Grand Tour of New Zealand NZS21
|Resort:||Grand Tour of New Zealand NZS21|
|Operator:||Great Rail Journeys|
Enthralling scenery and breathtaking views are found at every turn in the ‘Youngest Country on Earth’. Discover steaming geysers, mountains, fjords, and forests on this holiday showcasing the beauty of both New Zealand’s North and South Islands.
Days 1-3 – London to Auckland
Departing from London Heathrow, we fly via Singapore to Auckland, arriving mid-morning on Day 3. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Days 4-5 – Waitangi Treaty House and the Bay of Islands
Today we travel northwards through scenic farmland to Paihia for 2 nights, stopping en route at the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves; a series of underground caverns illuminated by these otherworldly creatures. We continue to the Waitangi Treaty House for a tour, where in 1840 the Maori and the British came to an historic agreement which effectively marked the birth of New Zealand as we know it. On
Day 5, we enjoy a cruise around the Bay of Islands to rugged Cape Brett, sailing by the Cape Brett Lighthouse, Motukokako Island, and the famous Hole in the Rock. We drop anchor on Russell Island, known ominously in the 1800s as the ‘Hell Hole of the Pacific’ when it was a bustling base for whalers and seamen. Here we have free time before making the return journey by local ferry.
Days 6-8 – Auckland and Rotorua
This morning we drive back to Auckland, the country’s largest city which dates back to around 1350 when it was inhabited by the Maori people. We head out on a sightseeing tour, taking in the views from Bastion Point, before stopping off at Parnell Village, the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. We take a ride on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway on Day 7.
Originally opened in 1922, today the line transports us through the Bombay Hills and the Waikato Valley to Rotorua, the spiritual home of the Maoris and our base for the next 2 nights. We visit the internationally recognised and award-winning Hamilton Gardens in the afternoon, a peaceful oasis on the banks of the Waikato River. Day 8 begins with a guided tour that includes the incredible redwood forest, Lake Tarawera, the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. After some time to relax at our hotel, we head out on an evening excursion to the Tamaki Maori Village where we are welcomed in true Maori style, enjoying the chance to see, and even participate in, a real-life haka performance.
Days 9-10 – The Northern Explorer and Wellington
Transferring to Hamilton across the Mamaku Mountain Ranges, we board the Northern Explorer for a rail journey through King Country. We view spectacular scenery from the panoramic windows, including the peaks of Tongariro National Park, the famous Raurimu Spiral, and the Kapiti Coast. On Day 10 we tour Wellington, which includes visits to the city’s chocolate factory for a tasting, as well as the Wellington Botanical Gardens. After time at leisure, use your included cable car ticket to make the return journey back to our hotel.
Days 11-14 – Christchurch, the Taieri Gorge Railway, and Te Anau
Today we take the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait to Picton. Here, we board the Coastal Pacific train for a scenic journey to Christchurch. We transfer by coach to Dunedin on the morning of Day 12 where we take the opportunity of a sightseeing tour, before we visit the Botanical Gardens and Baldwin’s Street. On Day 13 we board the Taieri Gorge Railway to follow in the footsteps of 19th-century gold miners. We travel to Te Anau on Day 14, the heart of New Zealand’s Fiordland.
Days 15-17 – Milford Sound and Queenstown
Our full-day excursion today starts with a drive through Fiordland National Park, where we make a scenic stop at the Mirror Lakes, traversing the Hollyford Valley, crossing the Homer Tunnel, before descending via the Cleddau Valley to Milford Sound. From here, we enjoy a peaceful cruise ahead of our journey by road to Queenstown, a popular destination dominated by magnificent scenery.
On Day 16, after a free morning, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the area, which includes historic Arrowtown, the site of a major gold rush in the 1860s and a ‘Lord of the Rings’ filming location, and the Gibbston Valley Winery. After a look around the cellars and a wine tasting, we cruise nearby Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage steamship, TSS Earnshaw. We moor up at the Colonel’s Homestead for a BBQ dinner and sheep shearing demonstration, ahead of our night-time return sailing. Day 17 is at leisure in Queenstown.
Days 18-19 – The Franz Josef Glacier and the Coastal Pacific
We travel by coach to the Franz Josef Glacier, making a number of scenic stops along the way. An overnight stay and dinner at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, allows us to view the glacier up close or take a helicopter flight to the snowfield (payable locally). On Day 19, we visit Hokitika, the centre for New Zealand jade, before boarding the TranzAlpine for our scenic rail journey back to Christchurch. The route takes us through New Zealand’s Southern Alps and across the Canterbury Plains.
Days 20-21 – The Antarctic Centre and London
On our final day in New Zealand, we visit the International Antarctic Centre for a snow and ice experience, learning how explorers have survived in such harsh environs over the centuries. We also get to meet some indigenous, and adorable, blue penguins, as well as seeing for ourselves the vital role husky dogs have played in scientific research here. Later, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London Heathrow, via Singapore, where we touch down on Day 21.