous stops to enable toilet breaks & to stretch one's legs to counter this. Paul, far from being just the Driver, had a number of tales to tell as well. Both did an excellent job & I would recommend them to anyone thinking of touring New Zealand as we did.
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4
11/11/2014
Overall the tour was fantastic. Weather prevented a couple of our excursions but didn't deter from the enjoyment of the trip. The Driver Nathan and Tour Guide Ted were excellent. The accommodation was tops except we weren't impressed with Pukukaiki. Left a lot to be desired. Beds were hard and food was poor. Service was practically non existent.
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3
17/12/2013
An extra night in Queenstown will be good, and another 2 nights stop would help slow the pace. I guess it will make the package more expensive but will make it more enjoyable. Was a rather hectic trip otherwise.
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4
03/12/2013
A very good tour with nice accommodations and plenty of stops for sightseeing.
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5
02/04/2013
I have nothing but excellent things to say about both Relaxing Journeys and the tour that I took through both the North and South Island. Kirby at Relaxing Journeys was a pure professional and made it very easy to get everything booked and ready. The tour itself was amazing from the accommodations to the sites that we visited to the tour guide and driver. I could not have asked for a better holiday!
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5
03/03/2013
We just left NZ after our fabulous holiday and going on our own to hotels etc really makes us appreciate how much Phil our tour director took care of things in the back ground for us! The most over used word was 'amazing!' I am going to have to find more superlatives to use but everyday I found myself saying 'wow that was amazing' after all the different places we had been to! Thank goodness we did the Bay of Isalnds part separately as the day we got there it was raining heavily and the dolphin Eco trip was cancelled . However they were very flexible and helpful and so we did the Bay of Islands trip instead . Luckily the next day was much better so we were able to have the swim with dolphins then which was ..... amazing! Being independent of the coach group gave us the flexibility we needed to do that. Many thanks for your help and guidance in arranging for us, what turned out to be, the trip of a lifetime!
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5
07/11/2012
Both the tour director and the coach driver were friendly, informative and very helpful. The choice of optional activities was very good. The main advantage of an organised tour rather than a self-drive trip was that there were many aspects that I could have missed without the insider knowledge of the country, it's history, geology, flora and fauna that added to the total experience. The accommodation was generally excellent with exception of one hotel that was a late substitute.
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5
13/03/2012
Great tour. Only 8 on the bus for most of it. Covers much of NZ. Knowledgable tour guide which always makes a difference. More info on adjustments for Christchurch would have been helpful up front. More dinners on own in cities would have been good (e.g. in Auckland).
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5
13/01/2012
We started our journey with an extra day which we thought beneficial to promote for ongoing tours - day to adjust and make all connections. The tour guides (AAT Kings) provided history and commentary through each area and scenic overlook as we traveled via coach, ship, river boat, helicopter, train and hiked. The scenery and stops were incredible. Would definitely book with Relaxing Journeys again!
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4
15/02/2011
We had a marvellous tour, thanks to the Emerson, our thoughtful and informative tour guide and the support and company of our driver. The change in arrangements of our travel because of the disastrous eathquake in Christchurch was extremely well handled and in no way affected the enjoyment of our trip. Our sympathies go out to all New Zealanders. It is a trip we will both remember as a celebration of our 50 years of marriage. New Zealand is a beautiful and might I say innocent country. Our trip planning started in February 2010. I would aso like to sincerely thank Georgie Walpole for her patience and kind and continuous attention to every detail. A trip we will always remember!
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5
17/02/2009
Just had to let you know how pleased we were with the tour. It was all very well organized so we were never rushed but still managed to do a lot of things. Our tour director, Sue Heycoop was amazing. She was always right on top of everything so it went like clockwork. What a wealth of knowledge she has of the country and presented it in such an interesting way. And the bus driver, Gavin Jensen was such a competent and careful driver as well as being very pleasant and accommodating to us all. The hotels were all great - the rooms and the meals. We felt that the itinerary was a good mix of attractions. So I guess by now you will realize we were very pleased with the whole trip and will certainly recommend any one planning a trip to New Zealand or Australia to use you services. And after my inquiries about taking a small case on the bus we managed just fine with a small case which was good as we had a full bus and there is not too much room.
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15 Day New Zealand Splendour
Premium Coach Tour
Tour Code: zaac
From (NZD) $6150 per person
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Departures: Jun 2018 to Dec 2019
Rating:
17 reviews (4.6/5)

Discover the best of New Zealand's North and South Island on AAT Kings' 15 day New Zealand Splendour. Highlights include touring the Waitomo Caves, a ... Read More

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15 Day New Zealand Splendour
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