Days 1 & 2 UK - Auckland
Today you'll fly to New Zealand.
Day 3 Auckland
On arrival in Auckland on day 3, we'll transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day has been left free for you to relax after the long flight.
Day 4 Auckland
The beautiful city of Auckland - the largest in New Zealand - is situated on North Island in the spectacular Hauraki Gulf. The area is home to stunning landscapes of thermal springs and geysers, glorious national parks, luxuriant forests, stunning lakes and more. Now you've had time to relax, let's get out and discover the city on an included tour. Highlights include the 328-metre-high Sky Tower, the imposing War Memorial and the sweeping Waitemata Harbour, which is the most prominent natural feature of the 'City of Sails'. Downtown Auckland is a great mix of modern and historic architecture, so look out for St Patrick's Cathedral, built in 1848, and Auckland High Court, which was modelled on England's very own Warwick Castle.
Day 5 Auckland - Paihia
There's a scenic treat in store today as we travel along the beautiful Hibiscus Coast to Paihia, the perfect base from which to discover the lush forests and idyllic beaches of the Bay of Islands.
En route we'll visit the Treaty House of Waitangi, where you can learn about the history of the 1840 agreement between the British Crown and the Maoris.
Day 6 Paihia - at Leisure
You can choose how you spend today. Maybe you'll explore Paihia at your own pace but if you'd like to join an organised excursion we offer an optional trip to Cape Reinga. Located at the very top of North Island, this vast, untouched region is reached via a journey along the never-ending paradise of Ninety Mile Beach.
Once here you'll have the chance to negotiate the Te Paki Quick Sand Stream, backed by towering dunes, and visit a lighthouse to take in exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean meeting the Tasman Sea.
Day 7 Paihia - at Leisure
You've a chance to explore more of the stunning Bay of Islands on an optional catamaran cruise today. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of marine life, including bottlenose dolphins and fur seals as we head past islands and secluded beaches to the Cape Brett 'Hole in the Rock'. If sea conditions are right, we should be able to sail through this narrow arch, carved by the forces of nature. The cruise ends with a stop at one of the beautiful islands.
Day 8 Paihia - Rotorua
The warm, emerald-green North Island was shaped by volcanic activity, and evidence of this remains in the thermal springs surrounding Rotorua. This is where we head today, and our journey takes us through the Waikato farming region, home of the Maori kingdom.
We'll spend the next two nights in Rotorua and if you wish, you can take an optional float plane or helicopter flight to Mount Tarawera. Surrounded by unique scenery and towering above the pristine waters of Lake Tarawera, this now dormant volcano wreaked havoc on the nation when it erupted in 1886. If you choose to fly overhead you'll be able to look deep into its crater - a 6km ravine - and take in spectacular views of crater lakes and rugged peaks.
Day 9 Rotorua
Your scenic tour today takes you to Te Puia Thermal Reserve, where you'll see bubbling mud, pools of boiling water, dramatic spouting geysers and traditional Maori architecture.
Later, we offer a couple of optional excursions you can choose from if you want to get out and explore.
You could join a tour of Hobbiton, the location created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. This thrilling site includes hobbit holes and the Green Dragon Inn, and your guide will tell you all you need to know about these popular movies.
An alternative is a visit to Rainbow Springs Nature Park to see some of the interesting creatures that call New Zealand home, including the flightless Kiwi bird. If you join this trip you'll also take a gondola ride to the top of Mount Ngongotaha, which was formed by volcanic eruptions, and enjoy a tasting of New Zealand wine.
Tonight, you will experience an authentic Hangi meal - where your food is cooked by steam underground using a centuries-old method. Journey back to a time of proud warriors and ancient traditions with a visit to the Tamaki Maori Village, where you'll experience ceremonial rituals, wonderful performances including action songs, poi, stick games and the world famous 'haka' – the Maori War Dance. Hear stories that have been passed down through the generations and watch as the earth is carefully scraped away from the hangi pit to reveal baskets laden with a sumptuous mouth-watering feast cooked beneath the ground on hot stones.
Day 10 Rotorua - Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand's capital, is our next destination. We'll make our way here via the forested slopes of the Wairakei Thermal Valley and Lake Taupo, whose waters flow rapidly into the impressive Huka Falls. Every second, around 220,000 litres of water pours through a narrow passage, and then rushes under a pedestrian bridge, where we will stop to take in this incredible sight.
On arrival in Wellington, get your bearings on a short tour before we check into the hotel.
Day 11 Wellington
We're going to explore Wellington in more detail today on a walking tour. One of the leading cities for arts and culture in New Zealand, there is so much to see, from an array of museums and galleries to historic architecture and fabulous shopping. We'll take in the Te Papa Museum, a showcase of New Zealand's cultural treasures, and the lively waterfront area. We'll also visit the botanical gardens, which run over 26 hectares, and take a trip on the historic Wellington Cable Car for fabulous views across this lovely city.
Day 12 Wellington - Christchurch
Today we're going to cross the Cook Strait to South Island and travel to Christchurch for an overnight stay. This city, the second-largest in New Zealand, has a fascinating English heritage, which is apparent in some of its older buildings. Also known as the Garden City, it boasts plenty of natural beauty too.
Day 13 TranzAlpine Train
You've a spectacular journey ahead today, as you step aboard the TranzAlpine train and head into the Southern Alps. Here you'll see narrow gorges and towering snow-capped peaks, so be sure to have your camera ready. Your journey continues to the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier regions, where you'll witness enormous valleys of ice and deep, dramatic ravines. Later, if the weather conditions are right, you'll have the opportunity to take an optional helicopter flight over the glaciers for views that are out of this world.
Day 14 Fox Glacier - Queenstown
The road through the Westland National Park has to be one of the most scenic ever built. It crosses Clark Bluff and the Haast River Bridge and today we'll drive along it on our way to Queenstown.
If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, you've come to the right place, as Queenstown is known as New Zealand's capital of adventure. One option on your free afternoon is to take a ride on the Kawarau Jet Boat. On this thrilling excursion, you will travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour in the very shallow waters of the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers.
Day 15 Queenstown - at Leisure
Today has been left free so you can spend some time at leisure and discover Queenstown at your own pace. However, if you're feeling adventurous we have another optional thrill-packed excursion for you to join. You'll start with a walk through the bush and then you'll head off on an exciting four-wheel-drive journey before boarding a jet boat for an exhilarating ride along the Dart River.
This evening if you wish you could enjoy a more relaxing experience, with a cruise on Lake Wakatipu with dinner served in a restaurant at the foot of Walter Peak.
Day 16 Milford Sound
Today is the day you visit one of the most beautiful locations in New Zealand – Milford Sound. Located deep within Fiordland National Park, this inky-blue expanse of water is surrounded by forest-covered hills and dramatic mountain peaks and must be seen to be believed. If the weather conditions are good, we'll take in the fjord's majestic beauty on a cruise.
Day 17 Te Anau - Dunedin
Today we make our way to Dunedin, and on the way we're going to make a stop at the Glow Worm Caves. This labyrinth of limestone caverns is lit by thousands of glow worms, offering us an incredible sight.
Day 18 Dunedin - at Leisure
You can spend your time exploring at leisure today, or perhaps you'll choose to join an optional trip to the Royal Albatross Colony on the Otago Peninsula. This is the world's only mainland breeding colony of these fascinating birds, and during your visit you'll learn more about them, watch a short film and visit the observatory where hopefully you will see them nesting.
Day 19 Dunedin - Omarama
As we travel northwards to Omarama, we'll make a stop at the Moeraki Beach Boulders. These huge spherical rocks are scattered along the sand and are shrouded in Maori legend. Thought to have started forming in ancient sea floor sediments, the largest boulders are estimated to have taken around four million years to reach their current size. Some weigh several tonnes and the largest measure more than two metres in width. It's no wonder this is a very popular spot for photographers!
Our route then follows the Waitiki River inland and if you wish you can take an optional flight over some of New Zealand's highest mountains and largest glaciers. Your pilot will provide an interesting commentary as you take in the breathtaking scenery.
Day 20 Omarama - Christchurch
We're bound for the Mount Cook region this morning. On the way we'll make a stop at Lake Tekapo, a picturesque turquoise-coloured body of water, which boasts a stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps. We'll then head over Burkes Pass, a mountain passageway, and continue across the Canterbury plains. This vast patchwork of agricultural land nestled between the mountains and the sea produces more than 80% of the country's grains, crops and seeds.
Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand, towering to 12,000ft, and if weather conditions are favourable you might be tempted to view it on an optional scenic flight.
We'll arrive back in Christchurch late this afternoon and stay here overnight.
Day 21 Christchurch - UK
Today we'll transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
Day 22 UK
You'll arrive back in the UK today.
Please note: Some travellers on this tour may be joining after having travelled on one of our Australia tours.