New Zealand: Two Islands Adventure


·       Harbour Cruise and Rangitoto walk

·       Lost World Tandem Abseil excursion

·       Guided tour of Rotorua Museum

·       Guided Waimangu Valley Roundtrip

·       The Buried Village of Te Wairoa

·       Polynesian Spa

·       White Island cruise and walking tour

·       Tongariro Crossing (one day)

·       Cycle tour of Ngatarawha triangle wineries

·       Evening Art Deco guided walk

·       Guided walk package - The Humpridge Track

·       Guided orientation walking tour of Queenstown

·       Siberia Experience

·       Full day guided glacier walk

·       Hanmer Springs Thermal Resort entrance


DAY1  Arrive Auckland

             Arrive in the sparkling city of Auckland - City of Sails and home of the America's Cup. The city sprawls across an eight mile wide volcanic isthmus separating two harbours - the Waitemata and Manukau. More than fifty islands scatter the Hauraki Gulf - from lava strewn inactive volcanoes to sunlit sandy atolls and vineyard laden islands.

 

             Unique to the Auckland skyline is a large number of extinct volcanic cones which are sporadically dotted across the city. In fact Mt Eden is a fine example with 360 degree views of the city - a great place to get your bearings. The warm, sunny climate encourages sub-tropical growth of all kinds - notice the many parks and gardens from your viewpoint.

 

 

             Later today let the fresh sea air clear away your jetlag as your vessel cruises along the sparkling blue waters of the Waitemata Harbour to Rangitoto Island. Sitting majestically in the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto Island’s distinctive shape is visible from all over Auckland. Commanding superb views of the city and surrounding islands from its summit, its terrain is a testament to the last volcanic eruption 600 years ago. Rugged lava crops, lush native bush and sandy coves: turn of the century holiday baches contrast with echoes of early Maori heritage. Walk to the summit through Pohutukawa forest, lava trails and fern glens; taking time to pause at lookouts along the way. (2 hours walking).

 

             On your return to Auckland city the rest of your evening is at leisure.

 

             Stay: Carlton Hotel

 

DAY2  Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua (B)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Leave the big city behind and wend your way south alongside the Waikato River - lifeblood to the fertile farmlands in the region. Your journey today roughly follows the route taken by early settlers. Pass through Ngaruawahia, home of the Maori Queen, before reaching the river city of Hamilton. A short distance away is the very "English" town of Cambridge - known for producing many fine thoroughbreds. Continue through undulating foothills as you enter the rural heartland of New Zealand - the King Country.

 

             Waitomo is an area of caves, underground rivers, and limestone formations in an attractive karst landscape of mixed farming and native forest.

 

             On arrival enjoy an exciting adventure into the Lost World. The trip is surprisingly gentle. Abseilers slowly descend 100m into the massive shaft, completely in control of your descent. After the 15 minute descent, embark on a journey back to the surface - ascending through massive vaults and dry cavern of the Lost World to the surface. (4 hours excursion).

 

             Afterwards leave Waitomo and pass through the farming centre of Kihikihi to Arapuni the site of one of the numerous dams which have been constructed on the Waikato River.  Pass through Fitzgerald Glade and cross the heavily forested Mamaku Ranges. Notice the strange stone monoliths scattered across the farmland - not religious monuments left by early man - but remnants of massive volcanic power. Rotorua is located on the Ring of Fire and evidence of this abounds - from large thermal reserves with bubbling mudpools and shooting geysers to steaming roadside fumeroles and a tang of sulphur in the air.

 

             Tonight you may wish to join one of the local Maori Hangi (feast) and Concert experiences (optional).

 

             Stay: Millennium Hotel

 

DAY3  At Rotorua (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Today explore Rotorua and the surrounding area - taking in some of the special highlights.

 

             Situated amid the Edwardian elegance of the Government Gardens on the edge of Lake Rotorua, is a building known simply as the Bath House. The Bath House opened for business in 1908 as the Great South Seas Spa, drawing people from all over the world to "take the cure" in the curative waters from nearby springs. In the late 1960’s the Rotorua Museum opened in the south wing, and has been entertaining and informing visitors ever since. Discover the essence of Rotorua - its people, history, culture and landscape on your guided tour this morning, a good introduction to today’s experiences.

 

             Created on 10 June 1886, Waimangu is the only hydrothermal system in the world wholly formed in recent times as the direct result of volcanic eruption. Waimangu Valley is a tranquil, uncrowded place with an easy walkway partly through bush. The pathways have been designed to allow intimate involvement with the outstanding geothermal features and plants. "Waimangu Wanderers" see spectacular large craters filled with hot, coloured or clear water, silica terracing, hot running streams, fumaroles and hot springs. This is one of the newest eco-systems in the world and is protected today as a Scenic Reserve and wildlife refuge. Experience stunning long range views and close up detail. At the bottom of the valley board your vessel to cruise the crater lake of Rotomahana. Geothermal activity on the lake edge is able to be viewed only from the water. The awesome volcanic landscape contrasts with calm waters and abundant bird life. Disembark and walk across the Te Ariki bushland isthmus to Lake Tarawera situated adjacent to the brooding Mt Tarawera. The lake's sparkling clear waters are fringed by native bush and sandy bays. Cruise across Lake Tarawera to the Tarawera landing not far from the Buried Village of Te Wairoa. (4 hour excursion).

 

             A picnic lunch is included on today’s excursion.

 

             Visit a place steeped in mystery and learn of the eerie past that surrounds this area. As a result of the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886, the village of Te Wairoa was buried under 2.5 metres of mud and debris, and the famous "Pink and White Terraces" were destroyed never to be seen again. Meander along the track around the various parts of the old village and view the excavated dwellings of the little settlement. Read about the people, the communities and the land that were affected by this devastating display of volcanic force. The recently refurbished museum covers the ghostly sightings on the lake leading up to the eruption and displays many of the excavated items from the village.

 

             Afterwards return to the city for a soak at the thermally heated Polynesian Spa complex - an historical hot mineral water bathing spa on the edge of Lake Rotorua. The luxury Lake Spa offers unique and very exclusive bathing in four Japanese-style natural rock pools. Views from the pool extend past the beautiful garden setting and over Lake Rotorua.

 

             Stay: Millennium Hotel

 

DAY4  Rotorua - Whakatane - National Park (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Depart early and skirt the north-easterly side of Lake Rotorua. Your route continues alongside many lakes - several of which have significant natural and cultural value. Descend through native forest onto the Rangitaiki plains to Whakatane and the Bay of Plenty.

 

             On arrival in Whakatane board “PeeJay” - a luxury launch specifically built for tours to White Island. The trip out to the island takes approximately 80 minutes and you have a choice of seating areas for the journey. (You will be issued with a hard hat and a gas mask for your comfort and safety whilst on the island). On arrival its time to start your exploration of New Zealand’s only live, marine volcano.

 

             White Island is one of the most fascinating and accessible volcanoes on earth, carrying with it an A grade level of scientific importance. The volcano is estimated to be between 100 000 and 200 000 years old. As New Zealand’s only live marine volcano, scientists and volcanologists worldwide are attracted by its unique features.

 

             With your trained guides you have the opportunity to experience a world that few have ever seen or walked on before. Walking on White Island is like walking on the moon. No vegetation survives the harsh acidic environment inside the crater. Instead lush beds of yellow and white sulphur crystals grow amongst hissing, steaming, bubbling fumaroles. Check out the remains of the old sulphur mine before venturing right up to the main crater’s edge. On the way pass the Noisy Nellie Crater Complex and the Donald Duck Dormant Crater, each with their own stories to tell.  All of a sudden you are peering down upon an awesome sight.  The immense crater over 100 metres deep holds a lake (usually fluorescent green in colour) and a rumbling vent from which the power of the inner earth constantly belches forth in the form of super-heated steam.  Bright yellow sulphur chimneys comprised of delicate crystals grace the crater walls, further enhancing this alien landscape (5-6 hour excursion, 1.5-2 hours walking).

 

             On returning to your vessel indulge in a delicious lunch before journeying back to Whakatane.

 

             From Whakatane reboard your coach and continue your journey to Tongariro National Park.

 

             Stay: The Grand Chateau

 

DAY5  At National Park (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             The Tongariro National Park was initially gifted to the government as a reserve by the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV Horonuku on behalf of the Tuwharetoa tribe on 23 September 1887. The Tongariro Crossing is a challenging walk taking 7-8 hours and passes through unique and stunning landforms which include volcanic craters and glacial valleys. It is often described as the best one day walk in New Zealand. The track runs the Mangatepopo Valley to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. It climbs to Red Crater (1886m), then drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes. After passing the Green and Blue lakes the track sides around the northern slope of Tongariro, then descends in a zig zag to the Ketetahi Hut. The crossing provides an opportunity to experience some of the most scenic volcanically active areas of Tongariro National Park. (7-8 hours walking).

 

             A packed lunch is included from your hotel.

 

             Stay: The Grand Chateau

 

DAY6  National Park - Napier (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Retrace your steps around Lake Taupo. From Taupo drive through the vast Kaingaroa Forest and into the Kaimanawa Ranges, the road then descends into the fertile Hawkes Bay Province and the city of Napier.

 

             After 1931’s violent earthquake and subsequent fires, most of Napier’s commercial heart was destroyed. Napier’s harbour sustained a massive upheaval and 4000 hectares of new land was formed. The people of Napier rebuilt their city - which has lent an 'art deco' flavour to the downtown area. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and above all Art Deco - in such a concentrated area. Napier's Art Deco style is unique with its Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay. Enjoy the legacy of the brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco area.

 

             Surrounding Napier and its neighbour Hastings, are rich farming lands supporting vast orchards, vineyards and sheep farming. Wool and fruit growing are the back-bone of the region's economy, and Napier is fast gaining an international reputation for wine making.

 

             No visit to the area would be complete without experiencing some of the diverse flavours the local vintners gently coax from the vines. Today you will be introduced to an extensive range of wine styles - enjoy the colours, aromas, textures and essence - a sensory experience! This afternoon enoy a unique experience combining the Hawkes Bay countryside with a winery bicycle tour. Drive to Hastings, a short distance from Napier, to start your tour around the Ngatarawha triangle. The terrain is all flat and easy cycling. Scenery includes vineyards, olive groves, ostrich farms, horse studs, orchards and farmland with 6 wineries to visit. A gourmet picnic lunch is included so you can make a stop at a scenic point along the route for a bite to eat. The bikes provided are the latest model, professionally maintained mountain bikes and tandems are available. All bikes include safety helmets and flags on the bikes for visibility. A cell-phone is also included for contacting the base station for the collection of any wine purchased 'en route'. (4-5 hours easy cycling).

 

             Afterwards return to Napier and your accommodation.

 

             This evening your guide from the Art Deco Society will collect you from your hotel to begin your walk through the city's fascinating collection of Art Deco styled architecture. During your tour you will pass many local restaurants and you may choose to dine at one of these or you may prefer to return to your hotel for dinner. (1 hour walking)

 

             Stay: Te Pania Hotel

DAY7  Napier - Invercargill (B)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Transfer to Napier airport and connect with your flight to Invercargill (flight cost not included).

 

             Invercargill was known to the Maori people as Murihiku (meaning the last joint in the tail) as it is situated at the southern most end of New Zealand.  The city is built on completely flat land and is primarily a market centre for the surrounding district, but is now the home of manufacturing industries also.  Although Southland has high rainfall, harsh winters and a short grass-growing season, sheep farming is intensive and the pastures are green and lush, through the hard work of generations of Southland farmers.  Originally settled by the Scottish, Invercargill retains much of its Scottish heritage.

 

             On arrival transfer to your hotel where the rest of your day is at leisure.

 

             Stay: Ascot Park Hotel

 

DAY8  The Humpridge Track (BLD)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Depart early and coach to Tuatapere. The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is New Zealand's newest and provides a wide variety of scenery during the three-day/two night walking experience.

 

             Humpridge Track

             Your guided walk includes transport links to and from the track, heli-lifting of packs and equipment, all food, cooked meals, a specialised guide with local knowledge.

 

             You will need to bring a day pack, back up wet weather gear, good tramping boots, sleeping bag, a willing spirit sense of fun and adventure.

 

             Fitness

             The circuit rises to 850 metres on day one, moves along the ridgeline and down to the tramline on day two and follows the coast home on day three. The first two days can take up to nine hours (including all stops) and day three up to six hours. The challenge lies in the length of the tramping days. If you are fit and healthy you will meet this challenge - it is not a technically difficult tramp though there are some strenuous and hard sections.

 

             Safety

             Your guides are trained in first aid and carry first aid equipment.  They are in radio contact with hut wardens and our Tuatapere base constantly.

 

             Features of this challenging tramp that you will enjoy are: coastal aspects with long open beach walking and hectors dolphins; marine terraces with pristine beech and podocarp forests; unspoiled, venerable and ancient stunning alpine backdrops and settings; moonscapes of tors and tarns; sunrises, sunsets and scenery to die for; historic and unique viaducts; huts and facilities that set new standards.

 

             Join your guides for a short pre-track briefing - and then you’re into it!

 

             Walk from the Bluecliffs Beach Car Park to Okaka Hut - 18kms, 7/9 hours. Sights and experiences along the way can include dolphin sightings in the bay, podocarp/beech forest, climbing - climbing - climbing, scenic viewpoints and the very welcome Okaka Hut.

 

             Lunch and dinner are included today.

 

DAY9  The Humpridge Track (BLD)

             Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included today.

 

             Okaka Hut to Port Craig Village - 18 Kilometres, 7/9 hours. Sights and experiences along the way can include "awesome” sunrises, coastal panorama's, limestone tors and mountain tarns, alpine vista's, marine terraces, spectacular viaducts and Port Craig Village.

 

DAY10             The Humpridge Track - Invercargill (BLD)

             Breakfast and lunch are included today.

 

             Port Craig Village to Bluecliffs Beach Car Park - 17 Kilometres, 5/6 hours. Sights and experiences along the way can include pioneering history, towering Rimu, coastal walking, rocky pools, sandy beaches, bellbirds and pigeons.

 

             On returning to Bluecliffs Beach Carpark reboard your coach and return to Invercargill where dinner is included at your hotel.

 

             Stay: Ascot Park Hotel

 

DAY11             Invercargill - Queenstown (B)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Travel north through fertile farmlands to Winton, a prosperous town in the heart of the Southland Plain.  Continue through Lumsden and follow the shores of Lake Wakatipu, past the rugged Remarkables Range into the resort town of Queenstown.

 

             Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu Queenstown is a year-round alpine resort that caters for all interests. It enjoys a magnificent setting amid steep mountain ranges and pockets of native bush with the jagged peaks of the Remarkables Range rising from the lake. The lake was scooped out by glacial action thousands of years ago. A mysterious phenomenon causes the lake to vary several inches in depth every few minutes, giving credence to a Maori legend of an ancient Taniwha (demon) still breathing beneath the surface.

 

             On arrival enjoy a guided walking tour of Queenstown pointing out some of the quirky facts and stories of the settlement. A casual welcome at the historic McNeils pub is included at the end of the tour. (1 hour walking).

 

             Stay: Heritage Hotel

 

DAY12             At Queenstown (B)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Today you have free time in New Zealand's premier resort. For those seeking action packed thrills, Queenstown offers a huge range of options including bungy jumping, jetboating, whitewater rafting, river surfing, abseiling, tandem parachuting and parapenting.

 

             You may choose to enjoy a scenic flight over the spectacular Remarkables; or take a cruise on the grand old steamship, TSS Earnslaw to a high country sheep station. Other options include the Kiwi Birdlife Park or a gondola ride to Bob's Peak for panoramic views of the Remarkables and the Wakatipu Basin.

 

             The historic town of Arrowtown is only 20 minutes away and has many of the original buildings from the goldrush days.

 

             It is even fun to sit at an outdoor café in the Mall or on the lakefront to watch the world go by.

 

             Stay: Heritage Hotel

 

DAY13             Queenstown - Haast - Fox Glacier (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Leaving Queenstown follow the Kawarau Gorge through to Cromwell.  A short drive along the Clutha River valley brings you to the picturesque township of Wanaka.  Skirt the western side of Lake Hawea and climb gradually beside the Mckerrow Range to Makarora.

 

             From Makarora begin a 4 hour wilderness adventure in Mount Aspiring World Heritage National Park. Your Siberia Experience allows you to enjoy some of New Zealand's untouched scenery from the air, on land and from the water. Mountains, rivers, glaciers, alpine lakes, rain forest, waterfalls and more - this is your chance to see it all.

             Take off on a 25 minute scenic flight with stunning views, capturing the rugged beauty of New Zealand's World Heritage National Park. See glaciers, ice, snow, mountain lakes, hanging valleys, vast rain forests, dramatic unspoiled beauty. Land in the Siberia Valley to begin a three hour walk through native beech forest on a well marked track linking the remote Siberia Valley with the wilderness of the Wilkin Valley. Rendezvous with Wilkin River Jets for a thrilling and uniquely scenic 30 minute trip back to Makarora.

 

             Rejoin your coach and cross the Haast Pass to the settlement of Haast. View the rugged coastal scenery from Knights Point before crossing the many rivers and streams flowing from the upper reaches of the mighty Southern Alps to arrive at the ancient icy glaciers (4 hour excursion).

 

             A packed lunch is included from your hotel.

 

             Stay: Te Weheka Inn

 

DAY14             At Fox Glacier (BL)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Fox Glacier descends the western side of the Southern Alps and is part of the Westland National Park. Formed in 1960, the park consists of largely unspoilt landscape and is characterised by dense lowland podocarp forest, fast flowing rivers, permanent snow fields and glaciers. The steep mountain terrain lifts and cools the predominant westerly winds creating a harsh changeable climate. Fox Glacier is named after a former premier of New Zealand, Sir William Fox, and is currently in an exciting period of dramatic advance. What is so special about Fox Glacier, and it's northern neighbour Franz Josef Glacier, is that they descend almost into the forest - a mere twelve kilometres from the sea!

 

             Today enjoy a guided walk on the Fox Glacier. This is a wonderful glacier experience full of variety and interest. Once fitted with boots, board the glacier bus for a short drive through rainforest and into the steep-sided glacial valley. The guide leads you along the river bed and to a track which zig-zags uphill through ferns and regenerating temperate rainforest. From high on the track enjoy fantastic views of the glacier. After crossing the ridge, you can see into the upper icefall. A packed lunch is included today.

 

             The track then winds down onto the ice. At this point, don instep crampons and follow steps cut by the guide. The route takes you onto the ice amongst crevasses and ice ridges and leads you into the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefall and lower glacier (6-7 hour excursion).

 

             Ample time is spent on the ice before retracing the route back to Fox Glacier.

 

             Stay: Te Weheka Inn

DAY15             Fox Glacier - Lewis Pass - Hanmer Springs (BD)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Depart Fox Glacier and cross the Cook River bridge to Franz Josef Glacier.  Travel through dense bush for many miles, with scattered milling and farming settlements.  You will travel through bushland and particularly beautiful stretches of countryside to Hokitika, once a major gold-boom town whose major industry is now timber.  Travelling up the coast you will arrive in Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast.

 

             From Greymouth follow the Grey River to the goldmining centre of Reefton.  From here it is a long steady rise through forest to the Lewis Pass and the headwaters of the Waiau River, leading to the east.

 

             Hidden among the foothills of the Southern Alps surrounded by vast native and exotic forests lies the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs.   Waitapu or 'sacred water' was the name early Maori gave to the hot mineral springs that bubbled to the surface and more than 100 years ago early settlers began finding their way to this oasis of soothing waters in midst of what was then harsh high country tussock lands. It's a quaint, easy-going little village with alpine-styled holiday homes nestled on hillsides, warm summers, stunning autumn colours. Occasional snowfalls in winter bring a pristine beauty to the alpine forests and surrounding mountains.  It's also a favourite amongst outdoor enthusiasts - your choices include mountain biking, horse trekking, golf, an exciting jetboat ride, a river rafting adventure (grade 2-3 depending on seasonal flow) or you might like to try bungy-jumping from the Waiau Gorge. The township is a fine base for walks of varying degrees of difficulty.

 

             At the end of the day you can soak in the outdoor thermal pools - perhaps choose a small rockery pool fringed with plantings and at a water temperature that suits you! You can also have an on-site therapeutic massage to ease any effects of the day's adventures!

 

             Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

 

             Stay: Heritage Hanmer Springs

 

DAY16             Hanmer Springs - Christchurch (B)

             Breakfast included this morning.

 

             Descend through rolling hill country to Weka Pass, with its curious outcrops, onto the Canterbury Plains beyond. Travel through the sleepy Waipara Valley to the Garden City of Christchurch. On arrival transfer to Christchurch airport in time to connect with your departure flight.

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