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Auckland extends a warm welcome as you transfer to your hotel (flights to arrive prior to 4pm) and spend the day discovering why this North Island hotspot has justifiably earned its reputation as the City of Sails. Later, join your Travel Director for a Welcome Reception followed by dinner at your hotel.
See the iconic and unexpected highlights of Auckland during a sightseeing tour, including panoramic views from the Sky Tower, 328 metres above the city. Then cross the rolling hills of King Country to Rotorua, where you'll take an orientation tour against the backdrop of Lake Rotorua. Visit Te Puia, the Maori Arts and crafts Institute, where talented students carry on age-old traditions of wood carving and weaving. A tour of Rotorua's active geothermal fields follows: see bubbling mud pools, spectacular geysers and crater lakes. Tonight, 'Dive into Culture' on a visit to the Tamaki Family Village where Māori culture and traditions take centre stage with an authentic Hangi Regional Dinner.
Your choice of sightseeing: glide through the Glowworm Grotto on the Waitomo Caves Tour; take an ancient forest zipline adventure with Canopy Tours; delve into the wizardry behind the Hobbiton movie set or explore Rotorua and its lakes in an amphibious WWII-era Duck.
Cross forest-clad landscapes and lush farmland to the raging waters of Huka Falls, which feeds New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo. Continue your journey south, over the central plateau and along the rolling Kapiti Coast to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. This evening, you'll 'Dive into Culture' during an exclusive guided tour of Te Papa Museum of New Zealand followed by a Regional Dinner savouring local flavours.
Explore the Capital of Cool on your terms this morning with some free time to see such highlights as the Parliament buildings or savour the aromas of Welly's coffee culture. This afternoon, take to the tranquil waters of Queen Charlotte Sound after crossing Cook Strait. You'll visit seaside Picton and stop in Blenheim where this evening your Regional Dinner is prepared from local produce, paired with the delicate Sauvignon Blanc flavours that have made the Marlborough wine region famous.
Delve into the whaling heritage of Kaikoura, where sperm whales can often be seen not far from shore. Journey along the Pacific Ocean coast and across the colourful Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, a city revealing an effortless fusion of modern verve and the elegance of yesteryear.
Visit Morelea to 'Connect with Locals' over a Be My Guest barbecue lunch, meeting your hosts Angie and Stan Taylor who will share insights into a lifetime spent farming in New Zealand. The flavours of Angie's famous pavlova will linger as you continue to the soul-stirring landscapes of Lake Tekapo to view the little stone-hewn Church of the Good Shepherd. Consider taking to the skies on an Optional Experience scenic flight over Mt. Cook, the Southern Alps and on to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Mountain country beckons and your final stop today is in the heart of Mackenzie Country.
Journey along the Waitaki River, taking a brief stop at the Waitaki Hydro Power Scheme and Benmore Dam. Continue to the township of Oamaru with its famous white limestone buildings and then on to soaring spires of 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 the Speight's Brewery.
Delve into the Scottish heritage of Dunedin, exploring its youthful student atmosphere before journeying across lush pastoral lands to the village of Te Anau, the gateway to the natural splendour of Milford Sound. Tonight, consider an Optional Experience to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves, where you'll cruise through ancient limestone caves and admire their luminous show.
Keep your camera at hand as you journey through the natural wonderland of rainforest, ancient glacier and mountain ranges. Continue through the hand-hewn Homer Tunnel, and past Mirror Lake, Pop's Lookout, Cleddau Valley and the Chasm. Explore the length of startlingly beautiful Milford Sound on a Nature Cruise, slicing through its tranquil waters past such highlights as Bowen Falls and Mitre Peak. Later, travel over the Devil's Staircase and along the shores of Lake Wakatipu en route to the adventure capital of Queenstown.
Prepare for a thrill a minute on your choice of sightseeing: ride the Shotover Jet boat; take a gondola to Bob's Peak for amazing views of Queenstown and then 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 for a gourmet barbecue Regional Dinner at the Colonel's Homestead. Enjoy an entertaining after-dinner farm show providing a glimpse into high-country farm life, then return to Queenstown to sample the festive nightlife.
Delve into the rich gold mining heritage of Arrowtown before savouring the juicy flavours of apricots, peaches and plums in Cromwell, New Zealand's stone fruit capital. Your journey to the icy depths of Franz Josef Glacier will see you pass a trio of lakes - Dunstan, Hawea and Wanaka - as well as Haast Pass and Thunder Creek Falls in Mt. Aspiring National Park.
Your first stop is Hokitika, New Zealand's greenstone (jade) centre, where you'll admire the delicate stone-craft, during a visit to a local factory and jewellery demonstration by a master carver. Travel to Punakaiki next, to see the limestone Pancake Rocks and Blowholes channelling the force of the Tasman Sea. This evening, you'll stay at one of Trafalgar's 'Stays with Stories', an eco-friendly resort on the waterfront.
Join your personal guide for a tour of Monteith's Brewing Company, including tastings, before sitting down to lunch. Board the TranzAlpine train at Greymouth for one of the world's most scenic journeys across the Southern Alps bound for Christchurch. Your journey across New Zealand's North and South Islands almost at its end, you'll indulge in a Farewell Dinner with newfound friends.
Your holiday concludes this morning after breakfast. You will be transferred to Christchurch Airport for your onward flight (flights anytime).
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