New Zealand Extension - November 20-29, 2020

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20 November 2020

Fly from Sydney to Christchurch.

Transfer to the Ibis Christchurch Hotel. Free afternoon.

Accommodation: Ibis Christchurch.

21 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Private coach transfer to railway station where we embark on a 2.5 hour taste of one of the great train journeys of the world. Starting at Christchurch, the Tranz Alpine Train travels the vast patchwork plains of Canterbury - one of New Zealand's primary agricultural regions. On the far side of the plains we arrive at Springfield, where the Southern Alps rise from the plains like megalithic skyscrapers, creating a seemingly impenetrable barrier.

The section between Springfield and the township of Arthur's Pass is considered a masterpiece of railway engineering and is the section for which the TranzAlpine is most famed. The route joins the Waimakariri River gorge, where the aqua-blue river appears and disappears out of your window as the TranzAlpine clings and climbs up the cliffs above it. During the ascent to the high plains of Craigieburn, there are 15 short tunnels and four dramatic viaducts, including the 72-metre high Staircase Viaduct. At the far end of the Craigieburn Straight, the high plains stretch out to give a stunning view of Mount Binser and the edges of Arthur's Pass National Park before reaching the township of Arthur's Pass where we disembark.

We are met by our coach and luggage at Arthur's Pass and proceed to Hokitika, Franz Josef, and Fox Glacier. Overlooking New Zealand's highest tallest peaks, the Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier sits in the heart of the old gold rush township of Fox Glacier village.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier.

22 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Depart by private coach for Queenstown via Haast Pass, Lake Wanaka, and Cromwell with sightseeing stops en route. Full of incredible waterfalls, unbelievable views, and epic scenery, Kiwi Traveler says "it's a journey every Kiwi should make at least once in their lifetimes." After checking into the Swiss-style Heartland Hotel Queenstown, rest of day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Heartland Hotel Queenstown x 3 nights.

23 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Today's adventure is the Dart River Wilderness Safari. Travel by private motor coach to the tranquil village of Glenorchy on the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu. Here we board the Dart River jet-boat for a 90 minute ride up the narrow, meandering waterway, into real wilderness country. Jet boats are a New Zealand design which allow high speed travel up extremely shallow glacial riverbeds; a by-product of this feature is that they are able to put on the brakes suddenly which is hugely exciting. After disembarking from the boat, take a short guided walk on picturesque forest tracks, where our knowledgeable guide will enliven the walk with commentary about the ancient native beech forest, unique flora and fauna, and the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area. We return to Glenorchy by 4WD coach via a scenic back-road route while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including 'The Lord of the Rings'. After returning to Queenstown, rest of day is at leisure.

24 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Today we have a full day tour to Milford Sound via Te Anau by private coach. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Breathtaking in any weather, the fjord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky, and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect. The fjord is home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins. We explore Milford Sound with a 2 hour Nature Cruise and picnic lunch before returning to Queenstown.

25 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Private transfer to Queensland aiport. Fly to Auckland. (Airfare is NOT included in New Zealand Extension price.) We are met by private coach for transfer to Auckland City Hotel.

Rest of day is at leisure

Accommodation: Auckland City Hotel

26 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Depart by private coach for our 2.5 hour drive to ... Middle-earth! It's time for a 2 hour tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set. you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire™, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Fall in love with the Alexander family sheep farm, just as acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson did, as you journey through the unequivocal beauty of the land, with the mighty Kaimai Ranges towering in the distance. Our guide will then escort you around the set, showing the intricate detailing, pointing out the most famous locations and explaining how the movie magic was made.

We will be fully guided around the 12 acre set; past Hobbit Holes™, the Mill and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ beverage. We conclude our Middle-earth™ adventure in the Party Marquee adjacent to the Green Dragon with a buffet-style lunch bursting with hobbit fare.

Leaving Hobbiton, we continue to the Ibis Rotorua Hotel. This evening, we enjoy a Maori Hangi buffet dinner and cultural performance at the hotel.

Accommodation: Ibis Rotorua Hotel x 2 nights

27 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

A full day of sightseeing today! The Taupo Volcanic Zone has one of the highest geothermal activity ratings in the world. The whimsically named Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a series of brightly coloured geothermal pools, stinky sulphur mud baths, and explosive geysers, directly in the middle of this volcanic zone. TripAdvisor calls it "One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World".

Next, it's time for New Zealand's most popular farm experience: the Agrodome Farm show. Witness a live sheep shearing demonstration and a fun sheep auction with bidding from the floor and audience participation. (Janet will tell you they're sheep at twice the price.) But the sheep aren't the only animal stars. The Agrodome's remarkable farm dogs will amaze you as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line! If a hands-on experience is what you want, jump up on stage for the opportunity to feed the baby lambs or even hand-milk a cow!

Then we're off to Rainbow Springs Nature Park where we'll meet some of New Zealand's most unique species including the pateke, whio, and kea. The people of New Zealand are popularly known as Kiwis after the flightless birds that are native to the islands. Don't miss Kiwi House where you can see these nocturnal creatures fossicking for insects, grubs, and worms. Take a ride on the Big Splash if you dare.

We end a busy day at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools where you can experience the 'Living Waters' of the Te Manaroa Spring - the largest single source of 100% pure geothermal water in New Zealand. This pure spring water cascades into the main pool at 95-100°F. Spacious changing rooms, with toilets and high pressure hot showers, are family-friendly and also offer wheelchair access.

28 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

Discover your moment of magic in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour. Take a boat ride through the glow worm grotto, marvel at thousands of magical glowworms and become part of over 130 years of cultural and natural history. Discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making and marvel at Mother Nature's light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. Experience the serene ambience as you enter this galaxy of tiny living lights. The glowworm (Arachnocampa Luminosa) is unique to New Zealand, making the Waitomo Glowworm Caves an absolute must-do. See thousands of these tiny creatures as they radiate their unmistakable luminescent light in a subterranean world.

Then we're ready for lunch! Roselands Farm Restaurant specialises in a BBQ Buffet Lunch where premium Barbecue meats are cooked on the grill in front of dining guests. A range of traditional Kiwi food is available for sides on the self service buffet. Salads are made fresh each day and are chosen to compliment the Barbecue cuisine. After your meal, help yourself to the dessert buffet with freshly brewed coffee, tea and home made cakes and cookies. The cookies are made fresh from traditional New Zealand recipes.

We continue on to Auckland and check into our hotel. Evening at leisure.

Accommodation: Auckland City Hotel

29 November 2020

Full breakfast at hotel.

All good things must end! Check out of our hotel around 10:00 am and board our private transfer to the airport.

Return flights to Portland