Day 1: Arrive in Auckland
Arriving early this morning in Auckland, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your centrally located hotel accommodation. Early check-in can be arranged (additional cost).
Day 2: Auckland
Today you may like to sail on an America's Cup boat in Auckland harbour, visit the Auckland Museum or Maritime Museum, enjoy a vineyard lunch and wine-tasting on nearby Waiheke Island or wander the boutique shops and galleries in Parnell.
Day 3: Auckland to Taupo / Huka Lodge
This morning you will collect your rental car from a nearby location, then make your way south to the picturesque town of Taupo. You’ll be staying at renowned Huka Lodge in a Junior Lodge Suite for the next two nights. Located 300 meters upstream from the famous Huka Falls, Huka Lodge was started as a fishing lodge on the banks of the Waikato River. This now luxurious lodge lures sophisticated travelers from around the globe seeking one of the world's top retreats. Guest suites are set in the native bush, meals are table d'hote and feature the freshest NZ produce and ingredients available. This award-winning property is a Member of "Small Luxury Hotels of the World".
Day 4: Taupo / Rotorua
A wide range of activities are available during your stay at Huka Lodge. Activities within the grounds include tennis, pentangue and croquet, swimming and spa pools, mountain bikes and spa treatments. Alternatively, Huka Lodge has a menu of fabulous experiences that can be arranged. These include fly fishing, boat fishing, horse riding, golf, scenic helicopter flights, 4WD farm tours, jet-boating, parasailing, bungy jumping, 4 wheel motorbikes, whitewater rafting, kayaking, sky-diving, guided walks, and limousine and wine tours. The popular town of Rotorua is also just an hour drive from Taupo.
Day 5: Huka Lodge - Wellington
Today you will drive to New Zealand's capital city of Wellington. Your stylish accommodation for the next two nights is located in the hub of Wellington’s city and within walking distance of many attractions. Wellington is home to an abundance of award-winning restaurants. We will provide recommendations (and reservations) for some fabulous dining options.
Day 6: Wellington - Walking Gourmet Tour OR Wild Wellington Tour OR City Highlights Inspiration Tour
Walking Gourmet Tour
Lonely Planet 2013 named this tour one of the world's Top 10 Walking Tours for Globetrotting Foodies.
This small group mouth-watering culinary experience concludes with a delicious, light, two course tasting lunch with matched New Zealand wines at a top Wellington restaurant. Over a relaxed walking gourmet tour around Wellington's best food places, your personal guide will introduce you to new and favorite flavors. You may visit a boutique coffee roaster and stylish cafe, renowned specialist fresh produce and gourmet food stores, and a unique contemporary chocolatier. Your guide will also introduce you to many other aspects of Wellington ranging from iconic city architecture, sculptures and fantastic places to shop and eat. Walking Time: approx 1.5 hour at a casual wandering pace.
Wild Wellington Tour
This full day small group tour explores Wellington's extraordinary natural features, plant, bird and wildlife. Enjoy a gentle bush walk in New Zealand's only botanic garden dedicated solely to native plants including several 400-year old trees. Visit via four wheel drive a working beef and sheep farm, also home of New Zealand's most modern wind farm. We pass sites of old Maori settlements and discuss the history of farming and electricity generation in the area. We travel over rocky beach to visit a captivating colony of fur seals. The views on this tour are exceptional - you'll see the Tasman Sea meet the Pacific Ocean and the Cook Strait which separates the North and South Islands.Lunch at one of Wellington's popular cafes is included followed by a visit to a native bird & wildlife sanctuary.
City Highlights ‘Inspiration’ Tour
This full day intimate small group tour is designed to give guests a local’s perspective of our wonderful city. Visit picturesque Oriental Bay and Mt Victoria for 360o views of the city. Tour inside Parliament buildings and see the gorgeous timber-built Old St Pauls Cathedral. Lunch is included at one of our favorite coastal cafes before visiting famous Weta Workshop (centre of New Zealand’s movie industry). At Weta you will tour behind the scenes showcasing the amazing works going on in "Wellywood". We drive around the wild South Coast to the city & visit the quirky Cuba street precinct & Lambton Quay. Later, ride on the Wellington Cable Car before a visit and tour at Te Papa - National Museum of New Zealand. The museum offers an extraordinary mix of Maori and European history amid the nation’s natural and cultural treasures.
Day 7: Ferry Wellington - Picton / Edenhouse
This morning you will return your rental car at the Wellington Ferry Terminal and take the scenic ferry ride from Wellington through the stunning Marlborough Sounds to Picton. Upon arrival in Picton, you will collect a fresh rental car. From here it's a nice drive to Edenhouse, a gracious home tucked away on 48 acres of picturesque countryside. This intimate property accepts just six guests at a time, and focuses on understated luxury. Spacious rooms offer beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains. The owners are Peter and Bobbie Martin, an Australian and Kiwi respectively. Bobbie designed Edenhouse and its extensive gardens when the couple returned to New Zealand after 18 years in London.
Day 8: Abel Tasman National Park Scenic Cruise: Walk, Kayak, Snorkel or Swim
A scenic cruise today includes a visit to Tonga Island Marine Reserve and seal colony. Further along the Abel Tasman choose to paddle a complimentary sea kayak in a tranquil lagoon, snorkel, take a bush walk, or just sit back and enjoy the sights and tranquil surroundings of New Zealand's most enchanting national park! Your comfortable power catamaran carries kayaks, snorkeling/fishing gear and towels. Gourmet lunch, snacks and refreshments are all included. Local beer and wine are also available. This is a relaxed and unhurried day onboard with a maximum of 10 passengers. Private Sailing Charter also available if preferred, additional cost.
Day 9: Edenhouse – Kaikoura
Today you’ll head southeast from Edenhouse to Kaikoura. You may like to stop for lunch along the way at one of the many Marlborough Vineyards in Blenheim. Your accommodation for the next two nights is Hapuku Lodge. Surrounded by an expansive deer farm and an olive tree grove, Hapuku Lodge is situated in one of the most spectacular settings the South Island has to offer. Dinner at the lodge is included in your stay tonight and tomorrow.
Day 10: Kaikoura: Whale Watch OR Albatross Encounter OR Swimming with Dolphins
Come face to face with these magnificent creatures in their own environment aboard either airplane or boat designed specifically for this purpose. Giant Sperm Whales grow to 20 meters long and are present in these waters year round. Other species include migratory Humpback whales, Orca (killer whales), tiny Hector dolphins, the high-spirited Dusky Dolphins and fur seals. Note: Whale watching is subject to weather conditions.
The nutrient rich waters and vast offshore canyons of Kaikoura attract a broad and unique variety of sea-life. Kaikoura boasts the greatest variety of ocean birds (pelagics) within a concentrated space in New Zealand, perhaps even the world. Your tour skippers have excellent knowledge of the seabirds you will likely encounter while out at sea. Travel time out to where you begin to see seabirds can be anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes. Your boat carries 'chum' (fishy bits) to attract the seabirds very close, offering wonderful photography opportunities.
Swimming with Dolphins (in open ocean)
Kaikoura is home to the amazing dusky dolphins. Experience the delights of a wonderful marine environment, close to this beautiful coastline during a 3 - 3 ½ hour dolphin swimming or watching tour. You may also be lucky enough to see other marine mammals such as orca (killer whales), pilot whales, New Zealand fur seals, and Hector’s dolphins. All snorkeling gear and wetsuits are provided. Note: For maximum enjoyment, swimmers need to be confident and have a reasonable level of snorkeling experience. You can also go along as a 'watcher' which is just as much fun!
Day 11: Kaikoura - Christchurch
Today you will travel from Kaikoura to Christchurch, where you'll settle in for the night. The George is a luxury boutique hotel, renowned for offering a personalized stay and attentive staff, as well as two award winning restaurants. Located in the heart of Christchurch overlooking the picturesque Hagley Park and Avon River, you will find peaceful retreat just steps from Christchurch's cultural precinct and key attractions. With its focus on luxury, impeccable service in an intimate ambience is guaranteed.
Day 12: Christchurch - Queenstown
This morning you fly from Christchurch to Queenstown. You will be met upon arrival by a private driver who will show you the best of Queenstown. You may stop in quaint Arrowtown, enjoy a winery lunch & wine tasting, visit the famous Bungy bridge and take in the stunning vistas of the alpine and lake scenery. Tonight you can stroll from your centrally located hotel to one of Queenstown’s many restaurants.
Day 13: Milford Sound Heli Cruise Heli
This morning you will take a magnificent Milford Sound scenic flight across the Southern Alps. Upon landing in Milford Sound join the Mitre Peak Cruise, an exploratory nature-cruise on this famous fiord. View cascading waterfalls, towering rock faces, and unique wildlife, before voyaging out past St Anne's Lighthouse to the Tasman Sea. Complete your journey with an exclusive alpine snow landing for the ultimate Fiordland National Park experience! This afternoon you have time to explore. Ride the Gondola for stunning views of Queenstown, relax with a spa treatment, shopping or a cruise across the lake.
Day 14: Dart River Wilderness Jet
Today you will be transferred by private driver to the Dart River Valley – a place where mythology, heritage and fantasy meet reality. Your Wilderness Jet trip is an exhilarating and spectacular journey deep into the heart of the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park with the only jet boat operator allowed on the Dart River.
The sheer diversity of what’s on offer means you experience a unique combination of breathtaking scenery matched with exciting jet boating on braided, glacier-fed rivers. Highly informative guides add a personal touch, talking about the area’s history, the Greenstone trail and Maori legends. Walk amongst ancient beech forest that’s been unchanged for 80 million years and view the scenic backgrounds for many Middle Earth movie scenes. Your driver will be waiting to transfer you back to Queenstown at the end of your trip.
Day 15: Queenstown
You will be transferred to Queenstown airport for your departing flight.