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 – Auckland to Rotorua
After connecting with your travel companions in Auckland your tour continues to Rotorua, via the lush pastures of the Waikato and fruit basket of the Bay of Plenty. The first stop is the dramatic Karangahake Gorge for a stroll alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past.
Pass through Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, where you'll visit a working Kiwifruit orchard before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake Rotoiti to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a memorable end to an awesome day.
Day 3 – Welcome to Rotorua, New Zealand
Today is the first of two nights in Rotorua, so take the morning to relax. Perhaps stroll down to the lakeside, just minutes from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many guided tours and attractions. Don’t miss nearby Ohinemutu marae, one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand. Then head to the famous Lake Tarawera for a hosted lunch with locals David and Karen, you’ll love their stories from their Maori and European histories.Starting Accommodation:
Novotel Rotorua Lakeside (L)
Day 4 – Rotorua to Tongariro National Park
No Kiwi holiday would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable. Continue on your adventure to "Great Lake" Taupo and stroll to view the famous Huka Falls.
Stop to view the lake on our way to Tongariro National Park. Either relax in the hotel, the Chateau Tongariro, and enjoy the close up views of the mountains - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu or walk to the Taranaki Falls. This is a classic North Island walking trail with gentle terrain, great views and unique native plants.Starting Accommodation:
Chateau Tongariro (B)
Day 5 – Tongariro National Park to Wellington
After a relaxed breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro, drive up the mountain road to the Top of the Bruce to enjoy panoramic views over the volcanic plateau. Next, drive around the slopes of Mt Ruapehu before making your way down the centre of the island to our capital Wellington.
Stay two nights in Wellington as you can’t miss "the coolest little capital in the world". Check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. Stay right in the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes. Starting Accommodation:
Day 6 – Welcome to Wellington, New Zealand
The day is yours to enjoy. At the Bolton Hotel, you are at the heart of the action. Just a short walk to the waterfront and Te Papa National Museum. Wellington is the food lovers' capital of New Zealand with a huge section of cafes and boutique breweries to choose from.
Wellington is also the spirituqal home of "The Lord of the Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props were made. Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Wellington to Nelson
Cruise on the Interislander ferry across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant your feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Your first port of call is Forrest Wines for tasting and lunch with a local right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.
From wine country head through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for two nights.Starting Accommodation:
Trailways Hotel Nelson (B, L)
Day 8 – Nelson to Abel Tasman National Park
Today is a highlight of the tour for many people – everyone has seen stunning photos of Abel Tasman National Park and now you can see it in person. Take your pick from a full scenic cruise or a cruise & walk combination to walk a section of the coastal track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
The coast is dotted with islands just offshore, sheltered bays, estuaries and golden sand beaches. Lie on the beach, or go for a swim, keeping your eye out for dolphins who often make an appearance. After your magical day out, return to Nelson for another night.Starting Accommodation:
Trailways Hotel Nelson (B)
Day 9 – Nelson to Kaikoura
Heading towards Kaikoura the road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges and the views are truly spectacular. Your afternoon is free to explore Kaikoura’s bountiful marine wildlife - a result of the ocean canyon close offshore. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.
There are many optional excursions including whale watching cruises and flights. For those keen on an easy walk, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers a chance to explore the headland and enjoy the Pacific Ocean views with some interesting Maori history along the way.Starting Accommodation:
White Morph Inn Kaikoura (B)
Day 10 – Kaikoura to Akaunui Homestead
Leaving the coast, drive over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. Stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old homestead surrounded by large gardens and dine on wonderful fresh produce prepared by your warm hosts Di and Ian Mackenzie. Get a great insight into life on a working sheep and dairy farm.
After lunch, continue through Burke's Pass to the spectacular Mackenzie Country for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the Southern Alps. You'llmake plenty of stops en route, you can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of glacier fed Lake Pukaki.Starting Accommodation:
The Hermitage (B)
Day 11 – Mount Cook to Queenstown
Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village. Kea Point is our favourite, a gentle undulating track with incredible close up views of the valley and the mountain itself. Alternatively take a boat cruise on a glacier lake, scenic flight or heli-hike on the Tasman glacier!
After lunch, head over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged Kawarau Gorge onto Queenstown - the adventure capital of New Zealand and our home for two nights. Starting Accommodation:
Day 12 – Queenstown to Milford Sound
Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound. From Queenstown, follow the shores of the great southern lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau before heading into the heart of Fiordland National Park on the spectacular Milford Road.
On arrival at Milford cruise by launch out onto the sound dominated by iconic Mitre Peak and home to birdlife, seal colonies and pods of dolphins. A magical flight over the Southern Alps returns you to Queenstown at the end of a fantastic day of touring by land, sea and air. Starting Accommodation:
Day 13 – Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand
Today is yours to make the most of the infinite choice of day tours and activities Queenstown has to offer, your "Kiwi Guide" will be right there to help. What do we love in Queenstown? A jet boat ride on the remote and beautiful Dart River in "The Lord of the Rings" scenery, walking along the lakeshore and the Botanic Gardens or take a thrilling raft ride on the Kawarau River. Other favourites are wine tasting in the celebrated boutique vineyards of Central Otago, golf on one of New Zealand’s best courses, a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track or cruising Lake Wakatipu on the 1912 Steamship, the TSS "Earnslaw".
After your activity fly out in the evening or do what many of our travellers do and extend your stay a day or two in Queenstown the MoaTrek team will be happy to make additional accommodation recommendations in Queenstown.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)