Day 1 – USA to Auckland
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – Cross the International Date Line
Cross the International Date Line, an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North to the South Pole - and defines one calendar day from the next. Crossing the International Date Line adds one day (24 hours) traveling west, and subtracts one day (24 hours) traveling east.
Day 3 – Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand
On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your waterside hotel in central Auckland. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the “City of Sails”.Starting Accommodation:
Day 4 – Auckland to Rotorua
Today we drive south over Auckland’s Bombay Hills and across the Hauraki Plains. We stop in the beautiful Karangahake Gorge to walk beside the river through native bush to the old gold mining relics. Continuing on to the Bay of Plenty region we travel through Te Puke located in the heart of Kiwifruit county.
A memorable day on our New Zealand small group tour continues as we take to the water on board a luxury, 53ft catamaran "Tiua" to sail on bush fringed Lake Rotoiti past hidden bays to our destination - geothermal hot pools. A favorite with locals, these pools are reached only by water. Soak in the pools, jump in the lake to cool off and have a go on the helm of the boat on the way back.Starting Accommodation:
Novotel Rotorua Lakeside (B)
Day 5 – Rotorua Sightseeing
The morning is free to relax or enjoy one of Rotorua's many and varied attractions. We drive out to lovely, bush fringed Lake Tarawera to a private lunch at Pounamu Lodge. Sit back and relax over a glass of wine with our local hosts David and Karen Walmsley. Karen's ancestor Guide Sophia is renowned for leading visitors to safety when Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886.
Later we drive back into town for a little more leisure time. Rotorua’s museum is nearby and features stunning Maori arts and cultural exhibits and has interesting origins as a Bath house spa.Starting Accommodation:
Novotel Rotorua Lakeside (B, L)
Day 6 – Rotorua to Tongariro National Park
Today our small group New Zealand tours head to one of our favourite destinations, Wai-O-Tapu. At this geothermal landmark you will wander on well marked paths by brightly coloured silica terraces and plopping mud pools.
We visit dramatic, thundering Huka Falls and at Taupo we stop to look across the lake to the three active volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. The World Heritage Tongariro National Park is our destination and the wonderful Chateau Tongaririo Hotel. This afternoon there's time to explore short trails in this national park or sit back and take in the breathtaking views.Starting Accommodation:
Chateau Tongariro (B)
Day 7 – Tongariro National Park to Napier
Leaving behind the geothermal region of the North Island, our road winds over rugged ranges to Napier. Renowned for its Art Deco architecture, Napier was rebuilt in this style after an earthquake in 1931. These days it’s also an acclaimed wine region. On arrival, our local guide joins us for a walking tour of the inner city Art Deco buildings.
We tour Hawkes Bay's pastoral landscape of orchards, farms and vineyards, no wonder it's know as "the food basket" of New Zealand. We drive up Te Mata Peak for fantastic views of the countryside returning to Napier with time to explore more of this unique town.Starting Accommodation:
Day 8 – Napier to Wellington
Leaving Napier we drive south through the farmlands and the broad plains of the Wairarapa. We pass through the small farming towns of Norsewood and Dannevirke before arriving in Greytown, named after Governor General Sir George Grey it boasts New Zealand's most complete main street of wooden Victorian buildings dating back to the 1880's.
In the afternoon we traverse the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington, our capital city. We tour Wellington's waterfront and city sights and drive up Mt Victoria for the harbor views. Our hotel is close to the city's eclectic cafe scene.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Wellington to Nelson
This morning we catch the Interislander ferry to cruise for three hours across Cook Strait into Tory Channel and up beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton.
Marlborough is home to perfect conditions for creating some of New Zealand’s most exclusive wines, including the sauvignon blanc that put this region on the world map. We enjoy a wine tasting before driving up to the mountains and St Anaud, a tiny hamlet in the middle of the Nelson Lakes National Park, close to beautiful Lake Rotoiti. From here it's a downhill run to Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand.Starting Accommodation:
Century Park Motor Lodge (B)
Day 10 – Nelson Touring
Today you have a choice of a full scenic cruise or a cruise and walk along the beautiful Abel Tasman coastline. Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park. It protects 23,000 hectares of the most natural stretch of easily accessible coastline in New Zealand.
The coastline is characterized by near-shore islands, sheltered waters, estuaries and golden sandy beaches. The park is sheltered from ocean swells, and enjoys a mild climate in New Zealand's sunniest region. After your cruise or walk we return to Nelson.Starting Accommodation:
Century Park Motor Lodge (B)
Day 11 – Nelson to Kaikoura
Leaving Nelson we wind over the hills to Blenheim and drive through the ordered vineyard landscape to reach the wild coastal road hugging the cliffs between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges - the most stunning seascape. Your afternoon is free to explore Kaikoura’s wildlife, perhaps enjoying a close up encounter of the marine life kind.
There are many optional excursions to choose from - swimming with seals and dolphins to whale watching cruises and flights. Or you can simply stroll down to Kean Point to see the seal colony sampling the fresh crayfish at the Kaikoura Seafood BBQ along the way.Starting Accommodation:
The White Morph (B)
Day 12 – Kaikoura to Mt Cook
First the highway continues down the coast then our small group New Zealand tour heads inland down the Canterbury Plains to Akaunui Farm homestead. Steeped in history, this century-old farmstead is the perfect place to enjoy a private lunch and an introduction to the delights of the mid-Canterbury region, courtesy of our friendly hosts Di and Ian Mackenzie.
Sweeping vistas of tussock lands and mountains open up ahead. The small stone church on the edge of the aquamarine Lake Tekapo and a statue celebrating the high country sheep dog make irresistible photo stops. Tonight we stay in a valley surrounded by mountains.Starting Accommodation:
The Hermitage (B, L)
Day 13 – Mt Cook to Queenstown
We awake at the foot of Mt Cook, at 3,754 metres New Zealand's highest mountain, known as Aoraki “the cloud piercer”. This morning perhaps take an optional boat cruise to the terminal face of the Tasman Glacier or scenic flight. Alternatively an early morning walk through magnificent alpine scenery to Kea Point is unforgettable.
Later we drive through the golden grasses of the Mackenzie Basin and the Lindis Pass. The rugged Kawarau Gorge road leads us to Queenstown. On arrival we ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for a scenic overview of this beautiful resort town.Starting Accommodation:
Day 14 – Queenstown Touring
We travel alongside Lake Wakatipu to Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound deep in the heart of Fiordland National Park. The Milford Road is a panorama of high mountains and deep valleys studded with glaciers, waterfalls and mirror lakes and includes the 1.2 km drive through the Homer Tunnel.
We cruise down Milford Sound, a majestic fiord lined with waterfalls and dominated by iconic Mitre Peak. Where the sound reaches the Tasman Sea colonies of seals lounge on the rocks. We return to Queenstown from Milford on an amazing scenic flight over the Southern Alps and across Lake Wakatipu.Starting Accommodation:
Day 15 – At leisure, Queenstown
A full day to experience this magnificent resort – a real highlight on our New Zealand small group tours. Your Kiwi guide will assist in your choice of activities; the options are endless with adventure activities in all forms from extreme to relaxed exploration.
We recommend an optional excursion such as a jet boat ride on the remote Dart River in the Lord of the Rings scenery or perhaps the thrill of white water rafting on an adventure down the Shotover or Kawarau River or a cruise on the lake on the vintage steamer tss “Earnslaw”. Or take a wine tour to sample Central Otago's renowned pinot noir.Starting Accommodation:
Day 16 – Queenstown to USA
Today your New Zealand vacation comes to an end. This morning after a leisurely breakfast you will be picked up from your hotel for your transfer to Queenstown airport for your flight home.
If you have time before your transfer to the airport, why not catch up on some last minute shopping? Queenstown has an exciting range of boutique shops featuring products made by local artisans that are worth checking out. Or you simply take a stroll alongside beautiful Lake Wakatipu and through the Botanic Gardens. Thank you for choosing to travel with MoaTrek New Zealand Small Group Tours. Ka kite ano – “See you again.” (B)