New Zealand's the land of stunning natural beauty, action-packed activities & laid back culture. Kick off the trip in Christchurch then head to the land of "The Lord of the Rings", Wellington. Take in a dinner sunset cruise on Lake Taupo & brave the Rock n Ropes course! In Rotorua try the 'Zorb' or skyline gondola & end the day relaxing in a Polynesian thermal pool. Experience blackwater rafting in the underground caves of Waitomo before hitting the Bay of Islands for some 'sand duning'. Finally, the fun must come to an end in Auckland.
|Accommodations:|| Hotel, Resort, Lodge
as per itinerary
|Meals:|| , Breakfast, Breakfast, Dinner
as per itinerary
|Sightseeing:||North Island, including Christchurch, Wellington, Taupo, Rotorua, Waitomo, Bay of Islands & Auckland|
|Transportation:||Modern, air-conditioned coach|
Fly over the international date line on your way to New Zealand.
Arrive in Christchurch & check into the Ibis Hotel Christchurch, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore. Meet your fellow travelers & Tour Manager this evening.
It’s another jaw-dropping drive up to the top of the South Island today. The coach cuts across the Canterbury Plains to Kaikoura. This seaside settlement is known for whales, dolphins and delicious, fresh crayfish sold from roadside vans. We’ll stop at a seal colony before travelling up the wild, rugged east coast and the wine country of Marlborough. Jump on the Inter-Island ferry and leave the South Island behind. Cruise through the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds, where thick forested peaks rise straight up from the sea. It’s a camera-friendly spot with picturesque inlets, remote coves and tiny beaches that dot the islands. You’ll also see some old wooden baches (New Zealand holiday houses) and boat jetties. We dock in the capital city of Wellington - the country’s political centre and cultural core with funky shops, fringe festivals, galleries, as well as a huge amount of cool cafes and bars. The peak of Mt Victoria gives an amazing overview of the windy city. Take in the sweeping views of pretty beaches, narrow streets, and weather worn Victorian houses. Tonight, enjoy an optional dinner with the group in the heart of the downtown area, which has a great, lively atmosphere and plenty of cutting edge restaurants and bars.
You’ve got a full day to discover Wellington - its compact centre is perfect for exploring on foot. Walk alongside the harbour or visit the innovative Te Papa Museum for a look into New Zealand history and culture. You could take a tour around New Zealand’s political heart by visiting some of its government buildings. Hear about the architecture behind the iconic ‘Beehive’ building & its distinctive shape, which was specially designed to cope in case of an earthquake. You could hang out on alternative Cuba Street, watch street performers or rummage through some of the surrounding retro stores. If you’re hungry, try out some of the great ethnic foods you can find in this multi-cultural city, like sushi, Thai, kebabs and Italian gelatos. For something different, learn about the age-old art of tattooing at the Tattoo Museum. From traditional Maori moko (face tattoos) through to colourful contemporary designs. There’s even a tattoo parlour on site if you’re game!
Spot the dramatic volcanic landscapes today that were used as backdrops in the Lord of the Rings, when we drive past World Heritage listed Tongariro National Park. The park is also home to the still active volcano, Mt Ruapehu, which doubles as NZ’s biggest ski field. Continue on to the popular low-key resort town of Taupo. Here, there’s some of the best trout fishing in the country and some of the most amazing long-distance views of Tongariro National Park’s three volcanic peaks. Cap off your day with our optional dinner cruise out on New Zealand’s largest lake – Taupo. You can have a go at fishing and after dinner, karaoke! Later, back on land, play some pool at one of Taupo’s lakeside bars.
On the way out of Taupo, a visit to the raging Huka Falls will impress. Tonnes of water surge over these falls at a rate of 220,000 litres (58 000 gallons) per second. It’s a short drive to Rotorua, famous for its spurting geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and ‘interesting’ sulphur smell. For some crazy ‘Kiwi ingenuity’, try an optional called zorbing. It’s an activity where you get inside a huge plastic ball and roll down a 200m hill, either by yourself or with a friend. Rotorua is an important hub of Maori culture. To recognise this, we have an optional authentic cultural experience, complete with a fantastic Maori hangi and traditional dance concert. Some of the foods you can try from the hangi are sweet potato and chicken cooked on hot rocks in an underground pit - just as they have been for centuries. Listen to stories, songs and chants while learning about ancient Maori mythology and beliefs.
This morning, we stop at the Agrodome farm show for an interactive introduction into farming and agriculture, which is New Zealand’s main industry. You’ll see sheep-shearing and watch an impressive sheepdog demo. These dogs are highly-trained and skilled at controlling livestock. Next up is Waitomo and the Waitomo Caves. Famous for their incredible limestone formations and glow-worms, the caves are a stunning subterranean world. You’ll see the Glow-worm Grotto, where the cave roof is covered with twinkling insects. For adventure, you can head deeper into the caves in an optional activity and see them either on foot or by tubing down an underground river. Tonight, it’s a pizza dinner and a visit to a typical country pub. Kick back with your new friends and some of the locals. Maybe try out the local beer – it’s good!
Northbound, we drive through the lush farmlands of Waikato – an area that produces many of New Zealand’s best rugby players for the All Blacks, before stopping for lunch in Auckland. New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city is surrounded by volcanoes, islands and a stunning harbour. You’ll soon understand why this is the “City of Sails” and was once home to the America’s Cup. We’ll see the Sky Tower downtown, before crossing the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge. There are full-blown vistas of the harbour, Rangitoto, and other neighbouring volcanic islands on the way. With a stop at Parry Kauri Park, there’s time to walk through this famous reserve and see many of New Zealand’s ancient Kauri (a native tree). Some of the Kauri are 50ms high and over 1000 years old. The final stop today is the small coastal town of Paihia. It’s the gateway to the Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand’s photogenic natural playgrounds. Your Tour Manager will show you the colonial style Treaty House at Waitangi. This is where modern-era New Zealand was born when the British Crown and Maori signed a treaty in 1840. You’ll also find out about local Maori culture as you check out the Nga Puhi tribal lands. Tonight, hang out with the other Contiki travellers, your Tour Manager and Driver over a typical ‘Kiwi’ dinner – a BBQ – where you can eat outdoors under the night sky if the weather is good. After dinner, head out to a local music venue in Paihia with the group.
With a full free day here, you’ll really get to enjoy the laid-back, natural beauty of the Bay of Islands. Chill out, or choose from loads of activities on offer here. There’s a catamaran cruise where you can stop off at remote islands, swim and feast on a tasty BBQ lunch. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some dolphins. Or you could use your free time to head off with some friends to learn about New Zealand’s settler history. Jump on a ferry out to New Zealand’s former capital, the pretty township of Russell. Grab an ice-cream, relax in its cute cafes and walk past some of the town’s historic cottages. We also offer you the option of a day trip to Cape Reinga, New Zealand’s most northern point where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean merge. Our Local Guide can tell you all about the Maori beliefs associated with this site. Then it’s off to the sand dunes of Ninety Mile beach and a drive through the Northland Region. Lastly, for the adrenaline-junkies, there’s a chance to go parasailing - perfect for getting views of the awesome surrounding bay scenery
This morning we head south, past the rolling Northland countryside, arriving back in to Auckland. Catch some great city & harbor views before the tour ends around lunchtime & it's time to say farewell to your new friends.
All these highlights along with city sightseeing are included in your tour price!