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New Zealand Explorer

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days 19 US$ 5,970 US$ 5,671
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highlights
  • Doubtful Sound - Stay overnight on a boat in the UNESCO World Heritage Fjordland National Park
  • Abel Tasman - Explore the sparkling blue waters and golden coastline of this beautiful coastal national park
  • Glaciers - Take walks through dramatic glacier valleys
  • Napier and Hawke's Bay - Admire the art deco buildings of Napier and sample wine in the vineyards of Hawkes's Bay
The New Zealand Explorer tour starts in Auckland and ends in Christchurch. The New Zealand Explorer is an Adventure tour that takes 19 days taking you from Auckland to Christchurch and through other destinations in Oceania.

Combining the best of New Zealand's North and South islands, explore the land of giants and discover jaw-dropping scenery and dramatic landscapes around every corner. Sailing through mist-shrouded fjords, hiking in spectacular glacial valleys and spotting coastal wildlife on the very southern tip of the country, discover a little bit of magic at the other side of the world. Doubtful Sound - Stay overnight on the Fjordland Navigator boat and wake up surrounded by the pristeen nature of this UNESCO heritage site Abel Tasman - Discover the sparkling blue waters and golden coastline of this beautiful national park, by boat and on foot Hawke's Bay - Sample authentic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in this famous wine-making region
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Our journey begins in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and a thriving sporting and cultural centre that lies sprawled across a narrow isthmus between the harbours of Waitemata and Manukau. Popularly known as the City of Sails, Auckland is surrounded by volcanic peaks and blessed with a profusion of beaches and museums. The country's most cosmopolitan city, with a rich mix of European, Maori and Pacific Island influences, Auckland is the largest Polynesian city on the planet and on arrival today there's free time to enjoy the city or relax at the hotel.
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we take in the delights of Tamaki Drive and Mission Bay, during our tour of the city of Auckland.

Departing in the late morning, our journey today takes us into the heart of North Island and the diverse landscapes of the Waikato region. We visit the Hobbiton movie set at Matamata where some of the original Hobbit holes from the Lord of The Rings still sit amongst the fertile hills that lie in the shadow of the Kaimai Ranges. We will discover the real Middle Earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata in a fascinating two and a half hour guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and can be seen as it appeared in the films. A knowledgeable guide will accompany us through the ten-acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, the Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed. We will then head to Whakatane, a seaside town in the sunny Bay of Plenty.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We're free today to discover Whakatane. One activity on offer is a boat trip to White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano with an enormous geothermal activity. As most of the volcano is under the water, you can disembark directly onto the crater complex with no climbing necessary. After a fascinating tour, with a bit of luck we may encounter dolphins on the way back to the mainland.

Alternatively, our accommodation for the evening is just a short walk from the town of Whakatane, with its lively shopping district and cafe culture. You could take in an art exhibit at the Whakatane Exhibition centre, hike to the beautiful Wairere Falls or take a short 10 minute taxi ride to a sandy beach.

This evening we attend a traditional Te Po banquet, where we are treated to a ritual Maori welcome. We'll be introduced to the customs and traditions of the local Maori, as well as visiting the Marae (meeting house) before we have a feast prepared in a traditional hangi (underground oven). Normally fish, chicken and plenty of kumara (sweet potato) bake alongside cabbage and other root veg like pumpkin, a method of cooking that has been used by the Maori for thousands of years.
Meals
  • Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
The road from Whakatane to Gisborne takes us through the remote Waioeka Gorge, a stunning forest-lined road winding past clear rivers and native farmland. There are plenty of stops to visit en route, which will all depend on timings and weather. These might include checking out the views from the Tauranga Suspension Bridge or many of the other rest stops along the river, which all have tracks and paths to follow so that you can stretch your legs along the route. The hikes are easy and well marked, normally varying between 15 and 45 mins.

We arrive at Gisborne in the afternoon, the first part of New Zealand to be sighted by James Cook's deckhand in 1769. Long beaches invite you to take a swim. Alternatively, take the 30 minute climb up Kaiti Hill for views across the city.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We'll continue in a southward direction, first past the coast, then over the hills and a gorge to Napier, one of the country's most famous grape-growing areas. En route we visit the vineyards of Hawke's Bay and enjoy an afternoon of fine wine, gourmet cheeses and a tour of two of the area's best wineries. Famed for its Chardonnays and superb reds, the area is home to over 80% of the country's Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes, and produces some of the richest and most exquisite wines in New Zealand. Our final destination for the day is the engaging town of Napier, lying on the southern edge of Hawke's Bay, whose unique collection of art deco buildings makes it one of the most popular attractions on North Island.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
In 1931 Napier was destroyed by a massive earthquake that registered 7.9 on the Richter Scale. Following the wholesale destruction of the city, its centre was rebuilt in the popular art deco style of the period, creating a wonderful location to explore. We then head south, towards New Zealand's capital, Wellington, whos engaging mix of culture and art, combined with stunning harbour views and a backdrop of steep hills and forest, makes it one of the country's most captivating cities. On arrival we will have some free time take a wander through Wellington's quirky city streets.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning you can visit the superb Te Papa National Museum, one of the finest museums in the world, filled with a staggering collection of Maori treasures, artworks and a unique Marae. The rest of the day is left free day to explore the city, with several options for you to do. The top of the cable car, a Wellington icon running from Lambton Quay, gives a great close-up view of the city. From here, you can visit the Observatory and stroll back through Botanic Gardens, extending all the way down to the parliamentary complex. The Parliament's Buildings, including the 'Beehive', are well worth visiting. Apart from its importance as the political centre, the city offers a large cultural choice of museums and art galleries and an abundance of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops, many situated around Cuba Street. You could visit Zealandia and see some of New Zealand's rarest birds, reptiles and insects living wild in their natural environment, including the hihi, tuatara, saddleback, kaka and (at night) little spotted kiwi. Or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the harbourside, which is particularly beautiful on a fine day or when lit up in the evening.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we cross the Cook Strait and make our way to the bustling port of Picton, at the head of the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound. On arrival we drive west, following the coastline of the South Island to the town of Nelson. A lively city on New Zealand's northwest coast, Nelson is a haven for hikers, beachgoers and kayaking fans, and is often known as the 'sunshine capital' of the country. Located next to the wine making region of Marlborough, Nelson also has its fair share of wineries as well as being a great starting point for visiting the Abel Tasman National Park, full of golden sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, seals and forest birds. On arrival we are free to explore the city, which is a magnet of artists and craftspeople, and boasts a number of excellent galleries.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard lodge
Today we join a sailing trip in New Zealand's coastal paradise, the Abel Tasman National Park. Gliding effortlessly through pristine waters while relaxing aboard a catamaran, we'll be surrounded by secluded coves, golden beaches, islands and lush native forest. Either relax on board and enjoy the views, or get involved in the sailing and learn as you go. This boat trip may include other travellers that are not all from the Explore group.

Sailing from Kaiteriteri Beach, we'll stop for a packed lunch (not included, but our Explore Leader will help us to collect snacks and food to bring along) on Anchorage Bay around midday, where we'll also have chance for a swim. In the afternoon, we'll take our three-four hour walk along sandy beaches and through native bush back to Marahau, near the entrance to the park. The walk is flat and easy, and gives us the chance to see some of the park's interior as well as the glorious golden sands.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard lodge
We have an early start today as we head down the Great Coast Road towards of Hokitika at the mouth of the Hokitika River. This journey takes us on one of the greatest coastal drives in the world, passing through Punakaiki Rocks, where we'll stop to visit the amazing coastal rock formations, as well as taking in the seal colony at Cape Foulwind. The wild and rugged beauty of the west coast surrounds us on our journey, before finally arriving into the old gold mining town later this afternoon.

Founded in 1864, Hokitika was once a thriving community of over 50,000 until the end of the gold seams saw its population drift away. Today it is home to around 4,000 people and the gold has been replaced by paua (abalone) shell and jade jewellery, with a prolific number of craft galleries and open studios. It still retains something of its frontier spirit though and a stroll through its historic heart makes for an interesting diversion. The town was put back on the map in 2013, after it was used as the gold-rush era setting of the winner of the 2013 Man Booker prize, Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries. If the weather is clear, the sunsets from Hokitika are amazing, and there is a handily-named Sunset Point that looks over the beach - perfect for a cold beer or fish and chips as you watch the sun go down.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Crossing the Hokitika River this morning we head south on a short two hour drive to Fox Glacier, passing through native bush of Rimu (red pine) and Kahikatea (white pine). The first European to discover the west coast was Abel Tasman in December 1642. Long and thin and enclosed by the Tasman Sea to the east and the Southern Alps to the west, it is a land of glacial deposits and alluvium that flows from the rivers and glaciers of the Alps. There are some 60 glaciers in the park, but Franz Josef and Fox are the most famous. Up to 10 years ago the Franz Josef Glacier was one of the few glaciers worldwide that actually crept down below the vegetation line. Today however this glacier has receded so that one can only view it at a distance. Needless to say the whole landscape of this glacial region is quite fascinating and there are a number of optional excursions available today, including glacier valley walks (short walks that will take you to the glacier's terminal face but no further), heli-hikes that take you up onto the glacier itself and scenic helicopter flights over both Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. We overnight in Fox Glacier town.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
A short drive south this morning brings to the breathtaking setting of Lake Matheson, where weather permitting we are treated to a picture perfect image of Mount Cook reflected in the lake's dark, mirrored waters. Following this we will head to Fox Glacier, named after a former Prime Minister of New Zealand. The walking track from the car park along the glacial valley crosses a landscape of ancient moraine that testifies to the continual advance and retreat of the glacier over the centuries. Our journey then continues across the River Haast and away from the coast, passing through the beautiful scenery of the Haast River Valley as we snake our way through the Aspiring National Park and onto the town of Makaroa. After a brief stop to refuel and refresh, we head next for the lakeside setting of Wanaka, impressively situated amongst an encircling ring of mountain peaks before the still waters of the lake.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Wanaka is one of the favourite vacation spots for New Zealander's because of its beautiful environment. Mount Aspiring dominates this area with its glaciers. Today is at your leisure, and there are a number of optional activities to choose from, including jet boating and the strenuous five hour hike on the Rob Roy Glacier track up to the glacier face. Alternatively, there is the option to take a boat across Lake Wanaka to the remote Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve, which is predator-free and home to the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920). Guides will take you on a one hour bush walk and point out some of the native trees, birds and flowers, while you take in the vistas across the lake of the Southern Alps mountain range. Wanaka is a hikers paradise so there are plenty of other walking trails in the vicinity, from short 1 hour hikes to full day trails.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today we will start early to set out towards the UNESCO World Heritage Fjordland National Park, a fantastic experience of New Zealand's wild nature. We take a scenic drive along the southern coast to reach Lake Manapouri, which we traverse by boat to West Arm (time permitting, we'll be able to have a brief visit to Queenstown to see New Zealand's adventure capital). Jumping back in the minibus we travel over Wilmot Pass through dense rainforest. There are opportunities along the way to examine the plant life and view the spectacular scenery. In Deep Cove we will embark on the majestic Fiordland Navigator boat. As we cruise through some of New Zealand's most stunning scenery, our knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary - be it on the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or penguins that we may encounter. After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, we can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak, or to simply relax on board. In the evening if the weather goes in our favour, we should have the most amazing starlit sky above us, with the only lights coming from the boat itself. There will be other passengers on the boat that are not from your Explore group, but our ensuite twin-share cabins will only be shared with your fellow Explore travellers.
Meals
  • Breakfast & Dinner
Accommodation
  • Standard boat
We wake up in total wilderness and enjoy the rest of the morning exploring other parts of the fjord. On our return to Deep Cove, we drive again back to Lake Manapouri, traverse it by boat and then continue on to Dunedin, the city they call the 'Edinburgh of the South', arriving in the late afternoon. Dunedin was settled by Scottish settlers in the middle years of the 19th century and today is a picturesque setting of towers and spires that still retains something of its Gaelic heritage. Our route takes us via the town of Gore and, as we drive across country that was once home to Maori tribes and the great (but now sadly extinct) Moa, we take in the fabulous views out across the Pacific Ocean and Otago Harbour.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning is free to enjoy Dunedin - you may wish to visit Larnach Castle or St Paul's Cathedral, and enjoy a hearty meal and a beer at Speight's Brewery. For those who wish, there is the option to take the Taieri Gorge train ride, travelling 78km through a kaleidoscope of scenery that is only accessible by train. The Taieri Gorge is famous for its sheer cliff faces and sudden ravines, framing the tranquil Taieri River. If you are interested in booking the train ride, the price is in the optional activities section of these tour notes and this must be booked through Explore prior to your trip. Please note that the train is not available on the 11th November 2019 departure.

In the afternoon we'll regroup and travel to the Otago Peninsula, where we board a boat for our wildlife cruise around Weller's Rock and Tairua Head. We'll see uninterrupted views of the world's only mainland nesting place of albatross, and we may be lucky enough to see them soaring and banking, with their three metre wingspan unfurling overhead. We'll also see the New Zealand fur seals playing on the rocks around their breeding rookeries, with expert guides telling us all about these beautiful creatures.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We depart the city and head north, stopping off to view the incredible boulders that lie strewn across Moeraki Beach, before continuing via the coastal town of Oamaru to the rural community of Omarama. For us, it is our gateway into the dramatic vistas of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. There is a helicopter flight on offer this afternoon, taking us directly over Aoraki/Mount Cook and the stunning park. We may have time after the four and a half hour drive to head into the park for a walk on the many trails - some are only 30 minutes long but even this is enough to be seriously impressed by the park's towering mountains and glaciers.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today we head towards Christchurch, stopping en route at the glacial Lake Pukaki, where we have the opportunity to admire the magnificent glaciers of Mount Cook (weather permitting). The Maori name for the highest peak in New Zealand is Aoraki, which translates as the 'Cloud Piercer'. We also stop at Lake Tekapo and visit the 'Church of the Good Shepherd', the oldest church in New Zealand. The view from the church window over the Lake and up to the snow-covered mountains of the Southern Alps is particularly beautiful. We arrive to our final destination in the late afternoon.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Our trip ends this morning in Christchurch.
Meals
  • Breakfast
what’s included
Meals
  • 18 Breakfast, 2 Dinner
Accommodation
  • 15 nights standard hotel
  • 2 nights standard lodge
  • 1 night standard boat
Transport
  • Bus, Boat, Ferry
Guide
  • Explore Tour Leader / Driver
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to Auckland and from Christchurch are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this New Zealand Explorer tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Duration 19 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 17 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Auckland, New Zealand/ Christchurch, New Zealand
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for New Zealand Explorer
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Payment

A deposit of 567 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 59 days before departure. For any departures within 24 July 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The New Zealand Explorer tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this New Zealand Explorer tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this New Zealand Explorer tour. You can cancel the tour up to 60 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 59 days of departure.
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The Advantages of Bookmundi
  • Selected Local Travel Experts All our local travel experts have been chosen based on rigorous selection criteria. In fact, we reject 98 out of 100 local travel agencies, and thereby giving you access to the top 1-2% local travel experts.
  • Secure Online Payment and Financial Guarantee Each and every trip is required to go through Bookmundi's secure payment platform, powered by Stripe and supported by SSL. All payments are therefore carried out in secure manners. We are furthermore member of the Danish Travel Fund which gives you a 100% financial guarantee for any money you pay on Bookmundi, even if we went bankrupt (which we we will not!).
  • Trip Replacement or 100% Reimbursement Bookmundi has hand-picked your local travel expert. Our role, as your trusted third party, is therefore to make sure that your entire experience runs as seamless and secure as possible. We guarantee to you that in the unlikely event where a local travel expert cancels your trip after your deposit or full payment has been made, we commit to replacing these services with another equally qualified agency so that your trip can go ahead as planned, or failing to replace it, we will give you a 100% reimbursement.
New customised trip enquiry by {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}:
  • Title: {{myRequest.title}}
  • Country: {{!!tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].geoLocation?tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].geoLocation:myRequest.country}}
  • Destination: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].destinations.join(', ')}}
  • Activity: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].activity.join(', ')}}
  • Custom Destination: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].destination}}
  • Custom Activity: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].activity}}
  • Group Size: {{myRequest.no_of_adults > 0 && myRequest.no_of_children > 0?',':''}} {{myRequest.group_type=='Single'?'1 Person':myRequest.group_type=='Couple'?'2 People':''}}
  • {{myRequest.departure_month || myRequest.duration?'Approx. Dates':'Travel Dates'}}: {{myRequest.start_date | readableDate}} to {{myRequest.end_date | readableDate}} {{myRequest.departure_month}}, {{myRequest.duration}} Not decided yet
  • Tour Type: {{myRequest.tourtype | tourtypefullName}}
  • Age Group: {{myRequest.age_group}} yrs
  • Type of Tour: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].type_of_tour}}
  • Accommodation Option: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].accommodation_option}}
  • Budget Per Person: USD {{myRequest.approx_budget_amount}}
  • Budget Flexibility {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].budget_flexibility}}
  • Trip Planning Stage {{myRequest.trip_planning_stage}}
""
Can you handle {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}'s enquiry? Rejection Reason
{{myRequest.reject_reason?myRequest.reject_reason:'Sorry, Your trip request has been rejected.'}}
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