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Day 1: Auckland, New Zealand- Cross the International Dateline and begin the adventure of a lifetime by skipping a day ahead. Your tour opens in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” consistently rated one of the best places in the world to live. Auckland’s Polynesian population instils into its chic atmosphere the vibrant feel of the Pacific Islands. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Auckland - Bay of Islands- Come to know the best of Auckland during a panoramic city tour featuring the America’s Cup Village, the War Memorial, bustling Queen Street, and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Next, depart Auckland and travel north to the Bay of Islands, your home for the next two nights. This sun-soaked region boasts more than 144 islands and warm waters with abundant marine life. Visit the Waitangi Treaty House where Maori and British leaders signed the 1840 treaty establishing New Zealand as a nation. Tonight, experience an authentic Hangi dinner celebration where you learn about the warm-hearted Maoris and their lives before European colonists arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and since.
Day 3: Bay of Islands- Begin the day with a cruise that features the bay’s famous Hole in the Rock and a stop off at picturesque Urupukapuka Island. Relax on the beach or walk to a higher elevation to enjoy 360° views. Look out at the Cape Brett Lighthouse which stands nearly 500 feet above sea level at the edge of the Cape Brett Peninsula. The rest of the day is yours to independently explore Paihia – the quaint town known as “the jewel of the Bay of Islands.”
Day 4: Bay of Islands – Rotorua- Leave the sparkling waters of the Bay of Islands behind and head to Matakohe in the heartland of the North Island. Make a stop at the Kauri Museum where you will come to know the stories surrounding the giant kauri tree that can live for 2,000 years. Discover how the early settlers used this abundant tree to build a life for themselves. Later, continue on to the town of Rotorua, known for geothermal activity and Maori culture.
Day 5: Rotorua - Today, find yourself amid the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. With over onethird of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. Visit Te Puia, New Zealand's premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. The National Carving School and National Weaving School are located here, passing on age-old customs by teaching the tribal youth these traditional skills. Enjoy the chance to view the Kiwi bird and learn what is being done in an effort to remove this marvellous creature from the endangered species list.
Day 6: Rotorua – Wellington- Travel through the rolling countryside of the North Island. The rural vistas and the rugged Rimutaka Range slowly give way to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city.
Day 8: Wellington - Picton - Blenheim, Marlborough- Board a ferry and sail across Cook Strait. This has been called “the most beautiful ferry ride in the world.” Arrive in Picton on the South Island where you will have free time for lunch. Next, drive along the coast to the picturesque village of Havelock where you will have leisure time to enjoy the quaint colonial buildings in a town that bills itself as the “green-lipped mussel capital of the world.” Upon arrival in Blenheim, relax at your hotel before heading to a local winery where you will see the vineyard, enjoy a tasting, and dine at the cellar door bistro.
Day 9: Blenheim- The morning is yours to enjoy the town of Blenheim. Next, we continue our introduction to the world-famous wine region of Marlborough with a visit to another of the family-owned wineries in the region for a tasting and tour. The area is famous for its Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and late harvest Riesling wines, all of which you will taste today.
Day 10: Blenheim – Christchurch- This morning depart Blenheim and travel to the historic city of Christchurch. Devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, see firsthand how the “Garden City” is recreating itself during a sightseeing tour that highlights the city’s magnificent gardens and elegant park district. Tonight, enjoy dinner in the region’s earliest home, Riccarton House.
Day 11: Christchurch - Mt. Cook Region- The Maori word for Mt. Cook is Aoraki, which means “cloud piercer.” Journey through New Zealand’s unspoiled wilderness and arrive at Mt. Cook National Park, where permanent ice fields and glaciers blanket the ragged peaks. This is where famed New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary honed his skills before conquering Everest. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps.
Day 12: Mt. Cook - Dunedin- Travel to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of New Zealand. One of the earliest European settlements on the islands, Dunedin holds proudly to its Scottish heritage and traditions.
Day 13: Dunedin - This morning's panoramic drive reveals Larnach Castle as well as Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest public road. Later, visit the Royal Albatross Centre, the only mainland breeding location in the world for these magnificent birds. Their epic wingspan can reach nearly 10 feet!
Day 14: Dunedin – Queenstown- Set off today for one of the world’s prettiest towns. You may choose to embark on an optional trip on the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway; this line was begun in 1879 to serve the inland region of Otago and includes 10 tunnels and 35 bridges. Before arriving in Queenstown, stop in the beautiful 19th century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown, and take some time to explore its quaint, historic streets.
Day 15: Queenstown - Milford Sound – Queenstown- En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. You’ll travel through ancient beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound you will see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away.
Day 16: Queenstown- Journey into the heart of New Zealand’s high country to visit an authentic, family-owned merino sheep farm. En route, enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Bob’s Cove and Mt. Earnslaw as you cruise across spectacular Lake Wakatipu to Mt. Nicholas High Country Farm. During your exclusive, behind-the-scenes visit, follow the journey of merino wool from mustering sheep through the creation of modern wool garments. Enjoy a freshly prepared farmer’s lunch before sailing back to Queenstown. Later this afternoon, it’s your choice! You may go bird watching at the Kiwi Birdlife Park - OR- take a gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for stunning panoramic views of the region. Gather for a farewell dinner overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountains.
Day 17: Queenstown- Tour Ends
All Long Haul destination tours are operated by The Big Journey Company a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and ATOL number T7282.Financial Protection: The flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please request this and check to ensure that everything you have booked (flights, hotels and other services) are detailed. Please see The Big Journey Company booking conditions for further information or go to WWW.ATOL.ORG.UK for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate.