Consisting of two main islands New Zealand has the best of old and new worlds with a mix of landscapes and cultures making it a top destination to visit as it really does have it all! Also, as approximately twenty percent of the population were born overseas with many originating in Great Britain, it is no surprise that it is popular with British tourists.
There is such a lot to see that the best way is to take an organised tour and our Travel Partner, Seasons, has an 18 day ‘True New Zealand’ tour which will not disappoint.
(Image: Eden Park courtesy Tourism New Zealand)
New Zealand is arguably the world’s purest destination where vast open spaces are filled with jaw-dropping landscapes – where you will experience nature at its most raw and varied and understand why the locals call it “God’s Own Country”. Constantly in the making, its geology being some of the most recently formed on Earth, this exceptional wonderland also boasts a rich cultural diversity and the charming towns and vibrant cities offer unique Kiwi hospitality.
New Zealand really is a heaven on earth with its snow-capped mountains to deep, crystal clear lagoons, plunging cave networks to raging rapids, the islands are a playground for thrill-seekers looking for the next adrenalin high. From the misty glades fit for Hobbits, to the crashing waves favoured by the world’s surfing community, this country is utterly astounding with over 15,000 kilometres of beautiful, varied coast line. Don’t be mistaken, even though nature rules, New Zealand has its fair share of cosmopolitan cities which are scattered throughout both the North and South Island.
New Zealand has approx four million residents, with over one million residing in Auckland which is where your tour begins after your flight from the UK and where you will be transferred by private seaplane to stay for 3 nights at the 5* luxury Boutique Hotel, The Boatshed on Waiheke Island.
Auckland – known as ‘The City of Sails’, is home to Viaduct Harbour, a beautiful waterfront development at the heart of the city. Head there for fabulous food, stunning views and an unsurpassble insight into marine life. Pop over to Sky Tower, which at 328m, is the tallest man-made structure in the country. Here you you can get 360 degree views of one of the world’s great harbour cities. Be sure not to miss a walk up one of Auckland’s 53 volcanic peaks with popular choices being Mount Eden and One Tree Hill.
Waiheke Island is blessed with an enchanting blend of beautiful beaches, lush native bush, farms, and arts and craft stores creating an inviting and warm island lifestyle, it also boasts more than a dozen high-quality vineyards, many with relaxed restaurants onsite. Enjoy local wine while looking out over vine-covered valleys to the blue sea beyond. The white sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi slope gently down into the Hauraki Gulf and are perfect for swimming, kayaking, strolling along or having a picnic in the sun.
Then from Waiheke Island you travel to Rotorua where you will stay for 2 nights at the Solitaire Lodge. Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing its fascinating Maori culture, hospitality and food – try a hangi feast cooked in the steaming ground or take a tour of an authentic pre-European village.
The heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture, surrounded by steaming lakes, bubbling hot pools and bursting geysers, Rotorua is host to some of the world’s most incredible earth forces, capturing all that is precious and unique. Visit the Hobbiton set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, located in Matamata, and discover the real ‘Middle Earth’, in a fascinating two hour guided tour.
From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and explosive geysers, Rotorua has it all. The city offers a raft of attractions and experiences for everyone from adventure-seekers to those just looking to unwind.
From Rotorua on to Taupo, sitting at the edge of Australasia’s largest lake where you will stay for 2 nights at the Acacia Cliffs Lodge. The beautiful Lake Taupo is actually a huge volcano with a fiery history. Its most recent eruption, in 181 AD, was large enough to change the sky as far away as Europe and China.
The ‘trout fishing capital of New Zealand’, set on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupo also offers awe-inspiring panoramic views of the diverse volcanic landscape, from the pristine lake to the surrounding mountain peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. Enjoy a half-day scenic charter on Lake Taupo, cruise around its northern bays with lunch on board and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains as you make your way to the Maori rock carvings and Kaipo Bay.
Taupo is a base for visitors providing a range of activities from exploring the local geothermal phenomena, fishing for trout, taking lake cruises, trying New Zealand’s first public cable wakeboarding park and guided kayak expeditions or ski Mount Ruapehu.
From Taupo you travel to Palliser Bay staying 2 nights at the Wharekauhau Lodge and Country Estate. Founded in the mid 1880′s and set on 5,500 acres of private land the Lodge is fashioned in the Edwardian country style, mimicking the feel of a bygone era. The Lodge provides many activities for guests all on its own large, private grounds whilst the cuisine earns universal praise from all diners with the kitchen producing world-class contemporary dishes that feature local beef, duck, lamb and crayfish.
Wharekauhau Estate and its three adjoining properties also comprises a 5000-acre working sheep station of forests, lakes, mountains, bush and open country as well as 16 miles of dramatic coastline which offers endless opportunities for recreation. A 4WD farm safari introduces you to the workings of this remote coastal ranch bordered by the Rimutaka Ranges and Pacific Ocean. It’s a classic New Zealand Romney sheep station tour that features highlights from the activities that have created the country’s legendary farming heritage, and may include sheep shearing demonstrations, sheep dogs in action and daily farm events.
Travelling on to Marlborough Sounds where you will stay for 2 nights at the Bay of Many Coves Resort. This luxury 5* resort set in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds nestles amid a rolling landscape of untouched native bush and stretches down to the shores of the tranquil bay. It is one of the few locations in the world where you can discover Nature’s finest sanctuaries where you can enjoy world-class cuisine, breathtaking scenery, the spirit of adventure or simply a sense of renewal.
The Marlborough region is home to scenic sounds, award wining wines and brilliant cycling & walking tracks. Some of the most popular experiences to enjoy include the guided wine tours – with more than 30 cellar doors, Marlborough offers every visitor the chance to find the perfect drop. Or if you prefer a cold beer, then don’t worry Marlborough has you covered with the local Renaissance and Moa craft breweries producing quality brews.
Dine like a King on fresh seafood straight from the waters of the Marlborough Sounds with a seafood cruise. You will be taken out on the sounds to enjoy seafood straight from the source; including King Salmon, mussels and clams matched with a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – guaranteed to be a meal unlike any other!
Or, as far as unique New Zealand experiences go, swimming with dolphins in the Marlborough Sounds is definitely one of them. Set amid the spectacular scenery guides will take you on a search for the five different species of dolphins found in this area, and it is up to you whether you enjoy dolphin spotting from the boat, or take a dip into the water for a personal encounter.
From Marlborough Sounds you travel to Christchurch where you will stay at the Hotel Montreal for 1 night. Christchurch is located on the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, known for its English heritage it has an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture.
The Garden City of New Zealand offers up historic architecture, art galleries, parks, and landscaped gardens, while the River Avon meanders through the city centre and creates a tranquil and charming atmosphere, reminiscent of the city’s English heritage.
From Christchurch you travel on to Franz Josef on what is reputed to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world, the Tranz Alpine Railway which will take you across the Canterbury Plains, over Arthur’s Pass and through the spectacular Southern Alps before descending through the rainforests of the West Coast.
Arriving in the heartland of the West Coast, the small town of Franz Josef serves the glacier of the same name and from where you can explore this spectacular World Heritage Area and enjoy a 2 night stay at the Te Waonui Forest Retreat. Franz Josef is uniquely nestled in the rainforest between the rugged glaciers and the pounding surf of the Tasman Sea. It’s here you can enjoy a guided heli-hike excursion, when, from the moment you step on board the chopper, your pilot whisks you away, up and over the jaw-dropping landscape. After a thrilling flight, high above the rugged terrain, you’ll then land on the glacier, ready to undertake a two-hour guided glacier hike.
Franz Josef is a small town set in the rainforest near the base of the Franz Josef Glacier. The name Franz Josef was given to the glacier by the geologist Julius von Haast to honour the emperor of his native Austria. According to Maori legend, the glacier is actually the frozen tears of a maiden called Hinehukatere, who was crying for the one she loved. She made her man (Tane) climb the mountains with her but unfortunately near the top he slipped and fell to his death. Hinehukatere was heart broken and with her crying at such a high altitude her tears turned to ice and formed the glacier we all see today.
On to your final stay of the tour, Queenstown, where you will stay for 3 nights at the Azur Lodge before taking your return flight to the UK.
Queenstown sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu amidst the towering peaks of the Southern Alps; it’s rumoured that gold prospectors – captivated by the majestic beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers – gave this now cosmopolitan town its name.
With plenty of outdoor activities on offer, Queenstown is the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ home of the ultimate adventure bucket list from skiing in winter to activities such as bungy jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting all year round. It has also become a renowned cycling destination, providing everything from easy scenic tracks to backcountry trails, road rides to heli-biking and the Southern Hemisphere’s only gondola accessed downhill mountain biking.
You can also enjoy a private helicopter excursion to majestic Milford Sound, flying through the grandeur of the Alps over rainforests, frozen lakes and majestic Milford to touchdown on an age old glacier. The views of the glaciers are overwhelming, with their many crevasses and blue and green ice falls.
Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s top visitor destinations and after your visit to the region you’ll understand why!
So, if you would like to follow in the footsteps of the Lions then let us help make your dreams come true.
Call 0333 3441786 or visit your local Tailor Made Travel agency – for telephone numbers and addresses of our branches click onto this link to our website
Don’t forget without a Travel Agent you are on your own.
Images courtesy of Tourism New Zealand
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