Tailormade tour New Zealand Explorer tour New Zealand

21 nights/22 days

Auckland • Bay of Islands • Rotorua • Hawke’s Bay • Wairarapa • Nelson • Blenheim • Christchurch • Arthur’s Pass • Franz Josef • Queenstown

The New Zealand Explorer Touring Holiday is perfect for a longer first-time trip to New Zealand. Over the course of 21-nights, we will introduce you to a comprehensive selection of classic highlights in this magical country. You will see Auckland, the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Blenheim and Marlborough, Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass, Franz Josef and Queenstown.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £6,200 per person.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

This 21-night tour starts in the trendy city of Auckland and will take you to the tropical beaches of the Bay of Islands, and south into the volcanic plateau of Rotorua. Next, continue onto the vineyards, green pastures, orchards and coastline of Hawke’s Bay before voyaging south to Wairarapa for classic rural countryside, and more great wine in Martinborough. Next, cross the Cook Strait and head to Nelson for the artistic centre of New Zealand, and a real rural retreat in the lush wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park. Following this, stop in Blenheim and Marlborough for New Zealand’s best food and wine before continuing down the eastern seaboard of the South Island to the fascinating city of Christchurch. From here, you will ascend into the heart of the Southern Alps to live like a local on a 4,000-acre sheep farm and nature reserve, before continuing your alpine experience with a drive to the pale blue ice of the Franz Josef Glacier. Finally, drive south to the adventurous and thrill-seeking city of Queenstown, packed with activities for all energy levels. Our range of accommodation includes everything from luxury boutique hotels, to remote wilderness eco-lodges. Hand-crafted experiences make your bespoke holiday to New Zealand even more special, and a seemingly infinite number of possibilities are available upon request. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and let us know how we can further personalise your once-in-a-lifetime tour through New Zealand.

Highlights

Auckland • Mount Eden • Waiheke Island • Piha • Bay of Islands • Rotorua • Te Puia • Pohutu Geyser • Whirinaki Forest • Tongariro National Park • Tukituki River • Martinborough • Wellington • Cook Strait • Nelson • Abel Tasman National Park • Blenheim • Marlborough Sounds • Kaikoura • Christchurch • Arthur’s Pass • Franz Josef Glacier • Queenstown • Wakatipu • Fiordland

Day by day

Arrive in Auckland and settle into the time-zone, and your luxury accommodation. Soak up the sights and sounds of the iconic city of Auckland. For the best of the views, visit the 328-meter Sky Tower, or otherwise hike up Mount Eden, a volcanic peak that casts views over the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, and the iconic Eden Park – home of the All Blacks. For a different sense of perspective, you could choose to sail in the gloriously protected water of the bay on a real America’s Cup Yacht. With the wind ruffling your hair, and the skyline of Auckland as a backdrop, this is a fantastic way to introduce yourself with what a holiday in New Zealand is all about.

Today could be spent living as a true New Zealander by journeying to one of the classic city escapes from Auckland. To the east lie the Hauraki Gulf Islands, and the largest, Waiheke Island, offers something for everyone, with both beautiful beaches, fashionable streets and some excellent vineyards. Take a stroll on one of island’s trails which take you from cliff top vistas into the cool and dense envelope of the native forest. To the west, volcanic beaches and great surfing await in Piha, a fantastic climax to an easy day’s road trip.

Picking up your 4x4 hire car, your first taste of rural New Zealand awaits. Today you drive north through the lush vegetation, spectacular coastline, orchards of citrus trees and roadside fruit stalls, bumpy volcanic peaks, and, of course, pastures of sheep. Arrive in the Bay of Islands to find your spectacular panoramic accommodation perfectly positioned to make the most of the evening sunshine. Spotting dolphins playing in the ocean below you whilst unwinding on your private deck or in a jacuzzi, sundowner in hand.

A stay in the Bay of Islands really is about exploring the idyllic coastline that surrounds you. Lush fern filled valleys turn to cliffs, bays, inlets and beaches, and into the crystal-clear waters of the Southern Pacific. Choose from a range of activities including sea kayaking, swimming with the resident dolphins, or sailing. Land lovers may choose to admire the vistas on horseback, or by hiking. Otherwise, simply get onto the beaches and soak up the Southern Hemisphere sunshine.

Driving to Kerikeri Airport in the Bay of Islands, you will drop your hire car and board your flight to Rotorua. This flight will take you deep into the volcanic heartland of the North Island, where geothermal wonders, bubbling hot pools, exploding geysers, and lush rainforest. Pick up your new hire car, and perhaps join an evening Maori cultural display in a local Maori village. Rotorua is often considered the heart of Maori culture in New Zealand, so there is no better place to learn of their historic traditions and watch fascinating song and dance before settling down to an authentic feast cooked beneath the ground on hot stones.

Today would be best spent uncovering the geothermal wonders of the region. To do so, visit Te Puia – a 70-hectare park that contains the world famous Pohutu geyser, as well as mud pools, hot springs and silica formation. Indeed, here you will also find the Kiwi bird, and national schools of Maori wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly Pohutu geyser, an ancient geothermal feature, and the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres. Next, travel to Whirinaki forest, where lush rainforest supports a great diversity of wildlife including many rare birds. A network of trails makes walking and mountain biking a joy amongst the awe-inspiring trees.

A full day’s drive will delight as you drive pass yet more steaming geothermal sites before skimming the eastern shores of the majestic Lake Taupo. Here, you could enjoy an afternoon sail to the ancient Maori rock carvings, or head out on a short hike in the Tongariro National Park. Next, meander through the forested hills of Kaimanawa and Kaweka before reaching the art deco treasures of Napier and the fertile and sunny plains of Hawke’s Bay.

Spend a relaxing today investigating the architectural treasures of Napier together with its Aquarium and dolphin displays and then explore some of the famous vineyards of the region, perhaps having lunch at Sileni or Black Barn. In the afternoon, you could potter in the pretty village of Havelock North and take a scenic drive along the Tukituki River. Hawke’s Bay really is all about appreciating the landscape, climate and culinary prowess of New Zealand.

Depending on where you stay, take time today to explore a working sheep farm and then to visit Martinborough, famous for its pinot noir vineyards. If you stay in Martinborough make the most of the accessibility of the vineyards, many by foot from the town centre. The rolling rural pastures and the pleasant climate make Wairarapa an all-together perfect end to your time on the North Island. Tomorrow you will cross the Cook Strait, but today, raise a glass of pinot noir in toast to this peaceful place.

Drive South to Wellington to board your ferry across the Cook Strait. This scenic cruise is one of the highlights to any holiday in New Zealand, as you enter the peaceful serenity of the Marlborough Sounds. Having perhaps spotted dolphins from your ferry, arrive into Picton and drive West towards Nelson to reach your accommodation in the afternoon. Nelson is a charming city well known for its art and craft prowess. Perhaps tour the galleries of the region before settling down to dinner.

Today would be a great day to venture into the true wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park. Preferably, you could join your own private charter so that you get to see the major sights along the coast and have time for a swim and sunbathe and a picnic lunch on a pretty-much deserted beach. Either way, the Abel Tasman National Park is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts the world over. Here lush vegetation and hills of native bush cascade into sheltered inlets of turquoise water and idyllic beaches. The Park can only be reached by water or foot, and it is this isolation that makes the Abel Tasman such a special retreat into nature.

Today’s drive is particularly pretty as you head along the coast passing Nelson and then through wooded hills skirting the edge of the Marlborough Sounds near Havelock. Stop here for a fantastic lunch of the local Greenlip mussels before reaching the more expansive, drier country of the Wairau valley around Blenheim. Vineyards here stretch for miles with easily recognisable names such as Montana, Cloudy Bay and Stoneleigh. Stop for wine-tasting in the late afternoon, as the sun cast golden hues over the pastoral landscape.

Another full day of exploring the world-famous vineyards of Marlborough could await guests. One of the most exciting ways to do this would be by riding The Golden Mile, a series of excellent vineyards connected by easy and scenic bike trails. Otherwise choose from a variety of activities to showcase the best of the region. For example, explore the local museums that tell the history of New Zealand, or hike and kayak around the Wairau Lagoon, where the site of New Zealand’s earliest human habitation, and over 90 species of bird are found.

Set out south-east en route to Kaikoura. Spot striking beaches, and the friendly faces of sunbathing seals before arriving into Kaikoura for lunch. If you have some extra time at your disposal, join a whale watching expedition in the rich, biodiverse waters just off the coast. Made famous by David Attenborough amongst many other naturalists, Kaikoura is home to an astonishing wealth of cetacean life, including sperm whales, orcas and dolphins, as well as variety of other species including seals and albatross. Whale watching boats really do offer a great perspective of this ‘maritime Serengeti’, however snorkelling and scenic flights are also available upon request. Continue onto Christchurch in the evening, and perhaps explore this fascinating city as it rebuilds in creative ways from the devastation of the 2011 earthquake.

Today an easy drive will take you from the Canterbury Plains of Christchurch into the start of the Southern Alps. The scenery from the road is some of the best in New Zealand, and postcard images of the South Island will pass by in their dozens, from pastures of grazing sheep to craggy cliffs and distant snow-clad mountain peaks. The vistas reach their crescendo as you approach Arthur’s Pass. Here, settle into your friendly and cosy luxury hotel, and perhaps join one of the walking tours of this alpine environment before tucking into a well-earnt hearty meal.

At Live like a true Kiwi local today by a tour of a real working sheep farm. With 3000 sheep and 120 Angus cattle, experienced guides will show you this typically New Zealand way of life, including traditional blade-shearing demonstrations, and handfeeding of tame shape. Alternatively, guests could hike or join an ecological guided tour of the area. The focus really is on the great outdoors, and the alpine scenery provides a magnificent playground in which to indulge oneself. In the evening, observe the stars of the southern sky in this second-to-none setting where clean air and zero light pollution reveal the entirety of the milky way.

Continuing west across the Pass, today’s drive will eventually take you down to the coast. Here awaits a marvel of the latitude, with the pristine glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox advancing close to the sea. Settle into your luxury lodge and take a trip into town to find a charming town alive with Kea – a cheeky and comical West Coast Parrot. For pure relaxation, why not indulge in the glacier hot pools that weave their way through the lush rainforest.

Today can be adventurous in the most Kiwi of ways. One of the delights of the Franz Josef Glacier is the opportunity to take a thrilling helicopter ride onto the pale blue pristine ice formations, and hike along with the help of a qualified guide. This adventure is deceptively safe, and your well-trained guides will walk with you every step of the way. The views are exceptional, and the experience is unlike anything you will have tried before. It really is one of the highlights of a trip to New Zealand.

A scenic drive will take you along the west coast of New Zealand, past a number of achingly pretty stops. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mount Cook National Park, Haast, Mount Aspiring National Park and Wanaka, before touching the wineries of Otago and passing into the famously adventurous Queenstown. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, and surrounded by snow-capped peaks, New Zealand has saved the best for last. Settle into your lake-side accommodation and revel in the alpine surrounds.

The choice of activities on offer in Queenstown is truly staggering. In the winter, head to the aptly-named Remarkables to find some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. In the summer, choose from mountain biking, white-water rafting or horse-riding amongst other activities. Many of these opportunities operate year-round, allowing you to acquaint yourself with Fiordland in an adventurous way. Queenstown itself is a beautiful and exciting home from home amidst all the adrenaline. There is a youthful energy available, as well as a palpable air of sophistication for those seeking outstanding hospitality, food and wine.

On your last full day in New Zealand, make the most of the adventurous capabilities of Queenstown in a way that suits you. Another option is to join a day cruise of either Milford or Doubtful Sound to the South West of the city. These incredible fiords are home to an extraordinary mix of wildlife, from orcas to penguins, and feature some of the best scenery in New Zealand. In the evening, return to Queenstown and raise a glass to this incredible country.

With memories to last a lifetime, drop your hire car at Queenstown Airport and catch your flight home.

Holiday price guide From about £6,200 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code NZSG05

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

Arrive in Auckland and settle into the time-zone, and your luxury accommodation. Soak up the sights and sounds of the iconic city of Auckland. For the best of the views, visit the 328-meter Sky Tower, or otherwise hike up Mount Eden, a volcanic peak that casts views over the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, and the iconic Eden Park – home of the All Blacks. For a different sense of perspective, you could choose to sail in the gloriously protected water of the bay on a real America’s Cup Yacht. With the wind ruffling your hair, and the skyline of Auckland as a backdrop, this is a fantastic way to introduce yourself with what a holiday in New Zealand is all about.

Today could be spent living as a true New Zealander by journeying to one of the classic city escapes from Auckland. To the east lie the Hauraki Gulf Islands, and the largest, Waiheke Island, offers something for everyone, with both beautiful beaches, fashionable streets and some excellent vineyards. Take a stroll on one of island’s trails which take you from cliff top vistas into the cool and dense envelope of the native forest. To the west, volcanic beaches and great surfing await in Piha, a fantastic climax to an easy day’s road trip.

Picking up your 4x4 hire car, your first taste of rural New Zealand awaits. Today you drive north through the lush vegetation, spectacular coastline, orchards of citrus trees and roadside fruit stalls, bumpy volcanic peaks, and, of course, pastures of sheep. Arrive in the Bay of Islands to find your spectacular panoramic accommodation perfectly positioned to make the most of the evening sunshine. Spotting dolphins playing in the ocean below you whilst unwinding on your private deck or in a jacuzzi, sundowner in hand.

A stay in the Bay of Islands really is about exploring the idyllic coastline that surrounds you. Lush fern filled valleys turn to cliffs, bays, inlets and beaches, and into the crystal-clear waters of the Southern Pacific. Choose from a range of activities including sea kayaking, swimming with the resident dolphins, or sailing. Land lovers may choose to admire the vistas on horseback, or by hiking. Otherwise, simply get onto the beaches and soak up the Southern Hemisphere sunshine.

Driving to Kerikeri Airport in the Bay of Islands, you will drop your hire car and board your flight to Rotorua. This flight will take you deep into the volcanic heartland of the North Island, where geothermal wonders, bubbling hot pools, exploding geysers, and lush rainforest. Pick up your new hire car, and perhaps join an evening Maori cultural display in a local Maori village. Rotorua is often considered the heart of Maori culture in New Zealand, so there is no better place to learn of their historic traditions and watch fascinating song and dance before settling down to an authentic feast cooked beneath the ground on hot stones.

Today would be best spent uncovering the geothermal wonders of the region. To do so, visit Te Puia – a 70-hectare park that contains the world famous Pohutu geyser, as well as mud pools, hot springs and silica formation. Indeed, here you will also find the Kiwi bird, and national schools of Maori wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly Pohutu geyser, an ancient geothermal feature, and the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres. Next, travel to Whirinaki forest, where lush rainforest supports a great diversity of wildlife including many rare birds. A network of trails makes walking and mountain biking a joy amongst the awe-inspiring trees.

A full day’s drive will delight as you drive pass yet more steaming geothermal sites before skimming the eastern shores of the majestic Lake Taupo. Here, you could enjoy an afternoon sail to the ancient Maori rock carvings, or head out on a short hike in the Tongariro National Park. Next, meander through the forested hills of Kaimanawa and Kaweka before reaching the art deco treasures of Napier and the fertile and sunny plains of Hawke’s Bay.

Spend a relaxing today investigating the architectural treasures of Napier together with its Aquarium and dolphin displays and then explore some of the famous vineyards of the region, perhaps having lunch at Sileni or Black Barn. In the afternoon, you could potter in the pretty village of Havelock North and take a scenic drive along the Tukituki River. Hawke’s Bay really is all about appreciating the landscape, climate and culinary prowess of New Zealand.

Depending on where you stay, take time today to explore a working sheep farm and then to visit Martinborough, famous for its pinot noir vineyards. If you stay in Martinborough make the most of the accessibility of the vineyards, many by foot from the town centre. The rolling rural pastures and the pleasant climate make Wairarapa an all-together perfect end to your time on the North Island. Tomorrow you will cross the Cook Strait, but today, raise a glass of pinot noir in toast to this peaceful place.

Drive South to Wellington to board your ferry across the Cook Strait. This scenic cruise is one of the highlights to any holiday in New Zealand, as you enter the peaceful serenity of the Marlborough Sounds. Having perhaps spotted dolphins from your ferry, arrive into Picton and drive West towards Nelson to reach your accommodation in the afternoon. Nelson is a charming city well known for its art and craft prowess. Perhaps tour the galleries of the region before settling down to dinner.

Today would be a great day to venture into the true wilderness of the Abel Tasman National Park. Preferably, you could join your own private charter so that you get to see the major sights along the coast and have time for a swim and sunbathe and a picnic lunch on a pretty-much deserted beach. Either way, the Abel Tasman National Park is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts the world over. Here lush vegetation and hills of native bush cascade into sheltered inlets of turquoise water and idyllic beaches. The Park can only be reached by water or foot, and it is this isolation that makes the Abel Tasman such a special retreat into nature.

Today’s drive is particularly pretty as you head along the coast passing Nelson and then through wooded hills skirting the edge of the Marlborough Sounds near Havelock. Stop here for a fantastic lunch of the local Greenlip mussels before reaching the more expansive, drier country of the Wairau valley around Blenheim. Vineyards here stretch for miles with easily recognisable names such as Montana, Cloudy Bay and Stoneleigh. Stop for wine-tasting in the late afternoon, as the sun cast golden hues over the pastoral landscape.

Another full day of exploring the world-famous vineyards of Marlborough could await guests. One of the most exciting ways to do this would be by riding The Golden Mile, a series of excellent vineyards connected by easy and scenic bike trails. Otherwise choose from a variety of activities to showcase the best of the region. For example, explore the local museums that tell the history of New Zealand, or hike and kayak around the Wairau Lagoon, where the site of New Zealand’s earliest human habitation, and over 90 species of bird are found.

Set out south-east en route to Kaikoura. Spot striking beaches, and the friendly faces of sunbathing seals before arriving into Kaikoura for lunch. If you have some extra time at your disposal, join a whale watching expedition in the rich, biodiverse waters just off the coast. Made famous by David Attenborough amongst many other naturalists, Kaikoura is home to an astonishing wealth of cetacean life, including sperm whales, orcas and dolphins, as well as variety of other species including seals and albatross. Whale watching boats really do offer a great perspective of this ‘maritime Serengeti’, however snorkelling and scenic flights are also available upon request. Continue onto Christchurch in the evening, and perhaps explore this fascinating city as it rebuilds in creative ways from the devastation of the 2011 earthquake.

Today an easy drive will take you from the Canterbury Plains of Christchurch into the start of the Southern Alps. The scenery from the road is some of the best in New Zealand, and postcard images of the South Island will pass by in their dozens, from pastures of grazing sheep to craggy cliffs and distant snow-clad mountain peaks. The vistas reach their crescendo as you approach Arthur’s Pass. Here, settle into your friendly and cosy luxury hotel, and perhaps join one of the walking tours of this alpine environment before tucking into a well-earnt hearty meal.

At Live like a true Kiwi local today by a tour of a real working sheep farm. With 3000 sheep and 120 Angus cattle, experienced guides will show you this typically New Zealand way of life, including traditional blade-shearing demonstrations, and handfeeding of tame shape. Alternatively, guests could hike or join an ecological guided tour of the area. The focus really is on the great outdoors, and the alpine scenery provides a magnificent playground in which to indulge oneself. In the evening, observe the stars of the southern sky in this second-to-none setting where clean air and zero light pollution reveal the entirety of the milky way.

Continuing west across the Pass, today’s drive will eventually take you down to the coast. Here awaits a marvel of the latitude, with the pristine glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox advancing close to the sea. Settle into your luxury lodge and take a trip into town to find a charming town alive with Kea – a cheeky and comical West Coast Parrot. For pure relaxation, why not indulge in the glacier hot pools that weave their way through the lush rainforest.

Today can be adventurous in the most Kiwi of ways. One of the delights of the Franz Josef Glacier is the opportunity to take a thrilling helicopter ride onto the pale blue pristine ice formations, and hike along with the help of a qualified guide. This adventure is deceptively safe, and your well-trained guides will walk with you every step of the way. The views are exceptional, and the experience is unlike anything you will have tried before. It really is one of the highlights of a trip to New Zealand.

A scenic drive will take you along the west coast of New Zealand, past a number of achingly pretty stops. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mount Cook National Park, Haast, Mount Aspiring National Park and Wanaka, before touching the wineries of Otago and passing into the famously adventurous Queenstown. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, and surrounded by snow-capped peaks, New Zealand has saved the best for last. Settle into your lake-side accommodation and revel in the alpine surrounds.

The choice of activities on offer in Queenstown is truly staggering. In the winter, head to the aptly-named Remarkables to find some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. In the summer, choose from mountain biking, white-water rafting or horse-riding amongst other activities. Many of these opportunities operate year-round, allowing you to acquaint yourself with Fiordland in an adventurous way. Queenstown itself is a beautiful and exciting home from home amidst all the adrenaline. There is a youthful energy available, as well as a palpable air of sophistication for those seeking outstanding hospitality, food and wine.

On your last full day in New Zealand, make the most of the adventurous capabilities of Queenstown in a way that suits you. Another option is to join a day cruise of either Milford or Doubtful Sound to the South West of the city. These incredible fiords are home to an extraordinary mix of wildlife, from orcas to penguins, and feature some of the best scenery in New Zealand. In the evening, return to Queenstown and raise a glass to this incredible country.

With memories to last a lifetime, drop your hire car at Queenstown Airport and catch your flight home.

Holiday price guide From about £6,200 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code NZSG05

Our prices include ● Return scheduled flights with British Airways, Qantas, Air New Zealand or Emirates from London to Auckland, returning from Queenstown to London in economy class
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Auckland
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in the Bay of Islands
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Rotorua
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Hawke’s Bay
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Wairarapa
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Nelson
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Blenheim
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Christchurch
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Arthur’s Pass
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Franz Josef Glacier
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Queensland
● Car hire where specified in our itinerary
● The meals included with your tour will vary by chosen accommodation. Please see our hotel suggestions for included board basis.
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except as specified in our hotel suggestions
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, payable locally to the hotel
● Optional tours and activities within each location, except where explicitly specified as included in our itinerary, or by hotels in our hotel lists
● Personal expenses
● Visa and Passport. You will need a full British passport with at least six months validity. Until 30 September 2019 you do not need a Visa for travel to New Zealand as a British Passport will allow the holder a six month stay upon arrival. From 1 October 2019 you will need a visa which can be arranged easily on-line. More information available here: https://www.newzealand.com/uk/visas-and-immigration/

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour
Auckland
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour Value option

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is a 5-star hotel in an excellent waterfront location. Gourmet cuisine, excellent spa facilities and an unmissable afternoon tea offer guests a luxurious haven from which to explore Auckland.

Superior room

Hilton Hotel Luxury option

The Hilton Hotel in Auckland is a stylish and modern hotel in an excellent city centre location. Delicious cuisine and excellent quayside views make this an ideal place to recuperate after a day enjoying the sights.

Deluxe Harbour View room

Bay of Islands
The Sanctuary at Bay of Islands Value option

The Sanctuary at Bay of Islands provides an exclusive and romantic retreat in a beautiful natural location. Each guestroom offers supremely comfortable accommodation and sublime views, and guests will adore the fantastic spa, wholesome cuisine and homely atmosphere.

Sea and Bush View Suite

Eagle's Nest Luxury option

Eagles Nest is an exclusive 5-star hotel in an exceptional natural location. Superb cuisine and spa facilities and stunning luxury features, including private pools for most villas, afford guests a truly relaxing and restorative retreat.

First Light Temple

Rotorua
Black Swan Value option

Black Swan is an exclusive, 5-star family-run hotel in a stunning lakeside location. The excellent spa facilities and secluded setting afford guests an idyllic and indulgent experience.

Lake View room

Solitaire Lodge Luxury option

Solitaire Lodge is an exclusive property in a stunning lakeside location, offering panoramic views from each of its luxurious suites. With delicious cuisine, homely comfort and a fantastic touring infrastructure, it is a wonderfully indulgent way to enjoy the area.

Executive suite

Hawke's Bay
Mangapapa Hotel Value option

Mangapapa Hotel in Hawke's Bay is an elegant and sophisticated mansion for luxury stays within the culinary and wine highlight of North Island New Zealand with traditional kiwi architecture, peaceful gardens, and a spectacular location for exploring Hawke's Bay.

Homestead Junior Suite

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers Luxury option

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is an exclusive, secluded rural retreat with luxurious accommodation and breath taking views. An outstanding clifftop golf course, intimate spa facilities and a wealth of activities afford guests a luxurious adventure.

Hilltop Suite

Wairarapa
Martinborough Hotel

The Martinborough Hotel is an exclusive historic hotel full of character and charm, in an excellent location in the heart of an excellent wine growing region. Cosy and comfortable accommodation and delicious cuisine afford guests a relaxing and restorative experience.

Superior Garden Suite

Nelson
Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco Value option

The Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco is a boutique resort with quaint and homely village styling. It is a perfect base to discover both the natural wonders and cultural delights of the region.

One Bedroom Cottage with Spa

Bronte Lodge Luxury option

Bronte Lodge is an exclusive 5-star lodge in a serene location surrounded by beautiful gardens and orchards. The hotel's secluded location, luxurious rooms and luxury touches such as its private helipad offer guests a truly tranquil and indulgent experience.

Suite

Marlborough
The Bell Tower on Dog Point Value option

The Bell Tower on Dog Point is a luxury boutique Bed and Breakfast in a rustic farmhouse on the Dog Point Vineyards, with stunning vistas over the winery, Marlborough's Richmond Range, and the Wairau Plain.

French Barn

Marlborough Lodge Luxury option

Marlborough Lodge in the world-renowned wine region of Marlborough on the South Island of New Zealand provides a stunningly luxurious base for exploring the vineyards, culinary heritage and exceptional scenery of the area.

Lodge room

Christchurch
The George

The George is a modern 5-star hotel in an excellent location in the centre of Christchurch. Award-winning cuisine and supremely comfortable accommodation make this an excellent base for exploring the local area.

Executive room

Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge at Arthur's Pass is an exclusive property in a breath-taking Alpine location. Delicious cuisine, excellent accommodation and unforgettable experiences - including the opportunity to experience a working sheep farm - afford guests a relaxing and restorative retreat.

Alpine View Lodge

Franz Josef Glacier
Te Waonui Forest Retreat

Te Waonui Forest Retreat is 5-star luxury hotel in a stunning natural location. Gourmet cuisine, excellent spa facilities and luxurious accommodation provides an idyllic base from which to explore the rugged scenery and adventurous spirit of this iconic destination.

Deluxe room

Queenstown
The Rees Value option

The Rees Hotel is a 5-star boutique hotel in a stunning lakeside location. It offers supremely comfortable accommodation in the hotel and its curated apartments, award-winning cuisine and a private beach and jetty with boat available to guests.

One Bedroom Apartment with Executive Lake View

Azur Lodge Luxury option

Azur Lodge is an exclusive property in a stunning, peaceful location. It blends modern design with panoramic views over the glassy waters of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains beyond to offer guests a tranquil, luxury experience.

Villa

Holiday price guide

From about £6,200 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code NZSG05

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Auckland and environs

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Auckland sets the tone of a trip to New Zealand in many ways; you see an expanse of water and shades of green of volcanic hilly peaks and open grassy fields. The vista is unashamedly attractive; eye-catchingly pretty and incredibly welcoming. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and fastest-growing city. It has a feel that is at once historic with its houses of timber weatherboard, corrugated iron rooves, gables, bays and decorative fretwork yet also forward-looking with striking modern architecture, the redeveloped waterfront and the 328-metre-high Sky Tower. Above all, Auckland is a city on the water. Dominated by Waitemata Harbour, Auckland probably has the most pleasure boats per capita of any city in the world. Sailing is perfect with safe harbours, nearby islands to visit and a temperate climate. Just across the harbour are the Hauraki Gulf Islands, some of the most idyllic islands in the world, either as perfect recreational spots for people or as protected sanctuaries for rare birds and native trees and plants. Waiheke Island is one of the largest and whilst people do commute the 30 minutes or so by ferry to Auckland, it is also a beautiful holiday spot with its white sand beaches and coves, vineyards and olive groves. Not far from Auckland are surf beaches on the western coast, Orewa’s 2-mile sandy beach forty minutes’ away, vineyards at Henderson about an hour away and fruit and vegetables at Kumeu.

Highlights of Auckland

Visit New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Enjoy an al fresco dinner at the Viaduct Basin, Take a ferry over to Waiheke Island and have lunch at a vineyard, Drive along Tamaki Drive to Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter for sharks and penguins, Visit the west coast surf beaches at Piha, Take the ferry to Victorian Devonport across Waitemata Harbour.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Central North Island

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to the Central North Island in New Zealand encompasses the volcanic heartland of New Zealand's North Island and contains the geothermal wonders of Rotorua including the dramatic Pohutu Geyser as well as the active volcano, White Island, just off the coast, Mount Ruapehu and the Taupo volcanic zone. The geothermal activity in the area has created a fascinating landscape of volcanic peaks, sometimes snow-capped, mountain ranges, bubbling springs and hot mineral pools, plateaux dotted with vast lakes fed by fast flowing, clear rivers brimming with trout. The landscape is incredibly green, and a mixture of bush with dense forests of beech trees, rimu and other pine trees and ferns of varying sizes and grassy open hillsides with cabbage trees. Every now and then steam rises from patches of ground. This region is also rich in Maori history and Rotorua has remained an important centre for Maori culture. To the east of the region near Gisborne, there are vineyards, rich pastures and surf beaches. It is also the place where Captain Cook made his first New Zealand landfall at Kaiti Beach in 1769. The region offers a superb range of water based and land sports including fishing, white-water rafting, walking, kayaking and mountain biking. Scenic flights over the volcanoes are very popular.

Highlights of the Central North Island

Enjoy the mineral waters at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, Visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal area at Rotorua with its mud pools, Pohutu geyser and six other geysers, Maori carving school and meeting houses, Combine a visit to the Blue Lake with its beach and the buried village of Te Wairoa, Visit the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland between Rotorua and Taupo with the Lady Knox geyser (shoots water and steam up to 21 metres at 10.15 am daily) and walk through the geothermal area past the Champagne Pool and Primrose Terraces, Keen fishermen should try the trout fishing at Lake Taupo.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Central South Island

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to the Central South Island allows travellers to explore an amazingly varied region of New Zealand. It contains both the dry and flat farmland of the Canterbury plains just outside Christchurch and the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook, always snow-capped at 3764 metres and is at the heart of the Mount Cook National Park that has nineteen mountain peaks over 3000 metres and where glaciers cover 40 per cent of the area of the park. In between you have the alpine landscape of Arthur’s Pass, amid beech forest, tussock-covered meadows, cool lakes and ski fields. Much of the pasture is for sheep, often hardy merino who provide fine wool for luxury international fashion brands. To the west of the Alps the warm, wet climate produces lush rainforest at lower levels and at higher altitude the rainfall creates the famous glaciers of the Westland National Park; the Fox and the Franz Josef, a wonder of the world in that nowhere else at this latitude have glaciers advanced so close to the sea.

Highlights of the Central South Island

Whale and dolphin watching at Kaikoura by plane or sea, followed by a local crayfish lunch, Christchurch with its botanic gardens, Arts Centre and Art Gallery, Drive or take the train across the Southern Alps, Enjoy a scenic flight over Mount Cook, Tramping in the unspoiled alpine scenery of Arthur’s Pass with its mountain beech, alpine daisies, bellbirds and keas, Discover the natural beauty of the lush rainforests and deserted beaches with their Fiordland crested penguins near Lake Moeraki, Walk on the glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Nelson and Abel Tasman

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Nelson and Abel Tasman encompasses a coastal and cultural region of New Zealand. This northernmost part of New Zealand's South Island is much favoured by visitors with its centre at Nelson, home to a multitude of painters, jewellers, potters, woodworkers and textile artists, its gently sloping vineyards, mild climate and outstandingly beautiful Abel Tasman National Park, accessible only by boat or on foot and full of miles of golden bays, rocky outcrops, lush, green interior. Behind Nelson rise the peaks of the tip of the Southern Alps and in between nestle the lakes of Rotoiti and Rotoroa. In this region, perhaps even more so than in other parts of New Zealand, you are very aware of the proximity of coast and mountains with fertile pastures, orchards and vineyards in between. Sheep rearing and fruit growing, fishing and mountain tramping all co-exist.

Highlights of Nelson and Abel Tasman

Spend at least one full day in the Abel Tasman approached from the water passing Split Apple rock, stopping perhaps at Anchorage Bay and seeing the seal colony at Tonga Rock, Whale watch at Kaikoura, See the seal colony at Ohau Point north of Kaikoura, Visit the Suter Art Galley in Nelson and combine it with a visit to the vibrant market on a Saturday, Day trip to Farewell Spit, Visit the vineyards of Rimu Grove, Neudorf and Woollaston Estates at Upper Moutere and perhaps have lunch at Seifried at Appelby, Visit the studios of numerous artists in the area, Go to the WOW (World of Wearable Art) in Nelson and the adjoining Collectible Cars Gallery.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Northland and Bay of Islands

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Northland and the Bay of Islands is an opportunity to explre a region of rich pastures, rolling farmland, forests of gigantic kauri trees that can be up to 2000 years old, lush fern filled valleys, cliffs, bays, inlets and miles of sandy beaches and a scattering of islands offshore. From Auckland to the very northern tip of the country, Northland stretches between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea in a splendour of outstanding natural beauty and sites of historic significance. The climate is sub-tropical, and a diversity of plants thrive; from silver fern to vines, from the pohutukawa tree with its crimson flowers to manuka, plus an array of fruit and vegetables including avocadoes, figs and oranges. In addition to the beautiful scenery and welcoming climate, Northland has numerous sites of historic significance as the region where Europeans and Maoris first came into contact. Russell, Pahia, Waitangi and Kerikeri are all interesting places to visit. Local arts and crafts including plaited flaxen baskets, carved wood and greenstone and pottery flourish in the region. The area is strong on leisure activities, many associated with the water such as fishing, kayaking, diving and sailing but also scenic flights, horse trekking and tramping.

Highlights of Northland and the Bay of Islands

If a diver, dive the Rainbow Warrier site or in the marine reserve at Poor Knights Island, Take the car ferry from Opua to Okiato and drive to Russell, Drive along the stunning coast from Whangaroa to Matauri Bay passing the Cavalli Islands offshore, Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands, Walk and tramp through the Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park, Visit the Waitangi National Reserve with the Treaty House and Maori war canoe.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Otago and Fiordland

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Otago and Fiordland is a chance to explore just some of the magnificent natural scenery New Zealand has to offer. These southerly regions of New Zealand are proud possessors of some of the most awe-inspiring and breath-taking natural scenery in a country of outstanding natural wonders. It is on the whole a landscape of mountain peaks, ridges and valleys, glacial lakes and fiords. With very few roads because of the terrain, the area is very natural with miles of it feeling very remote. At its heart is the resort of Queenstown, renowned as the centre of a multitude of adventure sports, with not only skiing in winter but as home to bungy jumping as well as now all sorts of sports including jet boating, white-water rafting, skydiving, hang-gliding and parapenting. The landscape is one of yellow-brown-green tussock-covered hills and rugged mountain peaks, with sparkling blue-green lakes. The lakesides often have a semi tropical feel with cabbage trees and New Zealand ferns. On the western coast are the magnificent fiords, flanked by steep mountains coated in rainforest and known for a profusion of wildlife including fur seals, dolphins and penguins.

Highlights of Otago and Fiordland

Doing or at least watching bungy jumping at the Kawarau Suspension Bridge or at Hackett’s Ledge above Queenstown, Jetboating in the Shotover or Kawaurau rivers, Climb up Queenstown Hill for a panorama over the town, lake and mountains, Helicopter trip to Milford Sound, Visit the Arrowtown gold mining settlement, Taieri Gorge railway trip from Dunedin to Pukerangi.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Wairarapa

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Wairarapa is the chance to witness one of New Zealand’s rural gems. New Zealand's Wairarapa region stretches from the Rimutaka Range east of Wellington further eastwards to the Pacific coast and includes some of the most remote coastal areas of the North Island but within what is primarily a sheep-raising district of grassy hills bordered by the pine-clad distant Tararua mountains, there are the low-lying vineyards of Martinborough, producing excellent pinot noir, Cape Palliser with its seal colony, and the historic town of Greytown. One of the most stunning aspects of the scope of the country is had as you drive to Wharekauhau along the shores of Lake Wairarapa and then climb the cliffs near the sea – the land is vast and open, a meeting point of dramatic coast and rolling fields.

Highlights of Wairarapa

Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, Stop off in Greytown with it antique shops, restaurants and Victorian architecture, Visit Martinborough for its atmosphere and about 26 wineries, Stop off at Mount Bruce National wildlife centre if driving from Hawke’s Bay towards Wellington and visit the aviaries that hold some of the country’s rarest species of birds and reptiles such as the tuatara, Drive along the coast to Cape Palliser with its seal colony passing the fishing village of Ngawi.

Luxury tailormade touring holiday of New Zealand for a longer first-time visit with 21 nights covering North and South Island.

About Wellington

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Wellington adds a taste of the cosmopolitan and diverse side of the country. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is located on a picturesque harbour at the southern tip of the North Island. The city prides itself as a centre for culture and the arts and has a plethora of restaurants, cafes, nightlife and activities, as well as being home to the country’s parliament and national treasures. The city is nicknames ‘Windy Wellington’ and you don’t need to spend too long there to understand why.

Highlights of Wellington

A highlight of a visit to Wellington is undoubtedly Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. This striking building dominates Wellington’s waterfront and has gained widespread acclaim for its innovation and approachability since opening in 1998. The museum has become the country’s pride and joy and is affectionately called ‘Our Place’ as it celebrates the essence of New Zealand and its people. Among Te Papa’s treasures is an extensive Maori collection and its own marae. Natural history, the environment, European settlement and many other things New Zealand are presented in impressive gallery spaces with a touch of interactive high tech. There are also changing exhibits of international art. A number of hands-on discovery centres can be found here, designed for children, as well as a shop, cafes, an upmarket restaurant and an auditorium – so make sure you allow ample time to explore. Another cultural highlight is the City Gallery which features various changing exhibits and has a reputation for challenging and innovative displays.

Cultural highlights of Wellington

Other sights to see in the city of Wellington include the tranquil 26-hectare Botanic Gardens (tel: 04 499 1400. Open sunrise to sunset), which are easily visited in conjunction with the cable car ride (see below). The large gardens contain native bush and other gardens, including the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, which has over 100 rose species. There is also a teahouse, visitors centre and the New Zealand headquarters of the World Wide Fund for Nature, with information and displays. You can access the gardens from the Glenmore St entrance. The Cable Car is a Wellington icon and a ‘must-do’ attraction. Running from an arcade off Lambton Quay, it runs up the hillside to Kelburn, overlooking the city. The service began in 1902 and the small, well-presented Cable Car Museum as the top terminus gives information on its history. Mount Victoria Lookout View panoramic sights of the city from the top of Mt Victoria, watch the Cook Strait ferries sail into the harbour and the planes go in and out of the airport. Just minutes from downtown Wellington but worlds apart – Karori Sanctuary, set around a picturesque reservoir, is a living ecosystem home to some of New Zealand’s most rare and extraordinary wildlife. The Sanctuary includes a fascinating indoors exhibition with big-screen movie and a selection of outdoor walks through beautiful native bush spotting species such as kākā - the playful forest parrot, tuatara – a relic from the time of the dinosaurs, takahē – only around 250 left today, saddleback, hihi, geckos and many more. Karori Sanctuary has activities for young and old and can keep you entertained anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day. Visit the Carter Observatory and take a virtual journey through space in Carter's new planetarium - a state-of-the-art full-dome digital theatre, then take your own steps through space as you walk through the world-class interactive multimedia space experience. Discover our Universe, along with some of New Zealand's most prestigious telescopes and astronomical artefacts.

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