Culture and history
Flight to Auckland
After dropping off our luggage and going through passport control, we’ll embark on a long journey to Auckland, the largest city in Oceania. This beautiful city, founded by the British, is home to a population of 450,000 and serves as a significant scientific and cultural center.
Flight over the Pacific
Even though our flight over the Pacific will last for several hours, we will arrive at our destination two days after departing from Chicago or another airport in the United States.
This is thanks to crossing the International Date Line, which adds a whole day to our travel time. But don’t worry. We’ll regain that day when we return eastward, and in the end, everything will add up.
After arriving in Auckland, we will check into our hotel and rest after the long journey. We’ll take a stroll through the waterfront district, and for an additional fee, there’s an option to go up the Sky Tower. We’ll also visit the botanical garden and the University of Auckland. Overnight stay in Auckland.
Waitomo, Otorohanga, Hobbiton, Rotorua, Tamaki Maori Village
Early in the morning, we will travel to Waitomo to explore the caves inhabited by glowworms, featuring fascinating stalactite formations.
In the afternoon, we’ll head to the famous Hobbiton village, home to the hobbits. We’ll visit the film set, Bilbo Baggins’ house, and conclude our visit with a refreshing ginger beer by the fireplace in the renowned hobbit inn.
In the evening, we’ll proceed to Rotorua, an important center of Maori culture. We’ll witness a Maori cultural show at Tamaki Maori Village, where we’ll learn about Maori martial arts, rituals, and traditions. We’ll participate in a vocal and dance performance and then savor a traditional hāngi meal served in a buffet style (additional cost – advance reservation required).
Te Puia, Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, Huka Falls, Waikato River Valley, Taupu
In the morning, we’ll visit the Te Puia Thermal Park to witness the Pōhutu geyser and encounter the kiwi bird at the new Kiwi Conservation Center. Following this, Maori carvers and weavers will showcase their skills at the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.
Next, we’ll take boats to Orakei Korako, a geothermal park overlooking the Waikato River. After admiring Huka Falls, we’ll stroll along the Waikato River Valley. The day concludes with a relaxing dip in thermal springs.
The afternoon will be spent exploring the town of Taupo. We’ll overnight in Auckland.
Today, we have an early flight from Auckland to Queenstown. Upon arrival, we’ll explore the port and Botanic Gardens. We’ll indulge in the famous Fergburger and take a gondola ride to the summit of Ben Lomond, the birthplace of bungee jumping.
Milford Sound, Humboldt Mountains, Fiordland National Park
Today we will explore Milford Sound, a 20-kilometer fjord in Fiordland National Park. Our visit will begin with a boat cruise through the fjord.
In the afternoon, we will embark on a panoramic car tour through the Humboldt and Darran Mountains. There is an option for a scenic flight over the fjords and surrounding glaciers.
On the way back, we will also stop to learn about the mysterious healing properties of the famous Manuka honey produced by local bees. Return for an overnight stay in Queenstown.
Mount Aspiring National Park, Haast Pass, Fox Glacier
On this day, we will embark on a full-day journey through the Southern Alps to their western coast. We will admire glacial lakes, mountain passes, and the mountain streams cascading down from them, creating picturesque waterfalls.
After crossing the mountains and reaching the coastline of the ocean, we will visit the Fox Glacier. In case of favorable weather conditions, we will witness the sunset to the west. Overnight stay in Franz Josef.
Franz Josef Glacier, Ross, Greymouth, and Westland National Park.
Today, we will visit Franz Josef Glacier, the steepest and fastest-moving glacier in the world.
From the town of Franz Josef, we will depart around noon to the town of Ross, which experienced a gold rush in the 19th century. Today, the town boasts a famous hotel that looks like it’s straight out of a western.
Finally, we will reach Greymouth, where the Grey River flows into the Tasman Sea, and it is there that we will find the most famous specimens of jadeite. Overnight stay in Punakaiki Marine Reserve.
Punakaiki, Arthur Pass
Punakaiki is home to Pancake Rocks and serves as a base for exploring Paparoa National Park. Here, we will see the famous pancake-like rocks around Dolomite Point and the Paparoa River Valley.
After visiting Dolomite Point, we will take a short walk to the Pororari River Valley, considered sacred by the Maori.
Around noon, we will embark on another journey through the Southern Alps, crossing the main ridge via Arthur’s Pass. Along the way, we will admire Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, the Otira Viaduct, numerous flocks of Kea parrots inhabiting the steep slopes, and the memorial to explorer Arthur Dudley Dobson, for whom the pass is named. Overnight stay in Tekapo.
Tekapo Lake, Mt Cook, Hooker Valley
After breakfast, we will visit the town of Tekapo, where we will see the Church of the Good Shepherd.
The next place we will visit is Mt Cook. During our stay, dependent on the whims of the weather (the guide may make a unilateral decision to resign from this part of the program due to weather conditions), we plan to take a walk to Hooker Valley and Lake Muller, where we can closely admire the slopes and peak of Mt Cook, as well as the nearby Hooker and Tasman Mountain glaciers. Accommodation in Wanaka or Cromwell.
Lake Wanaka, Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge
For those interested, there is an opportunity to start the day with a scenic flight by light aircraft over the peaks of the Southern Alps and the nearby lakes.
In the morning, we will head to Lake Wanaka to see the tree growing in the lake’s mirror with a beautiful mountain landscape in the background. Then we will proceed to the Kawarau River valley, where the first bungee jump was performed (there is an option to do a jump at the same location – additional fee applies, or a zip line ride). Some scenes for the movie “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” were also filmed there.
Overnight stay in Queenstown.
Departure from Auckland
Has New Zealand revealed all its secrets? Certainly not, but it’s time to say goodbye. After a morning flight to Auckland, another international flight awaits us to take us back home.
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