11
days

The National Geographic New Zealand Journey

National Geographic Journeys are built on meaningful encounters with people and places, interactions with knowledgeable local guides, and the freedom to roam. This unique itinerarary blends fun and hands-on exploration with opportunities to forge human connections with people we meet. Usually limited to 16 or fewer travelers, this immersive trip are accessibly priced and offer more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.

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Itinerary

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1
Auckland

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand!

Today is Arrival Day with a 'Welcome' Meeting early evening, feel free to explore the city after making your way in from the airport. Tonight after introductions, your tour leader will review the details of your trip.You will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel and, depending at what time you'll arrive, will then have some time to explore the city of Auckland before meeting your travelling companions over a complimentary pre dinner drink.

Some Activities and Sightseeing Options Available are:

Explore Waiheke Island Island Kayaking Adventure America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky Tower Relax on the Beach Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine Tour Whale and Dolphin Safari Muriwai Surf Beach

 

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Pullmans Hotel Auckland - 2 nights (or something similar)

2
Ocean Pelagics - Whales and Dolphins

The Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park is considered to be one of the most biologically and geographically diverse maritime parks in the world. Aboard the purpose built research and wildlife viewing vessel, the Explorer, our tour today departs Auckland and heads into the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. This tour revolves around University research projects of the dolphin, whales and sea birds of the region.  Wildlife species we may encounter include common and bottlenose dolphins, orca (killer whales), blue penguins, gannets, shearwaters, terns, cooks and pycrofts petrels.

Meals: Breakfast 

3
Raglan (Little Hawaii) for some Bohemian Tranquility

Drive a scenic route, visiting an eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Continue to the artsy town of Raglan and enjoy a cruise on the stunning harbour.

Eel Farm Visit Raglan

Visit a local sustainable eel farm which focuses on developing sustainable aquaculture and biological solutions for dairy farms in an effort to restore lowland wetland eco-systems. Enjoy lunch, featuring food which has been sustainably produced on the farm. Be inspired by their green initiatives – they practice the art of giving more back to the environment than they take out. 

Raglan Harbour Boat Cruise

Enjoy a cruise on the Raglan Harbour with stunning views of ancient limestone rock formations and local wildlife. Keep an eye out for dolphins and (fingers crossed!) whales.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Raglan Sunset Motel  - 1 night (or something similar)

4
Raglan - Rotorua

Drive to Rotorua, stopping at Bridal Veil Falls en route, and opt to enjoy a dip in the geothermal hot pools in the area. This evening visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome and talk from a “Kaumātua” (an elder in Māori society). After, enjoy an extravagant performance about local myths, and legends while dinning on traditional Hangi cuisine.

Rotorua sits over an active volcano with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and cultured tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land. Relax in one of the hot pools fed by water coming directly from the natural springs.

Bridal Veil Falls Walk: Enjoy a scenic trek to Bridal Veil Falls, a plunge waterfall located along the Pakoka River in the Waikato area of New Zealand. Relax on arrival and enjoy the waterfall’s breathtaking natural beauty. The waterfall is 55m (180 ft) high, and, over time, has caused the formation of a large pool at its base.

Maori Village: Receive the traditional Powhiri welcome ceremony followed by a captivating stage performance explaining Maori history, myths and culture. For dinner, enjoy a traditional Hangi meal, similar to the Hawaiian Luau, with dishes cooked in the ground. Savour the taste of chicken, sweet potatoes, port and pudding wrapped in cabbage or banana leaves and steamed underground with the heat from lava rocks and wood. Yum!

Meet a Maori Elder: Enjoy a “mihi” (private welcome) in Tamaki Village from a “Kaumātua” (an elder in Māori society). Sit down to an exclusive talk with the elder and learn about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends, including the Sky Father and Earth Mother. You’ll also learn about the history of the Maori people and their deep connection to Rotorua landscape and its geothermal aspects.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua  - 1 night (or something similar)

5
Rotorua - Christchurch

This morning visit Whakarewarewa, a Maori village with a local guide who explains the geothermal aspects of the region. Enjoy a light lunch of corn cooked in a natural hot pool and a traditional hangi pie. With a local guide, follow the path past bubbling mud pits and mineral pools with different fluorescent coloured water. Learn how geothermal energy is used around the village and hear the history of the area. Just try to ignore the sulfurous smell; that's just Mother Earth making magma magic.

Christchurch: After a quick one hour flight to the 'Garden City' of Christchurch, enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. 

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation:  Chateau on the Park​  - 1 night (or something similar)

6
Tranz Alpine Rail Journey | Glacier Country

Enjoy the scenic Tranz Alpine Train as it winds its way over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys, tracking slowly across the country's greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps.  Transfer to coach and continue down the west coast to the glacial area of Franz Josef. Opt for a guided walk or a soak in the Hot Pools on your free day.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat  - 2 nights (or something similar)

7
Explore Franz Josef

Spend the day exploring the stunning region around Franz Josef. Opt for various hiking adventures in the area, the most popular being a glacier trek. If relaxing is more your style, there are shorter day hikes and bush walks or local hot pools to take a dip. You are in the heart of Westland National Park, considered to be the most diverse and beautiful area in New Zealand.

Excursions available in and around the Franz Josef area:

Kayak Okarito Lagoon    Glacier Hot Pools    Glacier Scenic Flight
Horseback Riding   Walk to Glacier Face Glacier Heli-hike

 

Meals: Breakfast 

8
Franz Josef - Queenstown

Travel through the rugged rainforest scenery of the west coast, stopping at Lake Matheson for a view of the Southern Alps reflected on the lake. This is one of the most scenic driving days, cross the Haast Pass and traverse the banks of the emerald hued lake at Wanaka, through the Gibbston Valley to Queenstown. On arrival, take a Gondola Ride for fantastic views of the city and opt to enjoy a group dinner at a skyline restaurant. 

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakeside Resort  - 1 night (or something similar)

9
Doubtful Sound Overnight Wildlife Cruise

Drive the scenic route around the lake to the town of Manapouri in Fiordland National Park a World Heritage Area. Embark on an amazing wilderness cruise through Doubtful Sound staying on board overnight with the chance to see dolphins, fur seals, birds, and penguins. As you cruise through some of the fiord’s most stunning scenery, our knowledgeable nature guides will provide commentary ensuring you miss nothing, be it the pod of resident dolphins, fur seals or rare penguins you might encounter.

Evening: After dropping anchor in a sheltered cove, you can choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat or to simply relax onboard.  For the more adventurous (or very brave), there’s even a chance to go swimming! In the evening, enjoy a delicious three course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.

*Please Note: The itinerary for this day varies in the winter: 18 May – 20 Sept Doubtful Sound / Te Anau In the evening, head to Te Anau for the night. Take in a screening of the award-winning ‘Ata Whenua’ – ‘Fjordland Film’ documentary at the local cinema before having a group meal.

Meals: Breakfast Dinner

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator Doubtful Sound  - 1 night

10
Penguins, Seals & Dolphins

Dolphins such as Dusky, Bottlenose and Hectors are regularly seen swimming in Milford Sound, while lay about on the rocky shoreline enjoying the sun are the inquisitive New Zealand Fur Seals. Penguins are numerous throughout the fiords. Two species predominate, especially the rare yellow-eyebrowed Fiord-land crested penguin and the Little Blue Penguin.

Once back on land its time to return to Queenstown.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakeside Resort  - 1 night (or something similar)

11
Queenstown at Leisure | Homeward Bound

Enjoy a final leisurely breakfast, before an afternoon departure from Queenstown Airport, connecting with your flight home. You may have time for an activity or to just relax in one of the many waterfront cafes.

Recommended excursions in and around Queenstown:

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail
 

Meals: Breakfast 

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

We are sure you will enjoy the The National Geographic New Zealand Journey and our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

 

 Note

You may also be interested in the 22 Day Australian and New Zealand National Geographic Journey...