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Best of New Zealand

18 Days from $5,629 per person

Style: First Class | Pace: Comfortable

As brilliant as the starry sky, the luminous glow worms of Waitomo light up the dark depths of another world—yours to explore along an epic journey through New Zealand.

Travel to New Zealand from the USA requires crossing the International Date Line. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1. Ensure your flights are booked two days prior to the start date of the tour itinerary.

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Overview

As brilliant as the starry sky, the luminous glow worms of Waitomo light up the dark depths of another world—yours to explore along an epic journey through New Zealand.

Travel to New Zealand from the USA requires crossing the International Date Line. Please arrange for flights to arrive on or before Day 1. Ensure your flights are booked two days prior to the start date of the tour itinerary.

  1. Welcome to Auckland, one of the world's most liveable cities. On arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4pm), then spend your day at leisure before joining your Travel Director for an evening Welcome Reception.

    meal(s):Welcome Reception
    hotel:The Cordis
  2. We journey north through lush farmland to the Bay of Islands, where we'll cruise the game waters once plied by Māori fishermen. Delve into the legend of the 'Hole in the Rock' (weather permitting), visit historic Cape Brett and sail past the deserted beaches and secluded coves that dot the bay as you return via Paihia to the mainland.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:Copthorne Resort (Water View Room)
  3. Today, your choice of sightseeing: explore the Waitangi Treaty Reserve grounds; enjoy a day of sailing aboard a historic tall ship; embark on a relaxing tour of Kerikeri with wine and chocolate tasting or venture to Russell for a Mini Tour to learn more about the settling of the Bay of Islands.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
  4. Indulge in some me-time this morning before returning to Auckland. Your journey takes you to Whangarei, New Zealand's northernmost city, before continuing to Parry Kauri Park, where you'll have an opportunity to walk amongst the Kauri giants that have towered over the forest floor for millennia. This evening, join your Travel Director for a Regional Meal at your hotel.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
    hotel:The Cordis
  5. Gain a deeper understanding of why Auckland justifiably earns its reputation as the City of Sails, then head to Waitomo for an encounter with the iridescent occupants of Glow Worm Grotto. Navigate its dark depths with a Local Specialist and walk through the limestone caves with their dramatic formations. Continue to Rotorua.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
    hotel:Millennium
  6. Embark on your choice of sightseeing: unwind at the Polynesian Spa; visit Te Puia and tour through the Whakawerawera Thermal Reserve; tour the wizardry of the Hobbiton movie set or explore Rotorua and its three lakes in an amphibious WWII-era Duck. Dive into culture' this evening when Māori culture takes center stage this evening as you visit the Tamaki Māori Village for a traditional Hangi Feast Regional Meal.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
  7. Travel through pine forests and farmland to the raging Huka Falls, which feeds Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. Continue south over the central plateau and along the Kapiti Coast to Wellington. Dive into culture and gain insights into New Zealand's nature, heritage and art during an exclusive guided tour of Te Papa Museum, then conclude your day with a Regional Meal which reveals Wellington's reputation as the country's culinary capital.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
    hotel:James Cook Grand Chancellor
  8. Embrace your inner hipster this morning and immerse yourself in your cool surrounds during some free time to explore the Capital of Cool on your terms. This afternoon, prime your sea legs for a cruise through the Cook Strait into the quiet waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. Journey to seaside Picton, then Blenheim, where tonight you'll enjoy a Regional Meal prepared from local produce and paired with the local Sauvignon Blanc for which the Marlborough region is famous.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
    hotel:Chateau Marlborough
  9. Travel to Kaikoura and delve into its whaling heritage, keeping a keen eye for Sperm Whales that can often be seen not far from shore (an Optional Experience whale-watching scenic flight is available). Continue along the Pacific Ocean coast and across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, the Garden City of New Zealand.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
    hotel:Distinction
  10. Join us for a taste of country life at Morelea, where we'll connect with locals over a Be My Guest barbecue lunch and enjoy home-grown hospitality in the home of Angie and Stan Taylor. Journey past Lake Pukaki and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Your encounter with the arresting beauty of New Zealand's South Island continues in Mount Cook National Park, our last stop today before arriving in Twizel.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:MacKenzie Country Inn
  11. Journey along the Waitaki River, stopping briefly at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. Travel through to the township of Oamaru with its famous white limestone buildings and then on to Dunedin. This afternoon your choice of sightseeing: tour Larnach Castle, New Zealand's only castle; ride the historic Taieri Gorge Railway; take the Monarch Wildlife Cruise or embark on an interactive tour of Speight's Brewery.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:Scenic Southern Cross
  12. Connect with the Scottish heritage of Dunedin with some free time to explore the city this morning. Later, journey through pastural landscapes dotted with sheep before arriving in Te Anau on the shore of Lake Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound's tranquil waters. Enjoy time at leisure this evening for a tour highlight—an Optional Experience cruise across the lake to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:Distinction
  13. Immerse yourself in the startling natural splendor of the UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park. Take a nature cruise, slicing through the mystical Milford Sound, past such highlights as Bowen Falls and Mitre Peak. Journey over the Devil's Staircase later, and along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, bound for Queenstown.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
    hotel:Millennium
  14. Dive right into the adventure capital today with your choice of sightseeing: ride the Shotover Jet boat; take a gondola to Bob's Peak for thrilling luge rides; visit Kiwi Birdlife Park or take a 4WD minibus excursion through Skippers Canyon. This evening, cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard New Zealand's oldest steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Here you'll indulge in a gourmet barbecue Regional Meal at the Colonel's Homestead. Then enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing insights into high-country farm life.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Regional Meal
  15. Visit the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown before continuing your journey to Cromwell to savor the flavors of delicious stone fruit. See a trio of lakes, Dunstan, Hawea and Wanaka, then travel over Haast Pass and on to the luminescent white wilderness of Franz Josef Glacier.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:Scenic Franz Josef Glacier (Douglas Wing)
  16. Spend some free time this morning exploring the icy depths of the glacier. Later, travel to Hokitika, renowned for its exquisite greenstone craft, where you'll visit a factory and admire a jewelry demonstration by a Local Specialist master carver. Continue to the limestone Pancake Rocks and Blowholes of Punakaiki, before spending the night at an eco-friendly resort on the waterfront.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
    hotel:Punakaiki Resort
  17. Board the TranzAlpine train for one of the world's most scenic journeys through the Southern Alps and Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, a city rebuilding itself from the ruins of a tragic earthquake. Celebrate an epic journey at a Farewell Dinner with newfound friends.

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
    hotel:Distinction
  18. Your vacation concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime).

    meal(s):Buffet Breakfast
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  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

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1 Jun 19 18 Jun 19 checkmark $5,925$5,629pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
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5 Oct 19 22 Oct 19 checkmark $6,750$6,413pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28 Request Quote Book Now
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  • Important Note: This departure is subject to price, itinerary and hotel modification.

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $1,915.

Air: Please note that airfares are not included in the prices above. GET guarantees to quote you the lowest possible airfare available to us on the day that you book.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift!  Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

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  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment

Meal Summary

17 hot buffet breakfasts, 1 lunch, 12 dinners.

Included Highlights

Connect with Locals

  • Join Angie and Stan Taylor at their home Morelea, and listen to the family's story of growing up in rural New Zealand.

Dive into Culture

  • Visit Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, and gain insight into the traditions of the Māori.

Stays with Stories

  • Stay on South Island's wild west coast at Punakaiki Resort near the famous Pancake Rocks.

Local Specialist

  • with a jade (greenstone) carver, an expert guide in the Waitomo Glow Worm Grotto.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • City tour in Auckland, Wellington, Blenheim, Dunedin, Christchurch
  • Cruise in Bay of Islands, on the Cook Strait, on Lake Wakatipu, on Milford Sound
  • View the Southern Alps from the TranzAlpine train
  • Visit Waitomo Glow Worm Grotto, the Bay of Islands, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Franz Josef Glacier
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.

Auckland

Dune Rider Cape Reinga Via 90 Mile Beach

This is a full day to explore the magnificent natural wonders of the North. Visit the ancient Kauri Kingdom workshop, Cape Reinga lighthouse and the magnificent 90 Mile Beach. Experience the rush of speed as you sandboard down white sand dunes at Te Paki stream on a boogie board. Includes a lunch.
Adult Price: $155.00

Discover Kerikeri

Enjoy a relaxing tour of Kerikeri, showcasing the rich history of the North. This tour takes a look at the importance of wine-growing in the region and visits a small family-run boutique vineyard, Ake Ake to sample some of their organic wine. And then take a step back in time with visits to the Historic Stone Store and Kemp House. And then conclude the tour with a stop-off at the local chocolate factory – Makana – where you can watch the delicious chocolates being made, and of course, taste a few samples!
Adult Price: $60.00

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Take a wander through the grounds of New Zealand’s most important historic site, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, rich in history and stories of the momentous events which shaped a nation. The grounds are where Maori chiefs first signed their accord with the British Crown – the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. Visit treasures such as the Treaty House, Meeting House, Flagstaff and Ceremonial War Canoe. Roam the grounds on your own, or enhance your visit with a guided tour. Many of the guides descend from signatories to the Treaty which will give your visit a personal connection to Waitangi.
Adult Price: $45.00

Wellington

Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park

Set in 22 acres of beautiful native trees and streams, Rainbow Springs is home to a huge variety of New Zealand’s most precious inhabitants. Experience the adrenalin rush of The Big Splash, explore the many free flight aviaries, come face to face with pre-history in the eyes of the tuatara, and experience the wonder of the bird show featuring some of the funniest feathered performers you will ever see.
Adult Price: $50.00

Rotorua Tarawera and Lakes Tour

Discover Rotorua’s spectacular lakes area from the comfort of a fully restored World War II amphibious vehicle, able to travel on land and water. A 90 minute fun-filled and scenic journey that ventures onto the three Rotorua lakes, and is accompanied by an entertaining and informative commentary.
Adult Price: $89.00

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Discover the real Middle-earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata in the North Island of New Zealand, where you can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in a fascinating two-hour guided tour.
Adult Price: $119.00

Blenheim

Weta Wellington There And Back Again Tour

This movie-based experience provides a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of Weta Workshop, the home of the special effects wizards whose work features in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. The tour invites you to view the creative processes of a Weta technician and to touch, feel, and hold real props, weapons and models from the films the creative Weta team have worked on. Return transfers from the Wellington i-Site are included.
Adult Price: $65.00

Dunedin

Grand Traverse Scenic Flight

Explore the alpine wonderland of the Southern Alps’ highest peaks and glacial lakes on this 45-minute scenic flight, including Murchison Glacier, Tasman Glacier, Main Divide, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, westland coastal rainforests and Mount Cook.
Adult Price: $395.00

Te Anau

Monarch Wildlife Cruise

Cruise the length of the beautiful Otago Harbour, passing by the historic fishing village of Careys Bay and the working port of Port Chalmers. Then continue your tour out to the tip of the Otago Peninsula, enjoying unrivalled wildlife viewing. See what cannot be seen from land – Albatross, New Zealand Fur Seals and up to 20 species of bird and marine life in their undisturbed and otherwise inaccessible environment.
Adult Price: $150.00

Taieri Gorge Railway

Taieri Gorge Railway is one of the world’s great train trips, taking passengers from the hustle and bustle of Dunedin’s city centre to the rugged mountain interior of Central Otago, and back. Travel in comfort, cross magnificent stone and wrought iron viaducts, travel through a series of tunnels with rock walls only inches from the side of the train.
Adult Price: $105.00

Larnarch Castle Tour

Let your local driver take you on an exciting Otago Peninsula drive to New Zealand’s only castle. Your guided tour of the Larnach family home will give you insight into not only the architecture and style of the stately building, but also into William Larnach’s family life and the restoration done by the current owners during the past three decades. Enjoy views from the tower and marvel at the immaculate gardens before your return to Dunedin.
Adult Price: $76.00

Queenstown

Te Puia

Take a wander through Te Puia, New Zealand’s Maori Culture Centre, where you will have the opportunity to view the awesome power of the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley… and much more!
Adult Price: $56.00

Te Anau Glow Worm Caves

2.5 hour tour incorporating a cruise across Lake Te Anau to Cavern House. Enjoy a guided tour (in small groups) through the limestone caverns, waterfalls and the glow worm grotto. Complimentary tea & coffee is available at Cavern House
Adult Price: $98.00

Punakaiki

Kiwi Birdlife Park

The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a wildlife sanctuary found in the heart of Queenstown. They hold and display over 20 species of native NZ wildlife in our 5 acre Park, all of which are part of nationally managed programmes. Your entry fee supports their conservation work. They offer guaranteed kiwi viewing in our specially constructed nocturnal houses, audio tours (available in English and Japanese; allow 45min), Conservation Shows (11am, 3pm; allow 30min) and Kiwi Feedings (10am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 4.30pm; allow 15min). They offer an all-day pass and the park can be enjoyed in all weather. Experience conservation in action!
Adult Price: $48.00

Shotover Jet

Enjoy a 30-minute jet boat ride down the mighty Shotover River and through Shotover Canyon with the only company permitted to operate in this area. A major highlight is experiencing the famous “Shotover Jet Turn” where your boat spins through a full 360 degrees turn. Includes return transfers from Queenstown. (Duration: 1.5 hours in total)

Boutique Wine Tour

An afternoon amongst the boutique vineyards and splendid alpine scenery of Central Otago. Taste wines at 4 premium vineyards over two contrasting wine regions, learn about the wine and pioneering history and visit the Historic Precinct of Old Cromwell. Includes a delightful platter lunch and a glass of wine with lunch.
Adult Price: $199.00

Skippers Canyon Scenic Tour and Jet Boat Ride

Skippers Canyon Jet are the only company to offer a complete 4WD tour of Skippers Canyon and access to the unique mining relics available in the Sainsbury gold claim museum. Following the winding, yet majestic Skippers road, which carves its way down from the Coronet Peak ski road, over the saddle and down “Long gully” through to Skippers Canyon; your guide will detail the history of the road, hardships of the miners and how many miners were killed building the road over a century ago.
Adult Price: $195.00

Christchurch

Mountain Scenic Spectacular Flight

Discover the gigantic expanse of the Franz Josef and Fox snowfields on this 40-minute scenic flight. Cross the main divide for breathtaking views of Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Highlights include a snow landing, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mt Cook.
Adult Price: $460.00

Twin Glacier Flight

From a mantle of pure white snow, massive rivers of ice wind their way down glacier valleys. Explore the glaciers, an incredible natural phenomenon on this 30-minute scenic flight. Highlights include a snow landing at the head of the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier.
Adult Price: $320.00

Haast River Safari

Travel on a purpose built fully enclosed river jet boat with front-loading access. Great visibility is ensured, yet you remain warm, dry and comfortable, making this a unique and safe experience suitable for anyone of any age to participate in and enjoy.
Adult Price: $109.00

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  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

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Reviews

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Trusted Customer
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : the tour was rated Comfortable. In actuality it was a rugged pace with too many activities crammed into one day. It was exhausting for people our age---and others, younger than us, also complained. Tour Director and Driver were exceptionally good. Accommodations fine although I wish we had been forewarned about the lack of air conditioning in places.
Vacation : Certainly saw a lot of New Zealand and it was quite staggeringly beautiful.
Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

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  • U.S. citizens traveling to New Zealand must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. No visa is required for U.S. citizens to enter New Zealand.

  • You will be using the New Zealand dollar on your trip. You can use your debit or credit card for purchases. The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling.  It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • Food in New Zealand is innovative and diverse. As island nations with strong agricultural traditions, culinary traditions here are guided by local ingredients and seasonal variations, as well as international influences. You’ll find a variety of seafood including fresh oysters and crab, grilled steaks and lamb chops, meat pies, and fish and chips.

  • We suggest bringing a variety of comfortable, lightweight clothing that can be layered to save space in your suitcase and give you more options for how to dress. Sturdy walking shoes are important. Insect repellant and sunscreen may come in handy, as well as a light jacket and reusable water bottle. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • It is not customary to tip at restaurants in Australia and New Zealand. If you would like to reward good service when dining out it’s appropriate to leave 10 percent gratuity for your waiter.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it’s customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.

Request a Quote
  • 30 Day Refund Guarantee

    We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

  • Add air to your reservation

    Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.