Responsible Travel Guide: New Zealand
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Experience the very best that New Zealand has to offer with this luxury New Zealand adventure tour. North Island to South Island, volcanic geothermal systems to frozen waterfalls, modern cityscapes to the natural skyscrapers of undulating mountain ranges; this hands-on adventure holiday is perfect for those looking to discover the beating heart of this remote and friendly country.
On North Island, you’ll fly into Auckland, hop over to Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine tour, drive to the enchanting glowworm grottos of Waitomo, learn about Maori culture in the Kaimanawa Ranges, watch steam rising from the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal pools and explore more wine country in Hawke’s Bay.
Flying down to South Island, you’ll navigate Christchurch, take a scenic train journey on the TranzAlpine climbing to the Southern Alps, combine helicopters with hiking on a tour of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and the Tasman Glacier, learn about farming and gold mining history at a local sheep station, then finish off your luxury tour with a thrilling jetboat ride through the Shotover River Canyons!
You’ll be staying in world-class luxury accommodation, ranging from tranquil lakeside lodges to opulent boutique hotels bedecked in modern art. One property has even welcomed royalty through its doors. With every request and preference catered to, this luxury tour will have you absolutely fall in love with New Zealand.
Welcome to New Zealand! You’ll arrive at Auckland International Airport to be met by a chauffeur, who will escort you to your hotel via a private transfer. Get your first taste of Kiwi country on the drive to Hotel DeBrett and your New Zealand adventure truly begins.
Hotel DeBrett is a luxury boutique hotel with 25 individually-designed rooms, decorated with artsy photography, contemporary furniture pieces and homegrown New Zealand art. Choose to have a drink at the famous House bar, your first taste of New Zealand’s cuisine in the glass-roofed courtyard of DeBrett’s Kitchen, or a tipple at the retro-inspired Cornerbar, where you can sample local craft beers and boutique wines.
Your day begins with a continental breakfast, included in your stay at Hotel DeBrett. However, don’t fill up too much as this morning you’ll walk eight minutes to the ferry pier to take a 45-minute boat over to Waiheke Island for a Wine & Gourmet Food Tour.
Your guided tour of Waiheke with a local guide shows off the best of the island’s produce. Feast on fresh oysters and award-winning olive oil made from the vines that grow in the rich soil of this region. Then, wash the dishes down with boutique wines from local wineries – New Zealand’s wine is known to be some of the best in the world. The tour is topped off with a two-course lunch at one of Waiheke’s best restaurants.
You’ll collect your rental car from the Hertz Auckland downtown depot ready for a self-drive tour of New Zealand’s lush countryside. Your first stop is Waitomo, just 2.5 hours away, in the centre of North Island. Here, you can explore limestone caves twinkling with glowworms as part of a magical guided tour.
The tour starts at the cathedral, where you'll head underground to a cavern. The acoustics here are some of the best in the world and New Zealand’s own Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has sung in the caves and been awed by the pure sound. From here, you’ll head to a deep limestone shaft, learning about how the caves were formed, before ending the tour with an enchanting boat trip through the Glowworm Grotto.
After the tour, drive on another two hours to Acacia Cliffs, where you’ll be staying at Acacia Cliffs Lodge. This luxury two-acre escape has spectacular panoramic views of Lake Taupo and Acacia Bay all the way out to the mountains. You’ll be treated to pre-dinner drinks and canapes on arrival, plus a chance to chat with your local hosts and experience true Kiwi hospitality.
After breakfast at Acacia Cliffs Lodge, you’ll participate in an exclusive full-day Maori experience, learning about Maori culture with Tom Loughlin, a renowned tangata whenua (person of the land), a Maori chef and an outdoor expert. He’s passionate about the New Zealand bush and incredibly knowledgeable about Maori culture.
You’ll learn about hunting, gathering and cooking Maori-style, which includes a delicious lunch of locally-sourced cuisine.
The next stop on your luxury New Zealand tour is a trip to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal system created over thousands of years of volcanic activity. You’ll travel with a local guide as part of a private tour (admission to Wai-O-Tapu is included in this itinerary). The brilliant green jewels of geothermal waters are an impressive sight and another example of the sheer number of natural wonders New Zealand has to offer.
After your lake visit, you’ll continue to the lodge in Puerto Bertrand or Puerto Guadal, where you’ll enjoy a hearty dinner before relaxing for the evening.
You’ll leave Acacia Cliffs to drive south towards the stunning peaks and valleys of Hawke's Bay, one of New Zealand’s best wine regions. The area is particularly noted for producing world-class white and red wines, particularly cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot.
You’ll be staying at Greenhill Lodge, just outside of Napier. Greenhill Lodge is a relaxing hilltop escape which looks out over farmland. There are only five rooms, ensuring the utmost privacy and a personal service. There’s also an in-house spa, a private orchard and a swimming pool. Famous guests here have included members of the British royal family.
Unwind with pre-dinner drinks and canapes before enjoying a delicious dinner in a stunning rustic setting.
After breakfast at Greenhill Lodge, explore the natural beauty and local produce of Hawke’s Bay with an exclusive and personalised guided tour. See the epic views of Cape Kidnappers revealed, gaze up at Napier’s Art Deco buildings (the city has the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world), then ascend to the top of Te Mata Peak to take in magnificent views of Hawke’s Bay below. There’s also the option of lunch at one of the region’s wineries.
Today, you’ll leave North Island behind, dropping off your rental car at Napier Airport and taking a three-hour flight via Wellington down to Christchurch, South Island’s largest city. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a chauffeur and transferred privately to the George Hotel.
The George Hotel can be found in the centre of the city, with views out to beautiful Hagley Park and the River Avon. The cultural precinct and many of the city’s main attractions are only walking distance away, making the property the perfect base to explore.
After breakfast at The George, you’ll be picked up for an adventurous trip to Arthur's Pass National Park via the TranzAlpine. The scenic train journey traverses the Canterbury Plains before ascending to the Southern Alps, providing an incredible backdrop of views from your carriage window.
Arriving at the park late morning, you’ll be met by a local guide who will take you on a tour of the surroundings, customised to your needs and preferences (and the weather). You may choose to have a picnic on one of the park’s many trails or hike up the Waimakariri River Valley.
You’ll collect your next rental car at the downtown depot for a self-drive transfer to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, around 4.5 hours away. You’ll be staying at the Hermitage Hotel, a great base from which to explore the incredible Tasman Glacier.
In the afternoon, you’ll participate in an exciting fly-in, fly-out heli hike of the glacier, which includes a round trip helicopter ride, with views of lake icebergs and the iconic Hochstetter Ice Fall, before a leg-stretching hike around the Tasman Glacier’s otherworldly ice formations.
After a filling breakfast at the Hermitage Hotel, you’ll drive south to Queenstown, around 4.5 hours away. You’ll be staying at Matakauri Lodge, just 10 minutes outside of Queenstown, located right on the edge of the azure Lake Wakatipu, with views of the Cecil, Remarkable and Walter Peak mountain ranges. The hotel also boasts some of the best food in the region, so enjoy pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres before tucking into a gourmet dinner.
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel for an exclusive half-day farm expedition to Ben Lomond High Country Sheep Station, a 13,500-hectare expanse of forests, lakes, rivers and grazing lands (as well as mining huts and tracks leftover from the gold mining era).
Admire the rugged landscape, learn about the history of gold mining in the region and take in panoramic alpine views. John Foster, the owner of the sheep station, will meet with you to explain about farming, as well as the history of how people came to settle here. The tour is topped off with a gourmet lunch at Moonlight Lodge, though may include other activities such as nature walks and lake fishing, should time and weather allow for it.
This morning you’ll rise at your leisure after participating in so many adventurous activities on your luxury New Zealand tour so far, which also gives you time to take in the dramatic alpine surroundings of Matakauri Lodge. Enjoy lunch in Queenstown, do a bit of souvenir shopping, or take a ride on the Skyline Gondola.
Later in the afternoon you’ll take a shuttle to Arthurs Point, around seven kilometres from Queenstown. Here, you’ll take an adrenaline-inducing jetboat ride on the Shotover River, navigating through the twists and turns deep into the Shotover River Canyons.
Sadly, your two-week luxury New Zealand tour comes to an end and you’ll head to Queenstown Airport for your flight home. We hope your New Zealand adventure holiday has you leaving with many happy memories, a camera full of photos and plenty of stories to tell friends and family back home.