Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Cruise the dramatic fjords of the South Island, including stunning Milford Sound; and float through the Te Anau caves, lit by thousands of tiny glowworms.
  • Explore the fascinating geothermal landscapes of Rotorua, and get a glimpse of ancient Maori traditions on a visit to a tribal village.
  • Go behind the scenes at a kiwi hatchery and discover how conservationists prepare these endangered birds for reintroduction to the wild.
  • Discover the ancient, awe-inspiring Whirinaki forest with a private guide, and learn about the medicinal uses of native plants in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.

Itinerary

Itinerary

From geysers to glowworm caves, snowcapped peaks to serene fjords, New Zealand’s otherworldly landscapes delight with their incredible natural diversity. Get an intimate look at the country’s many treasures as you enjoy close encounters with rare wildlife; taste world-famous food and wine straight from the source; and plunge below the Earth’s surface to discover geothermal pools and the fascinating underwater world of Milford Sound.

Day 1: Arrive Auckland, New Zealand

Land in Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island and transfer to your waterfront hotel. Spend the afternoon exploring the city at leisure. For an additional cost, you can opt to sail the harbor in an America’s Cup racing yacht. Learn about the world’s oldest sporting trophy, try your hand at trimming the sails, and take a turn at the helm.

Accommodations:Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Day 2: Auckland

Today, we visit the fascinating Auckland War Memorial Museum for an introduction to New Zealand’s history and natural heritage. Browse hundreds of priceless Maori artifacts, and enjoy a vibrant Maori cultural performance. Later, set out on picturesque Tamaki Drive, which curves along Waitemata Harbour; then cross over Auckland Harbour Bridge and pause for magnificent views of Manukau Harbour. Venture into Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, home to forests of mighty kauri trees, for a walk amid the lush foliage. Learn about the traditional uses of various indigenous plants and keep an eye out for bush-dwelling birds, such as the kingfisher and the shining cuckoo.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Day 3: Rotorua

Travel to the city of Rotorua, a geothermal hot spot. Visit the Whakarewarewa village, which brings ancient Maori culture to life with traditional songs, stories, and legends. Wander past bubbling mud pools and shooting geysers in dramatic Te Puia geothermal park, and stop by the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute to learn about wood carving and other traditional art forms. Later, go behind the scenes at Rainbow Springs, a nature park that has nurtured more than a thousand kiwi chicks since 1995. On a guided tour of the kiwi hatchery, learn how park conservationists prepare these endangered birds for reintroduction into the wild.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Novotel Rotorua Lakeside Hotel
Day 4: Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park

Spend the day in mystical, mist-laden Whirinaki, one of the world’s oldest forests. On a private guided tour of this primordial ecosystem, tread past millennia-old podocarp trees and tumbling waterfalls, and listen for the song of a multitude of rare birds, including the North Island brown kiwi.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Novotel Rotorua Lakeside Hotel
Day 5: Waimangu Volcanic Valley/Dunedin

Discover the planet’s youngest geothermal valley, the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, created by the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. Witness spectacular volcanic craters and unusual flora and fauna, and cap off your exploration with a cruise on Lake Rotomahana, taking in views of the steaming vents and stunning geysers that line the shore. Afterward, transfer to the Rotorua airport for your flights to Dunedin on the South Island.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Distinction Dunedin Hotel
Day 6: Otago Peninsula

Set out on a scenic drive along the rugged Otago Peninsula. Enjoy a private tour of Larnach Castle—New Zealand’s only castle, built in 1872 for a local businessman. Then embark on a wildlife cruise of Otago Harbour to see colonies of royal albatross, the largest flying bird in the world; and glide into the Pacific Ocean for a chance to spot blue penguins, the world’s smallest species of penguin. Stop for lunch at the Maori settlement of Otakou Marae, one of the places where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, establishing British sovereignty over New Zealand. Visit a local craft shop before returning to your hotel in Dunedin.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Distinction Dunedin Hotel
Day 7: Te Anau

Soak in the passing scenery of Milton, Balclutha, and Gore on a private driving tour of southern New Zealand. Take a private tour of a working farm that raises sheep, deer, and cattle; and spend time with the owners. Transfer to Te Anau, the gateway to magnificent Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. This evening, join a cruise along the limestone channels of the Te Anau caves—a twisting labyrinth of roaring whirlpools and rushing waterfalls lit by a glittering display of tiny glowworms. Settle into your hotel on the shores of serene Lake Te Anau.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Distinction Te Anau Hotel & Villas
Day 8: Milford Sound

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the world-renowned Milford Sound. During the drive to this stunning fjord, learn about the region’s plant and animal life. Upon arrival, board a luxurious catamaran for an overnight cruise through the fjord, gliding past glittering waterfalls and jagged, snow-dusted peaks; and watch for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and blue penguins from the deck of the boat.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Fiordland Jewel
Day 9: Mavora Lakes Conservation Park/Queenstown

After breakfast onboard your boat, take the backroads through one of the more remote regions of South Island, arriving at the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park. Opt to explore this fairy-tale landscape of mountains, lakes, and golden meadows—used as a filming location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy—or continue to the shore of sapphire-hued Lake Wakatipu for your private water taxi to Queenstown.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Hotel St. Moritz
Day 10: Central Otago/Queenstown

Today, explore the gorgeous vineyards of the Central Otago region, where some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir is produced. Drive through the beautiful Kawarau Gorge, which takes you through New Zealand’s historic gold mining towns, and enjoy delightful views of Lake Dunstan. Sit down for a hearty lunch with a wine pairing of your choice, and return to Queenstown—known as the “adventure capital of the world”—for an afternoon at leisure.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Hotel St. Moritz
Day 11: Queenstown/Depart

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast