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 into Auckland, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation, or if you choose the rental car option, you will pick up your vehicle and self-drive to your hotel.
Auckland, ‘City of Sails’, located between two stunning harbors, enjoys a mild year-round climate Auckland is the country's most visited region and largest urban area, offering exciting activities and great shopping.
The city lies across a 7-mile wide volcanic isthmus separating two harbors. The Waitemata to the east opens into the Hauraki Gulf, and to the Pacific Ocean. The Manukau Harbour to the west offers many estuaries and surf beaches and opens to the Tasman Sea.Starting Accommodation:
Day 4 – Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves
Depart Auckland on board a motor coach for your ride south to Hamilton. Travel through the rich Waikato area, famous for its dairy farms, kiwi fruit orchards, thoroughbred horses.....and the Waitomo Caves! You will enter subterranean limestone caverns to view the Glow Worm Grotto; surely one of the wonders of the world. Then continue over the bush clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua.Hangi dinner and concert
This Twilight Cultural Tour offers transport to and from a Marae by coach. Tonight is a spiritual experience you will never forget with Marae protocol, entertainment, Maori culture and feasting.
En route to the Marae, the guide explains the protocol to take place. The group on board is prepared for the wero (challenge) and welcome to the Marae. Upon entering the exquisitely carved meeting house, you will hongi (greet - pressing of noses) with your host. The tradition means you are a friend and may consider yourself one of the family. Now sit back and enjoy the culture of the Maori people. See the fierce Haka (war dance), twirling of poi balls, stick games and other entertainment.
From here we move to the Hangi pit to see the traditional Maori method of food preparation before heading into the dining room for a Hangi (feast). After the feast, you are transferred back to your Rotorua accommodation by coach.Starting Accommodation:
Ibis Rotorua (L, D)
Day 5 – Rotorua City Tour
See the highlights of Rotorua - this tour shows you the best of Rotorua's natural and man-made attractions. Your half-day tour includes a visit to Rainbow Springs and Rainbow Farm for a sheep show and working sheep dog demonstrations. Continue to Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers and intricate Maori wood carvings.Starting Accommodation:
Day 6 – Rotorua to Napier
Depart Rotorua and travel south to Napier.
Far from the world’s great population centers and from the European and American cities where 20th Century design evolved lies a small city that is unique. Napier was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive Richter 7.8 Earthquake. Subsequent fires destroyed most of its commercial heart. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe.
Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century – in such a concentrated area. And Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.
Enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines which are its trademark, and bounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the centre of the Hawke’s Bay region. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savor the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era.
If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Rotorua to Napier at your own pace.Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Napier to Wellington
Depart Napier as you continue heading south toward New Zealand’s capital city – Wellington.
New Zealand’s capital is renowned for its superior shopping, theaters, cafés, vibrant nightlife and its strong association with the arts. The Wellington region of the lower North Island, which includes Wellington City, the Wairarapa, Hutt valley, Porirua and the Kapiti Coast, is a vibrant new visitor destination. It is a gateway to New Zealand's culture, both urban and rural.
If you choose the self drive option, you will drive from Napier to Wellington at your own pace.Starting Accommodation:
Day 8 – Wellington City Tour
Features of your tour with Great Sights include Parliament buildings, Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, Lady Norsewood Rose Gardens, National Art Gallery and museum, Oriental Bay, Wellington Harbour and Marine Drive. Tour duration is around two hours.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Picton to Nelson
Transfer to the Wellington ferry terminal before taking the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton. The 50 mile journey takes little more than three hours, yet it’s one of the world’s great scenic cruises. And when you cruise across on the Inter-Islander you’ll find a wonderful combination of entertainment and services that will make your Cook Strait crossing even more memorable.
On arrival into Picton, board the coach for your journey to Nelson. If you choose the self-drive option, collect your vehicle at the ferry terminal and enjoy the drive directly across the Richmond Range as you head towards Nelson. Approximate time to allow is 2 hours for this drive.Starting Accommodation:
Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Day 10 – At leisure, Nelson
The beach, shining sea, cozy cafés, forest walks, beautiful landscapes, sun and blue skies, a thoroughly relaxed lifestyle, the artists attracted for the same reasons, their amazing art, the seafood, the wine, boutique breweries... this is Nelson. Explore the surrounding area on your own or on one of our additional day excursions
Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Day 11 – Nelson to Franz Josef (Via Greymouth)
A point-to-point coach service will transport you from Nelson to Greymouth. On arrival connect with another coach for the journey to Franz Josef. If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Nelson to Franz Josef at your own pace.
Set between the stormy expanse of the Tasman Sea and the unbroken chain of the Southern Alps, the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is truly a land apart. For six hundred kilometers from north to south, this wild and often sparsely-populated region of mountains and glaciers, of lakes and unruly rivers, of primeval forest and magnificent coastline, overwhelms visitors with its natural beauty.
Opportunities on the West Coast are now virtually endless for activities like beach and forest walking, tramping, fishing, horse-trekking, canoeing, exploring old gold mining regions or ghost towns abandoned in the wake of the gold rush era.Starting Accommodation:
Punga Grove Motel
Day 12 – Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
Today you will enjoy Franz Josef Glacier at its most dynamic! The Glacier Valley Walk takes participants alongside the mighty Waiho River bed following the glaciers path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here, learn about the glacier's history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka_ Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, cross over the public barriers, and after a brief climb, will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing terminal face of the glacier. There has never been a more extraordinary time to visit Franz Josef Glacier.Starting Accommodation:
Punga Grove Motel
Day 13 – Franz Josef to Queenstown
Depart the glacier region of Franz Josef and continue south by motor coach to New Zealand’s adventure capital – Queenstown.
If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown at your own pace.
Nestled beside the deep blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, at the foot of the Remarkables Mountain Range, Queenstown is a year round resort, where you can be as active as you want, or just leisurely enjoy the magnificent scenery.Starting Accommodation:
Day 14 – Dart River Jet Boating
Transfer from Queenstown by coach to Glenorchy and the mouth of the Dart River. Here we board the 18 foot specially prepared jet boat and thread our way through a maze of channels between river flats in only inches of water. Snowcapped mountains surround you as you view the World Heritage Grandeur, and waterfalls cascade into the lush bush clad valleys – a magical, untouched place.
Your guide shares his knowledge and explains all about the area, then pulls into a bank so that you may explore the area by foot. This optional 30-45 minute guided walk takes you into the native forests at an area called Paradise in the spectacular Rees valley. You will then be collected by the 4 x 4 coach to take you back to Glenorchy, before transferring back to Queenstown. Trip duration is 6 hours.Starting Accommodation:
Day 15 – At leisure, Queenstown
At your leisure to explore the adventure capital of New Zealand. Set between the towering Remarkable Ranges and the bottomless Lake Wakitipu, Queenstown has it all – bungee jumping, jet boating, rafting, amazing scenic helicopter flights. You may wish to visit Milford or Doubtful Sound or the old gold mining town of Arrowtown.Starting Accommodation:
Day 16 – Queenstown to Dunedin
Depart Queenstown to travel by coach to Pukerangi then take a mesmerizing train ride from Pukerangi to Duneidn. You travel through Central Otago with its bizarre schist rock tors, desert landscapes, blue lakes and river gorges.
See spectacular changes in scenery, from the rugged mountain gorges of the Taieri River to fertile plains. The trip crosses giant stone and wrought iron viaducts and enters numerous tunnels carved from rock – arriving into Dunedin early evening.
If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Queenstown to Dunedin at your own pace.
A university city of Scottish heritage, Dunedin possesses a unique combination of cultural riches, fine architecture, and world-famous wildlife reserves. The sheer physical beauty of Dunedin’s dramatic bush-covered hills and valleys at the head of a long natural harbor attracted Maori settlers to the site over four centuries ago.
Then, in 1848, Scottish migrants established a town here, giving it the ancient name of Edinburgh. Soaring cathedral spires, a magnificent Flemish-style railway station, fine banks and office blocks, a nineteenth-century castle, old university buildings and a neo-gothic convent are among the city's architectural treasures. Dunedin's art gallery and museums contain some of the best collections in New Zealand. And within the city boundaries are internationally renowned wildlife reserves including a rare Albatross breeding ground and Yellow-Eyed Penguin colonies.
Dunedin welcomes its visitors with traditional Scots hospitality handed down from the city's founding fathers, who in 1848 settled in the hills at the head of the fjord-like Otago Harbour.Starting Accommodation:
Mercure Dunedin Leisure Lodge
Day 17 – Dunedin cruise, Albatross and Wildlife Tour
Depart from your hotel for the scenic drive to Taiaroa for a guided Albatross land tour (restricted viewing from late September to late November). A lunch stop is made (own expense), before transferring to Wellers Rock for the guided cruise to Taiaroa.
You will be fascinated and exhilarated by the wealth of wildlife, so close, so natural. View albatross, seals, cormorants, geology and history from the Monarch, then transfer to the penguin reserve for a Yellow eyed penguin land tour before returning to Dunedin.Starting Accommodation:
Mercure Dunedin Leisure Lodge
Day 18 – Travel Dunedin to Christchurch
Depart Dunedin and head north to Christchurch.
Christchurch is the South Island's largest city, beautifully encapsulates the best of what New Zealand has to offer. This is a vibrant city of exciting festivals, art galleries, theaters and great shopping. Award-winning attractions are available within the city and the surrounding countryside. Find out what variety really means; explore our unspoiled corner of the globe, where wilderness, adventure and sophisticated urban living can be found in perfect balance.
If you choose the self-drive option, you will drive from Dunedin to Christchurch at your own pace.Starting Accommodation:
Day 19 – At leisure, Christchurch
Christchurch, the city of parks and gardens, trees and beauty, is also buzzing with street life. Wine bars, street cafes and exciting entertainments give the central city vitality unique in New Zealand. Christchurch is said to be the most English city outside England. The downtown district focuses on Cathedral Square, where you’ll find buskers, speakers and the eccentric Wizard of Christchurch (who is classified as a living work of art).
You can sedately cruise the Avon River by punt, on its meandering course through town, under many bridges and past historic landmarks, or do your own thing by canoe. Vintage car, horse and carriage, hot air ballooning and guided walking tours: these are just a few ways to explore the Garden City.Starting Accommodation:
Day 20 – Christchurch to USA (Via Auckland)
Transfer to the airport for your departure flights.