• $5,995
  • $600
  • AHI
  • Moderate
  • Land Only

Delight in the best of New Zealand on this 13-night adventure packed with dazzling natural beauty! Cruise through a pristine fiord, hike to a glacier, watch whales up close and see spectacular locations from the “The Lord of the Rings” movies. Experience Kiwi culture in Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch and the sunny, vineyard-lined valleys of Marlborough wine country!

View details and reserve here: https://texas.ahitravel.com/destinations/1607A?schoolId=167

Itinerary:

Day 1 | Depart gateway city
AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Auckland, New Zealand. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: AKL.

Day 2 | In transit
Cross the international date line.

Day 3 | Auckland, New Zealand
Grand Mercure Auckland
D
Arrive at Auckland Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to Grand Mercure Auckland. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Welcome to the City of Sails! Spread across a narrow isthmus, Auckland rests between two sparkling harbors, the Manukau on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata on the Pacific Ocean, making it a paradise for sailing, boating and water sports enthusiasts. It’s also home to roughly one-third of all Kiwis, as New Zealanders are affectionately known.

Free Time: This morning, join your Travel Director for an optional walk around the neighborhood near the hotel to familiarize yourself with the area. (Mild)

Enrichment: The Legend of Tamaki Makaurau. New Zealand’s first inhabitants were the Maori, whose ancestors traveled by canoe from Polynesian islands and arrived around 1300 A.D. As the story goes, the first indication of land in the distance for these explorers was a long, white cloud or aotearoa, which became their name for the islands. Stories such as this, as well as Maori legends about the natural world, were passed down to subsequent generations as part of their oral tradition. Today, hear the Maori legend of Auckland’s origins, as well as other fascinating folklore.

Tonight, at the hotel, get better acquainted with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and Dinner.

Day 4 | Auckland
Grand Mercure Auckland
B
Discovery: Auckland – City of Sails. On a panoramic tour, see Auckland’s highlights, beginning with a ride over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to admire the fantastic skyline from the North Shore. Visit the vibrant Viaduct Harbour, a bustling dining and entertainment hub along the waterfront; Queen Street, the main shopping thoroughfare; and the leafy, expansive park, Auckland Domain, that encompasses the explosion crater of Auckland’s oldest volcano, Pukekawa.

At the Auckland War Memorial Museum, view one of the world’s premier collections of Maori taonga, or treasures. Marvel at intricately woven textiles and carved stone and wooden artifacts, including a full-size traditional meeting house. Then, in a special cultural performance, witness the fierce intensity of a traditional haka, the defiant war dance of Maori men. In 1840, the Maori chiefs and the British government signed a treaty that made New Zealand a British colony, resulting in an influx of settlers from England and Scotland. In Parnell, Auckland’s oldest suburb, see the influence of this European heritage as you meander through charming streets filled with restaurants, boutiques and specialty shops. (Mild)

Choose your own special spot for lunch in Parnell before returning to the hotel.

Free Time: Make your own plans in Auckland for the rest of the day.

Day 5 | Auckland | Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Queenstown
B | D
After breakfast, transfer to Auckland’s domestic airport for your flight to Queenstown on the South Island. Transfer to the hotel.

Enrichment: Extreme Sports in New Zealand. Queenstown is known as the “Adventure Capital of the World,” and thrill-seekers gravitate to its exhilarating range of outdoor activities, including bungee jumping, white-water rafting, jet boating and sky diving. Learn more about the history of extreme sports in the region at a bungee site near Queenstown.

Arrive at the Crowne Plaza Queenstown and check in.

Day 6 | Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Queenstown
B
Discovery: Safari of the Scenes. Director Peter Jackson, a native New Zealander and fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, recognized that the ethereal natural beauty of his homeland would perfectly represent Tolkien’s Middle-earth. On an exciting guided drive in an SUV, discover the spectacular locations around Queenstown that starred in his “Lord of the Rings” movies. Look out over Wakatipu Basin at the mesmerizing landscape, then head along a historic goldmining road that runs next to the Arrow River and try your hand at panning for gold. (Mild)

Free Time: Pursue your own interests for the rest of the day. For incredible, sweeping views of Queenstown and its environs, climb aboard the Skyline Gondola for a gentle cable car ride up Bob’s Peak. From this lofty vantage point, take in landmarks in all directions, including the Remarkables mountain range overlooking Lake Wakatipu.

Day 7 | Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Queenstown
B | L
Discovery: Doubtful Sound Tour. A truly memorable day awaits as you explore the jaw-dropping natural beauty of Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dramatic, awe-inspiring panoramas abound in New Zealand’s largest national park, which covers 4,868 square miles. Dominating it all are forest and water: lush, verdant woods of red mountain and silver beech, carpeted in moss and ferns, and gorgeous waterfalls, placid lakes, rivers, rippling streams and glacier-carved fiords.

On your way this morning, stop for a coffee or tea in Te Anau, along the shores of pretty Lake Anau. Begin at Lake Manapouri, regarded as the country’s loveliest lake, dotted with 33 little islands. Aboard a cruise boat, cross the shimmering waters and revel in the sublime setting, framed by the towering Cathedral Mountain range. Then travel over the Wilmot Pass and see the Fiordland’s rain forest, followed by views of the Doubtful Sound fiord below. The famed explorer Captain James Cook coined the name “Doubtful,” when he questioned whether the harbor could be safely navigated by a sailing vessel. He and his crew were the first Europeans to visit the Fiordland area, establishing a camp there for six weeks in 1773.

On a three-hour catamaran cruise, sail through the splendid, pristine stillness of Doubtful Sound, the deepest of New Zealand’s fiords. Nature guides on board will help you spot wildlife and enhance your experience. (Active)

Day 8 | Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Queenstown
B | D
Free Time: Make your own plans today. Your Travel Director can offer suggestions on shopping and sightseeing and assist you with reservations. If you’re feeling adventurous, your Travel Director can also arrange several optional activities for you on-site, including a Shotover Jet Boat ride or a river safari down the Dart River. For something more leisurely, consider taking a cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard a Queenstown icon, the TSS Earnslaw. This coal-fired steamship made its first voyage in 1912 and connected isolated farming communities with the outside world for many decades.

Tonight, dine at a local restaurant along the lakeshore in the historic district.

Day 9 | Queenstown | Franz Josef Glacier
Scenic Hotel FJ Glacier
B | D
Discovery: Scenic Drive to Franz Josef Glacier. As you wend your way north, relax and watch the ever-changing scenery of impressive mountains, quiet valleys and the aquamarine waters of Lakes Dunstan, Hawea and Wanaka. Travel across the Haast Pass and see the cascading Thunder Creek Falls. Arrive in Franz Josef Glacier and check in to the hotel, where you will enjoy dinner tonight. (Mild)

Day 10 | Franz Josef Glacier
Scenic Hotel FJ Glacier
B | L
Discovery: Franz Josef Glacier. Get a close-up view of one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers on an invigorating, three-hour guided walk through the glacier valley. While trekking to see this remarkable river of blue-tinted ice, learn about its geological features and patterns. (Active)

After lunch at an area restaurant, continue to the West Coast Wildlife Center to see kiwi birds found only in New Zealand. The five species of this flightless, nocturnal bird are all endangered, and the rarest, the Rowi and Haast tokeoka, number only in the hundreds.

Day 11 | Greymouth | Christchurch
Crowne Plaza Christchurch
B | D
After breakfast, travel by motor coach to Greymouth.

Discovery: TranzAlpine Train Ride. Settle into your comfortable train carriage for this celebrated rail journey from Greymouth to Christchurch, ascending through dense alpine forests and across the snowcapped Southern Alps. Glide next to the ice-fed Waimakariri River and traverse golden farm fields on the Canterbury Plains before alighting in Christchurch. (Mild)

Check in to the Crowne Plaza Christchurch.

Day 12 | Christchurch
Crowne Plaza Christchurch
B
Discovery: Christchurch. On a panoramic tour, get acclimated with this vibrant city, the largest on the South Island. Make your way through the city center situated along the banks of the Avon River, and see Cathedral Square and other highlights. At the Botanic Gardens, stroll through this lovely green space of flowering beds, native plants and majestic, old trees. Then, head further afield to admire the seaside suburbs of Sumner and Redcliffs. (Mild)

Enrichment: Canterbury Past, Present & Future. Christchurch is the capital of Canterbury, an important agricultural and business region tucked between the Southern Alps and the eastern coast. Join an expert at the Canterbury Museum for an interesting historical perspective.

Free Time: This afternoon, strike off on your own and explore in Christchurch.

Day 13 | Christchurch | Kaikoura | Blenheim
Marlborough Riverside Hotel
B | L
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and head north along the picturesque coast toward Blenheim.

Discovery: Kaikoura. On your way to Blenheim, visit this coastal town famous for the abundance of marine mammals that live in the waters off its peninsula. Giant sperm whales are year-round residents as well as furs seals and dusky dolphins. Orcas, the largest of the dolphin family, are also seen here, along with migrating species of whales including the Humpback, Pilot and Blue. It’s also home to New Zealand’s largest concentration of seabirds, such as albatross and petrels. Marvel at these amazing creatures at close range on an exciting whale-watching cruise. (Mild)

Travel into the heart of the breathtaking Marlborough wine region and arrive at the Marlborough Riverside Hotel in Blenheim.

Day 14 | Blenheim
Marlborough Riverside Hotel
B | L
Discovery: Marlborough Wines. New Zealand’s largest winegrowing region first grabbed the world’s attention in the 1980s with its aromatic, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Blessed with a remarkably sunny, dry and cool climate, Marlborough’s wine producers have since expanded into a wide range of delicious styles. On a winery tour, sample the fine creations of Cloudy Bay Winery, one of the first five wineries in the region, at a private tasting. Next, enjoy a casual lunch and tasting at Rock Ferry Winery, a family-owned organic winery that produces 15 varieties. (Mild)

Free Time: Spend the rest of the day in Blenheim at leisure.

Day 15 | Blenheim
Marlborough Riverside Hotel
B | D
Free Time: Create your own agenda on your final day! Book a tour to other wineries, take a cruise through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds or discover Blenheim’s top-notch eateries and independent boutiques. Your Travel Director can offer recommendations and help with reservations.

Tonight, at the hotel, raise a toast to your wonderful Kiwi adventure at a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers.

Day 16 | Depart for gateway city
B
After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for the Blenheim Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.


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