New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour

New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour celebrates the architecture, art, history and culture of our small island nation. Historic accommodation has been selected to provide a sense of place, and the landmark locations visited will come alive with fascinating stories that invoke a sense of a bygone era that is both exciting and fascinating.

Historical Cruise, Waitangi Grounds, Kauri Museum, Cultural Evening, Hot Pools, Art Deco Tour, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Reserve, Māori Rock Art, Victorian Oamaru, Larnach Castle Tour, TSS Earnslaw Cruise.

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Welcome to Auckland - The Polynesian Capital of the World

Auckland is regularly voted as one of the best lifestyle cities in the world. Set on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour (meaning ‘sparkling waters’ in the Maori language) Auckland is also the world's largest Polynesian city with around 28% the city's population is of Pacific origin, including Cook Islanders, Niueans, Samoans and Tongans. There are more Cook Islanders and Niuean within Auckland than anywhere else in the world - including their home islands.

After checking into your hotel, relax, take a stroll around our beautiful city, explore the highly acclaimed Waterfront Restaurant Quarter or choose one of the many activities available to give a more in depth understanding of Auckland and the surrounding area. Tomorrow is the start of your wonderful New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour.

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

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

Auckland City Tour | Bay of Islands | Historic Russell

City Tour
Get to know the city’s past and present and view one of the biggest collections of Māori and Pacific treasures on a superb morning tour around New Zealand’s largest city. Visiting historical area's such as Parnell Village, Tamaki Drive, iconic Karangahape Road, the stylish suburb of Ponsonby, the Viaduct Harbour and the central city's main road Queen Street. Enjoy the grand views of Aucklands beautiful Hauraki Gulf and city skyline, last but not least is the Auckland Domain, Auckland's oldest park, situated on a 62 thousand year old volcano and perched on top is the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Here you will enjoy a Māori cultural performance from members of the Auckland-based Ngāti Whātua iwi (tribe), including songs, dances and haka. The Museum holds Māori and Pacific treasures, impressive natural history resources and major social and military history collections, as well as decorative arts.

The Historic Seaside Town of Russell
After you journey to the Bay of Islands, it is a quick car ferry ride across the water to the historical seaside town of Russell. Providing shelter and good old Kiwi hospitality as far back as the eighteenth century Russell is a superb place to get away from the other tourist traps across the water.  Its relatively isolated location gives an island quality and feel that reflects the tranquility of days gone by. Despite this, it is a vibrant community that attracts visitors from all over the world. Russell was the first capital of this country and one of our first European settlements. The town’s Victorian atmosphere has been carefully preserved and here you will find two of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, Pompallier House (1841) and Christ Church (1836) The Russell Police Station built in 1870 originally as a Customs House is still in use today. On a more relaxing note there are numerous waterfront cafes and restaurants, making this a great place to soak up the atmosphere, it is here you will be staying on the waterfront in the location of New Zealand's oldest hotels - The Duke Of Marlborough.

Approximate Distance: 242 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Russell - 2 nights

Historical Cream Cruise | Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Historical Cream Cruise
Combine history with a fabulous cruise in a pristine marine environment. The 'Cream Cruise' is the most comprehensive one day cruise in the 'Bay' and follows original Fullers trip, started back in 1927 delivering mail, essential supplies, and collecting cream from the early settlements dotted throughout the Bay of Islands. Today the cruise is onboard a modern, multi-level catamaran you’ll experience the many idyllic bays, locals homes and the prominent natural landmarks like the 'Hole in the Rock' near Cape Brett. The opportunity to stop at the tranquil (yet hard to pronounce)  Urupukaopuka Island to go for a bush walk or just relax on the beach. Marine mammals are abundant so the chance to see whales, seals, dolphins and other wildlife is high. If you wish a Swim with the Dolphins this option is also available.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
This is the location of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding constitutional document and the accord between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Gain a deeper understanding during a guided tour of Waitangi with a local guides and enjoy a high quality cultural performance in the beautiful carved meeting house (Whare Rūnanga). Explore one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes and learn about the treasures within, visit treasures such as the Treaty House, Meeting House, Flagstaff and Ceremonial War Canoe.

West Coast | Kauri Museum | Takapuna Beach

Heading south from Paihia take the opportunity and drive across to the West Coast on the road less traveled. The west coast village of Matakohe houses the 'Kauri Museum' which is considered by many as one of New Zealand’s more substantial museum giving an interesting insight into Northland’s pioneering past through the use of kauri timber and kauri gum. There are fascinating displays and galleries inside the museum including the magnificent collection of antique kauri furniture and the largest collection of kauri gum in the world, with restored steam operated forestry machinery and much much more.

Approximate Distance: 233 kms | 144 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 35 mins

Accommodation Takapuna - 1 night

Rotorua | Maori Cultural Evening

Rotorua's location (on the Pacific Ring of Fire) means it is surrounded by steaming lakes, simmering hot pools and roaring geysers. A heartland of Maori culture; the traditional people embraced this turbulent land and made it their home – and a fascinating one at that. For guests visiting Rotorua there are many must-see attractions while culture enthusiasts can experience in-depth vibrant Maori tikanga (culture) as well as contemporary Maori art and crafts.

Maori Cultural Evening - Village, Hangi & Music
Spend a Cultural Evening sharing and feasting on a selection of foods cooked the traditional Maori way - on hot stones in an authentic earthen oven (a Hangi). Understand the spiritual significance of the moko (facial tattoo) as warriors demonstrate with tools made of fine bird bone and sharpened greenstone and then perform a concert including the world famous ‘Haka’. An educational and enlightening experience, coupled with a ‘good feed’ and sing-a-long makes for a unique and entertaining experience!

Not for you? Well maybe it is - read our full review Tamaki Māori Village Experience.

Approximate Distance: 226 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night

Natural Hot Pools/Thermal Reserve | Napier - Art Deco City

Natural Hot Pools & Wai-O-tapu Thermal Reserve
On your way toward Napier via 'Great Lake Taupo' you have have the opportunity to stop and enjoy a soak in one of New Zealand's picturesque wild hot springs, Kerosine Creek is a beautiful hot stream with a waterfall right in the middle of lush native bush, it is sign posted 30km (18 miles) south of Rotorua. Close by to the hot-pools is Wai-O-tapu, a wonderland of geothermal activity. This is the home to the world famous Champagne Pool, seen by many as the most beautiful example of geothermal activity around. The steaming vents with New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool is surrounded by huge volcanic craters making the experience very other worldly - but wait, there is more... the Highlight is the Lady Knox Geyser that spectacularly erupts daily at around 10.15am (ish)

This is a colorful, sunny city with the air of an affluent English seaside resort. A devastating natural disaster flattened Napier in 1931 leaving a blank canvas for city leaders to rebuilt in the favored style of the day - Art Deco. Napier now proudly represents one of the few fully intact Deco city's remaining today. Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical buildings pepper the city and thanks largely to the Art Deco Trust the historical integrity of Napier has been preserved from demolition or damage. These treasures are not lost on the locals as they host many Art Deco themed festivals, parties throughout the year - don't be at all surprised if from time to time you think you are on the set of 'The Great Gatsby' as often folks dressed in 1920's and 30's costumes can be seen wandering the streets.

The region is also one of New Zealand’s premier wine producing regions the 'Hawke's Bay' It is a veritable treasure trove of vineyards, offering wines of superlative quality, many of which have won both national and international acclaim.

Lonely Planet: This ‘charismatic’ New Zealand city ‘can provoke a Great Gatsby swagger in the least romantic soul’.

Approximate Distance: 223 kms | 139 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Napier - 1 night

Art Deco Walking Tour | Wellington

Art Deco Walking Tour
Napier is the world’s finest example of the Art Deco age and your guide will bring Napier's fascinating architecture to life for you as you take an easy stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter in the vibrant city centre - This is a must on the New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour.

On to Wellington
Wellington is the undisputed 'Arts Capital' of New Zealand, possibly due its windy temperament fanning the creative juices of the locals. The city is the country's centre for culture, politics, and home to the National Museum, Te Papa.  Wellington’s thriving cafe scene is globally recognised by the coffee cognoscenti, and of course is the centre for movie production with Weta Workshops Lord or the Rings & Hobbit Trilogies taking centre stage. If you are a people person there are some interesting one's living here.

Vogue: "coolest little city in the world: Wellington, New Zealand".

Approximate Distance: 319 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Wellington - 1 night

Akaroa - Little France

A short domestic flight has you in Christchurch and a quick drive has you seemingly in another country - France! In 1840, French settlers arrived at Akaroa, and to this day Akaroa remains uniquely French as the site is the only attempted settlement by the French in New Zealand. Most streets have French names and the architecture has a distinct French flavour. There are still many descendants of the original French families still living in Akaroa today. Take a scenic cruise exploring the beautiful, sheltered harbours.

Approximate Distance: 81 kms | 51 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 20 mins

Accommodation Akaroa - 1 night

Ancient Māori Rock Art | Oamaru - A Victorian Beauty

The Moa Hunters, Early Māori Rock Art - Timaru
Long known for it’s rolling hills, stunning mountain views and relaxed pace of life, within the South Canterbury region there is a lesser known location of enormous cultural significance. Ancient limestone caves and overhanging rock shelves have formed hundreds of natural art galleries. Join our local Māori guides on a rock art site tour; guides will share the stories of our ancestors on the same trails that they once traveled. Follow in the footsteps of Māori ancestors; learn how they lived and why they left their cave drawings - these are believed to be the only example of Māori cave paintings in New Zealand.

Blog Article: South Canterbury Prehistoric Maori Rock Art

Quirky Oamaru
The final destination today is the a quaint little town of Oamaru. While its façade is strictly of the Victorian era with ornately decorated grand white stone buildings that once housed upstanding banks, hotels and restaurants, the ‘Oamaruivans’ are certainly not, In fact, they are quite the contrary, unlike the Victorians they (the locals) are bohemian artisans, creative’s and antiquarians who run ‘out-there’ galleries, museums, shops and venues – it has to be seen to be believed and you'll love it.

Victorian Futurism
One of these quirky manifestations is the Steam-punk Museum and workshop, housed in a beautiful but imposing free-standing Oamaru stone building. Outside the infamous Steampunk Engine SP001 greets visitors, belching flames, smoke and odd sounds, inside the museum presents a theme of a dark post-apocalyptic vision of a future "as it might have been".

Blog Article: The Art of Victorian Futurism in Oamaru

The Smallest Penguins in the World
Also worthy of a look is the nightly return to land of the Little Blue Penguin that nest under the local wharf.

Approximate Distance: 301 kms | 187 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Oamaru - 1 night

Dunedin - Scottish City of Grace and Grandeur

Moeraki Boulders
The beauty of a New Zealand self drive tour is you are in control of your own destiny, so make sure you pop in and visit the famous Moeraki Boulders 40 km (24 Miles) south of Oamaru. These other worldly boulders are steeped in Maori Legend. Scientists explain the boulders as septarian concretions formed about 65 million years ago. Crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles in muddy undersea sediments gradually formed the boulders in a process taking as long as four million years. The soft mud-stone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago and sea erosion is exposing the erosion-resistant boulders.

On to Dunedin
It is for good reason that New Zealand's oldest city is known as the Edinborough of the South - 'Dunedin' comes from Dun Eideann the Scots-Gaelic name for Edinburgh, founded largely by Scottish immigrants, who raised the impressive buildings which now add much to the city's charm. These buildings incorporate a diverse array of styles from Tudor, Jacobean, Georgian, Carpenter, Gothic and Arts and Crafts styles also feature - to some very fine examples of Neo-Gothic. Dunedin is regarded as one of the best preserved Victorian cities in the Commonwealth.

Approximate Distance: 113 kms | 70 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Accommodation Dunedin - 1 night

Larnach Castle | Queenstown

Larnach Castle Tour
Visit New Zealand’s only Castle, built in 1871 by a merchant baron, over 200 Workers spent more than three years building the Castle main shell, while master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior - Larnach spared no expense and the castle is built from the finest materials from around the world. This superbly crafted building with magnificent architecture, showcases a unique collection of New Zealand antiques, see spectacular tower views and beautiful gardens.

Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. Early Maori explorers came to Queenstown in search of pounamu (greenstone), a nephrite jade used to make adzes, chisels and weaponry – they also came to hunt for the giant Moa. But in the 1800s things really kicked of when Europeans found gold and the rush began in 1862. Now the surrounding area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards. The natural landscape and wild rivers has made Queenstown the hub for all kinds of adventure sports. In winter, there is not only backcountry skiing with the country’s highest vertical drops, but also 4 decent commercial fields catering for a broad spectrum of skiers and boarders alike. Summer brings paragliding, mountain biking and bungee-jumping (Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is among the sport's original sites).

Approximate Distance: 285 kms | 178 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Queenstown - 3 nights

TSS Earnslaw | Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak Station

Board the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steamship that has been cruising up and down Lake Wakatipu for over 100 years. Your destination is to the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak Station (Farm). Walter Peak Station was headquarters of what was once a 70,000ha (173000 acres) station with 40,000 merino sheep and 50 staff. The charming, lakefront location is a real draw card, as is the great dining experience on offer so sit back and enjoy some fine high country hospitality or take one of the tours offered around the workings of the station.

Other Recommended Excursions in 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
Arrowtown - The Goldrush

Sitting alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River, Arrowtown established in 1862 is rich in heritage as a former gold mining town, and is considered one of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand. Just 20 minutes drive from Queenstown this charming town has maintained its rich heritage and historic buildings with more than 60 pioneer constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches.
This vibrant town has world class food and beverage, shopping and attractions – why not have a go at panning for gold on the Arrow River.

Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

There maybe time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before making your way for your outbound flight.

We know you will enjoy the New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour 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. 

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'New Zealand's Cultural and Heritage Tour' - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a lifetime!