Experience magnificent National Parks, charming towns and pristine landscapes plus wonder at its volcanic geysers and boiling mud pools. A bit of a cliché, yes, but it’s true: New Zealand is one of those holiday destinations of a lifetime – its mountains, rivers, fjords, and scenery are quite literally breath-taking! And with a population of only a few million in a land approximately the same size as the UK, you’ll quickly become attuned to the easy-going Kiwi lifestyle as you travel through this beautiful country.
Getting to New Zealand can be a long and tiring journey, so we have chosen to include a stopover in Singapore and fly with Singapore Airlines, renowned for their world class service and with direct onward flights to Auckland and from Christchurch. We have two days here to explore the many attractions this thrilling Asian metropolis has to offer, including its dazzling architecture, superb cuisine and vibrant mix of cultures.
We stay in Auckland for two nights to give you the best opportunity to acclimatise to the time zone. We then travel to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands for two nights – a wonderful region of small historic towns and a deeply indented coastline filled with golden sandy coves, a paradise for sailing and boating.
New Zealand is primarily a farming country, full of dairy herds and of course millions of sheep – so what better way to experience this way of life than to stay a night with a New Zealand family. In the fertile region of Cambridge, south of Auckland, our group will be split between a number of local homesteads where you’ll be able to gain a firsthand understanding of the very basis of the country’s economy whilst getting to know your friendly hosts.
Rotorua is one of North Island’s greatest areas of geothermal activity, with its spectacular geysers, steaming hot pools and bubbling mud. It’s also a centre of Maori settlement and in the evening you attend a Maori Hangi (feast) featuring a Powhiri (formal welcome) and traditional songs and dances relaying the stories of Maori myths and legends, followed by a meal of lamb, chicken and kumara (sweet potato) cooked in the traditional way, in an underground oven.
We continue to the east coast and the renowned wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay, facing the Pacific Ocean. Here we stay in charming Napier, famous for its unique architecture, a legacy of a 1931 earthquake when the whole town was rebuilt in just two years in the Art Deco style of the time.
Wellington, New Zealand’s diminutive capital, offers a bustling waterfront and from Mt Victoria, there are outstanding views of the city’s beautiful harbour. Te Papa, the fascinating National Museum, covers every aspect of New Zealand’s history, art, culture and geography.
Crossing the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands by InterIslander ferry we cruise through the Marlborough Sounds with their beautiful turquoise-blue waters on our way to Nelson, known as South Island’s sunniest spot and next to the beautiful coastal scenery of the Abel Tasman National Park.
New Zealand has gained a reputation as an outstanding wine-growing nation, and Marlborough on the northeastern corner of South Island is certainly one of the key regions for producing premium quality wines.
Christchurch is the country’s second largest city and following the devastating earthquake of February 2011, a major reconstruction programme is underway in the city centre. Fortunately, access to the wonderful Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park and the Canterbury museum has not been affected and already city architects are winning awards for some very innovative projects, including the new ‘temporary’ cardboard cathedral.
The TranzAlpine crossing of the Southern Alps from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass must rate as one of the world’s great train journeys and our tour then follows the west coast of South Island to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. The best way to experience these amazing natural phenomena is from the air, so we have arranged for an included helicopter flight, with an alpine landing, to see the beautiful Franz Josef glacier – a breathtaking highlight of your tour!
Queenstown, situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, is described as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, or ‘the Scenic Gem of the South Island’. Whichever description is most apt, you can be sure you’ll not be disappointed by your stay in one of the country’s outstanding resorts. We have a full day at leisure here, so you can choose to relax or be as active as you wish.
The small lakeside township of Te Anau is the gateway to the World Heritage Fjordland National Park, and what a park it is! The grandeur and majestic beauty of this untouched landscape almost defies description, from glacier-carved valleys, through thousands of hectares of virgin forest, to glimmering lakes, waterfalls, and Alpine peaks, these are world-class sights to savour. Our cruise, on one of the world’s great fjords, Milford Sound, is the highlight of our visit before heading north to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and a fitting conclusion to your holiday in Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Of course, New Zealand is not just about its extraordinary landscapes – the cuisine and wines are just a good reason to go: you won’t find better lamb or beef, or fresher seafood. Look out for blue cod from South island, green-lip mussels, snapper and for big appetites, grouper! The local free-range lamb is world-famous, but the cheese, manuka honey, fruit and even ice-cream are all equally superb. And you cannot leave without trying a kiwi pavlova for dessert! If you enjoy wine, then Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blancs are considered some of the best in the world – we include a wine tasting at a famous estate on our way through the region.
Our wonderful tour has been designed to make getting to New Zealand as easy as possible and covers all the awe-inspiring highlights of this remarkable country, as well as many less explored corners, such as our farm stay in Cambridge, Art Deco Napier and Nelson with the Abel Tasman National Park. Our included trips on the TranzAlpine train, the helicopter flight over the staggering Franz Josef glacier and the visit to Mt Cook will be experiences that you will treasure for many years to come.
Travel to Heathrow airport for your overnight flight to Singapore on the award-winning Singapore Airlines.
On arrival, you’ll transfer to the four-star Swissotel Merchant Court, with breakfast, located on the Singapore River and next to the many restaurants of Clarke Quay. This exciting stop-over allows time to relax and adjust to the time difference between flights. It also offers the opportunity to explore Singapore’s unique mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay influences. You’ll enjoy our tour of the riverfront area and some time in the beautiful botanic gardens, of which the orchid enclosure is an outstanding feature. Our hotel also has a large outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, as well as a fitness room.
Today is at leisure to further explore all the attractions of Singapore. Visit the shopping mecca of Orchard Road, savour the cuisine of Little India, try a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel or stroll along the waterfront and visit the incredible Gardens by the Bay – Singapore’s 21st century version of Kew Gardens. In the evening we take the Singapore Airlines overnight direct flight to Auckland.
Welcome to New Zealand! You’ll arrive in Auckland around midday and transfer to the four-star Grand Millenium for two nights with breakfast, well-located for all the city’s attractions. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Your sightseeing tour of the ‘City of Sails’ includes the panoramic city and harbour views from Bastion Point, trendy Parnell Village, the lovely bays of the waterfront drive and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area. We also visit the Auckland Museum which gives an excellent introduction to the artistic legacy and cultures of the peoples of the Pacific including the monumental carvings, buildings, canoes and taonga (treasures) of the Maori, as well as the diversity of cultures which now combine to form the rich tapestry of race, nationality and creed which is modern New Zealand. Your afternoon is free to explore the city further.
Departing Auckland we head north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge along the Hibiscus Coast to view giant Kauri trees at the Parry Kauri Park. Continuing our journey over the gentle green landscape of North Island we reach Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands in the afternoon. Here you’ll take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House, where in 1840 Maori chiefs and the original European settlers signed the Treaty of Waitangi, the basis of the future governance of New Zealand. Our hotel for the next two nights is the four-star Scenic Hotel, with breakfast.
This morning we see the Bay of Islands in the best way possible via a fascinating boat cruise meandering around the idyllic beaches of the islands that make this area so popular. If you’re lucky, there’s a chance you may see wild dolphins which are common in the Bay of Islands. Continue on to Cape Brett and the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’, through which the boat will sail slowly, conditions permitting, before we disembark at the historic small town of Russell. The first European settlement in New Zealand and just a 10-minute ferry trip from Paihia (ticket included), Russell is an ideal place for a spot of lunch or a relaxing walk along the waterfront. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy many of the activities the Bay of Islands has to offer.
This morning we leave the Bay of Islands and continue south to Hamilton. On arrival we will visit the spectacular Hamilton Gardens set on the banks of the Waikato River. The unique theme of Hamilton Gardens is ‘the story of gardens’ which is explored through a series of five garden collections. The Paradise Garden Collection is a highlight of the gardens and features a Chinese Scholars Garden, English Flower Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, American Modernist Garden, Italian Renaissance Garden and an Indian Char Bagh Garden. Our hotel for the night is the four-star Novotel Hamilton Tainui including breakfast.
This morning we will visit a 500-acre park-like dairy farm, where we will have a rural tour of the fully functioning dairy and enjoy morning tea featuring delicious home style baking and local produce. From here we take the short drive to the thermal wonderland of Rotorua. Rotorua has the most energetic thermal activity in the country with bubbling mud pools, gushing geysers, beautifully coloured hot springs and terrace formations created by the hot, mineralrich waters. Rotorua is also renowned for its Maori cultural activities. We visit Te Puia – where our local Maori guide will explain traditional Maori arts and crafts and we’ll view the famous Pohutu Geyser in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley.
This evening you’ll enjoy a visit to the Tamaki Maori Village, a recreation of a typical Maori forest community, where we’ll be treated to an evening of ceremonial rituals, storytelling and intriguing insights into Maori life, ending with a powerful cultural performance, before dining on the traditional Hangi buffet dinner (Maori feast) cooked the traditional Maori way in an earth oven. Our hotel is the four-star Distinction Hotel, with breakfast.
Departing Rotorua we travel to the charming lakeside town of Taupo, stopping en-route at Huka Falls to marvel as the mighty Waikato River thunders through its narrow canyon. Then it’s on to Napier, known as the Art Deco capital of the world. After an earthquake in 1931, the centre of the town was rebuilt in the Art Deco style which was in fashion at the time.
On arrival we meet our local guides and take a fascinating walking tour of these beautiful Art Deco buildings. Our hotel is the excellent four-star superior Scenic Hotel Te Pania, with breakfast, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
You continue south to Wellington where we enjoy a night in New Zealand’s capital city, staying at the four-star James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, with breakfast. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Wellington with free time to explore the vibrant waterfront and beautiful gardens. We also visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s outstanding National Museum, to learn about the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.
Today we cruise to South Island, across the Cook Strait by Interislander ferry, through the Marlborough Sounds, including the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound and into Picton. We continue to Blenheim and the famous wine-producing region of Marlborough where we stop for some wine tasting. Our final destination today is Nelson, New Zealand’s sunshine town, known for its many art and craft galleries, and relaxed atmosphere. Our hotel for the next two nights is the excellent four-star Trailways or Rutherford Hotel Nelson, with breakfast.
This morning we join a catamaran cruise along the stunning shoreline of Abel Tasman National Park. En route you’ll learn about the history of the park and view the famous Split Apple Rock, a fur seal colony and the park’s famed golden beaches and crystal clear waters. For the more adventurous, there is the option of landing ashore at Anchorage and take the pithead loop (approx 2hrs). Our boat will collect the walkers at Anchorage on its return down the coast. A packed lunch is included today. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure in Nelson.
Travelling south through the Golden Downs Forest and over the Lewis Pass we arrive at the lovely alpine village of Hanmer Springs for a lunch stop (not included) before joining the upper reaches of the Canterbury Plains to the ‘garden city’ of Christchurch. Since the earthquake of 2011, the city’s rebuilding programme is in full swing and there will be an opportunity to visit to the Re-Start Mall, the controversial ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ and the Botanic Gardens. Our hotel is the three-star superior Quality Hotel Elms, with breakfast.
Today we traverse the Southern Alps aboard the world-famous TranzAlpine train to Arthurs Pass. From your modern panoramic carriage, you’ll see the farmland of the Canterbury Plains give way to the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, crossing numerous bridges and viaducts en route. At Arthurs Pass, we are met by our coach for the journey to the West Coast, stopping in Hokitika to visit a Greenstone workshop where the local jade-like stone, highly prized by pre-European Maori, is crafted into exquisite jewellery.
Continue south through forests and farmland, with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to the village of Franz Josef. This afternoon prepare yourself for what will be one of your trip’s highlights! On arrival you will experience this magnificent glacial alpine environment with a 20-minute scenic helicopter flight. View the incredible natural phenomenon of the glacier as it winds slowly down the ice-carved valleys from its origin in the mountains high above you. This exhilarating experience finishes with an amazing alpine landing. Our hotel tonight is the four-star Scenic, with breakfast.
Continuing south, we travel past deserted beaches, through vibrant rainforests and tiny settlements. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest, mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. We travel over the scenic Haast Pass to the popular Lake Wanaka, and then on to the beautiful year-round resort of Queenstown where our hotel for the next two nights is the fourstar Copthorne Lakefront Resort, with breakfast. The centre of bustling Queenstown is just a short walk away.
Nestled below the rugged Remarkable Mountains, Queenstown enjoys an exceptionally scenic setting and is known as the ‘adventure capital of the world’. Today is at leisure to enjoy all that this resort has to offer. Experience the thrill of a jet-boat ride along the Shotover River, a 4x4 safari, helicopter trips, guided walks, a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the 100-yearold vintage steamboat TSS Earnslaw, or ride the Skyline Gondola high above Queenstown for superb views of the area – the choices are almost endless!
Leaving Queenstown we skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, and travel via Te Anau through the Homer Tunnel into the spectacular Cleddau valley and famous Milford Sound, arguably the most spectacular fjord in the country. A boat trip on the deep fjord Thermal pool in Waiotapu, Rotorua waters between sheer granite cliffs rising thousands of feet, affords wonderful views of mile-high Mitre Peak and the 500-foot Stirling Falls. There is a good chance of seeing dolphins, fur seals or penguins during our trip before we return to the charming small lakeside resort of Te Anau. A packed lunch is included today. Our hotel in Te Anau is the four-star Distinction Luxmore, with breakfast. Late in the afternoon there will be time for an optional visit the nearby Glowworm caves, unique to New Zealand.
Today we travel back north and visit Arrowtown, a township with a colourful history - in its heyday this was a rough and ready frontier gold-mining boomtown. Nowadays, its popular main street is lined with some excellent art galleries, cafés and boutiques. We continue through the rugged Kawarau Gorge, pass pretty Lake Dunstan, cross the distinctive Central Otago countryside (where many scenes from the Lord of the Rings were filmed) and over the dramatic Lindis Pass to the vast Mackenzie Basin. Your overnight accommodation is the three-star Heritage Gateway Hotel, with breakfast, in the small rural community of Omarama.
A day with some more spectacular sights. We head north alongside the azure glacier-fed Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook, at 12,316ft New Zealand’s highest mountain and surrounded by jagged snow-covered peaks. There’s time for short walks in the spectacular Hooker Valley (depending on the weather) and a visit to the Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre (entrance fee), or for an optional helicopter flight over the spectacular West Coast glaciers. We continue towards the magnificent blue waters of Lake Tekapo and visit the Church of the Good Shepherd, before crossing Burkes Pass and the Canterbury Plains back into Christchurch and the Quality Hotel Elms for our last night in the country.
A fond farewell to New Zealand. Transfer to the airport for your flight home via Singapore.
Arrive back in the UK after an incredible once-in-a-lifetime tour.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes:
Included excursions are:
Things to note:
Along with your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager and local experts, you’ll discover so much on our award-winning Classic tours, offering the best value for money way for you to explore the world.
Our tour managers have been rated as the best in the business for their knowledge and experience and will go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of your holiday runs smoothly – so all you need to worry about is your packing.
Along with a valid passport, UK citizens must have an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) in order to travel to New Zealand. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
NZeTA cost is NZD$12 per person. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent with your booking confirmation.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
Please note that visa costs may be subject to change.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitabilty of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Singapore Changi Airport||Singapore||20 mins||N/A|
|Auckland Airport||Auckland||45 mins||Christchurch||Christchurch International Airport||15 mins|
Addah and Les our driver were both excellent. The itinerary was the best of all tour companies. The accommodation was also very good. Would definitely travel with Riviera for another trip. The professional photographer, Andrew pro...
Robert and Lindsey Aitchison
My husband and I went on the New Zealand holiday from 2nd to the 23rd February and I must apologize for not having been in touch sooner but we had a pressing domestic problem to deal with on our return. This now having been dealt ...