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NEW ZEALAND / New Zealand Highlights
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AUCKLAND TO CHRISTCHURCH 15 DAYS

DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN AUCKLAND

Auckland sprawls across an 11km (8 mile) wide volcanic isthmus separating two natural harbours, the Waitemata Harbour to the east and Manukau Harbour to the west. The youngest volcano, Rangitoto Island, a symbol of the city, erupted from the sea a mere 755 years ago. More than 50 islands scatter the Hauraki Gulf ­Auckland is recognised having the largest boat ownership per capita in the world. Home to a population of more than one million people, Auckland represents the largest urban city in New Zealand and is recognised as having the largest concentration of Polynesian people in the world.

 

 

DAY 2. AUCKLAND

Spend a day exploring Auckland and its surroundings. Go to the galleries of Parnell, boutique shops of High Street, see the black volcanic sand and lush forests of the West Coast or spend a day on the beaches and vineyards of Waiheke. Or perhaps just take in the City of Sails from a boat cruising the harbour.

 

DAY 3. AUCKLAND TO BAY OF ISLANDS (240KM, 4H)

Immediately north of Auckland, the Twin Coast Discovery Highway extends through Rodney District.

Travel north to the “Hibiscus Coast” and pass through the rural towns of Wellsford and Warkworth. Crossing the Brynderwyn Hills offers some great views. The east coast offers many sheltered bays and beaches ideal for safe swimming, boating and diving, as well as magnificent surfing beaches. Continue to Whangarei Harbour, which reaches inland at the north end of Bream Bay, providing an attractive marine setting for the principal city in Northland.

Paihia is the main tourist town in the Bay of Islands in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand. It is located close to the historic towns of Russell, and Kerikeri, 60 kilometres north of Whangarei. This is where New Zealand’s first game of cricket was held. The town is considered to include the historic settlement of Waitangi to the north, and the residential and commercial areas of Haruru Falls, as well as the township of Opua to the south. It has a population (2001 census) of 1836.

 

DAY 4-5. BAY OF ISLANDS

Enjoy the variety of activities Bay of Islands has on offer. Go on a boat trip to the hole in the rock or charter your own yacht. Maybe try your hand at deep sea fishing or world class golf. Or take a trip to Cape Reinga, the tip of North Island.

Cape Reinga is generally considered the separation marker between the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. From the lighthouse it is possible to watch the tidal race, as the two seas clash to create unsettled waters just off the coast.

 

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DAY 6. BAY OF ISLANDS TO AUCKLAND VIA KAURI COAST (310KM 4.5H)

From Bay of Islands, head inland to Kaikohe, and to the west coast’s Hokianga Harbour. A long, fiord­shaped inlet, has a long history too ­the oldest Maori and the second­oldest European settlements were on its shores. The harbour is also known for its huge sand dunes, and for its association with "Opo" a friendly dolphin that frolicked with holidaymakers at Opononi in the 1950s.

When the Maori first came to Northland the land was covered in lush forest, but with the European settlers came the need for timber and much of it was felled. The remaining stands of “kauri”, now at 4% of their original extent, are valued and protected. Towering 52 metres from the forest floor, with a girth of 13 metres, the 1200 year­old Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is believed to be the largest tree in New Zealand.

 

DAY 7.AUCKLAND TO ROTORUA VIA WAITOMO (370KM, 5H)

On the way to Rotorua, you can experience the Waitomo or Ruakuri Glowowrm Caves.

The entrance hall of Ruakuri Cave was well known to the Maori for many years. It was used as resting place and burial place, inset high in the cliff above the entrance to the cave. Next to the entrance of Ruakuri Cave start short bushwalks, leading to natural bridges, canyons and several small caves.

 

This cave is the place of the first Black Water Rafting which was made in New Zealand. The idea is simple: every visitor gets a wet suit, helmet, lamp, wellingtons and a tractor inner tube and then everybody floats down a cave river.

A spiritual journey. Enter the realms of an underground universe and listen to the ancient drumbeat of the earth. Narrow winding corridors, hidden waterfalls and amazing cave decorations wait to be discovered. The elemental forces of Ruakuri will leave you in awe & wonder. The Cave is the longest and most complex of all three original tourist caves in the Waitomo region.

Waitomo Caves is a complex of three limestone caves — Waitomo, Ruakuri and Aranui ­where stalactites, stalagmites and sculptures have formed as a result of water dripping from the roof of the cave. Your guided tour will take you through over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery. The climax of your guided tour is the manually powered boat trip on the underground stream in the Glow­worm Grotto ­a journey into a ’starry wonderland’.

 

DAY 8. ROTORUA

Enjoy some of the many activities Rotorua has to offer. There is an abundance of adrenalin activities to choose from, traditional farm shows, Maori cultural tours, variety of parks showcasing the thermal activity, there are several spa’s to choose from, and of course water based activities on the various lakes and flights over the Volcanoes. You can learn the history in the Museum and see the Kiwi at the Kiwi Encounter. Or take a tour up the Volcano, Mt Tarawera.

 

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DAY 9. ROTORUA TO NAPIER NAPIER (220KM, 3.5H)

Leave Rotorua southwest of Mt Tarawera to Waiotapu, home to another large geothermal park, and past Rainbow Mountain ­named for obvious reasons. Beyond the cleared farmlands is the Kaingaroa Forest, covering more than 150,000ha of the Kaingaroa Plains, which extend north­eastwards from Lake Taupo across the eastern Bay of Plenty, and which are covered by volcanic pumice and light scoria. The forest, the largest man­made forest in New Zealand and one of the largest world­wide, is a focal point of NZ’s huge timber, and pulp and paper industry.

 

Approaching Taupo more thermal activity is evident with the geothermal power station at Wairakei, and the adjacent "Craters of the Moon" thermal park. Stop at the famous Huka falls on the Waikato River, about 8km downstream from the source at Lake Taupo. The sudden spuming rush of water is caused by the river dropping 8 m over a distance of 230m in a narrow channel through silicified rock, and then cascading another 11m into a pool below. Huka is a favourite fishing spot for anglers. Huka is Maori for foam.

Depart Taupo and head for the Hawke’s Bay region, famous for its wine, food and fantastic scenery.

The road to Napier climbs through farmland and forest to a high plateau then over the Ahimanawa Range of mountains. Descend into the Esk Valley where you see the first of many hectares of fruit trees and vines for the major produce and wine making industries of the Hawkes Bay. Then follow the shoreline of Hawke Bay, named by Cook for the then First Lord of the Admiralty.

The Hawke’s Bay region encompasses the area around Hawke’s Bay on the East Coast of the North Island. It is 332 kilometres (about four hours) north­east Wellington City. Blessed with a sunny, Mediterranean­style climate, Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions.

The landscapes of Hawke’s Bay begin with the high, forested Ruahine and Kaweka Ranges. From the mountains, the land steps down towards the coast, flattening out to become the Heretaunga Plains. A number of wide rivers run swiftly to meet the blue Pacific Ocean.

 

 

Napier was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive Richter 7.8 Earthquake. Subsequent fires destroyed most of its commercial heart. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe. 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, the style of the 20th Century ­in such a concentrated area. And Napier’s Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

Enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines which are its trademark, and bounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the

South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the centre of the Hawke’s Bay region. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era.

 

DAY 10. NAPIER

Day at leisure. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach of Napier, as is a world class golf course and many delights for foodies.

 

 

DAY 11. NAPIER TO QUEENSTOWN (FLIGHT)

A short flight will take you to the South island of New Zealand.

Queenstown is an exhilarating, year round, alpine resort, perfect for adventurers and leisure seekers alike. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps, the town was named because "...it was fit for Queen Victoria."

The resort boasts a range of activities second to none, all within easy reach of the compact town centre. The town centre is only one square kilometre in size and within easy walking distance of most major commercial accommodation. Queenstown offers relaxation at its best. There is "gold in them thar’ hills", and trout in the streams, so try your hand with a gold pan or a fishing rod. Visit the Arrowtown Museum, one of the best boutique museums in the country then afterwards explore the Wakatipu Art Trail. Join a wine tour and discover award­winning wines from the World’s most southern vineyards. Return to town and sample the delights on offer in the many shops, cafes and restaurants. As night falls, get ready to experience the resort’s buzzing nightlife.

Queenstown’s reputation as the adventure capital of the world is well earned, you can choose to join in or watch the massive selection of safe, breath­taking activities. Earth, water or air, there is something to test and thrill all adventure seekers. Bungy Jump from the world’s first commercial bungy site, whitewater raft or surf, jet boat down canyons, tandem hanglide or parapente...it simply doesn’t stop! Long walks, four wheel drive treks, or lunch on a majestic steamboat, you choose, it’s your holiday.

 

DAY 12-13. QUEENSTOWN

Spend a couple of days enjoying the surroundings of Queenstown. Dare yourself to some of the adrenalin activities, join a tour of the vineyards, take a ride on the gondola or the old steam ship, or see the stunning scenery from a comfort of a 4WD. A day trip to either Milford or Doubtful Sounds is a must do experience.

 

Milford Sound is one of the best known and grandest fiords that indent the coastline of the Fiordland World Heritage Park. It is surrounded by steep, forest­topped cliffs, with waterfalls dropping vertically into the sea. Milford Sound has the highest average rainfall in the country, and it is after heavy rains that these falls are at their most spectacular. Rising sheer from the sea on the south side of the sound, dominating the inlet, is the 1,683m high pinnacle of Mitre Peak.

Another easily accessible sound is Doubtful Sound, named by James. He described it as ‘a very snug harbour’. Because Cook was doubtful how long he would have to wait for the right type of wind to sail on again, he decided not to enter the sound, hence the name Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is noted for its scenic beauty highlighted by a number of spectacular waterfalls and fast­flowing streams. A Doubtful Sound adventure begins in Manapouri with a cruise across the lake to West Arm. Then a drive by bus over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland’s densest rainforest and to view the colourful alpine moss gardens. On reaching Deep Cove, board a spacious catamaran for a three­hour cruise which takes in the most dramatic scenery of Doubtful Sound. Cruise staff are on hand to point out the natural highlights: bottle­nose dolphins, fur seals and rare penguins.

 

DAY 14. QUEENSTOWN TO CHRISTCHURCH VIA MT COOK (590KM, 8H)

The vineyards of the Gibbston area are the first temptation on your journey. The restored heart of Cromwell is a treasure for visitors, or take a detour to the old gold workings of Bannockburn. Lake Dunstan is a fine place for a picnic before you launch yourself into the beautiful Lindis Pass – just magic when there’s snow around.

Twizel is a well­placed base for mountain climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, horse trekking and hiking. It’s also a place to spy on the rarest wading bird in the world

– the Black Stilt. If you don’t have the time to catch your own salmon, the local salmon farm sells it – fresh or smoked.

The road to Mt Cook hugs the edge of Lake Pukaki. The exquisite opaque turquoise colour of this lake and others in the area is caused by fine, glacier­ground rock particles held in suspension. The landscape is a mixture of high country tussock, farmland and snow­capped mountains.

 

nt Cook National Park includes the highest peak in Australasia (Mt Cook ­3755m). The region attracts mountain climbers, hikers and scenery fanatics. Heli skiing, heli hiking and aerial sightseeing provide visitors with amazing memories. A variety of walking trails begin in or near Mount Cook Village – most take only a couple of hours. In the bar of the local hotel, huge windows provide a perfect view of Mt Cook.

Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island extends onto the Canterbury Plains, which are cordoned by the Southern Alps. The Anglican Church founded Christchurch, and many of its streets bear the names of dioceses in Great Britain. The first settlers, carefully chosen by their parishioners, arrived at the port of Lyttleton in 1850 and dedicated themselves to tilling the land and building the city, transforming one out of three hectares into gardens and public parks. New Zealand’s English heritage is perhaps more evident in Christchurch than it is almost anywhere else.

Christchurch has deservedly been described as ’the garden city’, and of all New Zealand’s main centres, has retained something of the atmosphere of a country town. It is a vibrant city that has traditionally supported a busy arts community ­music, theatre, dance and the visual arts. The beautiful neo­gothic style Arts Centre boasts more than 40 art galleries, craft studios and specialty shops. Nearby in Hagley Park and adjacent to the Botanical Gardens are the Canterbury Museum, notable for its hall of Antarctic history, and the Robert MacDougall Art Gallery.

 

DAY 15. DEPART CHRISTCHURCH



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