New Zealand In-Depth

With New Zealand’s Three Iconic Rail Journeys

  • Date

    March 1-14, 2020 | Sun/Sat – 14 Days

  • Location

    Queenstown | Milford Sound | Franz Josef Glacier | Greymouth | Arthur’s Pass | Christchurch | Picton | Queen Charlotte Sound | Wellington | National Park | Rotorua | Waitomo Caves | Auckland

Overview

Take an in-depth adventure to a place like no other — New Zealand. Experience the Great Journeys of New Zealand; a collection of three iconic train routes and a ferry crossing that takes you through the diverse and breathtaking beauty that stretches the entire length of the country. Each route has its own unique identity, from wild gorges and broad rivers to dramatic seascapes and soaring mountains. City explorations and cultural encounters complete this adventure of a lifetime.

HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

  • TranzAlpine train from Greymouth to Christchurch
  • Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch to Picton
  • Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait
  • Northern Explorer train from Wellington to National Park
  • Ride the Wellington Cable Car to the Botanical Gardens
  • View Franz Josef Glacier
  • Milford Sound cruise
  • Auckland Harbour cruise
  • Tour and dinner on a sheep farm
  • Rotorua Maori performance
  • Waitomo Caves and Glowworm Grotto

PACKAGE INCLUDES

  • Roundtrip commercial air from Indianapolis to Queenstown, New Zealand and from Auckland, New Zealand
  • Escorted
  • 11 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast daily
  • 2 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Sightseeing and admissions per itinerary
  • Ground transportation
  • Hotel baggage handling

NOTE:

A passport is required to travel to this destination and must be valid for at least six months after your return.

Itinerary

Sun, Mar 1: Board overnight flight to New Zealand.

Mon, Mar 2: Cross the International Date Line.

Tue, Mar 3: This morning, arrive in Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. Transfer to the Scenic Suites Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and check in for the next three nights. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Wed, Mar 4: Enjoy a highlights tour of Queenstown. Start with a ride on the Skyline Gondola and travel to the top to Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views. Then drive through the wine-growing region around the Kawarau River and watch the Bungy Jump at the Kawarau Bridge. Visit historic Arrowtown, once a spot for gold-mining. In the afternoon, choose an included excursion. Travel by 4WD vehicles to visit the historic Chinese Settlers Village and the film location for the Ford of Bruinen in the Lord of the Rings movies, or take an exhilarating whitewater jet boat ride on the Shotover River! This evening, gather back as a group for an included cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. The captain will provide commentary as you sail. Upon arrival at Walter Peak High Country Farm, walk through the beautiful gardens and enjoy a buffet dinner with wine at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant. Watch a sheepdog demonstration or just relax in the bar before returning to Queenstown for the night. (Meals: Breakfast, Dinner)

Thu, Mar 5: Transfer to Milford Sound via Fiordland National Park, with stops en route. The scenic cruise on Milford Sound journeys the full length of the sound out to the Tasman Sea, with stops at various points and offering excellent viewing of dramatic waterfalls, rainforest, mountains, and wildlife. A buffet lunch is included on board. Take the scenic drive back to Queenstown after a mesmerizing day! (B,L,D)

Fri, Mar 6: Depart Queenstown and travel up the west coast of the South Island, passing through small mountain towns before arriving at Lake Matheson. Located near Fox Glacier, it is famous for its reflected views of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Continue to Franz Josef Glacier, which originates in the Southern Alps and descends into the lush rainforest of Westland Tai Poutini National Park. This evening, enjoy a delicious dinner at your hotel, the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier. (B,D)

Sat, Mar 7: Today will be the first of the New Zealand scenic railway journeys. Transfer to Greymouth to board the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch, considered one of the world’s most scenic train rides. Travel through the Otira Tunnel, and contemplate the engineering feat at the turn of the century to excavate by pick and shovel. The scenery changes quickly from thick rainforest and native bush to high country grasses, deep gorges, and towering viaducts as you traverse Arthur’s Pass. Giant salmon travel all the way from the Pacific to these waters to spawn. Arrive in Christchurch in time to transfer to your hotel for dinner and a two-night stay. (B,D)

Sun, Mar 8: This morning, enjoy a Christchurch highlights tour. Discover why Christchurch is known as the “Garden City” by enjoying the charm of the award-winning gardens, and the tranquility of the historic buildings. See Christchurch from a different angle as you punt (canoe) on the Avon, the river running through town. An Edwardian-dressed punter will guide you quietly past trailing willows, woodlands, and the leafy banks of the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure with an all day tram ticket, which allows travel around the city center to the best sites Christchurch has to offer. (B)

Mon, Mar 9: Transfer from the hotel for the next rail adventure on the Coastal Pacific. This journey is a scenic feast of New Zealand, with the Kaikoura mountain ranges on one side of the train and the rugged Pacific Ocean on the other. It’s possible to view dolphins, seals, and penguins from the comfort of your train carriage! Arrive in Picton, a quaint town nestled at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Board the Interislander ferry, described as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, and travel through the Queen Charlotte Sound before crossing the Cook Strait and into the harbor of Wellington, North Island, New Zealand’s capital city. Wellington is known for its vibrant arts scene, world class café and restaurant culture, and active outdoor lifestyle. This creative, cosmopolitan city is surrounded by the rugged beauty of green hills and set around a beautiful waterfront. Spend two nights at the Rydges Wellington. (B)

Tue, Mar 10: In the morning, enjoy a Wellington highlights tour followed by a visit to Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand. Learn about the diverse natural environment, Maori culture and treasures, along with indigenous art and colonial history. As a group, ride the iconic Wellington Cable Car from the main shopping area of Lambton Quay up to the Botanical Gardens. At the top, you are treated to one of the best views of the city and harbor. Meander through the gardens at your own pace and see the Begonia House and Rose Gardens, as well as Victoria University. The rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy a cuppa (cup of coffee), visit museums, do some shopping, or stroll along the waterfront. (B)

Wed, Mar 11: Take your final New Zealand train ride on the Northern Explorer from Wellington to National Park. The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island passing by the Kapiti Coast, the sprawling Manawatu Plain, river-chiseled cliffs, and magnificent Mt. Ruapehu before arriving in National Park. Here you will board a motorcoach and transfer to Rotorua, the center of an extensive thermal region, with geysers, bubbling mud pools, and steaming, sulphurous lakes. Check in to the Millennium Rotorua Hotel for one night. Late afternoon, transfer to Te Puia and the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, and the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. Your Maori guide will escort you to the Maori Pa village site and the institute, where young Maoris are taught the intricacies of traditional carving. Visit the geothermal reserve and view the boiling mud pools and geysers. The evening is filled with a traditional Powhir (welcome) and Wero (challenge). Enjoy a performance of Maori songs and dances followed by an authentic Maori hangi (buffet dinner) with food prepared in a stone-lined fire pit. (B,D)

Thu, Mar 12: Visit Rainbow Springs with a guided tour. Many of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna are featured here. Visit the Kiwi Encounter to view the country’s national icon, the flightless kiwi bird. Visit Waitomo Caves, an impressive underground series of caves that includes the Cathedral and the Tomo, a deep limestone shaft. Then take a boat trip through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto. The roof sparkles with the lights of glowworm larvae that reflect off the water. Lunch is a New Zealand-style barbecue at Roselands Farm and Garden Restaurant. Drive to Auckland, the world’s biggest Polynesian city, with 190 different ethnicities. The city has a lively arts and culture scene, a wide range of food and craft markets, vineyards, and outstanding restaurants. Spend two nights at the centrally located Cordis Auckland. (B,L)

Fri, Mar 13: In the morning discover Auckland on a sightseeing tour. Visit the Sky Tower for extensive views of the city and surroundings. The tower is the tallest manmade structure in New Zealand and offers incredible views in every direction. Drive along the waterfront of Tamaki Drive to Orakei and Mission Bay, and the inner city suburb of Parnell and the gardens of the Auckland Domain. Explore the Auckland War Memorial Museum on a guided tour. Transfer to the Viaduct Harbor for a harbor cruise on the Pride of Auckland sailing yacht. The coffee cruise sails under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and around the beautiful harbor. You’ll have an opportunity to try your hand at steering and trimming the sails, or just sit back, relax, and enjoy the views of the harbor and city. Return to the hotel with the balance of the afternoon on your own. Get together this evening for a Farewell Dinner at the Harbourside Restaurant on the Auckland Waterfront. Return to the hotel for your final night in New Zealand. (B,D)

Sat, Mar 14: In the morning, transfer to the airport in Auckland for your flight home. Return the same day. (B)

Hotel

Scenic Suites, Queenstown.

This hotel provides one of the most sought-after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic views of the Southern Alps and over Lake Wakatipu.  Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker, microwave and refrigerator • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, Franz Josef.

Located just minutes from one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions, and sitting at the edge of the Westland World Heritage Park, this hotel makes the most of its alpine location. Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker, microwave and refrigerator • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa.

Rydges Latimer Christchurch, Christchurch.

Centrally located, enjoy luxurious accommodations surrounded by the lush greenery of Latimer Square. The hotel has undergone a complete rebuild and provides top-of-the-line features and amenities. Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa • fitness center.

Rydges Wellington, Wellington.

Located in the heart of the city with spectacular harbor views, this Wellington hotel provides rooms that are warm and welcoming. Various restaurants and cafes are located right out the front door. Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker, microwave and refrigerator • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa • fitness center.

Millennium Rotorua Hotel, Rotorua.

Centrally located in the city beside mystical Lake Rotorua, this property is one of the most conveniently located and best appointed. Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa • fitness center.

The Cordis, Auckland.

Distinguished among Auckland hotels, this five star property is a haven of tranquillity in the heart of the vibrant city. Highlights: in-room coffee and tea maker • complimentary in-room Internet access • restaurant • bar • spa • fitness center.

PRICING

  • Package with Air
  • PRICING COMING SOON
  • Land Only
  • PRICING COMING SOON

Documents Required: Valid Passport

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