Day 1: ARRIVE AUCKLAND; NEW ZEALAND
AM Arrive in Auckland on flight TBA.
Met on arrival by our New Zealand staff who will deliver your final tour documents and vouchers.
Transfer to the hotel by private vehicle and driver.
If early morning arrival, rooms may not be ready for immediate occupancy. Pre-registration is available at extra cost to guarantee immediate occupancy.
The remainder of morning is free to rest and explore New Zealand’s largest city.
Walk downhill from your hotel to the Viaduct Basin and check in at the Explore NZ booking kiosk. If you choose not to walk, take a taxi (own cost).
1:30 pm Report to the Explore NZ booking kiosk. Dress warmly and wear flat shoes.
2:00 pm In the afternoon go sailing on a genuine Americas Cup 12 metre yacht – either NZL40 or NZL41. Passengers become the crew and are encouraged to take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the thrill of these grand prix racing machines as you sail down lovely Auckland Harbour (2 hours – other travellers may be on board).
Afterwards walk back uphill to your hotel – or take a taxi (own cost).
A landmark building with views of the iconic Sky Tower and the harbour from its rooftop pool deck – The Heritage Auckland offers superior accommodation with a difference in the centre of Auckland. The hotel reflects the traditional style of the buildings famous past and showcases the building’s original Art Deco design. Heritage Auckland is ideally situated in the central city and near the waterfront, the vibrant Viaduct Basin, Queen Street, the Sky Tower and casino complex and other main attractions.
Accommodation Heritage Auckland Hotel
Superior rooms – Hotel Wing – 2 nights
Day 2: WAIHEKE ISLAND VINEYARD TOUR
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning walk downhill to the Ferry Terminal (approx. 15-20 minutes walk). Alternatively take a taxi (own cost).
9:40 am Report to the Fullers Office at the Ferry Terminal and collect boarding passes.
10:00 am Depart Auckland. It is a 35 minutes high-speed catamaran across the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf to Matiatia on Waiheke Island.
10:35 am You will be met on arrival by your Ananda Tours guide for a private tour of Waiheke Island with a special focus on the boutique wineries. Since the 1970s the island’s Mediterranean climate has seen the growth of a flourishing wine industry with high quality fruit.
Visit Stonyridge vineyard for wine-tasting. Stonyridge was the second vineyard to establish on the Island, with their first plantings in 1982. The vineyard is also home to maturing cork trees, the Islands oldest olive grove and one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Bordeaux style wines, La rosé. Visit Rangihoua Estate where the first olive oil in the North Island was produced. Rangihoua is the winner of one silver and three gold medals at the Los Angeles County Fair. You will learn how the oil is produced and taste four different oils, including the peppery Greek-style Koreneiki, the Spanish-style Picual, or the Tuscan-style Frantorio, as well as island blends. Enjoy wine-tasting at Jurassic Ridge. This is a new vineyard open to the public producing hand-crafted, high quality Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris as well as Montepulciano. All their wines are made entirely on estate from grapes grown in their north-facing boutique vineyard at Church Bay. All winery visits subject to change without notice.
There will be a break in Oneroa Village where you can buy lunch (own cost) or walk on the beautiful beach. Alternatively you may wish to book at a vineyard for lunch (own cost).
Also visit the Waiheke Community Art Gallery to view the works of both local & international artists before returning to Auckland on the 4.00 pm ferry.
On arrival walk back up to the hotel or if you choose not to walk, take a taxi (own cost).
Day 3: AUCKLAND / WAITOMO CAVES / ROTORUA (352 kms)
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
Today drive south across the Bombay Hills through the Waikato Valley and continue south to the Waitomo region
12:30 pm At Waitomo enjoy a guided tour into the recently reopened Ruakuri Cave which offers a comprehensive cave experience including winding passageways, immense caverns, and deep crevices. The tour commences with a spiral descent from ground level via a remarkable drum entrance and walkway then wanders along narrow corridors and across low-lit walkways suspended above the Huhunui River below. The tour is two-hours duration and includes 1.6 kilometres of walkways. Your guide will bring you up close to glowworms, elaborate cave formations, underground rivers, myths, legends and sacred Maori sites. At the completion of the tour, retrace your journey back to the entrance.
Afterwards drive on across picturesque farming country and over the bush clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua.
Your accommodation is in a delightful boutique hotel, which has just 52 en-suite rooms and apartments. The main building is over 100 years old and built in classic style of that era in native timbers with wide verandahs. All rooms are well appointed and have tea/coffee making amenities, and there are thermal pools, massage and guest laundry facilities. It is centrally located beside the Princes Gate entrance to the beautiful Government Gardens and is an easy walk to the main shopping area of Rotorua and a variety of restaurants and cafes.
Accommodation: Princes Gate Hotel, Rotorua
Estate Rooms – 2 nights
Day 4: ROTORUA SIGHTSEEING & MAORI CULTURE
(BD) Breakfast at your hotel.
This morning visit Rainbow Springs – a showcase of New Zealand’s natural flora and fauna. Enjoy a guided tour which includes the opportunity to see the rare Tuatara lizard, New Zealand’s only reptile species and the Kiwi bird in a special nocturnal enclosure. Also see huge trout and native birds as well as crystal clear freshwater streams and deep fern fringed pools.
Also see the entertaining Agrodome sheep show and the Government Gardens.
Afterwards relax in the natural mineral water of a Lake Spa at Polynesian Thermal Pools. The Lake Spa Retreat offers unique and exclusive bathing in four hot mineral rock pools with lovely views over Lake Rotorua. Towels, soap and shampoo are provided and use of security lockers and hair dryers is included.
4:30 pm In the late afternoon enjoy an exclusive guided tour of Te Puia – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see the geysers and other fascinating thermal activity and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young Maori are learning traditional carving and weaving skills. After the tour join other travellers for the Powhiri (welcome), hangi (dinner) and concert of Maori song and dance in the Magnificent carved Meeting House on the Marae (Maori village) at Whakarewarewa.
Day 5: ROTORUA / BLENHEIM (by air)
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Rotorua Airport and check in. Pay airport departure tax currently NZ$5.00 per person.
Rotorua / Blenheim by air (VPLUSW fare – subject to availability).
Blenheim in the heart of the Marlborough Wine Region is New Zealand’s top wine producing area with its wines winning awards around the world. Among the leading wineries are Grove Mill, Hunters, Alan Scott Estate, Shingle Peak, Cloudy Bay, Wither Hills, Forrest Estate and Montana.
We will have lunch at a Marlborough winery with wine tasting and visit two further wineries for tasting.
Your hotel is located a short stroll from the town centre.
Accommodation: Chateau Marlborough Hotel, Blenheim
Deluxe Studio – 1 night
Day 6: BLENHEIM / NELSON (113-kms / 70-miles)
(B) Breakfast at your hotel.
Today drive across the top of the South Island to Nelson which is famous for its apples, scallops, arts and crafts and lovely beaches. Nelson enjoys one of the sunniest climates in New Zealand.
Remainder of day at leisure.
Your hotel is ideally located only a short stroll from Nelson’s main street and landmark Cathedral. There are a number of art studios and galleries near the hotel. The hotel features two restaurants, outdoor pool and health centre with gymnasium and sauna.
Accommodation: Rutherford Heritage Hotel, Nelson
Run of House – 2 nights
Day 7: ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
(BL) Breakfast the hotel.
This morning depart Nelson by coach and drive out to Kaiteriteri Beach to meet your guide (approx 1.5hr drive). Note you should take a towel, hat, sunscreen, warm top (plus polypropylene thermals if you have them), wind jacket, swim suit, change of clothes, sandals that can get wet, sunglasses and walking shoes). You may also wish to take swimsuit and a small day pack. Dry bags for clothing and camera will be provided.
9:10 am Report to the Wilson’s Abel Tasman Ticket Office (kiosk) opposite the main beach at Kaiteriteri. Check in for Tonga Island Seals – Guided Sea kayaking excursion.
9:30 am Join a Wilson’s scenic cruise into the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park with full commentary to introduce you to this fascinating coastline. Enjoy the comfort of open and closed deck areas, with hot drinks and bathroom facilities on board.
At idyllic Tonga Quarry your guide settles you in your stable double kayak with full training and safety briefing, then onto the water to discover the highlights of the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Enjoy the antics of the cheeky NZ fur seals and watch sea birds working the shoals of fish or resting on the rocky outcrops. Explore sculptured granite headlands, tidal lagoons & forest fringed beaches as you paddle south.
Enjoy your picnic lunch on one of the many golden beaches before continuing to Medlands Beach. Relax at this golden cove or enjoy an optional ½ hour bush walk whilst your guide loads kayaks and gear. Rejoin Vista cruise 3.00pm, and recount the days adventure while cruising back to Kaiteriteri.
3:55pm Arrive Kaiteriteri, and transfer back to Nelson by coach.
NB: Itinerary may be modified on the day. The above start and finish times are observed but Wilson’s reserve the right to modify the day after consultation with guests and consideration of weather and tidal conditions. The paddling itinerary changes from day to day to make the most of tidal conditions and people’s abilities.
Other travellers may join.
Day 8: NELSON / PUNAKAIKI (274-kms / 170-miles)
(B) Breakfast at your hotel.
Depart and drive south through the lovely Waimea Valley once well known for the growing of tobacco. Continue south through rugged and remote bush covered mountains. The road follows the Buller River towards the coast. Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Buller Gorge before reaching the West Coast. Continue down the coast to the small settlement of Punakaiki on the edge of the Paparoa National Park.
Punakaiki is renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and blowholes. These stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature. There are various scenic walks and hiking opportunities in this beautiful isolated area.
Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort
Run of House – 1 night
Day 9: PUNAKAIKI / FOX GLACIER (247-kms / 153-miles)
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
Follow the coast south through Greymouth which is the largest town on the West Coast then continue south stopping to see a Greenstone Factory at Hokitika where a local jade like stone highly prized by pre-European Maori is crafted into the most exquisite jewellery. Afterwards drive on south through forests and farmlands with the mighty Southern Alps rising sharply to the east and vistas of the Tasman Sea to the west. Pass the Franz Josef Glacier and 30 minutes later arrive at Fox Glacier.
Your accommodation is in a modern B&B hotel which has just 20 well-appointed en-suite guest rooms with super king beds and tea and coffee making facilities. Each room has a private balcony with views over the lower Fox Valley and Cook River Valley.
Your hotel was previously known as Te Weheka Lodge.
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier
Run of House – 2 nights
Day 10: FOX GLACIER
(B) Breakfast at your hotel.
This morning join a half-day eco-adventure guided walk onto the Fox Glacier – a huge river of snow and ice that flows from vast snowfields high in the Alps almost to sea level. Socks, boots, ice sticks and raincoats will be supplied. A reasonable level of fitness and agility is required (other travellers may join).
You will be kitted out with sturdy leather boots before boarding one of the glacier buses for the short drive through the rainforest into the steep-sided glacial valley. Your guide leads you on a walk beside the riverbed to the track, which zig-zags slowly uphill for forty-five minutes through ferns and regenerating temperate rainforest. From high on the track you will enjoy fantastic views of the glacier and its upper and lower icefalls. From its high point, the track winds down to the edge of the ice, where you are outfitted with instep crampons and you follow the ice steps cut by the guides. The route takes you onto the ice amongst crevasses and ice ridges leading you into the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefall and lower glacier. At least one hour is spent on the ice before returning to the bus using a different track that follows the edge of the ice and passes the collapsing terminal face of the glacier. Duration 4 – 4.5 hours. Participation is at the discretion of the guiding company.
Note – if group numbers fall below a certain level, it may not be possible for an exclusive departure and the group may need to join a scheduled departure with other travellers.
Afternoon at leisure.
Day 11: FOX GLACIER / WANAKA / QUEENSTOWN (381 kms)
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
Today drive south by private vehicle through magnificent rainforests passing the Fox Glacier and some pretty bush fringed lakes before turning inland and crossing the Haast Pass through the Southern Alps. Descend past glacial Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Wanaka township on the eastern shores of the lake. Continue past Lake Dunstan, across Central Otago sheep country and through the Kawarau Gorge into Queenstown.
Arrive Queenstown in the evening.
Perfectly located only steps from Lake Wakatipu, the Botanic Gardens and the heart of Queenstown, your hotel offers comfortable, modern accommodation. Queenstown’s excellent café’s, restaurants and bars are only a short stroll from the hotel.
Accommodation: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel
Run of House – 4 nights
Day 12: DART RIVER WILDERNESS SAFARI
Today is ANZAC Day – a public holiday in New Zealand. Banks will be closed and some stores will be closed until 1pm. (BD) Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning, private transfer around Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy.
8:40 am Report for a Dart River Wilderness Safari. This is more than a jetboat ride – each safari is a total wilderness experience into Mt Aspiring National Park World Heritage area. This journey into ‘Middle Earth’ combines 1½-hours of jet boating amidst the spectacular scenery of the Southern Alps; a gentle walking ancient forests amidst birdsong and cultural heritage and a back road journey by 4-wheel-drive vehicle through the high country farmland and forests around Paradise- film location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy (3 hours duration plus travel time – other travellers may be on board).
In the afternoon, return to Queenstown – remainder of afternoon at leisure.
8:15 pm Dine this evening at the Skyline Restaurant from where there are panoramic views across the lake and surrounding mountains. Access is by aerial gondola. Return coach transfers included.
Day 13: MILFORD SOUND DAY EXCURSION (598-kms)
(BL) Breakfast at the hotel.
6:30 am Depart early this morning by private vehicle and travel around Lake Wakatipu and through Te Anau and the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park, part of the UNESCO Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and leaping waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest.
12:30 pm Board the Milford Wanderer for a Nature Cruise down Milford Sound past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. Enjoy the stunning scenery of cascading waterfalls, dense rainforest, steep cliff faces and marine life that inhabits these waters. Picnic box lunch is included and your nature guide will give a commentary on the interesting features of the area.
3:00 pm The boat returns to Milford Wharf. Board the coach and retrace your journey back to Queenstown travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley. Arrive Queenstown at approximately 8.00pm.
Day 14: AT QUEENSTOWN
(B) Breakfast at the hotel.
Free day for your own choice of tours and activities.
Suggested optional activities include (can be pre-booked at extra cost):
- A thrilling ride through the canyons of the Shotover River on the Shotover Jet
- Take a private or small group wine tour of the premier wineries in the area – with the opportunity to meet a local wine-maker.
- Join Nomad Safari’s for a 4-wheel drive excursion to see unique filming locations used in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy.
- Take a guided Lakeshore Forest & Bird Walk along Lake Wakatipu.
- Cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak High Country Station. Here enjoy a delicious buffet dinner in the Colonel’s Homestead followed by an entertaining farm show.
- For a thrill, try bungy jumping, sky-diving or white water rafting!
- Other opportunities include horse-riding, golf, fly-fishing, and scenic flights by helicopter.
Day 15: QUEENSTOWN / AUCKLAND / DEPART
(BD) Breakfast at the hotel.
Day at leisure until transfer to Queenstown Airport.
Queenstown / Auckland by air (VPLUSW fare – subject to availability).
Arrive Auckland Domestic Terminal. Take the courtesy airport shuttle bus to the International Terminal.
Depart Auckland on flight TBA.
Heritage Auckland Hotel – Set within one of the city’s most recognizable historic landmark buildings, the iconic Farmers department store building, it’s an Auckland hotel accommodation experience without peer. With its former life as Auckland’s art deco department store, Farmers, and grand sweeping views of the magnificent Waitemata Harbour, Heritage Auckland offers a unique accommodation experience and an ideal base from which to enjoy the City of Sails.
Princes Gate Hotel, Rotorua – Princes Gate luxury hotel, Rotorua, is a one-of-a-kind heritage hotel. Rotorua boutique accommodation, old-fashioned service and classic style combine to make Princes Gate Hotel the first-class accommodation in Rotorua. Princes Gate is centrally located, overlooking the beautiful Government Gardens and New Zealand Art Gallery. The best street address in Rotorua. Five-star accommodation, Rotorua style and service – an attraction in its own right. Masterfully restored to original condition as a heritage hotel, Rotorua landmark Princes Gate Hotel has the old-time elegance of Rotorua, boutique accommodation and first-class service.
Chateau Marlborough Hotel, Blenheim – Chateau Marlborough is your premier luxury boutique Blenheim accommodation, in the heart of the stunning Marlborough region of New Zealand. Our 5 star Blenheim hotel accommodation offers an environment of seclusion, comfort and intimacy. Chateau Marlborough is a non-smoking hotel. 100% locally owned and operated, centrally located overlooking Seymour Square Gardens in Blenheim, Chateau Marlborough prides itself on offering guests luxury, boutique Marlborough accommodation with an enviable attention to detail – and all just a two minutes easy walk from the Blenheim town centre. Ideal Luxury Marlborough Accommodation Chateau Marlborough offers luxury Blenheim accommodation; we have a great range of 5 star Qualmark rated accommodation types, including a luxurious 2 bedroom Grande Penthouse, 1 Bedroom Grande Apartments, boutique studio accommodation and one bedroom deluxe & executive suites.
Punakaiki Resort – Punakaiki Resort is a stunning complex located on New Zealand’s wild West Coast at Punakaiki Beach – and near the world famous Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes. We offer stylish and comfortable West coast accommodation to suit those travelling for both business and pleasure. Spectacular Surroundings – The resort has been designed to maximize the surrounding environment with beautiful ocean and rainforest views of the Paporoa National Park.
Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier – Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier is the ideal hotel accommodation in Fox Glacier village -a charming township in the beautiful alpine Fox Glacier region of New Zealand’s South Island. The Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier’s location provides a real sense of privacy and peaceful seclusion, while being only a short stroll to the main street of the charming Fox Glacier village. Beautiful Fox Glacier Accommodation – Our Distinction Hotel offers luxurious Fox Glacier hotel accommodation in one of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful environments – nestled beneath the towering Southern Alps on the stunning West Coast of New Zealand. All the Distinction Hotel Fox Glacier rooms are beautifully appointed and feature their own balcony, lounge area and spacious bedroom – please click here to read more about your Fox Glacier accommodation.
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel – Novotel Queenstown Lakeside is the most centrally located 4-star hotel on Queenstown’s lakefront. Step outside your door and into the heart of Queenstown with easy access to all that this premier four season lake and alpine resort has to offer. The hotel offers delicious New Zealand influenced dining options, WIFI access and complimentary Apple Mac stations, a spa pool as well as professional and friendly staff that make Novotel Queenstown Lakeside the perfect hotel for your Queenstown visit. Spacious, contemporary in design, and adaptable, the Novotel room is truly a place for living. Perfect for all your needs.
New Zealand is a small country. About the size of Colorado with a sparse population of only four million people. Maori were the first to arrive in New Zealand journeying in canoes from Hawaii about 1,000 years ago where they set up a thriving tribal society that thrived for hundreds of years. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, was the first European to sight the country but it was the British who were the backbone of colonisation. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori. It established British law in New Zealand, while at the same time guaranteeing Maori authority over their land and culture. The Treaty is considered New Zealand’s founding document. The grounds and the building where the treaty was signed have been preserved and, today, the Waitangi Historic Reserve is a popular tourist attraction.
New Zealand’s spectacularly beautiful landscape and temperate maritime climate includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fjords and lush rain-forests. It is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for adventurers. Our small group escorted tour takes full advantage of everything New Zealand has to show us!
AUCKLAND Our guided adventure tour takes us sailing on a genuine Americas’ Cup yacht. We become the crew and are encouraged to take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the thrill of these grand prix racing machines as you sail down lovely Auckland Harbor
WAIHEKE ISLAND is one of the jewels of the Hauraki Gulf. It’s just a 40 minute ferry ride from the hustle and bustle of downtown Auckland but, in landscape, lifestyle and experience, it’s a whole world away.
Our small group and private guide visit includes beautiful galleries and craft boutiques in this homeland of artists. There are plenty of places to enjoy a good coffee or a taste of New Zealand’s fresh Pacific Rim cuisine. The island also boasts more than a dozen high-quality vineyards, many with relaxed restaurants on site.Since the 1970s the island’s Mediterranean climate has seen the growth of a flourishing wine industry with low quantities of high quality fruit. We will visit three selected wineries with wine tastings Among the better-known wineries are Goldwater, Mudbrick, Peninsula Estate and Stonyridge. Enjoy local wine while looking out over vine-covered valleys to the blue sea beyond!
ROTORUA Rainbow Springs is a showcase of New Zealand’s natural flora and fauna. We have a private guided tour which includes the opportunity to see the rare Tuatara lizard, New Zealand’s only reptile species and the Kiwi bird in a special nocturnal enclosure. We also see huge trout and native birds as well as crystal clear freshwater streams and deep fern fringed pools. We are entertained at the Agrodome sheep show and the Government Gardens. Our small group relax in the natural mineral water of a Lake Spa at Polynesian Thermal Pools. The Lake Spa Retreat offers unique and exclusive bathing in four hot mineral rock pools with lovely views over Lake Rotorua. Our group adventure includes a exclusive guided tour of Te Puia – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve to see the geysers and other fascinating thermal activity and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young Maori are learning traditional carving and weaving skills. Enjoying dinner and a concert of Maori song and dance in the magnificent carved Meeting House in the Maori village is a highlight.
BLENHEIM is in the heart of the Marlborough Wine Region is New Zealand’s top wine producing area with its wines winning awards around the world. We will have lunch at a Marlborough winery with wine tasting and visit two further wineries for tasting as well. As we drive across the top of the South Island to Nelson we enjoy it’s famous apples, scallops, arts and crafts and lovely beaches. Nelson enjoys one of the sunniest climates in New Zealand.
Our expedition takes to Waitomo where we have a guided tour into the recently reopened Ruakuri Cave which offers a comprehensive cave experience including winding passageways, immense caverns, and deep crevices. The tour commences with a spiral descent from ground level via a remarkable drum entrance and walkway then wanders along narrow corridors and across low-lit walkways suspended above the Huhunui River below. Our private guide will bring you up close to glowworms, elaborate cave formations, underground rivers, myths, legends and sacred Maori sites. We travel across picturesque farming country and over the bush clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua.
ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK New Zealand – here our group takes a scenic cruise into the heart of the National Park with full commentary by our guide to introduce you to this fascinating coastline. At idyllic Tonga Quarry our guide settles us in our stable double kayak and then onto the water to discover the highlights of the Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Here we enjoy the antics of the NZ fur seals and watch sea birds working the shoals of fish or resting on the rocky outcrops. As we paddle south we explore sculptured granite headlands, tidal lagoons & forest fringed beaches.
PUNAKAIKI is renowned for its wild, rugged coastline and the famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and blow holes. These stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature. There are various scenic walks and hiking opportunities in this beautiful isolated area of New Zealand.
GREYMOUTH is the largest town on the West Coast where we sample items at Greenstone Factory at Hokitika where a local jade like stone highly prized by pre-European Maori is crafted into the most exquisite jewellery.
At FOX GLACIER we offer a half-day eco-adventure guided walk onto the Glacier which is a a huge river of snow and ice that flows from vast snowfields high in the Alps almost to sea level. Our guide leads us on a walk beside the riverbed to the track, which zig-zags slowly uphill for forty-five minutes through ferns and regenerating temperate rainforest. From high on the track you will enjoy fantastic views of the glacier and its upper and lower icefalls. From its high point, the track winds down to the edge of the ice, where you are outfitted with instep crampons and you follow the ice steps cut by the guides. The route takes you onto the ice amongst crevasses and ice ridges leading you into the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefall and lower glacier. Later we drive south by private vehicle through magnificent rainforests passing the Fox Glacier and some pretty bush fringed lakes before turning inland and crossing the Haast Pass through the Southern Alps. Descend past glacial Lakes Wanaka and Hawea to Wanaka township on the eastern shores of the lake. Continue past Lake Dunstan, across Central Otago sheep country and through the Kawarau Gorge into Queenstown.
MILFORD SOUND – we board our boat for a nature cruise past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. The scenery, some of the best in New Zealand, is stunning with cascading waterfalls, dense rainforest, steep cliff faces and marine life that inhabits these waters
MT COOK NATIONAL PARK – There are 17 peaks above 10,000 feet in Mt Cook National Park including New Zealand’s tallest peak – Mt Cook (12,349 ft). The scenery is spectacular and excellent for photographers! We also can walk some of the shorter alpine trails or for optional sightseeing take a 4-wheel drive tour to the Tasman Glacier or even a scenic flight with a glacier landing.
QUEENSTOWN – There is plenty to do in this wonderful alpine resort. Suggest a river rafting on the famous Shotover River. Other options are a cruise on the 1912 vintage lake steamer TSS Earnslaw or the thrill of a Shotover Jetboat ride. Another option is a day hike on the famous Routeburn Track.
New Zealand has a rich natural environment, which is protected in ways that range from vast national parks to the everyday actions of individual people. The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”. New Zealand’s focus on ecotourism brings us in contact with some of the country’s diverse ecosystems. Wildlife and indigenous culture interact with natural elements in a sustainable, conservative and responsible way. Biotreks’ Ecovacations in New Zealand seek to add richness and diversity!
New Zealand is a magical country of amazing landscapes full of amazing wildlife. The vast open spaces filled with stunning rugged landscapes, gorgeous beaches, temperate climate and fascinating animal and plant life make New Zealand’s natural environment an expedition of great importance. There are many different landscapes, environments and ecosystems very close to each other for our small group to explore. Travel photography is excellent.
Besides the magnificent environment , one thing that is particular about New Zealand is it’s policy on protecting the aboriginals – the Moaris. In New Zealand, Maori language and traditions are woven into everyday life, offering visitors a fascinating journey of cultural discovery. The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, they are Polynesian and comprise about 14 percent of the country’s population. Te reo Maori is the native language which is related to Tahitian and Hawaiian. It is believed that the Maori migrated from Polynesia in canoes around the 9th century to 13th century AD.
Before the coming of the Pakeha (white man) to New Zealand, all literature in Maori was orally passed onto succeeding generations. This included many legends and waiata (song). The most recognised tradition today is the “Haka” which is a war dance. The Haka was performed before the onset of war by the Maori last century.
The traditional Maori welcome is called a powhiri, this involves a hongi which is a greeting that involves pressing noses as opposed to a kiss.
Another prominent feature of Maori culture is the striking tattoos that adorned the face. Full faced tattoos or “moko”, amongst the Maori tribes was predominantly a male activity. Female forms of moko were restricted to the chin area, the upper lip, and the nostrils. Today the Moko still lives on as an increasing number of Maori are opting to receive their moko, in an effort to preserve and connect with their culture and identity.
Traditional carvers also help to keep Maori culture alive by creating intricate works that pay respect to the past. Every piece carved tells a story, which can be read by those who know how. The shape of the heads, position of the body as well as the surface patterns work together to record and remember events.
Bird Watching and Sanctuaries
Because of New Zealand’s remote location and relative isolation, the country enjoys a diverse collection of bird life. Bird watching sanctuaries are located throughout both islands. New Zealand’s national symbol, the kiwi, is a nocturnal flightless bird with nostrils on the end of its large beak. It is now endangered, and difficult to see in the wild. However, there are a number of ‘kiwi houses’ in wildlife parks. While they may look cute, kiwi can be fierce and highly territorial.
Over 20 percent of New Zealand is covered in national parks, forest areas and reserves, which is why New Zealand ecotourism is so unique. The 13 national parks contain an incredible variety of unspoiled landscape and vegetation. We find a variety of awesome landscapes within New Zealand. Spectacular glaciers, picturesque fiords, rugged mountains, vast plains, rolling hillsides, subtropical forest, volcanic plateau, miles of coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches —it’s all here!
Over thousands of years, the process of subduction has seen parts of the New Zealand landscape become submerged. The Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland are examples of high mountain ranges that have ‘sunk’ into the sea, creating spectacular sounds and fiords. These areas provide some of New Zealand’s most picturesque scenery, with steep lush hills plunging down to the deep still bays below.
New Zealand’s high rainfall and many sunshine hours give the country a lush and diverse flora, with 80 percent of the trees, ferns and flowering plants being native. From the kauri forests of the far north to the mountain beech forests and alpine tussock of the Southern Alps, we experience fascinating plants and trees in every region of New Zealand. In the majestic evergreen native forests many varieties of beech and the largest native tree of them all, the giant kauri are discovered. Underneath the trees you’ll find dense and luxurious undergrowth including countless native shrubs, a variety of ferns, and many mosses and lichens.
- All Excellent Accommodations
- Two In-Country Flights
- Ground Transportation
- 8 People Maximum
- International Air Travel Booked Separately; Call for Quote
Travel with tour guide Sunny Reynolds, who has been showing the world to travelers since 1992. While this is not exclusively a photo tour, Sunny Reynolds as a professional photographer is happy to help all levels of photographers take better photos of their adventures.
- Rates Based on Double Occupancy
- Single Supplement Applies
- Subject to Availability
- All Prices subject to change